Two local Chrysler dealerships on closing list

By Andy Jenks - bio | email

Posted by Terry Alexander - email

RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) - American auto-maker Chrysler is cutting off nearly 800 dealerships as part of an effort to get out of bankruptcy. Two of those dealers are in the Richmond area: Airport Chrysler Jeep, and Pearson Dodge.

There was no heads up on what the decision would be. Only that Chrysler dealers everywhere would be getting a letter Thursday at 10:00 a.m.

They'd have to read for themselves whether Chrysler is keeping them on. The letters that were delivered to Airport Chrysler Jeep in eastern Henrico, and Pearson Dodge in Chesterfield, did not contain good news.

Don Hall, President/CEO of the Virginia Auto Dealers Association, summarized the letter: "As of June 9 they are no longer a Chrysler dealer. They cannot do warranty work. They will not be reimbursed for that work."

Hall added, about Chrysler, "They will not buy back parts, they will not buy back cars. In other words: Good luck, so long, thanks for your 75 years as a dealer."

The two local dealerships were included on a list that includes 24 others in Virginia, and nearly 800 Chrysler dealers nationwide. The auto-maker is cutting them off meaning they'll have to sell other vehicles, or close. But there was good news to go around. Chrysler is keeping Whitten Brothers in Chesterfield.

"I don't think I've slept a full night in probably a month wondering who's gonna be in and who's gonna be out," said Jimmy Whitten. "I'm gonna sleep like a bear in hibernation tonight! I promise you that."

Still, that may not mean the worst is over. Chrysler dealers like his now face additional responsibilities.

"The final team is not on the field yet. And there will be additional cuts, or demands that will cause  dealers to question whether or not they really want to be a Chrysler dealer in the future," Hall said.

And fewer dealerships in competition may lead to higher prices for consumers. Along with the obvious loss of jobs and economic activity.

Auto dealers in Virginia have, on average, about 43 employees. And there could be up to 4,000 lost jobs in Virginia after Friday, when General Motors is expected to tell its dealers, which ones stay and which ones go, just like Chrysler did Thursday.

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