If you haven’t been following the drama surrounding the effort to restore dealers culled during GM and Chrysler’s bankruptcy, you might need to be brought up to speed. In essence both the cut dealers and the automakers have agreed to send create an arbitration process by which dealers could have the decision to cut their franchise reviewed by a neutral third party. The remaining conflict is over the criteria arbitrators should use to judge dealer viability, as the GM and Chrysler proposition would have forced arbitrators to use the same criteria GM and Chrysler did in the initial cuts. That would obviously have yielded the same results as the initial cull, so the dealers pushed for a set of criteria that is more favorable to their interests. Automotive News [sub] reports that a compromise has been reached in conference committee that would allow dealers to present “any relevant information” to make their case. That bill is now been approved by the House [sub] and is headed to the Senate, where its passage is “virtually assured.” But despite having all but guaranteed an independent review, culled dealers still aren’t happy.
One former owner of an allegedly profitable Chrysler dealership tells BNet:
At this point, I don’t even want my franchise back. I can’t afford to risk my financial future with Chrysler again, like my family did before. What would help me would be some financial restitution. The comparison is, it’s as if somebody broke into your house and then they call you and say, ‘We have all your stuff, you want to buy it back?’ It just doesn’t work that way. They took everything I would use to buy it back
Dealers speaking to the WSJ confirm the message: they don’t want their franchises restored, let alone a review process to possibly reinstate said franchises. Most have been out of business too long, and with the car market still struggling (especially for GM and Chrysler products), few see smooth sailing ahead as reinstated dealers. And with unilateral reinstatement legislation off the table, they’ve got nothing to threaten GM and Chrysler with for financial compensation.
To say that nobody is truly happy with the results of the auto bailout is an understatement. The culled dealers may have taken a harder hit than most, but there’s clearly no desire to make them whole. And honestly, it’s a little surprising that more dealers weren’t cut. Time to man up and open a Kia dealership.