San Francisco Just Lost Its Last Domestic Car Dealership

More

In a state once hailed for its car culture, closing Lincoln Ford Mercury may herald the death knell of Fordism

Florida_Fordism_5-12_banner.jpg

Reuters/Larry Downing


San Francisco's Lincoln Ford Mercury, the last domestic car dealership within the city's 47.6 square mile area, abruptly shut its doors on May 1, according to The San Francisco Chronicle. "It's a tough market. Imports have a much bigger share in San Francisco," Dennis Fitzpatrick, owner of Concord Chevrolet and regional vice president of the California New Car Dealers Association, told the paper. "When you can sell 100 imports a month as opposed to 25 domestic, and what with the rents and real estate, it's tough to make a U.S. car dealership pencil."

In a country and a state once hailed for its car culture, this is quite a bellwether for a series of interrelated trends and forces that are reshaping our economy, society, and cities.  For one thing, there's the changing consumption patterns of the creative class (who are an even bigger, more unified buying force than the old working class). Some may prefer smaller cars -- Minis and the new Fiat 500s; others like their hybrid Priuses; still others go for electric-powered Volts and Teslas. Then there are those who still like the more conspicuous consumption of higher-status, higher-performance foreign cars -- Porsches, Mercedes, Beamers, and the like. One thing is certain: Fewer and fewer want to bear the old industrial-age badge of the Big Three. And of course there are the growing numbers who have given up the car completely -- who are moving into dense, walkable neighborhoods served by cable cars, where there is not a lot of room for (ever try to park in downtown San Francisco?) and no need for the Lincolns, Fords, and Mercurys, Buicks, Cadillacs, and Chevrolets that provided mobility and the ideal of freedom for their parents and grandparents.  

But most of all, it seems to herald the death knell of Fordism, which Victoria De Grazia defined as "the eponymous manufacturing system designed to spew out standardized, low-cost goods and afford its workers decent enough wages to buy them." And hopefully the beginnings of something new, more human scale, healthier, denser, and better.

Jump to comments
Presented by

Richard Florida is Co-founder and Editor at Large of CityLab.com and Senior Editor at The Atlantic. He is director of the Martin Prosperity Institute at the University of Toronto and Global Research Professor at NYU. More

Florida is author of The Rise of the Creative ClassWho's Your City?, and The Great Reset. He's also the founder of the Creative Class Group, and a list of his current clients can be found here
Get Today's Top Stories in Your Inbox (preview)

What Is the Greatest Story Ever Told?

A panel of storytellers share their favorite tales, from the Bible to Charlotte's Web.


Elsewhere on the web

Join the Discussion

After you comment, click Post. If you’re not already logged in you will be asked to log in or register. blog comments powered by Disqus

Video

The Death of Film

You'll never hear the whirring sound of a projector again.

Video

How to Hunt With Poison Darts

A Borneo hunter explains one of his tribe's oldest customs: the art of the blowpipe

Video

A Delightful, Pixar-Inspired Cartoon

An action figure and his reluctant sidekick trek across a kitchen in search of treasure.

Video

I Am an Undocumented Immigrant

"I look like a typical young American."

Video

Why Did I Study Physics?

Using hand-drawn cartoons to explain an academic passion

Writers

Up
Down

More in Business

From This Author

Just In