General Motors dealers near Cerritos, Calif., suspect a local GMC dealership may be getting special favors because it is factory-owned.
Specifically, Cerritos Buick-Pontiac-GMC, bought by GM Retail Holdings in October, has 51 new 2000 GMC Yukon XLs on the way. Most other GMC dealers in the area have only one or none en route.
GM officials say those vehicles were allocated in September before the company bought the dealership. They say the Cerritos store and other top GMC dealerships are getting so many Yukon XLs now because GMC decided to hand out the first XLs to its largest dealerships. The XL formerly was called the Suburban.
But some dealers, wary of GM's plans to own and operate dealerships through its GM Retail Holdings unit, have trouble believing the automaker's explanations.
'It always nags in the back of your mind: Is that what's really going on?' said one California GM dealer who asked not to be identified.
GM Retail Holdings has had a short but controversial history. GM established the unit this fall, originally to buy up to 770 dealerships in 130 markets. But Chairman Jack Smith in late September scaled its mission way back. He said GM Retail Holdings would own dealerships only temporarily. The company eventually would sell its equity in the stores to dealers, he said.
Bob Muiter, GM's North America director of distribution, and Denny O'Donnell, brand manager for the Yukon and Yukon XL, say Cerritos is simply benefiting from its size.
GMC decided to give its biggest dealers most of the early Yukon XLs as it ramps up production.
Through the first week of December, GM had assembled about 1,800 Yukon XLs. Twelve dealerships around the country are getting at least 20 XLs, and five of those 12 are getting 40 or more.
Other dealers will get big shipments of Yukon XLs as GM ramps up production. Muiter said GM will build about 8,200 more Yukon XLs by the end of January.
'When we get 10,000 out there, it will even out a lot,' Muiter said.
Mark Parkinson, co-owner of Tustin Buick-Pontiac-GMC-Nissan in Tustin, Calif., does not want Cerritos, just 20 miles from his dealership, to get those sport-utilities before he gets the more than 40 Yukon XLs he expects in December and January.
'If you have a customer come in and you have nothing, and they go to Cerritos instead, I definitely have a problem with that,' he said.
Still, Parkinson does not believe GM would be foolish enough to draw attention to its GM Retail Holdings stores by giving those stores better allocations for no apparent reason.
He said: 'It's something they have to be real careful with.'