CLEVELAND — In a vast, empty Nissan store in a nondescript suburb, Bernie Moreno is thinking about blockchains.
A few years ago, he was a thriving auto retailer with 15 dealerships and $1 billion in annual sales. But the disruptive potential of technology and erosion of new-vehicle profitability made him question what kind of business he would want to leave for his children.
He had to get out.
"[I] lifted my head — saw this horror show," Moreno, 52, told Automotive News. He sold all but two stores, and now he's nurturing tech startups. Moreno's moment of reckoning came in 2015, just as he was poised to grow his dealership empire. An uncertain outlook for traditional auto retailers — related to questions about self-driving cars, new mobility ventures and potential shifts in vehicle ownership patterns in combination with declining new-vehicle profits and problematic automaker programs — gave him pause. Other dealers also are taking a hard look at their futures in the face of a changing auto retail landscape.