MOUNT VERNON — Last Thursday was a bitter day as Americans heard the news that American-owned and made Chrysler LLC filed for bankruptcy. Although the situation has caused some customers to be concerned with services and products offered by the company, local dealers don’t foresee the change as a cause for concern just yet. But with so much uncertainty at the corporate level, local dealerships are in limbo on changes yet to be made.
“At this point, for the next 30 to 60 days, as far as what we’ve heard, everything is going to be the same,” said Kerry Goetzman, general manager for the Goetzman Chrysler, Plymouth and Dodge dealership.
Goetzman said there is not much that can be said at this time, until the bankruptcy details become clear with Chrysler.
“Things are still going to be the same with warranty work, there are still going to be cars for sale. I don’t know what the total ramifications are going to be, but there is not going to be any interruption of business,” said Goetzman.
“In the theory of it, it’s going to affect us in terms of us getting products, but there is not going to be any stoppage in business at this point,” said Goetzman. “I don’t know what’s going to happen longer term, but for the next couple of months, it should be the same as it has been.”
Goetzman has already seen changes over the past year.
“They cut some product lines where they are not making the products they used to make, and streamlined a little bit. But as far as the quality of the cars and the number of cars we can get, we haven’t seen any difference in that,” he said. “They have been more aggressive with rebates, trying to sell more cars, and they are trying to put more incentives out there to improve business.”
As for the future partnership with the Italian company Fiat, Goetzman suspects it’s going to take some time to see adjustments in product lines or other services.
“As a small local dealer, I don’t know if there will be tremendous changes,” he said. “[The partnership] is going to change some of the product line, somewhat, but the exact thing, right now, we don’t know.”
Other Chrysler dealerships are feeling the uncertainty as well, but local Chrysler dealers are committed to providing service to current and new customers.
“From the information I received from Chrysler, there is no interruption in business as far as sales, service, parts and warranties. Which that is accurate, because we’ve had transaction transpire today,” said Ron Ross, president of Ross Jeep Inc. “As far as it affecting my dealership, only the future will tell. What develops and what Fiat’s ultimate plans are, we feel that we have a very good brand in Jeep.
“It is going to be in Fiat’s hands on how they decide to structure, and what brands they decide to keep and what ones they don’t,” said Ross. “We are hoping for business as usual, but that is not known at this point.”
The dealership has been selling pre-owned cars in Mount Vernon since 1973, six years before Jeep became a part of the dealership. For Ross, pre-owned sales are an instrumental part in maintaining a sound business.
“Eighty to 85 percent is preowned sales, so it won’t affect me as it will some of the larger dealers who depend on large volumes of new car sales,” he said. “We kept our business at a size that would be manageable when tough times come. ... So our dealership is sound, no layoffs in our future, and our sales at this time have been average to good.”
No matter what the future may hold, Ross said all of his customers will be taken care of.
“As a dealer, every car that we have sold that has a warranty, we intend to back it, no matter if the government fails to, or Chrysler fails to. Our customers will not be running around without warranties on their vehicles,” said Ross. “Our plan is, we are going to stay with what got us here, with good products and good prices, and standing by what we sell.”