Sue Ives smiled as she walked into her Richland County, Ill., dealership and saw an actual salesman chatting with a human finance and insurance manager. It felt good to see a dealership that still looked like the ones she and her father had grown up running. She also silently congratulated herself for her savvy planning, which had so appalled Dad back then.
Out in the country, dealerships will still look like dealerships
Most of the Ives Motors stores were gone now. She had seen the writing on the wall long before the feds banned human drivers from interstates and had sold her suburban dealerships while the real estate they sat on was still worth something. She kept only the most remote of those to serve as service centers for the autonomous fleets Ives Motors now managed.
She had bought this store when most dealers still shunned rural outlets. But a government that nearly eliminated traffic deaths by telling owners of Porsches, Mustangs and other fast cars that they could only drive on closed tracks was not going to tell farmers where, on gravel roads or off, they could drive their pickups.
Last month, someone had sought to buy this store, but offered only 10 times earnings in blue sky; she laughed him out of her office. The others in her 12 Group agreed: It was good to be a dealer.
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