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Chrysler Dealers Peek at Dozens of New Models

“We have an almost completely rejuvenated product line-up,” says Marchionne.

by on Sep.12, 2012

The reborn 2013 SRT Viper was one of 66 different models and variants shown during the Las Vegas dealer meeting.

Chrysler is getting strong marks from dealers who attended the maker’s product sneak peek in Las Vegas this week, an event that revealed dozens of new and upcoming models designed to “completely rejuvenate the product line-up.”

The preview was intended to not only show Chrysler retailers what will be landing in showrooms in the coming months but also give a hint of what’s on tap further down the line.  CEO Sergio Marchionne and his team are hoping to prove that the broad Chrysler revival plan they laid out in a day-long session in November 2009 is coming to fruition and that the maker will defy skeptics who thought it was only a matter of time until it would collapse once again.

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“We are less than two years away from having an almost completely rejuvenated product lineup compared to what we could offer customers when we began this journey in June 2009,” Marchionne told the dealers gathered in Las Vegas.


64 Former Chrysler Dealers Sue Feds

Claim Washington unjustly stole their livelihood during Chrysler bailout.

by on Feb.18, 2011

One of the many closed Chrysler dealers, which initially planned to switch to selling Mahindra pickups.

A group of 64 former Chrysler dealers, terminated as part of the maker’s government-funded bailout, have sued the federal government for what they claim was the unjust taking of their businesses.

The White House auto czar originally approved plans to slash thousands of General Motors and Chrysler dealers once the two makers emerged from bankruptcy, though the figure was eventually reduced, in part, under a government-mandated arbitration process.  But Chrysler’s retail total was ultimately reduced by 789, to about 2,400 today.

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The 64 that have signed onto the new lawsuit claim the closures were an unconstitutional taking of their livelihoods for which they were not properly compensated.  They’re seeking damages of at least $130 million.

While their lawyers acknowledge there could have been a “significant disruption” of the domestic auto industry without the multi-billion-dollar bailout of GM and Chrysler, they insist the cost to the dealers “must in fairness and justice by borne by the public as a whole.”


Chrysler May Re-Hire Nearly 100 Dealers

Maker reportedly backing off on hard-line stance.

by on Mar.25, 2010

Chrysler could reinstate as many as 100 dealers fired last year. The termination left outlets, like this one in Mt Clemens, MI, scrambling to find ways to stay in busiess.

Chrysler is reportedly ready to bring back as many as 100 of the dealers that it terminated, last year, as part of its bankruptcy.

The news – still unconfirmed by the smallest of the Detroit makers – comes just three weeks after General Motors also reversed course, re-hiring 661 of the dealers it fired in an effort to consolidate its retail network.

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The Detroit Three, as a group, have been trimming their distribution chains, in recent years, taking a page from import brands, like Toyota and Mercedes-Benz, which have found that fewer showrooms can actually improve sales and profitability.


GM Agrees to Rehire 661 Dealers

Another 439 retailers still face arbitration.

by on Mar.05, 2010

It's time to move on, says GM President Mark Reuss.

In a sharp reversal of course, General Motors has agreed to reinstate 661 of the more than 2,000 dealers it had planned to eliminate after its bankruptcy, last year, though more than 400 other retailers may yet be reprieved through a Congressionally-mandated arbitration process.

The final GM dealer count is yet to be determined, company officials cautioned, during a conference call with reporters on Friday afternoon, but it will likely approach 5,000 by the time all is wrapped up.  That’s significantly more than the 4,100 retailers the automaker had hoped to go forward with, but still far less than the 6,150 dealers that were representing General Motors in the U.S., as recently as December 2008.

“We are eager to restore relationships with our dealers, and get back to doing what we do best – selling cars and taking care of customers,” said Mark Reuss, President, GM North America.

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When GM filed for Chapter 11, last year, the maker said it would streamline its retail network, in part reflecting the fact that it planned to eliminate four of eight brands during the bankruptcy process.  The strategy also reflected conventional wisdom that since there’d be more sales per showroom dealers, in turn, would be willing to invest more in the surviving General Motors brands.


