Saving Oakland’s car dealerships. Maybe.

At tomorrow’s meeting (PDF), the Oakland City Council’s Community and Economic Development Committee will receive a report on the status of Oakland auto industry (PDF). It’s kind of a downer.

Just like every other source of revenue the City relies on, sales tax is down. Auto sales tax (new cars, used cars, and car leases) especially down. Check it out:

That’s how much money has come to the City each year from auto sales tax since 1996, for a total of $64.8 million. And it’s a hefty percentage of the total sales taxes we receive:

Oakland isn’t the only place car dealerships are struggling. Nationwide, new car sales were down 38.4% (PDF) in the first quarter of 2009 versus 2008, and in California, the decline was an even greater 43%. Nevertheless, compared to other Bay Area cities, Oakland suffered an especially steep decline in auto sales tax revenue from 2007 to 2008.

So, we obviously don’t want to lose any more of that sales tax (and business tax) our dealerships contribute, not to mention the 500+ jobs they supply. The question is then, what can we do to keep our few remaining dealerships (Broadway Volkswagon, Honda of Oakland, Oakland Acura, Mercedes Benz of Oakland, Audi of Oakland, Bay Bridge Auto Center, Downtown Auto Center, Infiniti of Oakland, Coliseum Lexus of Oakland, East Bay Truck Center, TEC Trucks, and Western Truck Center) from going the way of Broadway Ford and Saturn of Oakland?

For a while, we were trying to relocate some of the auto row based dealerships to the Army Base. A friend of mine in the business was skeptical of this effort when I told her about it two years ago, telling me:

Yeah, I can imagine the dealers are looking to get out of downtown Oakland. Space is certainly something you need to run a dealership. But even still, I can’t believe how little space they’re getting – that link says that the 3 dealerships are getting 16.2 acres and the one dealer says he expects to go from $50M to $100M in sales. Just to give you some perspective, we sit on a little over 3 acres and did $31.5M last year. They’re going to be running some big stores off relatively small pieces of land at the base. Oh, and just a national average for you – NADA says that the average car dealer makes about 2% net profit on that sales figure. So now they’ll be making something like $2M for the move, but have to pay out about a million per acre. Crazy.

And, well, it’s not working out so far. Or, as tomorrow staff report puts it “The Auto Mall Project has stalled due to major development costs associated with infrastructure and construction.”

So what are we going to do about all this? Here’s the suggestions listed in the report:

  • Aggressively pursue replacement of new auto dealer for former Superior Toyota dealership with automakers and auto financing entities. When new dealership is identified, prioritize permits and approvals to assist in expedited opening.
  • City,along with Private Industry Council (PIC) Rapid Response Team, work with each dealership when and if employee reductions are necessary, to assist employees with unemployment options, re-training opportunities, and owners to meet all state requirements.
  • Work with each dealership to maximize Oakland Enterprise Zone benefits by special referral to Program consultant.
  • Continue working with two existing auto dealers interested in expanding their dealership facilities.
  • Designate a CEDA staff person as a primary point of contact for auto dealership issues.

I find the retraining one particularly depressing to find in a retention strategies report. Dealerships have requested assistance in the form of marketing, “facilitating car inventory parking facilities,” and “facilitat[ing] public and private financing options with lending institutions.”

39 thoughts on “Saving Oakland’s car dealerships. Maybe.

  1. Whitney

    Automobile sales are down. That’s a given. But what would really be a shame is to see the dealerships completely close down on both the variable (sales) side and the fixed (parts and service) side.

    There has to be a fair amount of sales tax coming in off every repair done to these vehicles. And some of those technicians are making very good money to turn those wrenches. Retraining someone with that skill set is ludicrous.

    It will be interesting to see if any of the existing dealerships are able to pick up the other manufacturer’s warranty and repair work. In one area the largest US Suzuki store in the nation went under and the local Hyundai store was able to fill the void:

  2. Max Allstadt

    Is anyone considering ways to create a different model for car dealerships.

    In denser, more urban areas, it makes no sense to take up great hods of valuable real estate to sell cars, particularly new cars.

