Chrysler's sudden firing of 789 dealerships was more than a strategy to cut the store roster. The company used bankruptcy to shed dealerships it considered underperforming.
So Chrysler has begun appointing new dealers in some of the 140 open locations left behind after bankruptcy. The new dealerships anger some rejected Chrysler dealers, who lost their stores just two months ago.
The first winner is Al Piemonte Cadillac, which ironically was rejected by General Motors in its bankruptcy. If all goes according to plan, the store, which is winding down its Cadillac business, will be reborn by Sept. 1 as St. Charles Chrysler-Dodge-Jeep in suburban Chicago.
Said David Schoonmaker, general manager of the new Chrysler dealership and the old Cadillac-only store: "Our revenues should triple for service. We'll have a lot more traffic and warranty claims."
Al Piemonte Automotive Group opened the $8.5 million building in 2005. The store is less than a mile down Main Street in St. Charles, Ill., from the terminated Richard Chrysler-Dodge-Jeep, now known as Richard Auto Center. It sells used cars and performs service work.
The St. Charles dealership will remain part of Al Piemonte Automotive Group, which operates three other suburban Chicago dealerships. Al Piemonte is one of an estimated 700 Cadillac dealerships targeted by GM for closure by October 2010.
After Chrysler rejected the 789 dealerships in bankruptcy, the company had 140 open points nationwide. The closings left many towns with no Chrysler Group store.
Kathy Graham, a Chrysler spokeswoman, said the open points did not all result from the bankruptcy terminations. Some points opened after dealers voluntarily resigned their franchises because of economic conditions and other factors.