Chrysler plans to cut two area dealerships

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Chrysler took a bite out of its dealer network Thursday, and the teeth were felt by two local dealerships.

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Augusta Dodge on Gordon Highway is among the dealerships Chrysler named in a bankruptcy court filing listing 789 dealers that are not going to be authorized to sell new vehicles after June 9.  Jackie Ricciardi/Staff
Jackie Ricciardi/Staff
Augusta Dodge on Gordon Highway is among the dealerships Chrysler named in a bankruptcy court filing listing 789 dealers that are not going to be authorized to sell new vehicles after June 9.

Dick Smith Chrysler-Jeep on Jefferson Davis Highway in Aiken and Augusta Dodge on Gordon Highway are among 789 dealers the automaker wants to remove from its network by early June.

Chrysler LLC filed the list in U.S. Bankruptcy Court in New York in order to get a bankruptcy judge to cancel the contracts and shrink its dealer network by a quarter by June 9.

If the request is approved, Chrysler will shed 11 dealers in South Carolina and 14 in Georgia.

Augusta Dodge has been owned by Greg Helfrich since 1996. Representatives of the dealership would not comment Thursday.

The 3.5 million customers nationwide who bought cars and trucks from the affected dealers will be notified about the closures, and their warranties will still be honored, said Chrysler Vice President Steven Landry.

Michelle Franklin, 32, of Hephzibah, was in the Augusta Dodge lot accompanying her brother Jimmy Stokes as he got parts for his Dodge Magnum.

"I owned a Dodge Durango before I got my Suburban, and I was just about to check out a Charger," she said. "In my opinion, if it's not Dodge or Chevrolet, those are the only good cars."

She bought that Durango from Augusta Dodge, and she has been driving Dodge vehicles since she got her driver's license, she said.

Chrysler's decision does not mean the Gordon Highway dealership must close, but it would be prevented from selling or servicing Chrysler-made vehicles once the contract is terminated, according to information in the court documents.

Calls made to Dick Smith Chrysler-Jeep seeking information were not returned.

Chrysler indicated that it picked its weakest dealerships for the list.

"Based on both an objective and subjective evaluation, the Debtors have determined that the dealerships located in the markets at issue lack the operational, market, facility and linemake characteristics necessary to best contribute to the ongoing dealer network under current or future ownership," court documents said.

Chrysler executives said the company is trying to preserve its best-performing dealers. More than half the dealerships being eliminated sell fewer than 100 vehicles per year. Half its dealers account for 90 percent of its sales, the company said.

Chrysler Vice Chairman Jim Press told the Associated Press that the list of dealers is final and there will be no appeal process. A judge will rule on the contract terminations June 3.

For Lynn Brisson, the owner of Triangle Dodge in Graniteville, there was relief Thursday morning when she received a letter affirming her status as a dealer once the automaker emerges from bankruptcy.

"We expected it, but we sure did want to know something in black and white with all the rumors going around," Ms. Brisson said. "We did our job to suit them, and our facility was upgraded, things that make a difference, I think."

Triangle Dodge expanded its lot by 2 acres about two years ago. She said its designation with the company allows her dealership to do warranty work on Jeep and Chrysler models, filling a service gap when Dick Smith is cut from the network.

She may also soon be selling more than Dodges.

"I suspect it will open up the opportunity to get the Chrysler-Jeep. It is not confirmed," Ms. Brisson said.

Reach Tim Rausch at (706) 823-3352 or timothy.rausch@augustachronicle.com.

GM SAYS BANKRUPTCY FILING HINGES ON $27 BILLION BOND SWAP

DETROIT --- General Motors Corp. says it likely would sell most of its assets and liquidate the rest if it has to seek bankruptcy protection.

GM made the disclosure Thursday in a filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission. It has said bankruptcy is possible if it doesn't get enough takers on an offer to swap $27 billion in bond debt for stock.

The automaker also says it could seek court approval of its reorganization plan even if creditors vote against it.

GM has offered bondholders 225 shares for every $1,000 in bonds. The company would issue 62 billion new shares and then do a 100-for-1 reverse stock split. Bondholders would get 10 percent of the company's shares under the offer, which expires May 26. But a committee representing the bondholders has counteroffered seeking 58 percent ownership.

GM has received $15.4 billion in U.S. government loans and must restructure by June 1.