    Imagine a dealership development that has half a dozen floor models, and half a dozen test-driver cars kept around the corner in a garage. You like the floor model, you take a test drive. If you want to buy dealership then orders you a car from a storage facility in the exurbs, and you come and get it a few days later.

    By moving the inventory away from the dealership, you could create smaller dealerships that could exist downtown and in other dense areas. Better still, this allows buyers to take transit to the dealership. Right now, you need to have a car or a ride in order to get to a dealership to buy a car. Pain in the ass. Smaller dealer spaces could fix this and allow for visible marketing presence in dense retail areas.

  3. Ralph

    I tried to find a city which has an auto row in its core; I could not. To be fair, I only searched B-more and recalled from memory my life in the nation’s capital. Frankly, I would say that you take the business to the outerlimits of the city. Dealerships need way too much valuable real estate and are really incongruous with the idea of a walkable, pedestrian friendly, transit oriented city. Assuming one moves to the center city for the aforementioned experience, then I can only assume the people making the majority of the purchases will be coming from outside of the center so why not place the whole kit and kaboodle outside of the city center.

  4. Jennifer

    This is a bit off topic — does anyone know what is being built on the corner of Mandela Pkwy and 14th? Thx.

  5. Patrick

    Auto dealers would never go for that plan, Max, because they know that auto purchases are often emotional, i.e. people fall in love with a new car, or the idea of a new car, and they want to drive away immediately in their gleaming new declining investment. Also, auto buyers have a high percentage of “buyer’s remorse”. But, once it’s off the lot, it’s theirs.

    When auto row first came about, where else in the city was there huge tracts of flat land that was convenient to potential car buyers? I imagine that between the Port and the Base in West Oakland, industry along the estuary, and all of the housing that pre-dates the wide adoption of the automobile, they chose Broadway because it made the most sense – flat, available, well-located and accessible via public transit.

  6. Christopher

    Does Oakland get auto sales tax from cars sold in Oakland or from cars bought by people who live in Oakland (even if they bought the car outside of Oakland or California)?

  7. Max Allstadt

    I think what I’ve suggested must happen in the densest cities already in some way.

    There are dealerships, particularly luxury dealerships, in downtown NYC, Chicago, Tokyo, etc. They manage to keep going in relatively small spaces, usually all indoor too. What I wonder is if these places are more advertisements than functioning dealerships. There are often major chain stores in the hearts of NYC that lose money on purpose, and exist just for the exposure.

  8. Ken O

    Max, you’ve good points.

    If people want a model, they might also consider:

    a) public transit
    b) bike sale/repair shops
    c) Berkeley’s “green motors” shop
    d) Berkeley’s good bike transit system (purple signs)

    The future of the next 10-20 years has fewer and fewer cars in it that I can see.

    So every city in the US that depends on car sales for significant tax base revenue needs to cut expenses or raise taxes some other way.


  9. James H. Robinson

    I suggest letting “auto row” go and replace it with other forms of much-needed retail. Like Ralph said, it is hard to find auto dealerships in the downtown portions of major cities. Why not convert some of those dealerships into destination retail similar to Bay Street?

  10. Patrick

    All the auto dealerships off Van Ness in SF have cars in several locations, but all of them close by. I helped a friend buy a Honda last year: they had some at the dealership’s parking garage, some at two different offsite parking garages, and some in a lot about 8 blocks away. The plan you describe is certainly a far better use of expensive land, but if buyers are given a choice (as in, going to Livermore or Concord) where they can have their new car today, I think they’d do it.

    Christopher: sales tax for automobiles are remitted to the municipality of residence, regardless of where in California you purchase the car. What I don’t know is what happens if you went to a state with lower sales tax )or no sales tax, such as Oregon) and buy a vehicle. Although I’m not one to deprive my own state of its income, I am currently in the market for a new car. And 9.75% of the vehicles I’m looking at is between $2500 and $3000, not an inconsiderable amount. Off topic side note alert: with Proposition 13′s 2% per annum increase, it will take 24 years for my house to be valued, for tax purposes, at its current, conservative appraisal, even assuming 0% increase in home value over 24 years. And that’s why we have the highest sales tax in the country.

