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Top Stories
Opinion: Whitacre and Reuss Must Go to Orlando
Chrysler Dealers See Arbitration Hardball
GM Offers Service Perks in Bid to Keep Pontiac Owners
Who Is Really Running Detroit?
Top Stories
Opinion: Whitacre and Reuss Must Go to Orlando

General Motors Co.'s top executives should rethink the automaker's minimalist approach to next month's National Automobile Dealers Association convention in Orlando, Fla.

After President Barack Obama signed legislation giving GM's 1,350 rejected dealerships the right to independent binding arbitration, GM sent a regrettable message to its dealers. Soon after interim CEO Ed Whitacre and North American President Mark Reuss met with NADA officials -- sources say to blame the association for the legislation -- the automaker all but eliminated its participation in the convention. That means GM will not exhibit at the exposition and GM execs will not attend dealer make meetings or receptions.

GM says the cutbacks are to save money and aren't related to NADA's support for the new law. But many dealers believe otherwise. To them, the new GM seems punitive and draconian, just like the old GM.

Since then, GM has sent more positive signals. Whitacre publicly said GM would welcome back good dealers who prevail in arbitration, admitting that mistakes may have been made. And speaking at last week's Automotive News World Congress, Reuss said working through the arbitration process with integrity and transparency is a top challenge for him this year.

But that's not enough.

GM could send a powerful message by investing in a couple of coach seats and hotel rooms in Orlando for Whitacre and Reuss. It's probably too late -- and maybe too costly -- for GM to exhibit at the convention. But Whitacre and Reuss should reverse course and attend the make meetings along with the company's sales executives.

Together they can meet and greet dealers, answer questions and listen to dealer concerns. The company says there have been several meetings with dealers during the bankruptcy and restructuring. But many of the players have changed since then.

This is an auspicious moment for GM and its dealers. On the eve of arbitration -- and with the new five-year sales and service agreement being drafted for adoption this year -- it is crucial that the automaker and its retail partners have an open, frank and respectful relationship.

Going to Orlando would be a sign that the automaker's top two executives are committed to achieving that kind of relationship and that the new GM is trying to be different.
Source: Automotive News

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Chrysler Dealers See Arbitration Hardball

Company's letters suggest a long and bitter battle ahead
Chrysler Group, setting a different tone than General Motors Co., is likely to play hardball in upcoming rejected-dealer arbitration and in carrying out reinstatements ordered by arbitrators, dealer advocates say. Dealer lawyers say that during arbitration, they will allege that Chrysler is dealing in bad faith in sending 789 notification letters last week that flouted a new law by failing to tell closed dealerships why they were terminated. Chrysler's letters contained a scorecard suggesting how dealers measured up to a number of criteria, according to a copy of one obtained by Automotive News. The form letter did not explain why the dealer was terminated. Chrysler dealers who wanted to find out the reasons for their elimination were told they could request a meeting with company representatives.
Source: Automotive News

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GM Offers Service Perks in Bid to Keep Pontiac Owners

DETROIT -- General Motors Co., seeking to prevent the owner defections it saw when Oldsmobile died, is offering four free maintenance visits this year to current Pontiac owners. GM mailed the offer in the last month to anyone who owns a 1999 or later Pontiac purchased new or as a certified used vehicle. That’s about a million people, said Brian Sweeney, general manager of Buick-GMC, in an interview last week. The owners can redeem the offer, good for oil changes and tire rotations, at any Buick-GMC dealership in the United States.
Source: Automotive News

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Who Is Really Running Detroit?

GM, Chrysler, and Ford deserve credit for finally building cars Americans want. But the real driver of change is the Obama administration.
The Detroit auto show ... normally kicks off with a splashy press preview of a new car model surrounded by scantily dressed models and introduced by one of the Big Three CEOs. This year is a bit different. The show, officially named the North American International Auto Show, started with a speech by Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood. The Motor City's gearheads aren't in the driver's seat anymore; government officials are.
Source: Newsweek

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Quotable
 
"General Motors Co.'s top executives should rethink the automaker's minimalist approach to next month's National Automobile Dealers Association convention in Orlando, Fla."

   
-- Automotive News, in an editorial suggesting that GM could send a powerful message by sending its top two executives, CEO Ed Whitacre and North American President Mark Reuss, to the NADA convention next month, Automotive News, Jan. 18
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