-- Associated Press

WHO'S GOING

Two Chrysler dealers in the Augusta area are expected to be cut by the carmaker by June 9:

- Augusta Dodge, 1886 Gordon Highway, Augusta

- Dick Smith Chrysler-Jeep, 136 Jefferson Davis Highway, Aiken

WHO'S STAYING

- Milton Ruben Chevrolet-Chrysler-Jeep-Toyota, 3518 Washington Road, Augusta

- Thomson Chrysler Dodge Jeep, 2158 Washington Road, Thomson

- Triangle Dodge, 1666 Jefferson Davis Highway, Graniteville

THE NUMBERS

789: Chrysler dealers expected to close, including 11 in South Carolina and 14 in Georgia

3.5 million: Customers who bought cars and trucks from the affected dealers

$16.5 million: Average amount dealers spent per year in the community

WHAT TO EXPECT

So your local Chrysler dealer is slated to close, and a nearby General Motors dealer could get the ax, too. What happens if you need service on your car?

It's a natural question as the two U.S. automakers attempt to restructure in and out of bankruptcy court.

In bankruptcy court filings, Chrysler said Thursday that it would shutter 789 dealerships - about 25 percent - across the country.

GM dealers are awaiting word on which 1,100 of them will not see their contracts renewed when they expire at the end of September 2010.

If you live in a major metropolitan area, you could simply drive to another dealership for service, even if it is a few extra miles. But it might be more difficult if you live in a rural town, or in an area where there are no other dealerships.

RELATED STORY

- Chrysler warranties still will be honored

Comments (24) Add comment
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APiratesLife4Me
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APiratesLife4Me 05/15/09 - 01:30 am
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So much for that nut in

So much for that nut in Washington creating jobs and stimulating the economy Government should not try to dictate the car industry.

NEone
6
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NEone 05/15/09 - 01:39 am
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Michelle Franklin has been

Michelle Franklin has been driving only Dodges since she got her driver's license. That's fine. But that also means she has no experience with any other vehicle to make her statement "In my opinion, if it's not Dodge or Chevrolet, those are the only good cars." If you've never had another kind of car, how do you know it's bad?

Reality
3
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Reality 05/15/09 - 03:27 am
0
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What happened to all of the

What happened to all of the tax payer money that we have given them to stay afloat? The emperor's new clothes....

hurlyburly11
0
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hurlyburly11 05/15/09 - 03:42 am
0
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LOL...hey all you barry

LOL...hey all you barry boneheads...ya stimulated yet??

Brad Owens
4932
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Brad Owens 05/15/09 - 04:16 am
0
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Change we can believe

Change we can believe in....change from the small businessman to the huge corporations controlled by the Feds now.

ColCo
927
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ColCo 05/15/09 - 04:43 am
0
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Did Chrysler yank Augusta

Did Chrysler yank Augusta Dodge's franchise because of poor performance or because of their "Mayor" tv ads?

AAQueen
18
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AAQueen 05/15/09 - 06:47 am
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hurly Why is this blamed on

hurly
Why is this blamed on the stimulus package. They failed with it and damn sure would have failed without it.

Grasshopper
7
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Grasshopper 05/15/09 - 07:02 am
0
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I had a dodge put 140,000 on

I had a dodge put 140,000 on it with no problems just breaks tires and oil changes. I know people who have Chevy trucks with over 200, 000 miles that don't have problems. Its not the car it was the unions. Its a proven fact that business that even have the same pay scale as unions will still perform better. The only unions that are needed are trade unions for contractors to use when they need skilled craftsmen, but even trade unions have been known to purposely slow a job down if there is no work ahead of them, especially if its not a repeat contractor.

Georgiais1
0
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Georgiais1 05/15/09 - 07:20 am
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Call Barry,,he will glady buy

Call Barry,,he will glady buy in. You are just seeing the tip of the iceburg. All who voted him in, I hope you get a dose of it.

curly123053
5424
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curly123053 05/15/09 - 07:21 am
0
0
The unions are killing the

The unions are killing the car industry along with the unfair federal taxes they are saddled with. I think they need to start talking FairTax Now !

themaninthemirror
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themaninthemirror 05/15/09 - 08:12 am
0
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This is just the the tip of

This is just the the tip of Obama's iceberg to make America dependent on government.

themaninthemirror
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themaninthemirror 05/15/09 - 08:17 am
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I also have a Doge Dakota 4x4

I also have a Doge Dakota 4x4 that I have put 151,000 miles on, and the only things I have replaced are the valve cover gaskets and the water pump. It still looks new when you raise the hood and runs excellently.