  11. dave o

    Cars are evil. Consider global warming, peak oil, mountaintop removal – there must be a more enlightened way for the City of Oakland to support itself financially that doesn’t involve moving the true costs of cars on to somebody else, even a later generation. Why is the City of Oakland so myopic and clueless? Doesn’t anybody even watch the science channel? The City of Oakland should be incouraging people to live with low energy and carbon footprints. And “destination retail” is just another attempt to keep a dinosaur going.

  12. Patrick

    Just googled and found an answer: if you buy out of state, you have to pay sales tax to register the car in CA. However, I also found out that Oregon allows you to retain title in Oregon, and register the car in Oregon, even if you don’t live there. So, no sales tax.

  13. Patrick

    Cars are evil, and if you can get me to my place of work in less than 2.5 hours via public transit, I’ll happily give mine up.

  14. VivekB

    well said patrick. If I might, because of this necessary evil, i have the ability to put my daughters into an awesome school that works well with their personalities, not one nearby. Plus, as the schools know they have competition, they are incented to be better.

    Because of this necessary evil, my father in law was able to get to an emergency room quickly when he fell and hit his head.

    Obviously 18K other examples, but the point is that lives are enriched because of our abililty to go from point A to point B quickly. Focus on minimizing the use of this necessary evil, on how it can be done without using fossil fuels and global warming. But, don’t think that you can eliminate cars in their entirety without severely downgrading life.

  15. len raphael

    Sunnyvale’s El Camino Real has a large concentration of auto showrooms and new car lots.

    With the exception of mbz owners, I’ve only come across a handfull of local residents over the past 3 decades (including the years i had an auto repair shop on 40th St) who bought their cars in Oakland. You usually got better prices and better selection in the burbs and then the exurbs.

    There was a tradition of people who lived outside of Oakland to come to auto row here to buy.

    What do the new car and truck dealers pay in Oakland biz tax?

  16. James H. Robinson

    You can talk about cars being “evil” all you want. Americans are NOT generally going to give up their cars. And considering how broke Oakland is, they need to allow businesses to sell cars and anything else in order to get some sales tax revenue. In addition, if people from outside Oakland come here to look at cars, they might some other products while they are in town.

  17. Fezzik

    I live between two big empty dealerships on Broadway now–the recently moved Audi/Mazda dealership, and the empty Saturn dealer. I don’t know if there are any GM or Chrysler dealerships on Auto Row, but I don’t expect them to last the year. Both manufacturers will be looking to bankruptcy proceedings to reduce the number of dealerships throughout the country. I think Auto Row is going to look a lot different in the next 3-4 years, and there isn’t much Oakland City Council can do about it. There are larger forces at work here.

  18. James Robinson

    Oakland City Council should have had a transition plan in place years ago. Even if the car market were robust, some of those dealerships would be leaving the relatively small spaces in Oakland.

  19. Mayor McFruitvale

    I don’t know how much resources the city should invest in when the problem is not a local problem. The Auto business is in a decline, as a whole, internationally not just in Oakland and I think once the smoke clears from the recession and bailouts that the auto buying industry is going to dramatically change and it’s not going to be in the dealership’s benefit.

    It’s been changing since the internet come into power and shoppers have been able to go online an see the dealer’s invoice cost and negotiate from that price as opposed to the sticker price and that keeps car prices down which equals, among other things, lower municipality taxes.

    There’s currently too much competition for your car buying dollars and the problem is, all dealers pay more or less the same amount for their cars. So there isn’t much motivation for someone to travel from somewhere like Concord or Fremont to Oakland to buy a car. For example, if you live in Concord and you see a sale price from an Oakland dealership, all you have to do is call your local dealership and they can meet or beat that price without a problem. There’s no incentive for you to drive 30-45 minutes when you can stay local instead.

