Detroit 3's sales of Volvo, Saab offer hope to troubled dealers

I spoke to a former GMC-Buick dealer yesterday who is teetering on extinction.

General Motors terminated his franchises during the automaker's bankruptcy reorganization in 2009. Since then, the metro Detroit dealer has sold used cars and performed service work. But the dealer, who requested anonymity, had to close his service shop last week because he didn't have enough service business. He worries that used-car sales won't carry him through the summer. He jokes that he'll turn his dealership into a dry-cleaning business.

Gallows humor aside, he's determined to keep selling cars. Later in our conversation, he told me he's applying for a Volvo or Saab franchise.

I've talked to other dealers who also are looking to Volvo or Saab for salvation.

Darryl Wischnewsky of Bayway Lincoln in Houston is pushing for a Volvo franchise. He used to also sell Mercury vehicles, but Ford Motor Co. terminated the Mercury brand. Wischnewsky says he can't survive on Lincoln alone.

There likely are other dealers who find themselves in similar binds.

And here's the irony: GM sold Saab as part of its post-bankruptcy restructuring. Ford sold Volvo last year as part of its turnaround strategy. So by selling Saab and Volvo, the same automakers who terminated the two dealers' franchises have given those dealers reasons for hope.

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