DETROIT -- General Motors is terminating 44 of the 199 minority men and women who operate 299 GM dealerships, spokeswoman Susan Garontakos says.
The company has not disclosed how many of its 216 nonminority female dealers, who own 257 GM stores, will be terminated.
The cuts are part of GM's bankruptcy restructuring. The company has told the owners of 1,380 dealerships, or 23.2 percent of all 5,960 GM stores, that their franchise agreements won't be extended upon expiration Oct. 31, 2010. GM says it wants to cut the total to about 3,600 by the end of 2010.
Garontakos says dealerships owned by women and minorities are being treated fairly in the process. She says the market and dealership analysis GM used to identify stores for closure was equitable no matter the store's size or operator.
"We have sharp women and minority dealers. They're all on a level playing field," Garontakos says.
But GM won't say how many individuals own those 1,380 stores or how many stores are operated by the 44 minority dealers who are being cut. That rules out an apples-to-apples comparison.
Minority dealers and their advocates have long feared that minority-owned dealerships are easy targets for dealership consolidation programs because their stores tend to be in smaller, secondary markets. They also argue that they were the last to be added to automakers' retail networks and were added in smaller numbers.
"We cannot be last in and first out," civil rights leader Jesse Jackson told Automotive News.
Damon Lester, president of the National Association of Minority Automobile Dealers, says the association wants to reach out to affected members to offer them support but can't because GM has not released its list of targeted dealerships.
Lester says NAMAD has contacted members asking that those with GM franchises let the association know whether they received a termination letter from the automaker. But he understands why those who are slated for closure are tight-lipped.
"These dealers still have to operate," Lester says. "They have to service their customers. They still have to sell these vehicles on their lots."