Over 1,200 Ousted Dealers File for Arbitration

GM’s Whitacre says, “We’ll get through this.”

by on Jan.25, 2010

"We'll get through this," says GM CEO Ed Whitacre as ousted dealers get ready for arbitration.

They have until midnight to file their claims, and General Motors’ new, full-time CEO expects there’ll be some more dealers rushing in to demand aritration before time runs out.  But as of mid-afternoon Monday, more than 1,200 ousted GM and Chrysler dealers have taken the first critical steps necessary to winning back their franchises.

As part of their bankruptcy filings, earlier this year, the two automakers announced plans to eliminate more than a third of their dealers, in a bid to streamline their retail operations.  But the politically well-connected dealers didn’t go quietly into the night and Congress passed legislation giving the retailers a chance to fight back.

The final tally seeking arbitration could come close to half of the roughly 2,000 dealers cut by GM and 789 Chrysler slashed.  The numbers were growing rapidly, the industry trade publication, Automotive News, noted, reporting that as of Friday, only 959 dealers had paid at least $500 of the $1,625 filing fee.

How many of those dealers will actually pursue reinstatement is unclear.  Records show that only a third of business arbitration cases go to conclusion, not all favorably for the filers.  But considering the potential multi-million dollar losses involved in the closing of a showroom, observers say it’s a safe bet to at least begin the arbitration process while there’s still time.

It’s unclear how long it will take for the suits to work their way through the system, though Congress set a six-and-a-half month deadline for the process.  It’s possible that some dealers will settle while others will abandon their efforts.

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Earlier this month, GM CEO Ed Whitacre acknowledges that “mistakes” were made in the system the automaker used to choose which dealers to cut.  At the time, he suggested “hundreds” could be reinstated, though he later suggested that might mean a number of around 150.   (more…)

Chrysler Could Turn Profit in ’10, Says Marchionne

But turnaround will take 18% sales gain here and abroad.

by on Jan.12, 2010

Chrysler could very well pull off an operating profit in 2010, says CEO Sergio Marchionne, but it will take an 18% jump in sales during a year with little new product.

Though it won’t begin its anticipated product renaissance for more than a year, Chrysler could still pull off an unanticipated profit for 2010, CEO Sergio Marchionne suggested during a Tuesday meeting with reporters at the North American International Auto Show.

After hitting “rock bottom,” Marchionne, who also serves as chief executive of Fiat, said he expects 2010 to mark the beginning of a long, slow recovery for both the U.S. auto industry and for Chrysler.

“We’re out,” he said, referring to the worst downturn the American car market has seen since the Great Depression.  “We just need to be focused and to be sure we don’t fall back on our bad habits.”

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Having become lean and focused – and after having dumped billions in debt and bad assets during the two-month journey through bankruptcy, last spring – Marchionne said Chrysler could very well pull off a real profit in 2010.  And it would be an operating profit, not an account trick where the company didn’t include such minor inconveniences as taxes.

“The magic number is 1.65 million,” said the Italian-born executive, who spent much of his life across the border, in Canada.


The Top Ten Auto Stories of 2009

Bankruptcies, bailouts, recalls, oh what a bad year it was!

by on Dec.30, 2009

Brother, can you spare a dime? The jet-setting Detroit Three at hearings: left, fired GM CEO Rick Wagoner, ex Chrysler CEO Bob Nardelli, middle, Ford's surviving CEO Alan Mulally, right.

Every December, a group of auto scribes gathers together to share some good cheer and see how we did at predicting the events of the unfolding year. To be honest, even the best of the group failed to come close to calling the big stories of 2009.

No surprise, really, when you consider the strange twists and turns the auto industry has taken during the last 12 months.  Even the best fiction writers would have had trouble scripting this plot.

Sure, there were signs that the auto industry was slumping, and that the Detroit’s Three were in trouble, but having both General Motors and Chrysler go bankrupt?  And the U.S. government become majority owner of GM, with Italian automaker Fiat controlling Chrysler?  And what about Toyota?  Twelve months ago, most of us were writing about the fact that the giant Japanese automaker seemed certain to become the world’s largest automaker, finally overtaking troubled GM.  So, who could have begun to suspect all the problems that would follow for Toyota in 2009?  And what about the unexpected rise of the Chinese?

