Two major changes are under way at longtime San Luis Obispo car dealership Kimball Motor Company: It is up for sale because of the planned retirement of 80-year-old owner and president James W. Kimball; and this week, Volkswagen canceled its franchise at the location, which did not meet VW's sales quota.
Sales manager Nick Russell confirmed that the dealership, which has 30 employees, is in the process of negotiating a sale with a buyer in Los Angeles, though he would not disclose the price or the buyer.
Kimball Motor has revenues of more than $30 million per year, and has been known as one of the top sales tax producers in San Luis Obispo, according to previous Tribune reports. Though the company is still profitable, revenues have fallen from the early 2000s, when they were in the $40 million range, Russell said.
Volkswagen has made up a third of Kimball’s sales to this point. The car company revoked its franchise at Kimball on Tuesday after 15 months of monitoring. VW wanted to Kimball to sell 242 of its cars per year, the equivalent of 20 per month. Kimball Motor was selling 10 to 15 per month. Russell said that the quota would have been easier to meet if Volkswagen had sent it more of the hottest selling models, such as the Jetta and Passat.
Kimball Motor will continue to service VWs that are no longer under warranty, but for warranty service, VW owners will have to drive to Santa Maria or Salinas.
Kimball Motor Company was started by Fred C. Kimball on lower Higuera Street in San Luis Obispo, Russell said. In 1959, current owner James W. Kimball took over. The dealership operated for some time in the heart of downtown San Luis Obispo before moving to its current location on Calle Joaquin, visible from Highway 101. The buyers currently have no plans to move it.