Dealers still reeling after Sandy's wrath
Many dealerships in New Jersey and parts of New York are still recovering and assessing damages caused by Hurricane Sandy, which hit the East Coast Monday evening.
Mark Schienberg, president of the Greater New York Automobile Dealers Association, said about 60 percent of their dealers are still without power and were closed Wednesday.
Dealerships in Long Island, Brooklyn and Staten Island were hit especially hard, he said.
Out of the 435 new-car dealers who are members of the association, about 250 are on Long Island, Schienberg said.
In a survey by the association, some dealers reported up to $50,000 in damages. He said he hasn't yet heard from dealers expected to be the hardest hit.
In the New York City area, many dealers lack space to store inventory at their dealerships. So they store vehicles on piers, which could mean a dramatic loss of inventory once it's all counted, said Schienberg.
Many vehicles stored on Brooklyn piers were damaged, he added.
Schienberg said at last count Manhattan Ford lost 200 vehicles it had stored on a pier and Toyota estimates 4,000- to- 4,500 of its vehicles were destroyed as the cars sat on a pier awaiting delivery to dealerships.
The storm also has caused a loss in sales and showroom traffic.
"The last thing on peoples' minds right now … is getting their cars serviced or looking at buying another car," Schienberg said.
The storm came at a bad time for many dealers who had committed to end-of-the-month sales incentives to boost sales, he said.
"The impact on the industry is going to be quite severe," Schienberg said.
As many as 800 Ford Motor Co. dealerships have been affected by the storm, Ford CFO Bob Shanks told Bloomberg on Monday. They remained closed Tuesday and Wednesday and he said he wasn't sure when most would reopen.
About 24 Chrysler stores were closed Tuesday, a spokesman wrote in an e-mail to Automotive News.
The National Automobile Dealers Association said widespread power outages are hampering communications between dealers and employees.
Many dealership facilities are also inaccessible because of fallen trees and closed roads. In New Jersey, the state system for registering vehicles is down, so dealers that are open can’t sell cars.
Dealership employees who have been affected by the disaster are eligible to receive financial assistance from the Emergency Relief Fund of the National Automobile Dealers Charitable Foundation.
“It will likely take days or even weeks before we start to get a clear picture of what's needed for storm relief,” said David Hyatt, vice president of public affairs for NADA.
Many dealerships in Maryland, Virginia, Pennsylvania and Rhode Island lost power because of heavy winds and rain but did not experience major inventory damage.
As of this afternoon, about 5.9 million customers are without power in 15 states and the District of Columbia, according to numbers compiled by CNN from local power providers.
The storm has been blamed for 50 deaths in the United State and 68 elsewhere, CNN reported.