, Dodge and Jeep dealers are complaining the Chrysler Group is pressuring them to carry unreasonably high inventories so the auto maker can boost its sales numbers.
“They are pushing, and we are resisting,” says onedealer at the Florida Automobile Dealers Assn. convention last week.
A spokesman for the National Automobile Dealers Assn. says the organization has “made it loud and clear” to Chrysler that dealers do not want to be unduly loaded up with inventory.
The dealers accuse Chrysler of building too many vehicles, then pushing them on the market.
Chrysler has gained market share in the U.S. for three years in a row, tallying 13.6% last year, according to Ward’s. Its share from January to May this year was 13.8% compared with 14.1% in like-2005.
Ward’s predicts Chrysler market share will decline this year (unless there are heavy incentives thatCorp. and Motor. Co. don’t follow), but should rebound next year when several new products are in full force.
Chrysler CEO Tom LaSorda tells Ward’s inventory levels are “an issue” with dealers, “and we’re working with them on it.”
He says vehicle stocks are similar to last year, but floorplan costs are up two to three times because of rising interest rates.
“We are coming up with incentives to help them move inventory,” says LaSorda, “and we are coming up with some great new product to stimulate retail sales.”