Senator Bob Corker Moves To Protect Disenfranchised Dealers

June 8, 2009

You might remember U.S. Senator Bob Corker (R-TN) from such hits as "The 2009 Auto Show tour" and "Don't close my GM plant!" Well, now the man who's had it in for Detroit is working on legislation to help dealers who've been cut by Chrysler and General Motors.

In a nutshell, Corker's legislation forces both Chrysler and GM to allow terminated franchisees at least 180 days to shut down operations. At the end of that period, Chrysler and GM would have to reimburse dealers for any remaining vehicles and parts. The penalty for non-compliance: no more federal loans for either company.

We don't have the text of the legislation, however, in the weird way of Washington, we know that it arrives in the form of an amendment to a large, unrelated bill on tobacco regulation and the retirement system for civil servants. We also know that if approved, it would benefit 789 Chrysler dealerships (due for termination tomorrow) and 1,324 GM dealers whose franchise licenses will expire in 2010. What we don't know is whether Corker fully understands that Chrysler and GM are bankrupt, and if they have to shell out big bucks, they'll probably have to get it from their new sugar daddy (i.e. the federal government).

Our take: as good as Corker's proposal sounds for hard-hit dealers, it also sounds like another twist in the endless loop of loans and stipulations. But hey, no one asked us.

[AutoNews, sub req'd]

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