DETROIT -- Chrysler Group is reinstating National Dealer Council elections in a move to build trust with dealers.
The last elections for one-year council terms were in the first quarter of 2004. For several years, some dealers have criticized the council for being too close to the factory. That conflict peaked when Chrysler cut 789 dealerships during bankruptcy. Some terminated dealers said the council did not stick up for them.
"If we'd had strong representation, I don't think we'd have been left behind," said Jim Fynes, general manager of Phil Long Chrysler-Jeep in Denver, which Chrysler terminated in June.
Jim Arrigo, co-chairman of the council and owner of Arrigo Dodge-Chrysler-Jeep in West Palm Beach, Fla., disagrees. "Anybody who would make that statement would have no idea what council went through in the last three years," he said.
"There was nothing, zero," the council could have done to avert the rejections, Arrigo said. "It happened so fast, we didn't even have a chance to understand what was going on."
The current council has pressed the factory hard to make numerous changes, he said. "Every dime of dealer cash that was done the last couple of years was done because of the dealer council," Arrigo said. "Manufacturers don't like doing dealer cash."