    The other problem for Oakland is that Auto Row is just a few blocks away from Uptown where the emphasis is foot traffic. I think a shopping/entertainment coridor that runs from MacArthur to Jack London Square, that includes self sufficient car dealerships, would be a much bigger draw to the area than a purely dedicated auto row. Although, you might not get the high revenues from the big ticket items, I think the smaller revenues can make up for it.

    Plus, I think a better option for auto row is in the Hegenberger area where there is a lot more available space.

  20. Ralph

    Len, I would like to remind you that I did not live in Oakland when I opted to buy my car in Oakland. I could have easily bought the car in Santa Clara or RC for the same price. I opted for Oakland as I knew that if I were to stay in the bay area Oakland would be my future home.

    It is amazing to me that dealers still want to be on auto row. From what I understand about the auto industry, they prefer bigger lots. Chrysler and GM may hate bankruptcy but something tells me that they are secretly happy with the chance to dismantle the dealership model which they hate. Part of me thinks Oakland really should have been more aggressive in their planning. But given how the economy is moving right now this may not be so bad. The future of the Audi bldg looks good.

  21. Christopher

    If Oakland’s Auto Row does not bring sales tax revenue to the city, then why not transition Auto Row from auto dealerships to businesses that will bring money to Oakland? Do auto dealerships pay more in other taxes that compensates for the lack of sales tax revenue?

  22. V Smoothe Post author

    Where did people get the idea that this is about preserving Auto Row? It’s about auto sales in Oakland, not auto sales downtown or on Broadway.

    And Christopher, what do you mean, “does not bring sales tax revenue to the city”? The chart contained in the post clearly illustrates that auto sales make up roughly 10% of Oakland’s total sales tax revenues.

  23. dave o

    V Smoothe,
    I don’t understand what you are saying. If you report in this great blog that auto sales are floundering and that is taking another hit on city finances through lost sales taxes, isn’t it a legitimate comment to say that the auto industry will fail, and should fail, and that Oakland should look for something more sustainable? Why not take the broad view? It is critical!

    Patrick and VivekB,
    You’re right, your convenience is more important than all of the lives ruined by Katrina, more important than the polar bear, more important than the billions of people who depend upon the Himalayan glaciers for water, more important than the water supply of California which is also threatened by global warming, and so on.


  24. Patrick

    dave o, all of the things you mention are important and certainly more important than my needs. However, we both stated that we would gladly give up our cars if there was a viable alternative. But there isn’t.

    Since you’re so willing to to offer up up advice as to how I should drastically change my lifestyle, let me offer a few ideas of ways that you can further contribute to the global warming solution:

    1. No more computer. They contain mined products from across the globe, plastics from petroleum and consume fossil-fuel powered electricity.

    2. No electricity for you! Even if you would be willing to cover the house with solar panels, the manufacture of photovoltaics consumes energy and resources.

    3. Don’t eat anything that you haven’t grown yourself, without purchased fertilizer or water from the tap. Oh, and don’t mail order any seeds. You’ll need to stick to things you can glean from your community.

    4. You must compost your own feces and urine. The movement, treatment and disposal of your waste consumes unrenewable resources.

    5. You must walk everywhere, without wearing any resource consuming clothing. You may however fashion some sort of body cover from twigs and leaves gleaned from your own property. They must be properly composted after use.

    6. Never purchase anything again. Ever.

    7. Don’t exhale anymore. We could do without your carbon dioxide.

    8. Etc.

    No one is perfect. But until you are, please hop off that high horse (oh wait, horse shit releases methane, a greenhouse gas).

  25. Patrick

    OK. So I checked out my carbon footprint at the “An Inconvenient Truth” website. My yearly carbon impact was calculated at 4.7 tons per year (US average per person is 7.5). And, my car was responsible for 3.45 tons of that. As a result, I have decided to delay a car purchase until a plug-in is available. In addition, I have a solar consultant coming out tomorrow; I have calculated that I need an array that pumps out 1.7 kWh; using Sharp High Efficiency panels, I can accomplish that for about $15,000. 30% of that will be picked up by the Feds, and I will also get about $1700 in incentives from the State of California for an effective cost of $8300. Not bad, considering it will probably raise the value of my house by $10,000 – and solar is exempt from property taxes. And I won’t be paying PGE.

