Friday, May 15, 2009

Rollin' Rollin' Keep Them Tumbrils Rollin'

Today 789 or so Chrysler, Dodge Truck, and or Jeep dealerships learned their fate under a new and harsh reality, in the form of a letter delivered by the UPS guy who usually brings the parts to the receiving door.

It is said that before the day is out, the General will announce which of its dealerships will not survive.

Of course, single line Pontiac, Hummer, and Saturn dealerships are done for in the same way that single line Plymouth and Oldsmobile dealerships found themselves without a line of cars to sell not all that long ago.

That reality is that they will no longer have the Chrysler franchise to sell and service new vehicles. Even though that hasn't exactly been setting the world on fire the last few years, it's been a modest living for a lot of folks. The National Auto Dealer's Association-inartfully abbreviated as "NADA" estimates that the combined shutterings from Chrysler and the General will cost 140,000 jobs.

I still haven't figured out how this is going to help whatever comes out of the Chrysler bankruptcy, because in the average auto dealership the dealer's the one with the financial obligation and the inventory of parts and vehicles. If one guy in one little town somewhere sells one car, how's that harm Chrysler?

No doubt the brainiacs from the Harvard Business School have the answer to that, too. Between the trade in derivatives, AIG, the sub prime mortgage debacle, and the banks all on respirators courtesy of the taxpayers, they're doing a helluva job, wouldn't you say? The world would be a far better place if these jokers had a practicum written into the curriculum-you can't graduate until you spend a year working in a factory or servicing cars or picking lettuce in the central valley.

Which of course will never ever happen, even when pigs learn how to fly.

Although no doubt some of the operations that are getting the axe are moribund, still, the pain's going to be felt with the avalanche of pink slips that are sure to follow shortly.

Some notables who are walking up the stairs to the guillotine are Westminster Dodge in Dorchester, Mass., which has been in business selling Chrysler products since 1927 and carried the torch in the bad days of K-Cars and the gas crisis.

Des Moines Chrysler, right in the middle of the auto district, is getting the boot, which is passing strange because Adel Chrysler, a much smaller operation also equidistant from Stu Hansen's is not getting the bum's rush.

Lest we forget, ask yourselves what happened to American Motors and its dealers after Chrysler gobbled them up? People in Kenosha are still angry about that. Paybacks suck, but it's poor and bleak comfort to see more people done out of their livelihoods, at least some of which have supported Walter Chrysler's badge for longer than many people have been around.

It seems that the efforts of the band AutoSalvage, in their signature and only album in 1968, were prescient when they asked "What kind of person owns a fifty-nine Ford?"

Ultimately, we're starting to find out that sustainability is the same thing as a seat in one of the Titanic's lifeboats.

Not everyone's going to survive and a few people are going to get thrown overboard.


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