Car dealers collapse as sales drive off a cliff

| Print |  Email
Archives - December 2008
Monday, December 01, 2008

CarDealers Hundreds of car dealerships across Oregon are closing their doors because of slumping demand.

STATEWIDE At first glance, the car lot in outer Southeast Portland looks like all the others nearby, plentifully stocked with “Dealer’s Specials” and “Fresh Start Financing” deals. But while the merchandise is still on display, the business is history, or at least in hibernation.

Thirteen car lots within two miles of this shuttered business have canceled their licenses in 2008, according to Department of Motor Vehicle records. Across Oregon, 270 dealerships have gone under or on hiatus over the past year.

Sky-high gas prices followed by a severe slump in consumer confidence have sent new car sales to their lowest level since World War II. While it is harder to track used car sales in the “EZ Financing” side of town, the same fundamentals apply, and the blight is spreading. Just down the street, another lonely herd of oversized SUVs lies out of reach behind a padlocked chain-link gate.

Used-car lots aren’t the only ones taking a hit. Oregon’s largest auto dealer and third-largest public company, Medford-based Lithia Motors, is losing money and attempting to trim 29 stores from its 13-state empire. Its stock has sunk 75% over the past year.

Major new-car dealerships from Brookings Harbor Ford on the southern coast to Dick Hannah Ford near the Rose Garden in Portland have closed, and more are expected to follow as the recession deepens. One of the state’s oldest dealerships, Gibson Motor Company, which sold Model T Fords when it opened in 1921, closed in November in Junction City. Motor vehicle employment in Oregon is down 14.5%, or 4,000 jobs, from a year ago.

Greg Remensperger, executive vice president of the Oregon Auto Dealers Association, says sales are down 30%. “People who have been in the business for 30, 40 years are saying they’ve never seen anything like this,” he says.

The dealers association has been running ads arguing that it is a great time to buy because financing is available and prices have dropped. The Kelly Blue Book, the benchmark standard for auto pricing has devalued suggested prices an unprecedented six times over the past four months.

“The minute we see one or two rays of sunshine there will be a pent-up bunch of people ready to go out and buy a car,” Remensperger says. Until then dealerships will be “hunkering down to make it through.”                                                         

BEN JACKLET


Have an opinion? E-mail This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it

 

 

 

More Articles

Oregon needs a Grand Bargain energy plan

Linda Baker
Monday, June 22, 2015
0622-gastaxblogthumbBY LINDA BAKER

The Clean Fuels/gas tax trade off will go down in history as another disjointed, on-again off-again approach to city and state lawmaking.


Read more...

Ranking the airlines that fly PDX

The Latest
Thursday, July 30, 2015
airlinesthumbBY JACOB PALMER | DIGITAL NEWS EDITOR

17 airlines make stops at Portland International Airport, but not all are not created equal when it comes to customer service.


Read more...

Best Foot Forward

July/August 2015
Monday, July 13, 2015
BY CHRIS NOBLE

Whether you're stepping out to work or onto the track, Pacific Northwest shoe companies have you covered.


Read more...

Loose Talk

July/August 2015
Friday, July 10, 2015
BY AMY MILSHTEIN

When gossip crosses the line.


Read more...

Business partnerships: taming the three-headed monster

Contributed Blogs
Monday, July 06, 2015
070615-businessmarriagefail-thumbBY KATHERINE HEEKIN | OB GUEST COLUMNIST

Picking a business partner is not much different than choosing a spouse or life partner, and the business break-up can be as heart-wrenching and costly as divorce.


Read more...

Farm in a Box

July/August 2015
Friday, July 10, 2015
BY JACOB PALMER

Most of the food Americans consume is trucked in from hundreds of miles away. Eric Wilson, co-founder and CEO of Gro-volution, wants to change that. So this past spring, the Air Force veteran and former greenhouse manager started work on an alternative farming system he claims is more efficient than conventional agriculture, and also shortens the distance between the consumer and the farm.


Read more...

Greenpeace prevents Shell oil ship from leaving Portland

The Latest
Thursday, July 30, 2015
hangersBY JASON E. KAPLAN | STAFF PHOTOGRAPHER

Activists have suspended themselves from the St. Johns Bridge in Portland, slowing an icebreaker's departure for the Arctic.


Read more...
Oregon Business magazinetitle-sponsored-links-02
SPONSORED LINKS