Tamara Darvish, a co-leader of the Committee to Restore Dealer Rights, which has led lobbying on behalf of rejected Chrysler and General Motors Co. dealerships, said Wednesday she was e-mailed separately by three former Chrysler dealers.
The three dealers -- two from Florida and one from Ohio -- said they had been told by Chrysler representatives that they were to receive letters of intent via Federal Express. She said today she's now heard from more than a dozen dealers who say they've been told to expect a letter.
Running out of time?
“If I were a betting woman, I'd say Chrysler is doing this because they're running out of time in arbitration,” Darvish said in a phone interview. “How are they going to get all their cases covered?”
She added that pressure from Rep. Chris Van Hollen, the sixth-ranking House member, may also have figured into Chrysler's plans.
Van Hollen, D-Md., called on Chrysler earlier this month to follow GM's lead and reinstate rejected dealerships.
Leonard Bellavia, a Mineola, N.Y., lawyer, said one of his clients also was notified today by a Chrysler representative that he was to receive a letter of intent later this week.
Bellavia declined to identify the state in which his client does business, except to say it isn't Florida or Ohio.
“It makes sense for Chrysler to settle now as opposed to later when all they will have done is incur greater expenses,” Bellavia said. “They're likely to pick dealers who have strong cases and whose markets are under-dealered.”
Earlier this month, GM said it plans to reinstate 661 of the 1,160 rejected dealerships that have filed for arbitration.
GM reinstatements continue
GM has mailed nearly all of its letters of intent, which list requirements that dealers are expected to meet -- including facility size, location, capital and floorplan financing.
GM is giving dealers 10 days to sign and mail them, and then 60 days to provide documentation.
Under a new federal law, arbitrations must be completed by June 14, though they can be extended a month at an arbitrator's discretion.
Fewer than 400 of the 789 Chrysler dealerships that were closed last spring as part of the company's bankruptcy have filed for arbitration, Chrysler said recently.
Chrysler signaled earlier this month that reinstatements didn't figure into its plans.
“Dealer appointments will be a function of the arbitrations,” Chrysler said in a March 8 e-mail. “The company looks forward to the expeditious completion of the arbitration process.”