Joe Eberhardt, the Chrysler group's sales chief, said that adding minority dealers is slow and challenging. He said the company must find ways to keep profitable minority dealers in the fold.
"It is easy to put 200 or 300 people into business, but it is very hard to then keep them in business for a longer period of time," Eberhardt said at the DaimlerChrysler Minority Dealer Association awards ceremony prior to the National Automobile Dealers Association convention.
"It's a slower process, but one we are fully committed to and one we will see through until we have the right representation."
Eberhardt didn't say how many minority-owned dealerships he considered to be the right representation.
The Chrysler group is one of 14 manufacturers that have signed memoranda of understanding agreeing to work toward raising the number of their minority-owned dealerships to 15 percent, says the National Association of Minority Automobile Dealers.
At the 2003 NADA convention, NAMAD threatened to organize a boycott against Chrysler and Audi because they had so few minority-owned dealerships. NAMAD also said the companies offered no plan to increase the numbers.
Audi also signed the agreement. NAMAD did not ask the companies for a timetable.
As of the end of 2003, according to the Chrysler group:
Eighty percent of Chrysler's minority dealerships are profitable, down from 85 percent at the end of 2002 but still higher than the 73 percent for the entire Chrysler dealer body in 2003.