Local car dealers await Capitol Hill meeting

By Laura Geller - bio | email

Posted by Terry Alexander - email

RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) - General Motors and Chrysler will head to Capitol Hill Tuesday to try and prove they can survive and turn a profit. If they don't, the automakers could lose billions of dollars from the recent bailout.

Local car dealers say they are watching every move.

Dealerships hoping that a combination of incentives and confidence generated by Tuesday's meeting will bring consumers back to the car lots.

While GM and Chrysler will be talking to Congress Tuesday, local dealers say the most important message is aimed at consumers.

Dominion Chevrolet owner Ted Linhart says that the automakers' appeal in Washington needs to convince taxpayers that their money will be spent wisely.

Detroit will go to Wahington to show lawmakers what they've done to help them make it through tough times, dealers say.

"We'll point out how many people that have already taken early retirement, the work they've done with the union," Linhart said. "In the case of GM, the plans they've made to look for a buyer for Saturn, for Saab, for Hummer."

Linhart says the automobile market has essentially dried up for the past 90 days. He's says he's seeing a lot of pent-up demand and that his deals are bringing in potential customers.

"I've seen more traffic Friday, Saturday and today than I've seen in months, which is gratifying," Linhart said. "All of us are out there promoting the fact that our manufacturers have given us big incentives."

But Linhart said consumers aren't so much buying new cars as that are looking at new cars. He hopes progress on Capitol Hill will turn lookers into buyers.

"Its sort of the perfect storm between what the consumers want, what our manufacturers want and what we need," Linhart said. "So yes, we're hoping for some really good sales results as a result of tomorrow's meeting."

Dealers are quick to point out the current economic crisis is affecting all of the car industry, both foreign and domestic companies. They say that's why it's even more important to protect automakers here at home.

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