    Further research showed that if I traveled as many miles in a bus as I do in my car, I would still be responsible for 1.1 tons of carbon; by train, 2.4. Because of the fact that to get to work (which is 95% of my driving) via public transit, I would need to take 3 different buses, 1 train (and walk, expending calories that would need to be replenished). In addition, the route is actually 5 miles longer as it is not direct. I figure I would still “emit” 2 tons of carbon using public transit, not to mention giving up 3.5 hours of my day. So, to offset my egregious 1.45 tons, I have purchased carbon offsets towards energy efficiency and renewables in California equaling 2.0 tons.

  26. SF2OAK

    OAK ought to have a plan for the inevitable closure of some dealerships- we do not want blight where a dealership (and now a drug dealer will stand) once stood. I don’t agree that it’s a pain in the ass to drive to a dealership it’s very normal and how do you do a trade in?
    OAK ought to really think about it’s retail fortunes- you can see where this was once a thriving downtown with Magnin’s etc. Obviously not the case for many years. I just applied for a business license- it took over 2.5 hours- how unfriendly is that and I’m afraid that is just the begining of my unfriendly relationship with city of Oak and alameda county. I certainly applaud all retail owners in OAK- it must be extrememly tough with very little foot traffic, fear on the streets. Does any body remember when Scout on Telegraph had an article about Dellums up in the window and basically saying they would withhold taxes until they got services (if I remember correctly.)

    Perhaps Oak could think
    BIG and get behind Shai Agassi or some other green car.

    As for global warming- I was at NIMBY where they were blasting the fire and saying how much destruction they are doing to the environment- these are artists in OAK- I don’t think generally people care much about CO2 emissions.

  27. Patrick

    I disagree with your last statement, SF2OAK. I think most people do care about CO2 emissions, but it really hasn’t been on the radar for most people for very long – especially for people who are older, like me, at almost 45. It is a noble thought to try to change everyone’s lifestyle overnight, but as it took us nearly a century to get to this point, it’s ridiculous to think it will change overnight. I also take exception to people like dave o, who give up their cars and proclaim themselves superior. As I pointed out, we ALL contribute to the CO2 increases on our planet, as virtually every daily human activity has some sort of impact – buses and trains use less CO2 per person (assuming they’re full), but their CO2 impact is still quite large. There is no panacea – and giving up a car may be a huge step in the right direction, but it’s not the only thing one can do. It’s also not possible for people like me, yet, without altering my lifestyle up to the point of leaving my job. If anyone knows of an Oakland-based job in Import-Export logistics specializing in TTB and FDA requirements as it relates to Wine, that’s hiring and pays well, please let me know.

  28. Robert

    Chrysler has announced that they will be closing Bay Bridge Chrysler at Broadway and Webster.

  29. Ralph

    I guess that explains why no one helped me and the place was practically empty of salespeople when I walked in this aftn. With all 3 brands under roof I had allowed myself to become optimistic about their future. Walking along Broadway, I noticed the many empty store fronts. I am hopeful that the remaining businesses can hold it together as we move to rebuild the neighborhood.

  30. Patrick

    Bay Bridge has stated that they are not planning on closing, as the other brands they sell make up most of their sales volume. And, they will continue to service Chrysler products – which is probably a very lucrative part of their business!

  31. SF2OAK


    Maybe you care about CO2 but even you admit implicitly you can do little. It was my mistake to say few people care about CO2 but care must be coupled with action- I care about the environment but what can I do. Will I quit my job? NO. Will I buy only local- well I try, and if it is easy convenient and same price I will but admittedly I don’t. People are now more price conscious than CO2 conscious.

    I notice you say giving up a car is not the only thing one can do and then you neglect to add other things- the fact is they are probably all small in comparison and you may do it if it’s convenient.

