Chrysler dealers who lack one or two of Chrysler's three brands can add franchises, but there's a catch: They have to waive their rights to a legal protest if Chrysler wants to install competitors in surrounding markets.
They also must sign an agreement to keep their property an exclusive Chrysler-Dodge-Jeep store for 30 years.
Chrysler spokeswoman Carrie McElwee says the automaker has required waivers and 30-year site-control agreements before. "It's a fair method for Chrysler to retain the equity it has in the location even if a dealer wants to retire," McElwee says.
But lawyers who represent dealers say that the waivers are unusual and that the term of the agreement is unusually long.
Though other automakers have required similar site-control contracts, such contracts are rare and normally apply only if the factory chipped in a large sum toward property improvements, relocations or mergers.
"Chrysler has made this a blanket requirement," says Mike Charapp, a McLean, Va., dealer lawyer who has Chrysler clients.
Chrysler's agreements also require the dealer to:
-- Give Chrysler the option to buy or lease the property if the dealer wants to retire, sell or close the business.
-- Buy new vehicles, parts and tools redistributed from rejected dealers.
-- Upgrade the property to meet Chrysler's latest image standards.