Friday, August 29, 2008

Environmental suggestion

mercedes benz lotAbraham Piper wrote: "Blogs are not generally good places to be didactic. Rather, they’re ideal for suggesting and commending. I’ve learned, after I write, to go back and cut those lines that sound like commands or even overbearing suggestions, no matter how right they may be. Because if it’s true for my audience, it’s true for me, so why not word it in such a way that I’m the weak one, rather than them?"

I tried to tone down the idea that follows - but succeeded only minimally. Forgive me.

Car dealerships and all car industries selling in America could make a significant change to improve the environment.

In most car lots, there are always way more cars in inventory than will ever be sold in a reasonable amount of time, in the name of providing customers with more choice. I also think it has to do with the typical sales model of "if you leave the lot today, you won't buy the car later." So having more models to choose from increases the chance of that elusive sale.

In Europe, the equivalent of a Chevrolet dealership will have just one or two examples of each model on their lot. You can still get the exact version you want - but you may have to wait a day or so for it to be delivered from another dealer or a depot.

Think of the huge amount of cash tied up, just sitting there all the time. Think of the money spent keeping all of them washed and their batteries charged. One dealer I passed on the way to work here in Colorado had an employee start each car every morning during winter, just to warm up the engines - resulting in lots of fresh carbon monoxide filling the air. Think of the money tied up in unnecessary real estate. Think of the bookkeeping and accounting just to keep track of them all. Think of all that times many thousands of lots all over the country.

The first two rows shown here, alone, are worth more than $2,000,000 at today's prices - and that's based on the most stripped-down versions' prices. This is the Mercedes dealership about two miles from where we live. And a big Chevrolet dealership that we pass on our way to Dallas has probably five acres of vehicles - with massive awnings to keep the sun off the cars. You can choose between 45 Silverado pickups.

My solution: slowly sell off the extra inventory. (Slow change is good.) Eventually reduce the size of dealerships. A PhD can figure out how to make this work. (Yes, the workers still need income. And what should be done with all those car lots? I don't have any good ideas.)

Am I being too extreme? Do you have any ideas about how to get America to trim its inventory?

Footnote: I have actually been thinking about this post for more than four months. What kept me from posting was getting the photo. (Click on the photo to see it larger.) I put our biggest ladder in the back of our minivan and drove to the lot. I stood outside the lot on the top of the ladder and quickly snapped three photos. Then at home, I used Photoshop's auto-merge feature to amazingly stitch the three photos together to create the panorama. I lazily filled in a non-photo section at the lower right with grey. I also did not fix the two-part roof of the black G-class in the foreground.

1 comment:

jasonjyee said...

Good suggestion... but despite the way things ought to work, especially with the internet, it's trending the other way. For example, you'd think that with the internet, it'd be easy to research a car and only use a dealership to do a test drive. But it seems sites like and encourage dealers to keep larger inventories, because instead of just telling me where I can find a certain car to test drive or buy/order, they let me specify a specific color and many other options. So it's advantageous for dealerships to keep an entire palette of the same car. That way if i search for a red one, they'll show up in my search results.