Local GM dealership expects to survive|GM patrons should
have no problems
with vehicle warranties

Published 12:16 am Friday, June 5, 2009

By By Mike Voss
Contributing Editor

Steven Lee, sales manager for Lee Chevrolet-Pontiac-Buick in Washington, said area General Motors Corp. patrons shouldn’t worry about how GM’s bankruptcy will affect the local GM dealership and the products and services it provides. He’s also optimistic the Washington dealership will survive.
“The bankruptcy does not affect our day-to-day operations,” Lee said Thursday.
The dealership is reassuring its customers, he said, adding that some are expressing concerns.
“Most of our customers, they certainly have questions. … We’ll try to answer any questions they have,” Lee said.
Warranties have concerned some customers, he noted, though he stressed that vehicle warranties will remain in effect and be honored.
President Barack Obama reiterated a statement he made in March, in which he said the federal government would back the warranties of GM and Chrysler vehicles, according to the Associated Press.
As for the dealership, it expects to remain a member of the GM network, Lee said.
On Wednesday, GM and Chrysler executives told U.S. senators their companies must drop hundreds of dealers as part of their bankruptcies, saying the painful-but-necessary moves are needed to right-size their companies, the AP reported.
General Motors has informed 1,100 dealerships it does not plan to renew their franchise agreements and expects to shed an additional 900 dealerships through attrition and by selling or discontinuing its Hummer, Pontiac, Saab and Saturn brands, the AP reported. By 2010, it hopes to reduce its 6,000 dealers to about 3,500 to 3,800.
Robert Glaser, president of the N.C. Automobile Dealers Association, said GM has 205 dealers in North Carolina.
“We don’t have any solid numbers, but we expect that up to 50 GM dealers in North Carolina could lose their franchises,” Glaser said Thursday.
The likely loss of dealerships worries Glaser.
“It’s a tragic situation that a politically appointed task force (Obama administration recommendations) will decimate small towns like Washington,” Glaser said. “Who’s going to help the small towns if you lose your local dealer?”
Fortunately, Lee Chevrolet-Pontiac-Buick is a strong GM dealership, one that should survive, Glaser said.
“GM should be happy to have a dealer like Steve Lee (president of the local dealership),” Glaser said.
The loss of 50 GM dealerships will adversely affect the state’s economy, he said.
“Losing 50 dealerships means $105 million in lost payroll each year,” Glaser explained.
Last month, Moore Motor Co. in Washington learned it is one of at least 14 Chrysler dealerships in North Carolina that will lose their franchises as a part of Chrysler’s bankruptcy process. Overall, Chrysler plans to eliminate 789 of its 3,200 dealerships. It plans to close the dealerships by Tuesday.
Last year, Cox Chevrolet in Belhaven closed its doors, a victim of the recession.