Chrysler plans to eliminate partnership with Columbia dealership, filing says

Friday, May 15, 2009 | 12:01 a.m. CDT; updated 10:54 a.m. CDT, Friday, May 15, 2009

COLUMBIA — Twenty-seven Chrysler dealerships in Missouri were on the list of eliminations filed in bankruptcy court Thursday, including Columbia’s Dodge City Motors.

Chrysler LLC wants to eliminate roughly a quarter of its 3,200 U.S. dealerships by June 9, saying in the bankruptcy filing that the network is antiquated and has too many stores competing with each other.

Chrysler closures planned in Missouri


  • Cannon Chrysler Dodge Jeep Inc. of Excelsior Springs
  • Cape County Auto Park Inc. of Cape Girardeau
  • Century Motor Corporation of Wentzville
  • Chris Auffenberg Ford Inc. of Washington
  • Crawford’s Raytown, Jeep-Eagle Co. of Kaytown
  • Davis Chrysler Inc. of Ava
  • Dodge City Motors Inc. of Columbia
  • Heritage Chrysler Jeep Inc. of Raytown
  • Jim Rush GMC Truck Co. of Bolivar
  • Lucas-Smith Automotive Inc. of Potosi
  • Mid-Missouri Motors Inc. of St. Robert
  • Miller-Campbell Company of Kansas City
  • Milner-O’Quinn Chrysler Dodge of Harrisonville
  • Mitch Crawford’s Holiday Motors Co. of Raytown
  • Neosho Chrysler-Plymoth-Dodge-Jeep Inc. of Neosho
  • Ozark Dodge Inc. of Ozark
  • Raytown Dodge Company of Raytown
  • Reuther Dodge LLC of Creve Coeur
  • Reuther’s Investments Co. of Creve Coeur
  • Ron Hulett Automotive Inc. of Camdenton
  • Sam Ogle Chrysler Jeep Inc. of Crystal City
  • Smith Motor Company-Marceline Inc. of Brookfield
  • Swafford’s For Sales Inc. of Richmond
  • T&C Motors of Sedalia Inc. of Sedalia
  • Tony Martens Dodge Inc. of Platte City
  • Weinberg Dodge Inc. of Grandview
  • Zeiser Chrysler Dodge Jeep Inc. of Truesdale



Columbia Dodge City Motors owner Larry Estes was surprised by the news, but plans to keep his business of approximately 45 employees at 1300 Vandiver Drive open.

"Hyundai is still here and Mahindra diesel trucks will be arriving in September," Estes said.

Chrysler informed business owners of the cuts before the list was revealed, but Estes said they made it seem like the only retailers being dropped were the ones losing money. Estes said his business is paid for 100 percent.

Estes's relationship with Chrysler was rocky even in the beginning.

Twenty-three years ago, Estes bought out the University Chrysler dealership.  Chrysler then made Estes split his business into two separate locations and take on a partner, essentially putting him into debt.

"They took about 50 percent of my business and gave it to someone else in the same town," Estes said.

Chrysler, in a motion filed with the U.S. Bankruptcy Court in New York, said it wants to shed 789 dealerships by early next month. Many of the dealers’ sales are too low, the automaker said, with just over 50 percent of dealers accounting for about 90 percent of the company’s U.S. sales.

A hearing is scheduled for June 3 in U.S. Bankruptcy Court in New York for a judge to determine whether to approve Chrysler’s motion. Judges often rely on companies in bankruptcy to help determine what is in their best business interest, such as the closure of dealerships or cancellation of contracts.

The 3.5 million customers who purchased vehicles from the affected dealers will be notified about the closures and their warranties will still be honored, said Vice President Steven Landry.

Chrysler sold an average of 303 vehicles per dealer in 2008, according to its filing. By contrast, Honda Motor Co. sold about 1,200 vehicles per dealer, while Toyota Motor Corp. sold nearly 1,300 per dealer.


­— Associated Press writer Dan Strumpf contributed to this report

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Anton Berkovich May 15, 2009 | 6:09 p.m.

I don't understand why these American automakers are going under. I thought all of the American automaker CEOs always defended their pushing of SUVs to consumers as "responding to market demand." If they were really responding to market demand, then why are they struggling, while foreign car companies are doing far better?

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