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10:09 AM Thu, Nov. 15th

York retaining Chrysler dealership

Les Stukenberg/The Daily Courier<p>
Chrysler announced the closing of over 700 dealerships across the country yesterday. York Motors was not on the list.

Les Stukenberg/The Daily Courier<p> Chrysler announced the closing of over 700 dealerships across the country yesterday. York Motors was not on the list.

Toby York got the notice he was hoping for.

York, general manager of the family's Dodge/Chrysler/Jeep dealership, found out Thursday morning that he will continue to sell Chrysler vehicles.

"We are going to be a dealer in the new Chrysler," York said. "Got the word just a few minutes ago."

Hundreds of other owners weren't so lucky.

The automaker filed a motion with the U.S. Bankruptcy Court in New York with plans to purge about one-fourth of its 3,200 dealerships nationwide.

That means the Michigan-based company is aiming to close 789 dealerships by early next month.

Here in Arizona, the list includes dealerships in Mesa, Superior, Flagstaff, Phoenix and Wickenburg.

York said dealers like him got the notice through a United Parcel Service letter. York said he got a one-page welcome letter.

York added that other dealers got a four-page letter telling them that they are no longer a dealer effective June 9.

"It's a pretty exciting thing. All of a sudden, here we go, we get to be a Chrysler dealer," he said.

Jim Press, vice chairman of Chrysler, said the closures are tough and necessary, according to an Associated Press story.

In that story, Press said the list is final and without an appeal process.

To put the importance of the auto sector into perspective, Mark Woodfill, finance director for the City of Prescott, said auto dealers generated more than $4 million for city coffers in fiscal year 2007-08. Through the first nine months of this fiscal year, auto sales generated just less than $2 million, according to Woodfill.

Over at Tim's Buick Pontiac GMC in Prescott, general manager Mike Dennis said that even though General Motors is phasing out Pontiac, he really isn't worried about getting a similar notice from GM.

"We're very confident that we're not going to get one of those letters either," he said. "I just don't see it being an issue at all. We're not going anywhere. We've been here for 23 years and things will keep moving right along."

General Motors is looking to cut more than 40 percent of its dealership base to 3,600 by 2010, according to a CNNMoney.com story.

GM Chief Executive Fritz Henderson said earlier this week that notices would go out to dealers as soon as this week.

Now it's GM dealers like Ted Lamb who must wait for final word about their fate. He said he hasn't heard a word from GM as of Thursday morning.

But Lamb said he's selling more GM cars than dealers in Phoenix are at the moment.

"I think we'll be here for a long time," he said. "We do GM a good job; they like us; we're in a great little market. We are a shining light with General Motors."

Lamb said his understanding is that he might get a letter today. And he believes most of the cuts are in areas saturated with GM dealerships.

"They're not looking to eliminate dealers like myself or Toby York in these kind of market places," Lamb said.

"You can't stand around and worry about something you can't do anything about. We will be here."