Top Ten!

But I’m getting ahead of myself.  The fact is, there were so many big stories in 2009 it may be impossible to come up with a fair, accurate and complete list of the 10 Top Auto Stories that everyone will agree on.  But I’ll try.

And would like to encourage readers to come up with the stories they would add to the list.  Just go to the Comments section at the end of this story.


Lawmakers Reach Dealer Arbitration Compromise

Bill could offer reprieve to thousands of GM, Chrysler dealers.

by on Dec.09, 2009

Asst. Senate Majority Leader Dick Durbin has helped craft a compromise that could give a reprieve to some of the thousands of dealersv GM and Chrysler want to cut.

Asst. Senate Majority Leader Dick Durbin has helped craft a compromise that could give a reprieve to some of the thousands of dealersv GM and Chrysler want to cut.

Federal lawmakers have reached a compromise on a measure that could provide a reprieve for some of the thousands of dealers cut by General Motors and Chrysler as part of their bankruptcy reorganizations.

The two companies collectively cut more than 2,100 retailers, asserting that they needed to streamline their distribution systems and focus on high-volume showrooms that generated solid marks for customer satisfaction.  But those moves generated an immediate backlash among dealers, who make up of the most politically powerful lobbying forces in the country.

The new measure, which would require arbitrators to balance the economic interests of dealers, the two carmakers and the public, has been endorsed by both House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer, D-Md., and Assistant Senate Majority Leader Dick Durbin, D-Ill.

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“Closed dealerships across the country deserve a transparent review of their termination and the right to get back in business if they were terminated on faulty grounds,” said Durbin, adding, “GM and Chrysler have the right to determine the size and scope of their business. But Congress has a responsibility to protect taxpayer’s money when addressing the future of companies like GM and Chrysler.”


Chrysler, GM Offer Olive Leaf to Dealers

Move could save some dealers already shuttered, others who might close.

by on Dec.03, 2009

This former Chrysler dealership, in the Detroit suburb of Mt. Clemens, will turn to Indian automaker Mahindra in a bid to survive.

This former Chrysler dealership, in the Detroit suburb of Mt. Clemens, will turn to Indian automaker Mahindra in a bid to survive.

General Motors Co. and Chrysler Group LCC will reconsider decisions to close thousands of dealerships as part of a compromise meant to stave off federal legislation that would require them to keep the showrooms open.

Just how many dealers could  stay open remains unclear and neither company made any specific commitments or estimates. Dealers involved in negotiations with both companies also said it is likely that only a handful closed dealerships will get a new lease on life from the review.

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The plans of GM and Chrysler Group LLC call for face-to-face reviews with dealerships and binding arbitration for those who challenge closure of their showrooms. Chrysler said its review process would start Thursday while GM said talks with dealers would begin in mid-January.


The Big Lie: Wacko Politics and Chrysler Dealers

Death panel for Republican dealers? More political nonsense.

by on Sep.09, 2009

Death squad for Republican dealers? Not true, according to the records.

Death squad for Republican dealers? Not true, according to the records.

In rapid fire succession, this writer was recipient of three emails from divergent but known conservative friends–one a former journalist–with an apparent widely circulated though un-sourced report alleging that politics determined which Chrysler dealer franchises got the axe in the reborn company’s bankruptcy proceedings earlier this year.

According to this lengthy email rant, all but one of the 789 dealers whose franchises were discontinued under the new Chrysler LLC bankruptcy were picked not by company analysts but rather by White House Democratic Party henchmen because they had donated to the Republican Party.

“Why was there neither rhyme nor reason as to which dealerships of the Chrysler Corporation (sic) were to be closed,” the email message asked rhetorically.  A few lines later, it answered its own question this way: “Amazingly, of the 789 dealerships closed by the federal government 788 had donated money exclusively to Republican political causes while contributing nothing to Democratic political causes.”

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Let me be blunt.  The preceding statement is pure 100% bunk, a cheap partisan trick planted either by extremists of the Right or by super-clever Leftists trying to make it look that way.  Now I’m a long-term Centrist and I say Fie on Both Their Houses.