Chrysler is planning to reopen most of its factories by the end of June. Decisions on which plants will open, and when, will not be made until the new Fiat-controlled company emerges from bankruptcy, which is expected as early as Friday, a Chrysler spokesperson said.
"The majority of plants will come up last week of June," said Steven Landry, executive vice president of North America sales, service and parts in a conference call with reporters to discuss the company's May sales numbers.
Separately, a spokesperson for the automaker said the company will open the plants on a case-by-case basis, depending on market demand for vehicles made there.
Chrysler's factories shut down shortly after Chrysler filed for bankruptcy on April 30. The plants will finish the 2009 models before a July changeover to the 2010 models.
Chrysler dealers still have 260,407 unsold vehicles in inventory, about an 86-day supply, Landry said.
Chrysler's 789 rejected dealers, trying to unload their inventory before a June 9 deadline, accounted for 20 percent of retail sales for May, Landry said. That compares with 12 percent for the first three months and 14 percent for 2008.
"They definitely turned it on," said Landry.
Chrysler's rejected dealers were holding 42,000 vehicles in inventory when Chrysler started its redistribution process on May 18. Customers have since bought 16,000 of those, and surviving Chrysler dealers have committed to taking another 23,000. That leaves 3,000 still to be redistributed. Landry said Chrysler would continue helping rejected dealers to find homes for the vehicles after June 9.
"We'll offer to redistribute them even after June 9," he said. "We want to be sure dealers have as soft a landing as possible."
Chrysler sales fell 47 percent during the month. Landry said sales declined so steeply primarily because the company's fleet sales were off 91 percent compared to a year ago. Chrysler does not divulge specific retail and fleet sales numbers.
Other news from Chrysler's sales call:
Only one vehicle in the Chrysler lineup showed a sales increase in May: the Jeep Wrangler, up 11 percent from May 2008. Landry said dealers could be facing a shortage of Wranglers by the time factories reopened.
Chrysler is carrying over many of its May incentives into June. Chrysler will offer zero percent financing for 60 months on select models and alternative consumer cash up to $4,000 on select 2009 models and up to $6,000 on select 2008 models. Chrysler will also offer credit union bonus cash of $1,000.
Of surviving Chrysler dealers, 71 percent have submitted their applications for wholesale floorplan financing with GMAC, Chrysler's new captive finance company, according to Mike Keegan, vice president of volume planning and sales operations.