Thursday, 30 May 2024

Local dealers spared in Chrysler cuts

LAKE COUNTY – A list released Thursday of 789 Chrysler dealers slated to have their agreements terminated spared Lake County's local dealer and most of those located on the North Coast.

Kathy Fowler, who owns Kathy Fowler Chevrolet-Pontiac – which sells General Motors, Chrysler and Jeep vehicles – was breathing a sigh of relief thanks to not being listed.

She said she confirmed it with her Chrysler representative Thursday morning.

Fowler said her business was receiving calls throughout the day from concerned customers fearing the worst.

The 41-page list of dealers slated for contract termination included 32 California dealers.

The only North Coast Chrysler dealer listed was Harvey M. Harper Co. of Eureka. Dealerships in Chico, Oroville, Oakland and Burlingame also received notices of terminations.

On Thursday Chrysler LLC filed a motion with the US Bankruptcy Court seeking to reject some of its US dealer agreements.

It's the latest development for the company, which filed bankruptcy April 30 and is forming a new company with Fiat. Chrysler also temporarily idled most of its manufacturing operations effective May 4 for a period between 30 and 60 days.

“The unprecedented decline in the industry has had a significant impact on our sales and forced us to reduce production levels to better match the needs of the market,” Chrysler Vice Chairman and President Jim Press said in a statement issued Thursday. “With the downsizing of operations after the sale and reduction of plants and production, similar reductions must be made to the size of the dealer body.”

Press said the company regretted the “painful action.”

The 789 dealers who will have their contracts terminated represents 14 percent of Chrysler's sales volume, according to a Thursday statement from Chrysler. They will cease selling Dodge, Chrysler or Jeep vehicles on or about June 9, subject to the US bankruptcy court's approval.

The company chose which dealers to cut based on a “data-driven matrix that assessed a number of

key metrics,” which weren't detailed.

Fowler said the parameters for the selections given to dealers were “very vague.” She said much of it was based on issues liked spacing between franchises and good performance.

The restructuring of the dealer network is “a necessary part of Chrysler’s viability plan” and central to its proposed sale transaction.

Chrysler said the action also is mean to ensure that the remaining 2,392 dealers and the new company “will be stronger and more profitable going forward.”

Chrysler said it will “work to assist in the redistribution of new vehicles and parts to the remaining dealer network.”

Pressure on local car dealers has been a concern for local officials.

During a round table with Congressman Mike Thompson on April 9, County Administrative Officer Kelly Cox raised the issue, noting that he's met with local new car dealers that have been under pressure due to auto bailout, as Lake County News has reported.

Fowler and Holder Ford now are the only two new car dealers remaining in Lake County. Cox was concerned about what appears to be a push to shut down dealerships in rural areas. Thompson said at that time that he had held a conference call with auto dealers throughout the district that resulted in a letter from the California Congressional delegation to Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner, outlining dealers' concerns.

Thompson had warned that many dealerships would end up being closed because they were larger than the suggested number in the government's business plan.

For many auto dealers, they're not out of the woods yet: On Friday General Motors is expected to begin making cuts to its dealerships as well.

The California dealers slated to have their agreements terminated by Chrysler include the following.

– Atascadero: Ted Miles Jeep Inc.

– Burlingame: T&K Automotive Investments Inc.

– Carson: Carson CJ LLC

– Chico: Courtesy Motors Auto Center Inc.

– El Centro: WR Thomas Inc.

– Escondido: EJE Inc.

– Eureka: Harvey M. Harper Co.

– Folsom: People's Chrysler Jeep Inc.

– Foothill Ranch: Urban Automotive Group LLC

– Garden Grove: Union Dodge Inc.

– Glendale: Los Feliz Ford Inc.

– Grass Valley: GK Alcombrack Inc., Weaver Automotive Inc.

– Hanford: Hanford Chrysler-Dodge-Jeep Inc.

– La Quinta: Sowell Automotive Inc.

– Livermore: Livermore Auto Group Inc.

– Merced: Ron & Ann Enterprises

– Oakdale: LE Richardson Enterprises Inc.

– Oakland: Bay Bridge Dodge Chrysler Jeep

– Oroville: Oroville Motors Inc.

– Redwood City: Autocal LLC, Boardwalk Auto Center Inc.

– San Diego: John Hine Pontiac

– San Fernando: Murphy and Shelby Dodge Inc.

– San Luis Obispo: Hysen-Johnson Ford Inc.

– Seaside: Butts Pontiac-Cadillac Inc., Larry Menke Inc.

– Sonora: Mother Lode Motors

– Van Nuys: Valley Dodge Inc., Valley Dodge Inc./dba Big Valley Chrysler Jeep

– Ventura: Kirby Oldsmobile

– Yuba City – Wheeler Leasing Co. II Inc.

E-mail Elizabeth Larson at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. .

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