    This is way off topic- let’s get back to car dealerships and their inevitable closure.

  32. Patrick

    Um, I think installing a PV system on my roof is “doing something”. Even when I come late to a conversation, at least I read all of the preceding posts.

    I don’t think closure of car dealerships is inevitible – at least not all of them. According to Polk & Co., the average lifecycle of a US car rose last year to 9.2 years, the highest ever. My car, which emits 3.45 tons of carbon per year based on my driving patterns, achieves a measly 20 mpg average. But it is also nearly 9 years old – and I stated I hope to put off a new car purchase until a plug-in is available. Some of the new plug-in hybrids (which are already being sold in China) achieve the equivalent of 100+ mpg. As I calculated my transportation needs via public transit CO2 output at 2 tons per year, by quintupling my gas mileage to 100 miles per gallon, my carbon footprint via plug-in hybrid would drop to .69 tons per year – approximately 1/3 that of using public transit. And that’s assuming that I plug that car into California’s grid, which I won’t be – I’ll be plugging it in to my solar panel array, which I will expand to meet the demands of the new car. If an all-electric car becomes available, my carbon footprint would be reduced to zero, with the exception of manufacturing the vehicle and the solar panels.

  33. Patrick

    And I did not “admit implicitly” that I can do little. For the lifestyle I lead, I would be happy to hold up my carbon footprint against anyone else’s. Everything about the way I live is guided by environmental concern.

  34. dave o

    Patrick, I didn’t mean to do a holier-than-thou trip on you. I used to fly about in bush planes for kicks, so my lifetime carbon footprint is probably way over yours. My favorite meal was steak, I lived in a two-story house on the beach in Half Moon Bay after commuting from Berkeley to Silicon Valley in a life before HMB. Hey! Just shoot me, ok?
    But at some point it became obvious that the US lifestyle will be responsible for the suffering of billions of people, many not even born yet, not to mention those who are suffering now in droughts, and hurricanes and so on. Of course, I generate all kinds of carbon in the many ways that you mentioned. You cannot completely leave your social and economic context, many of those choices were made by others or by you out of ignorance, and you cannot change that. But sometimes you can do things like the solar roof, and I did that and I’m proud to be a net generator of electricity after providing power to quite a few people. No mountaintop removal or air pollution or oil wars or global warming required for my power. And I was told that it takes two years to repay the power that was used to manufacture and install the panels and associated electronics.
    Of course, there are many other reasonable oportunities to cut carbon: local organic food, pacifism, walking or simply staying home or near home, etc. And maybe you will have a good opportunity at some point to lose your dependence on the car to get to work.
    As for the dealerships, peak oil is here and global warming and I will celebrate each one that closes. Keep up the good work with the solar roof and so on. You will never regret it. The small children in Bagdad whose eyes have been blown out of their sockets by our cluster bombs will thank you too.
    BTW, one of the mechanics at Bay Bridge said that they are not closing because they were diversified into KIA and other more profitable brands.

  35. Patrick

    Thank you, dave o. As a man who walks outside to pour all of his cooking water and cold water captured before the shower warms up into a wine barrel (to water my yard), I detest the “holier-than-thou” attitude from people who don’t (by choice or economics) drive a car, yet are often profligate resource wasters in every other way. I do everything I can that’s feasible, and plan to do much more.

  36. dave o

    I don’t like self-righteous, hypocritical people either, so I hesitate to write what might appear to be a defensive, self-congratulatory post like this. But survival and community are the big topics now. Consumerism is dead. Please tell the City of Oakland that it is time to move on to different values that are appropriate to the current crisis.

    1 – no more computer

    This computer is more-or-less in the public domain. I raised the money for it and the sprint aircard connection, but mostly others use it. The impacts are heavily leveraged. I hope that computers get through the inevitable transition but it is clear that these overblown cars won’t.

    2 – no more electricity

    I am a net producer. Some of the electrons that you are using to read this probably came from my roof. Be grateful , god damn it! The panels are supposed to “pay” for themselves (in terms or therms) in two years. That was back in 2007 after a 2005 install.

