GM, Chrysler woes spare local dealer

Published 10:56 pm Friday, May 15, 2009

General Motors began notifying an estimated 1,100 dealers Friday that the company would be ending their contract in an attempt to save money. This announcement came just one day after Chrysler announced more than 700 dealers would be cut by June 9.

But, neither of those cuts was made in Clanton.

Kirk Stokes, owner of Stokes Automotive in Clanton, both a GM and Chrysler dealer, said he has received notification from both companies that his dealership will not be included in the cuts.

“We’re OK,” Stokes said Friday. “We received our Chrysler letter Thursday, letting us know that we were not part of our cuts, and we’ve heard from GM as well.”

Stokes, whose dealership is set to unveil the new 2010 Camaro Saturday, said he was surprised by some of the dealers cut by Chrysler Thursday.

“It really surprised me with some of the ones they cut,” Stokes said. “There were some really good dealers — friends of mine — that were cut.”

But, Stokes said he hopes the move will be positive for both companies.

“I really think and hope this will be good for the companies,” Stokes said. “They are really looking at keeping one dealer in a particular area and cutting dealers where they have more than one.”

Stokes said he will be the lone Chrysler dealer between downtown and Montgomery.

“Our trade area has really expanded and goes all the way over to Alexander City, Selma,” Stokes said.

One of the reasons Stokes may not have been on the cut list may have been their volume of sales in recent years, but may primarily be the large investment the company is making in a new dealership location on Interstate 65, at the 212 (Peach Water Tower) exit.

“It is a big investment and we began the project before the sales slowdown began,” Stokes said, adding that he did lose a little sleep in making the investment and slowing sales. “But, we were just too far along to quit. In the end, it may be the best thing that has ever happened to us.”

GM, in reducing its dealership numbers, is attempting to get its dealership number to 3,600 by next year. It is part of the company’s restructuring plan as part of the federal bailout fund agreement.