Sonny621
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Sonny621 05/15/09 - 08:20 am
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Unions have forced most of

Unions have forced most of our manufacturing overseas because for their tactics. The auto industry has managed to avoid this by going along with the union to the point that they can no longer produce a product the the average American can afford to buy. We allowed the unions to buy our congressmen and president so we now have to pay to keep them in business.

Bommer
0
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Bommer 05/15/09 - 08:35 am
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Sonny621 you are right on!

Sonny621 you are right on! Took the words right out of my mouth.

Brad Owens
4932
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Brad Owens 05/15/09 - 08:53 am
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Guys, this is the Car

Guys, this is the Car Companies using the excuse of fed dollars to get rid of dealers and force them to eliminate as many middlemen as they can. Most of the dealers get extended credit through the car plants themselves. take a closer look at this and you will see its about corp greed again not the feds fault directly. This is just a result, a by product, of the feds money being used and the companies being able to wipe out small businesses and control more of it in the name of 'restructuring'

andywarhol
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andywarhol 05/15/09 - 09:03 am
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Sonny & Bommer, right on.

Sonny & Bommer, right on. Unions have gone way out into left field causing uneccessary conflict. I too would utilize overseas employment. Much less headache and hassle. I'm buying commercial property in Philippines this year or next, and have less than 8 years to retire. Good by my country tis of thee, formerly known as the land of opportunity.

Riverman1
94468
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Riverman1 05/15/09 - 10:56 am
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If you don't believe times

If you don't believe times are tough, ask the AC and Billy Morris. “There is substantial doubt about the company’s ability to continue as a going concern,” Morris says in the recent SEC filing. Debt: $419.5 million. Assets: $171 million. On Feb. 1, Morris missed an interest payment of $9.7 million, and hasn't found any money since then. The latest extension is over May 28. It's over for Morris Communications, also. The AC will be owned by others soon along with the rest of the $171 million in assets. The debt is way past due. I truly feel sorry for Mr. Morris and all the employess. He has done much for Augusta.

dont live there anymore
2
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dont live there anymore 05/15/09 - 11:25 am
0
0
Riverman1, it is so nice to

Riverman1, it is so nice to hear someone acknowledge Mr. Morris as being good for Augusta. Also, this newspaper is a good one. Those who say awful things about it should live some other places for a while. Mr. Morris is a generous person and what is so terrible about having another political viewpoint than some of the readers?

imdstuf
10
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imdstuf 05/15/09 - 11:36 am
0
0
Milton, I call BS. Yes

Milton, I call BS. Yes Chrysler and GM make some good vehicles, mainly trucks, but Dodge had a problem with truck transmission for several years or more and GM cars had a long run of having their cars require new transmissions are 100K miles. They also used cheap plastic inside of them, had headlight/window motors that failed after a few years, etc. They definitely cut corners. The unions were only part of the problem, and by going bankrupt it may allow Chrysler to renegotiate those contracts. Unions or not though, Toyota and Honda have been designing and building better vehicles.

imdstuf
10
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imdstuf 05/15/09 - 11:38 am
0
0
We are all here online, so in

We are all here online, so in a way, we are partially guilty for the death of old fashioned newspapers.

TheShep
0
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TheShep 05/15/09 - 02:06 pm
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So when is the last time that

So when is the last time that Augusta Dodge will do warranty work? That's the info I want to know!

whogivesarip
0
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whogivesarip 05/15/09 - 05:39 pm
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hey themaninthemirror -- i

hey themaninthemirror -- i think its time you got some new glasses....

Tots
26317
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Tots 05/15/09 - 05:48 pm
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sonny621at9:20-very good

sonny621at9:20-very good post.I'm going to add something that has nothing to do with this article or comments.But when you said the unions were buying congressmen,it made me think of the tv show that had a list of how much ever congressmen was paid by the insurance and drug companys.Even Hillary Clinton.

1941
4
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1941 05/16/09 - 09:20 am
0
0
Did all these problems with

Did all these problems with the economy start on Jan. 20th?

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