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In bankruptcy court Thursday, Chrysler announced plans to eliminate 789 (about 25 percent) of its 3,200 dealers. In Missouri, that means 26 dealerships will close or eventually no longer sell Chrysler, Dodge or Jeep automobiles.
Two area dealerships are affected: Swafford’s Ford Sales in Richmond and Cannon Dodge Chrysler Jeep, Inc., in Excelsior Springs.
“They eliminated one out of four dealers,” said Rob Swafford of Swafford Ford Sales. “Obviously, they’re in bankruptcy and are restructuring. They filed two lists in bankruptcy court yesterday: those dealers to take with them and those they won’t. Quite honestly, a lot of dealers were affected by this, and for those that only sold those models, it’s a major, major thing.”
In court, Chrysler plans a new company that will be owned mostly by the United Auto Workers (approximately 55 percent) and the remainder by the U. S. Department of Treasury and Fiat.
Swafford said Chrysler will be mailing out four million letters to its dealers and customers. Swafford said he will be sending out letters to his customers in the next few weeks as well.
“The good news is: we’re not going out of business. We’re not terminating or laying off any employees. We will continue to sell pre-owned or used Chrysler, Dodge and Jeep vehicles and we will continue to service them,” said Swafford.
In a fax sent by Swafford to The Daily News, Swafford’s Ford Sales will no longer sell new Chrysler, Dodge or Jeep vehicles, and will no longer perform warranty repairs on those vehicles.
Swafford’s Ford has been in business in Richmond since 1955. For 28 of those years, the company has also sold Chrysler, Dodge and Jeep automobiles. Swafford said there will be a ‘wind down period’ between now and June 9 as the changes take place.
“We have a sense of sadness that Chrysler has decided to leave us. As my grandfather started, we were Swafford’s Ford, and we’re still Swafford’s Ford. We’ll still be a strong and viable dealership for our customers and our community.”