Jeramey Jannene

Bergstrom Automotive Innovating

By - Jun 23rd, 2008 10:02 am
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It is genuinely encouraging to see the Bergstrom Automotive Group deciding to stay in-tune with market trends (read: increasingly high fuel prices) and downsize their Hummer dealership into being part of an existing dealership, instead of a stand-alone unit. What are they replacing the highly-visible dealership with? A GM-certified user-car dealership.

Nothing earth shattering with the news, it’s just encouraging to see a company follow the market quickly, instead of slowly (see: Janesville, Wisconsin General Motors plant).

Our friends at Metro Milwaukee Today see this development in a completely different light. In fact they’re shocked that people don’t want expensive, fuel-inefficient, status symbols to drive to other high-end retail stores anymore.

I was shocked when the news broke out a few days ago on the Journal Sentinel. The land where the big HUMMER sign displays proudly is on prime real estate, visible from many angles on US 45 and Good Hope Road. The dealership also gave Park Place a higher status in regards to wealth and power as an office park in NW Milwaukee County. For it to be downgraded to nothing more than a used car dealership is sad, to say the least.

They couldn’t be more wrong. It’s encouraging, not sad, that a company is taking a drastic step to revamp how they do business to respond to what is likely a permanent fixture in the market (high gas prices).

Sure, Hummers are a status symbol, for the military. A civilian driving a Hummer is like throwing money into the wind, except the wind is rich oil executives.

On the note of it being a “sad” user car dealership, well that used car fits in pretty well with the big “go green” movement. How? That new Toyota Prius you want gets great gas mileage, but it costs a lot up-front. Not only does the price tag come in higher than a used car, but the Prius basically burns 1,000 gallons of gasoline before you drive it a mile. (I’m not saying I dislike the Prius, in fact if I were to have to actually own a car in the future, and let’s hope I won’t, the Prius will be on my short list. The manufacturing process just needs improvement.)

Long-lasting used cars (including the GM “certified” variety that Bergstrom will be selling) with decently high fuel efficiency are arguably “greener” because you’re only producing the car once, but satisfying two owners over a long period of time. Not to mention that used cars are cheaper than buying a new car (buying a new car that immediately depreciates in value has to be one of the worst investment decisions one can make).

As I’ve said before, gasoline-powered cars before can never be legitimately “green” (nor can parking garages), but stepping stones are going to be essential to building good urban centers that are pedestrian and mass transit friendly.

This also isn’t the first sign of leading the market that Bergstrom has done.  They opened Wisconsin’s first Smart Car dealership next to the Hummer dealership and almost immediately had a waiting list 400 customers long.  They clearly have some idea where the market is going and intend on being the first dealership there.


5 thoughts on “Bergstrom Automotive Innovating”

  1. Jeramey,

    I think you took my words out of context. The point I was trying to make was in regards to the prime land, and the overall upscale feel of the area since Park Place and the Bergstrom dealership began enhancing itself.

    Personally, anything to me would be better on that site other than a used car dealership. The SMART dealership received no complaints from me, and that’s a relatively inexpensive car.

  2. Jeramey Jannene says:


    I don’t think I did. You’re stereotyping all used car dealerships as some unattractive use of space. Frankly, I think it’s really hard to have something attractive next to a freeway at all, but I know we disagree over that.

    I wouldn’t be surprised if plenty of the cars at the dealership sold for more than the SMART cars next door. They are GM Certified used cars, not just random used cars. You can rest assured Bergstrom and GM will only be selling higher quality used cars at that dealership.

    Anything better than a General Motors Certified Used Car dealership? How about an abandoned Hummer dealership in a year? There simply isn’t the money out there to support wasteful, gas hogging SUVs anymore.

    You say it’s a downgrade, I say you’re wrong. I say the downgrade is when it goes completely out of business because they didn’t respond to the market and then the County and City are stuck with this wasteland that was a symbol of wasteful spending.

    I think there is a lot more prime land in the city than that location that is underused.

  3. Jeramey,

    Any dealership other than solely selling used cars would be better. I’m not supporting Hummers in my blog, or any other SUVs. I’ll be blunt – I think you’re stereotyping me as a typical suburban SUV lover. Sorry, that’s just not the case.

    And yes, we’ll definitely agree to disagree about highways and attractiveness. You just flat out hate highways and anything about them from what I’m gathering. I’m sorry to hear that, for I’m one that enjoys a nice joyride on the freeway every once in awhile.

  4. Jeramey Jannene says:


    I don’t think you’re understanding the difference between a somewhat sleazy used car dealer and a certified used car dealer (those are certainly not the only kinds). To be a GM certified used car the vehicle must be a 2003 or newer model and have less 60,000 miles on it ( I think that sounds pretty high-end to me (which satisfies your concern).

    I’m not calling you an SUV lover. I’m calling you someone obsessed with the impression of wealth. You’ve established a position that a used car (even though it may sell for more than the brand new Smart Car fortwo next door) is less appealing to look at and bad (at least for that location). That it does not give the presentation of wealth (which you called the Hummer dealership an enabler of the feelings of power and wealth).

    I absolutely love highways that aren’t in cities. I think the interstate system is vital to connect cities to other cities. I absolutely hate highways within cities, and I think a large stretch of highway 45 is that. Inner-city highways destroy land values (except for a special few plots), encourage massive parking lots, and hurt communities. A quick look at the weird distortion of the plots of land surrounding the former Park East freeway, the oddities of what was established (or demolished) while the freeway spur was in place are astounding. I’m sitting in a cheap building that could be anywhere (think any random machine shop in the midwest), while on the other side of the vacant land is the Bradley Center. Huge distortion in values caused by the placement of freeway exits and presence.

    A lot of crime in this area and others can be traced to the presence of freeways distorting and separating neighborhoods.

    The normal street grid will correct this in the future.

    How do people move in cities without massive freeways? Well-planned street grids, light rail, heavy rail, and bus-rapid transit systems. Subways is massive urban areas. A lot of the cities in Europe do this quite well, even at sizes smaller than Madison. Walkability is good for your health and the health of the neighborhood.

    You’ll notice that never once in there did I make an argument that freeways are bad because they cause pollution. Even if cars were to magically emit zero pollution, I would still prefer mass transit systems within cities because they are simply more efficient at moving people because of the space they take up (or don’t).

    Cities are amazing economic engines that produce all these amazing social and cultural events organically, they grow businesses by themselves, they enable connections and foster trade. Former Mayor John Norquist explains this magnificently in his book “The Wealth of Cities”. Freeways destroy that power by disconnecting parts of the city. They distort land values devaluing pieces near each other while valuing others further way.

    Look at 794 as it goes through downtown. Why should the biggest building in the state be so close to a row of surface parking lots? The Third Ward is thriving, downtown is thriving, why is there this underused land between the two? The freeway.

  5. Fonzie says:

    Hummer does not equal “wealth and power”.

    Hummer equals “ignorance and white trash”

    Repeat that as much as possible until these clowns understand.

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