It's not getting any easier to be a Chrysler-Dodge-Jeep dealer. Last month, when Chrysler Financial asked banks and investors to renew their $30 billion line of credit, they came up about $6 billion short. To make matters worse, the investors forced the automaker to follow much tighter financial guidelines (including a requirement to get out of leasing). Now, the cash shortfall is forcing the financial division to significantly turn up the heat on their retailers. Over the next few months, the financial arm will jack up dealer floorplan interest rates, and levy hefty fees for vehicles that sit unsold on dealer lots. With sales way down (in August, Chrysler's sales fell a sickening 34.5 percent -- the steepest decline of any major manufacturer), cash-strapped dealers are obviously unhappy with the news. Many fear this may signal the start of a new retailer initiative to limit vehicle inventory, hurting sales even further. As expected in this industry, bad news for retailers often means good news for consumers. With the new fees on the horizon, dealers will be offering significant incentives to dump inventory over the next few months.

[Source: Automotive News, subs. req'd]

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