Bakersfield's two decade-old Volvo dealership has closed, apparently as a result of an agreement with the manufacturer, making it at least the city's third high-end new car lot to close this year.
Sangera Automotive Group's Volvo Cars Bakersfield still has some of the Swedish-made vehicles in stock but quit marketing them for sale about a month ago, General Manager Damon Culbertson said Thursday.
"A decision was made between us and Volvo to kind of dissolve the partnership," he said. "We just decided that we were going to go a different direction." He declined to discuss how local sales were going before the closure decision.
No jobs were lost as a result of the split, Culbertson said. Sangera has more than 125 employees, and those devoted to Volvo were reassigned. Sangera also sells vehicles made by Mercedes Benz and Subaru, as well as used cars and trucks.
Sangera referred calls to Volvo, which did not respond Thursday to a request for comment.
A letter sent recently to local Volvo owners states the Bakersfield dealership will close effective Friday. Because they will be unable to have their Volvos serviced locally, it referred them to four other dealers: Bob Smith Volvo Cars Calabasas, in Calabasas; Galpin Volvo in Van Nuys; Harris Volvo Cars Fresno, in Fresno; and Smith Volvo Cars, in San Luis Obispo.
"We thank Volvo Cars Bakersfield and their team for their quality efforts in servicing customers over the last 20 years," the letter says.
Customers interested in buying a Volvo can "technically" still do so at the Sangera lots at 5500 and 5600 Gasoline Alley Drive, Culbertson said, but the buyer would be notified Sangera no longer represents the brand. He said the company expects to return unsold Volvos to the manufacturer.
"I just think that, you know, from our standpoint, the real estate that we had that was represented by Volvo, at this point in time, is better used to service the existing products that we have," he said.
The closure follows the end of Maserati and Alfa Romeo sales in Bakersfield earlier this year.
Mo Hosseini, director of operations for 10 vehicle franchises employing 640 people in Bakersfield, said the group halted sales of the Italian brands at the end of January because they were not profitable.
"Unfortunately (it) wasn't very successful," he said.
The lot where Maserati and Alfa Romeo brands were being displayed sold eight to 10 vehicles per month, Hosseini said in a recent interview.