The bleak landscape where my Oldsmobile-Saab dealership stood, a half-mile from my house, awaits the reawakening of the economy so a strip mall can go in. Nobody, including me (Olds) and my wife (Saab), buys General Motors cars there anymore.
I used to buy Dodges at the Dodge dealership a mile away. I liked being able to walk home from a service visit. After the dealership was sold to the Chrysler-Jeep dealer in the next town, the store was bulldozed. You can now buy a submarine sandwich, vitamins or a cell phone in the little shopping center there.
Since my store left me, I have bought zero Dodges.
The U.S. Treasury Department's enthusiasm for closing domestic car dealerships needs some re-examination.
Yes, the Detroit 3 have a lot of stores. And yes, those stores on average sell a lot fewer cars than do Toyota or Honda dealerships. Prosperous dealers with high throughput are, all things being equal, a good thing.
But will a precipitous closing of 1,000 Chrysler LLC stores help a new Chrysler prosper after bankruptcy? Surely not in the short or medium run.
Meanwhile, GM, which had proposed a fairly gradual reduction of dealerships going out to 2014, has responded to Treasury's whip by saying it will whack its network from the current 6,200 dealerships to 3,600 by the end of next year.