CAR TROUBLE

GM, Chrysler Lobby Congress

Execs from GM and Chrysler said today that closing dealerships nationwide is crucial, amidst pleas from dealers to spare their local branches. “This is our last chance to get it right,” GM President Fritz Henderson told lawmakers hearing the cases from two dealers whose franchises will soon close. Neglecting to reduce the number of dealerships would hurt the automakers once they no longer have bankruptcy protection—and if franchises can’t meet their quota, the companies can’t expect to turn a profit, said Chrysler President James Press. Press went on to say that Chrysler hoped to provide a “soft landing” for dealers, which Sen. Frank Lautenberg characterized as “wishful thinking.” Lawmakers on the Senate Commerce Committee suggested that the companies were deserting their dealers and customers and laying the blame for the companies’ problems on the shoulders of the dealers. "It's unbelievable how we have been treated,” said Spencer Lopez, whose West Virginia GM-Chrysler dealership is on the chopping block. Despite meeting all financial obligations put forth by the companies, Lopez said, “they want to shut me down.”