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Chrysler offering to reopen 86 dealers

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Chrysler offering to reopen 86 dealers

David Shepardson and Alisa Priddle / The Detroit News

Washington -- Chrysler Group LLC will offer to reinstate 86 of the nearly 800 dealers it shut down last year, the automaker confirmed.

The announcement includes 50 dealers in arbitration. The company previously notified 36 dealers whose franchises were eliminated last summer, offering to let them reopen if they meet certain requirements.

The company said the move "was in an effort to find a mutually beneficial resolution in situations that make sense for the customer, the dealer and the company."

Chrysler is offering so-called letters of intent to 50 of the roughly 400 dealers that have sought arbitration to reverse their closings. The arbitration process was ordered by Congress, to give dealers a route to appeal.

"The announcement by Chrysler today of its intent to reinstate 50 dealers is a move in the right direction," said National Automobile Dealers Association Ed Tonkin. "This, coupled with previous contracts or Letters of Intent awarded to 36 other closed dealerships, brings the total to 86 dealerships that could be reinstated. NADA views this as a good-faith effort, and hopes that this carries forward in Chrysler's continuing settlement and arbitration discussions with the other terminated dealers."

The Auburn Hills-based automaker said the 50 dealers are in locations that offer customer service benefits, and will have limited adverse impact on the remaining dealers within its network.

It also is looking to resolve other disputes outside of arbitration.

"Discussions to find mutually beneficial alternatives to arbitration with other dealers are under way," the company said.

In June, Chrysler LLC closed a quarter of its dealers while it was under bankruptcy protection. The company emerged when its best assets were sold to the new, government-backed company.

Chrysler has filed suit to block four states -- Illinois, Maine, North Carolina and Oregon -- from forcing it to restore terminated dealerships.

Chrysler took a much tougher line with its dealers than General Motors Co. did. GM said this month it was offering 661 of its dealers the chance to stay open if they could meet certain financial conditions.

From The Detroit News:


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