Edward E. 'Ed' Whitacre, Jr.Enlarge Photo
General Motors and Chrysler have been the target of frustration from thousands of dealers that were cut from the companies' networks during last summer's restructurings. The automakers, dealers, and other interested parties have proposed a variety of ways to resolve the matter -- including mediation and congressional intervention -- but none has met with much success. Now, General Motors has announced a "Comprehensive Plan to Address Dealer Concerns", which the company developed in conjunction with members of congress and the National Association of Minority Automobile Dealers. (NADA seems to have stayed away from the bargaining table.) At a glance, GM's proposal seems to address most of the dealers' major concerns, but it does come with one very important caveat.
The three main components of General Motors' plan include:
* A commitment to advise all Chevrolet, Buick, GMC and Cadillac dealerships that received a complete wind-down agreement of the criteria used by GM in the selection of that dealership for wind-down.
* A face-to-face review process for all complete wind-down dealers who have not already terminated their dealer sales and service agreements with GM.
* If the complete wind-down dealer is not satisfied with the outcome of the face-to-face review process, he or she may elect to proceed to binding arbitration. The arbitration will expressly be limited to whether GM selected the dealer to receive the wind-down agreement on the basis of its business criteria.
The aforementioned caveat comes in paragraph two of the release: "GM will begin to implement this plan in mid-January provided that legislation related to GM's dealer restructuring does not move forward." In other words: call off the congressional dogs, we'll handle this ourselves.
GM's full press release is pasted below. Considering the complexity of the problem, the document is a quick read, so kudos to the company's press team for that. We'll see if Chrysler publishes anything similar in the coming weeks.
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DETROIT, Dec. 3 /PRNewswire/ -- Today, GM is announcing that it is prepared to implement a comprehensive plan that both resolves concerns raised by dealers regarding GM's dealer network restructuring activities and allows it to continue to move forward with a critical component of its long-term viability plan.
GM will begin to implement this plan in mid-January provided that legislation related to GM's dealer restructuring does not move forward. GM's plan offers a more certain and timely process and the appropriate alternative to address dealer concerns especially compared to proposed legislation that would raise a variety of legal and constitutional concerns. The GM plan, the result of several months of discussion and constructive engagement among dealer groups and Members of Congress, provides complete transparency, face-to-face reviews and binding arbitration, which together, will likely result in some dealers being reinstated.
"GM especially appreciates the leadership of Senator Durbin and House Majority Leader Hoyer and the contribution of other Congressional members. Their tireless efforts to facilitate the discussion among all parties to achieve a non-legislative resolution to address dealer concerns were critical to the development of GM's comprehensive plan," said Susan Docherty, GM Vice President, U.S. Sales.
"GM values its dealer body and recognizes the contributions they are making to the future viability of the company, the critical role they play in satisfying customers and their importance to communities across the country. We are prepared to implement this plan so GM and its dealers can channel our full focus on building and selling exceptional cars and trucks with the consumer experience to match," Docherty said.