With General Motors cutting some 1,100 dealers next year and Chrysler unceremoniously killing off nearly 800 retailers, all eyes turn to Ford – the only domestic automaker not suckling off the federal teat – to see what, if any, cutbacks will be made to the Blue Oval's sales network.

According to James D. Farley, FoMoCo's director of North American sales, Ford has no plan to slash its dealer base in the same dramatic fashion as its cross-town rivals, primarily because it began consolidating retailers over three years ago. Farley notes that Ford has reduced its network of dealers by 700 since 2005, with around 3,700 outlets remaining in the U.S. Although Farley admits Ford plans further reductions, he wouldn't specify how many dealers could get the axe, but he did voice concerns over how Chrysler handled its own downsizing.

"It seems very abrupt and unplanned," Farley told the Detroit News. "You don't orphan four million customers overnight without some fallout."

Farley's critique of Chrysler's cutbacks center on how the remaining dealers will absorb the 44,000 units Chrysler refuses to buy back, and how the Auburn Hills-based automaker plans to keep customers loyal in rural areas where the lone Chrysler/Dodge/Jeep dealer has been shuttered. But Farley and Ford see the opportunity. "It really depends on how GM and Chrysler handle these orphan owners. If they don't give them a lot of attention, it will result in consumers going to other brands." Surely, something Ford is counting on.

[Source: Detroit News | Image Source: Justin Sullivan/Getty]

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