SomeGroup dealers are seeing slower sales after DaimlerChrysler AG Chairman Dieter Zetsche indicated the U.S. unit may be sold.
Zetsche’s refusal to rule out that possibility has sent shockwaves through the auto industry, with the ripple effect reaching, Jeep and Dodge dealers such as Carl Galeana of the Galeana Automotive Group.
With dealerships in Florida, South Carolina and Michigan, Galeana says that after a rough 2006 he was anticipating a “smoother year” in 2007. But “all this talk (about a Chrysler sale) has killed the month of February” from a sales standpoint.
Galeana’s February sales are running 50% behind January’s. “I had a pretty good January, and I still think we’re going to have a good year,” he says. But news of a possible sale of Chrysler is “not what I expected.”
Chrysler CEO Tom LaSorda is trying to quell dealers’ concerns. He sent them a Feb. 21 email saying, “When you look at our plans for new products and new powertrains, I simply ask this: Do these sound like the actions of a company uncertain about its future?”
Adds Lasorda: “The Dodge, Jeep and Chrysler brands are here to stay.”
Dealer Aaron Zeigler, of the Harold Zeigler Automotive Group in Michigan, says he is not overly concerned aboutpotentially severing its ties to Chrysler.
“We’ve been through it before,” he says. “The first time we bought a Chrysler-Dodge-Jeep store, the company was sold tosix months later.”
Galeana, too, is taking the matter in stride.
“I know what this is about because I’ve been through tough times,” he says. “I’ve been through the ups and the downs. Certain things are out of your control. All you can do is ride the wave and hope it’s the right wave.”