Grass Valley could lose Chrysler franchise
Sun News Service
GRASS VALLEY “-Grass Valley’s Liberty Motors plans to stop selling new Chrysler automobiles June 9, but dealership owner Gary Alcombrack said he’ll continue selling late-model used cars and have a full service department at the Freeman Lane location.
Liberty Motors is on a list of 789 dealerships with whom Chrysler LLC wants to cancel franchise agreements.
The list was submitted as “Exhibit A” in bankruptcy proceedings, and dealerships were notified of the corporation’s intentions on Thursday, Reuters reported.
Chrysler plans to eliminate a quarter of its 3,181 retail showrooms on June 9 as part of its efforts to stabilize its finances, and officials are seeking permission from the court to cancel agreements with dealers, Reuters reported.
The company filed for bankruptcy April 30, and is struggling through reorganization ” possibly with Italy-based Fiat as a partner.
The news is a blow to both Alcombrack and city officials, who have seen sales taxes dwindle with the recession and furloughed employees to meet a $900,000 budget shortfall.
Liberty Motors is the last remaining new car dealership in western Nevada County. Grass Valley Ford-Lincoln-Mercury-Nissan recently moved to Auburn; Weaver Truck and Auto Center, a GM-Chevrolet dealership, closed last fall; Jim Keil Chevrolet closed before the recession hit.
‘Trust of the community’
New cars only accounted for about 10 percent of business at Liberty Motors ” five to seven vehicles a month ” and about 15 percent of his repair business came from cars with a Chrysler warranty, Alcombrack said Thursday.
“It’s still a bit of a hit,” he added.
Should the dealership drop the Chrysler affiliation, Alcombrack said five people ” two mechanics, one service writer, one sales position and one office assistant ” will lose their jobs, reducing the staff from 25 to 20 employees.
Alcombrack, who has owned the dealership for 20 years, said he and his wife plan to dig into savings to invest up to $1 million in used car inventory to fill his lot.
“The biggest market now is used vehicles, and that’s the business plan now,” Alcombrack said. “Liberty Motors is not closing.”
Alcombrack said he will join a small group of what he called high-quality used-car dealerships in Grass Valley.
“We have supported our communities a lot, and all we ask is that the local community give us a chance to show what we have to offer,” he said.
He’ll save money by not having to train mechanics at company-certified seminars, and so will lower his labor rate by $30 to $99 an hour.
In the future, Alcombrack said he might try to secure another dealer franchise ” even from rental car resellers, as Pioneer Motors does with Enterprise Rent-a-Car.
“That’s where the market is and where the money is,” he said. “We’re going to keep going, and we’re going to make it work. We expect to have as much business or more, because we have the trust of the community.”
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