Car casualties arrive on the Western Slope

We were pleased to see that Grand Junction Chrysler Jeep will retain its Chrysler dealership, despite Chrysler’s bankruptcy filing and the resulting decisions to eliminate nearly 800 dealerships nationwide.

Other dealers in the region, such as Hellman Motor Co. in Delta weren’t so fortunate. Hellman and other Western Slope dealers were told last week that they would lose their Chrysler affiliation in June.

Hellman will continue as a Ford and Toyota dealer, however.

The Chrysler dealers weren’t alone. On Friday, regional purveyors of General Motors products were also waiting to learn whether they would be among the 1,100 dealerships nationwide dropped from the GM roster.

Welcome to the brave new automobile world.

Don’t blame all this on President Barack Obama. GM and Chrysler were in deep financial trouble well before he became president. And many people believe both companies should have gone through bankruptcy long ago.

But there is good reason to worry about the restructuring that the Obama team is foisting on the two auto companies — with substantial union ownership of the companies by the United Auto
Workers union and government mandates on what sorts of vehicles they will be able to produce.

Whether they will emerge as healthy companies is far from certain.

What is certain is that the restructuring of the auto industry isn’t only affecting Detroit and other cities where vehicles are manufactured. It is costing jobs and harming businesses here in western Colorado and in communities around the country.

And that’s unfortunate, regardless of what one thinks about the way General Motors and Chrysler have been managed in recent years.


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