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Chrysler dealers more upbeat about future

by Bill Cawthon on

Chrysler dealers at the National Automobile Dealers Association (NADA) annual convention were more confident about the company’s future after a closed-door meeting with Chrysler executives.

While the dealers know they face a product drought for most of this year as well as unfavorable public and analyst perceptions, many say they’ve been there before and are confident they can tough it out until new products begin arriving later this year.

Among other assurances, company executives promised Chrysler would not longer try to stuff the pipeline, forcing dealers to buy inventory they don’t want. Chrysler also will curtail the production of less-popular models rather than loading them up with profit-leeching incentives. This is in direct contrast to the situation last year when Chrysler, then still owned by Cerberus Capital Management, demanded dealers order more vehicles, bloating already high inventories. For much of the year, Chrysler had to resort to the highest incentives in the industry to move cars and trucks off dealer lots while still seeing its sales and market share fall sharply.

After the meeting, dealers discussed steps they have taken to ensure their viability through the lean times ahead. These include cutting costs, trimming staff and pushing the service side of the business.

Bill Cawthon grew up in the auto industry in the 1950s. His Dad worked for Chrysler and Bill spent a number of Saturdays down on the plant floor at Dodge Main in Hamtramck. Bill is also the U.S. market correspondent for, a British auto industry publication, and a member of the Texas Auto Writers Association, which has named the Jeep Grand Cherokee the “SUV of Texas” several times and named the Ram 1500 as the “Truck of Texas” two years running.

Bill has owned five Plymouths (including the only 1962 “Texan”), one Dodge and one Chrysler and is still trying to figure out how to justify a Wrangler. He also has owned at least one of every 1:87 scale model of a Chrysler product. You can reach him directly at (206) 888-7324 or by using the form.

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