Almost five years after US taxpayers bailed out General Motors and Chrysler, a large majority of their slimmed-down dealership networks are posting soaring profits, Bloomberg reports, and contributing to the US auto industry on track this year to deliver 15.4 million vehicles, the most since 16.15 million were delivered in 2007.
Two years ago General Motors had 6,049 dealers spread across the United States. Post-bankruptcy, that number is down to 4,500 retail outlets. The dealer cutback was supposed to help GM's bottom line while simultaneously bolstering sales and profits at the remaining dealerships, but has it worked? Automotive News reports that the early returns are mixed.
When General Motors announced a couple of weeks ago that it had completed the arbitration process with all of its discontinued dealers, the automaker no doubt hoped that its painful retail shrinkage process was over. But sadly, it was not to be – Rally Auto Group of Palmdale, CA, is apparently not quite ready to call it quits.
When General Motors entered bankruptcy last spring, the automaker announced the closure of 1,350 dealers and another 650 dealerships that had more than one brand. Recently, The General announced that it planned to reinstate 661 dealers of the 1,161 that applied for a stay of execution, though GM was short on details surrounding why those dealers were chosen. Many of those dealers never actually left the GM dealer group when the automaker gave dealers until October, 2010 to wind down their stores
A[nother] different kind of car company. A[nother] different kind of car. Apparently, as it once did with its Saturn division, General Motors is again fiddling with the tried-and-true dealership sales model by creating two separate new test programs that would potentially offer a low-pressure car buying environment.
Cadillac XTS Concept – Click above for high-res image gallery
According to Automotive News (which is citing four separate yet unknown sources), General Motors is preparing to reinstate more than 580 dealers that had applied for government-mediated arbitration to keep their franchises in the United States. For those keeping track, 580 represents exactly half of the 1,160 dealerships that signed up to go through the arbitration process. These selected dealerships would potentially be reinstated outside the process of arbitration.
General Motors and Chrysler dealers unsuccessful in government-mediated arbitration to save their franchises from closure are being thrown a potential life saver. This one, however, doesn't say U.S.S. Government on it, but rather, U.S.S. Sears Auto Center. The nationwide retailer want to expands its Auto Center operations that focus on service and sales and dealers with physical plants but nothing to put in them might be a workable option.
Back in May, General Motors announced plans to close down a large portion of its dealership network. Since then, a number of those franchisees have lodged complaints to both the automaker itself and appropriate policymakers, leading to possible legislation on how GM is allowed to handle the closing of dealerships. This being the case, The General is proactively drafting a new set of rules as to how it will deal with these to-be-shuttered dealerships, and it promises that some are likely to be re
Holdiman Motor terminated dealer plea - click above image to watch the video
Buick Enclave - Click above for high-res image gallery
Cadillac is one of the core brands that will form the new General Motors, but the dealership network can't continue in its current guise, according to GM sales head Mark LaNeve. There are 1,422 Cadillac dealers nationwide, more than four times the number of Mercedes-Benz dealers and more than six times the number of Lexus dealers. That kind of saturation meant that in 2008, the average Cadillac dealership did one-sixth the business of a Mercedes dealer and one-tenth the business of a Lexus deale
On top of the 1,124 General Motors dealers that will be closed next year, the ailing automaker is reportedly going to announce another round of dealer closings on Monday when its bankruptcy declaration is expected. According to two Automotive News sources, 450 dealers will not see their dealer franchises renewed. For his part, Mark LaNeve, GM's VP of North American sales, said the number would be "less than half that."
Rock, meet hard place. With General Motors handed a directive from the White House to be ultra-aggressive in its restructuring in order to secure more government loans, the automaker is making cuts everywhere and dealers are far from immune. As reported previously, GM's plan to shrink its retailers from nearly 6,300 to 3,700 by the end of 2010 is going to be as painful as a Civil War amputation. Initially, General Motors will deny franchise renewal to dealerships that don't measure up on metrics
Dealership rationalization was something General Motors was looking at well before the economy went pear-shaped. GM still has more than 6,300 dealerships in the U.S., and it is even more important now to start shedding some of that financial burden. That is why The General told dealers at the NADA conference that it plans to get rid of 1,600 dealerships by 2012.
From November 28 to December 11, GM is holding back incentive payments to dealers, including dealer cash and customer cash. Why? in the words of Mark LaNeve, GM's VP of North American sales, because "Anytime you can delay any kind of a payment, it helps cash flow" And cash is probably the most important four-letter word in any GM dictionary.
At the end of World War II, GM "put a dealership in every little hamlet" to keep up with the postwar boom. Sixty years later, in 2005, long after that boom had ended and every domestic maker was losing market share, GM had 15,094 dealerships. By 2007 GM had reduced that to 14,118 dealers. But if GM plans to compete financially with its overseas competition, it will need to shrink that number a great deal further.