Automakers and dealers would find it impossible to survive without each other's support. Yet from time to time, manufacturers seem to forget this and proceed without regard for the economic well-being of their partners.
The latest example: Fiat Chrysler's move to add approximately 380 stores to its network of about 2,500 U.S. dealerships.
FCA's network expansion is an attempt to build market share by putting more stores on more corners, according to sources familiar with the company's plans.
We question that logic. Have FCA's sales been faltering lately because the company has too few dealers? Certainly not.
The network expansion comes less than eight years after then-Chrysler LLC expelled 789 U.S. dealerships from its ranks while the automaker was under the protection of bankruptcy laws. Many, though not all, have since been restored.
That culling of the dealer body in May 2009 was done to strengthen Chrysler's network by improving throughput and increasing profitability. The thinking behind that decision was sound, even if the pain it caused was severe.
The expansion, however, seems to fly in the face of that logic. And there is evidence that FCA is being ham-handed in the way it is creating open points.
One dealer in metro New Orleans says most car-buyers in his area would have to drive past his existing FCA store to visit a proposed new point in Kenner, La.
No doubt there are holes in the FCA network -- or for that matter, in any automaker's sales channel -- that can and should be filled.
But automakers should not seek to bolster their fortunes at the expense of their dealers. They're a team.