Given the dominating coverage focus on Chrysler's pre-bankruptcy, and the trials of some senior creditors, as well as a great deal of obfuscation or outright willful ignorance, it is easy to forget that "Chrysler sails out of bankruptcy" isn't a slam dunk- even if we could expect Fiat's total, drooling subservience, which we cannot. Chrysler still has to actually, you know, sell automobiles. And they are going to have to totally rebuild a dealer network that the bankruptcy filing was designed to crush. As you might imagine, rosy projections about sales have not come to pass.
Chrysler's car dealership network is on the verge of collapse, a U.S. bankruptcy court heard on Monday, as hundreds of dealerships have closed their doors this year and uncertainty about the company's future is driving consumers away.
"A lot of these guys right now are just trying to survive," James Arrigo, the co-chairman of Chrysler's National Dealer Counsel said of the company's dealers at a hearing on Monday in U.S. bankruptcy court in Manhattan.
Arrigo, who is one of the company's top-ten selling dealers, according to court papers, says that even he has seen a drop off of about 50 percent in car sales this year.
Of course, the deterioration of the dealership network is also one of the prime reasons, the argument goes, that Chrysler's sale must be flashed through the courts as quickly as possible, so it is not surprising that we would start to hear a lot about the dire situation Chrysler is in. (Of course, not a few days ago everything was going to be just fine, but now that a speedy sale is all the rage, things are exploding and spilling toxic gas into a nearby wildlife preserve causing unmarried cats and dogs to room together and otherwise filling the world with unneeded chaos).
Chrysler bankruptcy has dealers on "razor's edge" [Reuters]