By on August 14, 2010

When I had business at Volkswagen, arriving at Wache Sandkamp, I was always asked whether I have a cell phone on me. “Ja,” I said. “Does it have a camera?” “Nein,” I said. The guard didn’t want to see the phone, and I could keep it.

At Chrysler’s big dealer convention, to be held in September in Orlando, they won’t be so lenient. Dealers have already been told to leave all cell phones, video equipment and cameras in their hotel rooms. To ward off the intrusion of rogue recording equipment, metal detectors will be put up at the show’s entrance.

What’s the fuss about? The Wall Street Journal reports that “Chrysler is being cautious because Chief Executive Officer Sergio Marchionne is providing a deep breakdown of the vehicles dealers should expect to see coming to their lots over the next six to eight months.”

That’s it? Ultra-high security for cars that are six to eight months out? What are they worried about, that someone will build a copy?

To make matters worse, dealers have to pay $900 each to attend. Highly, highly, highly unusual. Dealers are used to be treated like royalty at these gatherings, with sumptuous dinners, big name entertainers and sometimes more, all on the dime of the carmaker. At our meetings, they received armfuls of glossy brochures featuring the cars. No own picture taking necessary. If someone did, even better. So $900, and they can’t even take an “I have been there” picture?

“The cost isn’t a major issue but it is a thorn in their side,” said Scott Hogle, founder of the auto retail blog “They wait 15 months to see Mr. Marchionne and now they have to pay $900.”

Scott Hogle must be out of touch with his readership. “Not a major issue?” I’ve seen dealers bitch about much lesser amounts. Or that they had to pay taxes on entertainment that wasn’t strictly business.

Usually, car manufacturers worry about dealers showing up at the events, even when everything is paid for. It doesn’t sound as if Chrysler wants a huge attendance.

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9 Comments on “Chrysler’s Maximum Security Dealer Convention...”

  • avatar

    Pay-to-play baby! I’m just guessing, but 900 bucks seems like nothing compared to the pre-financing fee a dealer will likely have to cough-up for the right to raise a 500-sign on their property.

  • avatar

    Too bad Lutz isn’t still there. They could then rationalize it by saying, “Maximum security and fees are a requirement to see Maximum Bob…”.

  • avatar

    I can see the new Chrysler for free in a year – when they are stranded on the side of the road as usual.

  • avatar

    I would pay to go, just out of curiosity. Any respectable dealer would go.

  • avatar

    I seem to recall Ford charging for the new car intro show, and probably just like here, the charge was for the hotel accomodations and the shuttle buses to ferry everyone from the airport to the hotel and to the event sites and back again. Dealers could book their own hotels and get their own ride everywhere, but that just ends up being a huge hassle to save a few measly bucks.

  • avatar

    Short of naked and x-rayed, anybody with a coupla hundred bucks and a skosh of creativity can have audio and video of anything they desire.

    Plentiful off-the-shelf watches, pens, and buttons. The thought of Marchi’s minions being able to keep it out is laughable. At most generous.

  • avatar

    It’s great to see DealershipForum mentioned on TTAC.

    Concerning the $900 Meeting Expense, that does not include lodging or airfare. All the dealer gets for $900 is entrance into the meeting, meals/entertainment and ground transportation to the airport.

    Concerning my comment that the $900 Meeting Expense is not a “major issue,” I stand by my words. No Chrysler dealer I know is going to lose sleep over $900; they’re more concerned about Chrysler’s reliance on fleet sales and the fact that 95% of the Chrysler dealers will derive ZERO benefit from the sales of the Fiat 500. (Something the Task Force failed to mention when the Chrysler/Fiat alliance was being crafted.)

  • avatar

    As I read this on Sunday morning, the ghost of Farago comes sneaking around the fringes of my memory. Thank you Niedermeyers(sp). Were it not for you, this would be unreadable.

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