November 30, 2008

Auto troubles pummel U.S. dealer network

The National Automobile Dealers Association predicts the United States could lose as many as 900 new-car dealerships in the current economic swoon.

At the same time, independent industry analysts fear that number could rise into the thousands in 2009 as the number of sales outlets adjusts to the number of American cars being built, The New York Times said Sunday.

A significant problem has been the tightening of the credit markets that dealers rely on to purchase their annual inventories. As a result, dealers have been cutting back on buying at the same time they are shedding employees and cutting job benefits.

We have never seen anything like this, said Denny Fitzpatrick, an Oakland Chevy dealer who is also Chairman of the California New Car Dealers Association. You lay awake at night trying to figure out how to keep these doors open.

The Times said many of the teetering dealerships are in smaller cities and towns and have been pillars of the local business communities.