Groundwork for the new Porsche, Audi, and BMW dealerships in Clovis has begun and owner C.J. Wilson says they’re coming just in time for those brands’ new aesthetic.
And the new showrooms may help bring even more car brands to the region.
New Location: Clovis and Herndon Avenues
On Nov. 15, former MLB all-star pitcher and racing enthusiast turn luxury-car dealer Wilson finished closing on the 15-acre property near the southwest corner of Herndon and Clovis avenues that will play home to BMW Fresno, Audi Fresno, and Porsche Fresno.
He hopes to begin phasing the move of the three brands to their new home from where they are at Herndon and Palm avenues in 2026.
Wilson came to Fresno to be able to sell BMW, Audi, and Porsche. Over the past few years he’s seen the demand grow.
“With these three brands, I genuinely believe in them, which is why I moved here in the first place,” Wilson said. “We’ve been growing the last couple of years. It’s been fantastic. So it’s just time to keep growing and increase the momentum.”
State-of-the-Art Dealerships Will Be Among First of Their Kind
Every 10 to 20 years, manufacturers come out with how they want dealerships to sell their vehicles. The details can be very specific, from the furniture to the tile, the type of lighting, down to even the color of the coffee machine and the toolboxes.
“The Germans don’t have a translatable word for flexibility, it’s more of a demand,” Wilson said.
Wilson and his team timed the decision to move with the rollout of that new vision.
Only a handful of dealerships have these new standards, Wilson said. BMW has a dealership in Fairfield and in San Diego County under their Retail Next vision. Porsche has a new dealership for their Generation Five in Palm Springs and Woodland Hills. Wilson believes his Audi dealership will be one of the first of its kind in California.
Three Brands Gives Customer Best Options: Wilson
Porsche Fresno is the only Porsche dealership from Bakersfield to Sacramento and Monterey to the west. There is a BMW dealer in Visalia and Audi in Modesto, but Wilson’s reach covers much of the Central Valley.
That means the campus pulls in customers from a wide radius.
“The general concept of having a campus and having all three brands together like we’re building, like we have now, is it allows people to cross-shop,”
Wilson said that also allows salesmen to offer unbiased opinions.
“We can bring people onto our campus and they can cross-shop an X7 BMW versus a Cayenne versus an Audi Q8,” Wilson said.
Having a larger campus will allow for a larger service center. Being next to Highway 168 also will give the brands better visibility than at the north Palm location.
Two of the 15 acres at the new site will be for a hotel. Having a hotel nearby means better opportunities for training and recruitment.
“If someone is going to come in from out of town, hey, you can stay at the hotel right next to the store, you know? That’s the ideal scenario,” Wilson said. “Hopefully we’re able to do that and provide the circular economy between the other use cases locally there.”
Staggered Move Beginning 2026
The first steps of site improvement have begun with tree and debris removal. There still are municipal codes to navigate. A stoplight will be added and traffic just south of Herndon Avenue will be altered a bit.
Audi and Porsche are the furthest along in terms of preparation so Wilson sees those two being the first to move.
“I don’t think it’s going to be 2025, it’ll definitely be 2026 before we’re finished with everything, this is a very big project,” Wilson said.
Wilson Wants to Keep the Keys to Current Space
Wilson said he wants to retain the current space on Palm Avenue if he can add brands to his portfolio. California law dictates spacing between dealerships with similar cars.
He said the dealerships there work well operationally, but the biggest limitation is their service center.
“If we had more niche brands that didn’t require the same level of service capacity that we do, then we could absolutely bring in some other brands that people would be excited about,” Wilson said.
Wilson wouldn’t say which brands he had in mind.
Having three new state-of-the-art dealerships shows manufacturers he can deliver, though.
“There’s nothing better for your reputation as a car dealer than having sparkling facilities,” Wilson said.
Clovis Could Deliver Faster than Fresno
Wilson looked for sites in Fresno and Clovis before finding the location at Herndon and Clovis avenues.
Sontaya Rose, director of communications for the City of Fresno, said Mayor Jerry Dyer reached out to Wilson to discuss what it would take to keep him in Fresno.
But Wilson couldn’t find a place with land that could be built on fast enough.
Manufacturers keep strict timelines on dealers, Wilson says, “and you can’t just stand there and run it.”
“When there was literally a 12-month window difference between the two cities, it made an easy decision to push it to the Clovis side,” Wilson said.
Car Dealers Generate Massive Amounts of Sales Tax Revenue
Car dealers have an outsized impact on sales taxes.
In 2021, new car sales at dealerships generated 16% of sales tax statewide, according to the California New Car Dealers Association.
Wilson didn’t have tax numbers for his dealership off the top of his head.
But breaking it down, the Association estimates the average dealership generated $5.8 million in state sales tax that year.
Counties get one percentage point of the statewide 7.25% rate — which would be $828,571.
In Q2 of 2023, the city of Fresno received roughly 53% of that sales tax revenue when all was said and done.
So that means about $441,131 to the city of Fresno each year. The city’s parks tax, Measure P, would net $21,750 from the average dealership alone.
The move from Fresno to Clovis won’t necessarily affect the city’s revenue, however, as sales tax goes to the jurisdiction where the car is registered.
New Facilities Allow Something ‘Shiny and Brand New’
Wilson said he’s having fun figuring out how sales flow will go. And owning his own facility has always been his goal.
“It’s a difference to have something that’s shiny and brand new that’s yours,” Wilson said. “From a pride of ownership standpoint, I’m a tenant here. I rent these effectively, (but) I don’t own these. So it’ll be nice to own my own dirt and own my own buildings at that point.”