    3 – don’t eat anything grown by others

    I can’t really grow stuff given my current life circumstances (like you can’t ditch your car). However, I mostly eat People’s Grocery vegetables which are grown locally and organically. Sometimes I sneak over to GrossOut for some coffee beans or chocolate.

    4 – compost your excrement

    I compost the urine but not the feces. I would happily compost the feces with a composting toilet if I wasn’t afraid of mean-spirited authorities (“mean-spirited” might be a redundancy). For the urine, I dig a little hole in the ground and bury it. The water savings are massive. Only a really stupid culture like this one would defecate in its own water supply (or clusterbomb civilians to “spread democracy”).

    5 – you must walk everywhere and wear twigs

    I do walk everywhere. Occasionally, I ride public transit but it is kind of a waste of cash. For distances I bike. Clothes are usually given to me or left behind at a church where I work. I buy new shoes but that is the big personal purchase for the year.

    6 – I rarely purchase things. The effort to obtain the cash and the displaced costs (pollution, slave labor, carbon production, etc) are rarely worth the benefits of owning the item. Cars are a classic example of something that would flunk a deep cost/benefit analysis. Pet food and meds are problematic, though a lot of pet food can be dumpster dived. Dogs are great scavengers but the cats are fussy.

    7 – I try to justify my carbon dioxide footprint ( small though it is) by doing public service. It’s all I do really. The reason that I’m writing this now is to address the profound ignorance that I see in consumerism as a guiding principle. It took a lot of time and human energy to write this, but it is my gift to you, Patrick. And that is how I see your posts. Thank you.

  37. Ken O

    Reviving a thread here….

    It looks as though the Broadway auto dealers are limping along, hobbling to their eventual graves.

    Nissan: closed
    Chrysler: closed. (Cafe Z is making use of their space, more or less)
    GM-Chevy: Still open, but hardly a customer in site.
    Audi: still there.
    VW: still there. (people are nutty about german cars for no good reason. they might drive okay–I think VW cars finally got independent suspensions in… 2008? they are crappy otherwise, though still smaller than US cars)
    Saturn (GM): closed as mentioned above

    On the other hand, many bicycle shops opening around Oakland!

    Temescal: TipTop and Manifesto (2 brand new shops, opened in last 5 years)
    Uptown: Bay Area Bikes (has been around forever, recently under new ownership)

    There are more new bike shops in BERKELEY and SF too — Mikes Bikes in Berkeley (University above Shattuck), MyDutchBike and RecycleBike or something like that (SF)

    Bikes are the wave of the US transportation future so to speak. As our employment paychecks and benefits equalize on a globalized scale (developing country wages rise, our wages fall) we will be using more means of transportation well known to the “3rd world.”

    Also interesting: Alameda has no more new car dealerships.

  38. Dax

    The Don Perata solution. Raise Oakland’s sales tax half a percent.

    There! That ought to bring them flocking to the Broadway showrooms.

    Regarding bikes vs car sales. Lets see, 10% of $500 to $1,500 is $50 to $150
    while 10% of $30,000 is $3,000

    All we’ve got to do is sell 20 to 50 bikes for every car sale we lose.

  39. Ken O

    ALso on the dealer note: China’s car sales and oil/energy use have eclipsed America’s car sales and oil use this year.

    More cars are now sold in China than in America. When I was there for the first time in 2005 or 2006 I saw tons of Buicks everywhere. Very popular car in Southern China.

    Otherwise, VW Jettas were popular for taxi service across the country. But China is also producing/using lots of electric bicycles too.

    I see a few here and there in the bay area but nothing like China… or Japan.

    Also as seen in the bay area, lots of folding bikes are popular in Japan/China nowadays, as of 2009 when I last visited.

    Last note – Ford just finished selling Volvo to a Chinese auto company. There’s no reason for the US to subsidize new car sales here.

    Last note #2- just because we lose Oakland new car dealers doesn’t mean we also lose used car dealers, or car mechanic shops. We’ll need those “forever” – at least for anyone reading this page.