As Automotive News [sub] reports, GM has gone ahead and finalized the 500 dealer cuts that made up its bankruptcy-bailout-era dealer cull, despite resistance from some 22 members of the US House of Representatives. And despite the congressional pressure, a damning SIGTARP report, and an ongoing criminal investigation, GM hasn’t changed its tune about cutting dealers, telling AN [sub] that delaying dealer cuts
would only divert our collective attention at a critical time and would ignore the independent decisions of arbitrators and individual settlement agreements between GM and its dealers
Meanwhile, just what affect has the dealer cull had on surviving dealerships? Are they thriving? Well, not exactly…
Automotive News [sub] looks into the performance of surviving dealers, and finds a decidedly mixed bag.
At Flemington (N.J.) Chevrolet-Buick-GMC-Cadillac, General Manager Jeff Parker says service revenue is up 5 percent this year, in part because of referrals from a wind-down Chevrolet dealership 25 minutes away that closed in June…. Parker says that though his Flemington dealership has seen additional service work, he hasn’t seen an increase in new- and used-vehicle sales from the closing of Malek Chevrolet in Hopewell, N.J. He says he is concerned that those customers are looking at non-GM brands…
…Several GM dealers last week reported only a trickle of new business as a result of the wind-downs.On the other hand, some dealerships report a healthy increase in sales.
Of course, some dealers are seeing upticks in sales as a result of other dealer closures, but they tend to be in less-densely populated areas.
Bennett Motor Co., a Chevrolet-Buick store in Cheraw, S.C., has seen a 20 percent uptick in new- and used-car sales since its two largest GM competitors in rural Chesterfield County were wound down by GM, says General Manager Vic Gardner.
He expects his store will sell just over 100 new vehicles this year.
“We’re the only franchise Chevrolet dealer now in the entire county,” says Gardner, whose store is about 70 miles southeast of Charlotte, N.C.
Meanwhile, GM itself has admitted to the SIGTARP and congress that it expects no actual savings from its dealer cull. GM insists that fewer dealers is helping dealership profitability, but admits that improved products and an economic upswing is probably doing more. Meanwhile, GM’s overall sales are up only six percent compared to the ten percent increase enjoyed by the overall market. As long as GM’s sales underperform the market, culled dealers will question the wisdom of the sales channel blood-letting, but the real issue is the SIGTARP’s pending investigation. This story isn’t over by a long shot…