Limited time, lack of storage hurt N.Y. dealers
When auto dealers on New York's Long Island and in the boroughs of Brooklyn, Staten Island and Manhattan learned that Sandy was approaching, they faced an alarming challenge: lack of vehicle storage space on higher ground.
The Greater New York Automobile Dealers Association had advised dealers to move vehicles upland over the Oct. 27-28 weekend, but many dealers could not find storage in time -- and were forced to leave vehicles on piers when Sandy hit the region on Monday, Oct. 29.
Bay Ridge Honda in Brooklyn may have lost as many as 800 vehicles that were stored on a nearby dock, said Mark Schienberg, president of the association.
Ford Motor Co.-owned Manhattan Automobile Co. lost 160 Transit Connects and Crown Victorias it had stored in Hoboken, N.J. The dealership had planned to sell the vehicles as taxis.
Most dealers had nowhere to store their vehicles and no way to transport them, Schienberg said.
Southwest of Brooklyn, two Staten Island dealerships were destroyed: Villa Marin Buick-GMC and Manfredi Mazda-Kia-Mitsubishi, he said.
Northeast of Brooklyn, Koeppel Volkswagen in Queens was unharmed but had significant inventory damage because it stores its vehicles elsewhere, Schienberg said.
More than half of the association's 435 new-car dealers were still without electricity late last week, and local officials say it may be as long as two weeks before power is fully restored, Schienberg said.
About 250 of the association's dealers are on Long Island, another hard-hit area.
In New Jersey, where Sandy's damage also was severe, Toyota Motor Corp. said it had more than 4,000 vehicles damaged while they sat at Port Newark awaiting delivery to dealerships, the automaker said.
Of the 515 new-car dealers in New Jersey, 400-plus were still without power, Internet or phone service on Friday, estimated Jim Appleton, president of the New Jersey Coalition of Automotive Retailers.
Prestige Management Services, a Paramus, N.J., dealership group with seven northern New Jersey stores, had minimal inventory damage, thanks to a storage facility it shares in Nyack, N.Y., about 25 miles north of Manhattan, said David Branch, general sales manager at the group's Mercedes-Benz store.
Of a few thousand vehicles stored there, only a handful were damaged, Branch said. The Mercedes store was the only one in the group that reopened last week, on Thursday, Nov. 1, but without full electricity.
Prestige Management Services ranks No. 39 on the Automotive News list of top 125 dealership groups in the United States with retail sales of 14,676 new vehicles in 2011. The group's dealerships also handle Jaguar, Land Rover, BMW, Mini, Lexus, Toyota, Scion and Fisker.
Branch said many employees of the group's stores had their homes and vehicles severely damaged, and the vast majority did not have power and heat.
"On a corporate level, we didn't lose a lot, but on a personal level, there was a lot of loss," Branch said. "Most of us are going home to dark homes at night."