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Area Chrysler dealerships escape the ax

Cleveland location already is closed

POSTED: May 14, 2009 10:31 p.m.

The Chrysler, Dodge and Jeep dealerships of the Hayes family in Oakwood, Baldwin and Lawrenceville will remain as dealerships for the new Chrysler.

Tim Hayes, an executive at the Oakwood location, confirmed the news in a e-mail to The Times.

"We are excited to announce that Chrysler has chosen us and we will be here to sell, service, and provide parts for your Chrysler, Dodge, and Jeep vehicles in the future," said an e-mail from Hayes to its customers.

Hayes began the business in Lawrenceville 38 years ago. It has been a mainstay in Oakwood for many years and more recently expanded into Habersham County with a dealership at Baldwin, near the Hall and Habersham county lines.

The family also acquired several General Motors franchises, including a Chevrolet dealership in Baldwin and a Buick, Pontiac, Cadillac and GMC truck dealership in Toccoa.

They must now await their fate from GM, which also has promised to shrink its network of dealerships.

Chrysler LLC wants to eliminate roughly a quarter of its 3,200 U.S. dealerships by early next month, saying in a bankruptcy court filing Thursday that the network is antiquated and has too many stores competing with each other. The company, in a motion filed with the U.S. Bankruptcy Court in New York, said it wants to eliminate 789 dealerships by June 9. Many of the dealers’ sales are too low, the automaker said. Just over 50 percent of dealers account for about 90 percent of the company’s U.S. sales, the motion said. Dealers were told Thursday morning via United Parcel Service letter if they would remain or be eliminated. The move, which the dealers can appeal, is likely to cause devastating affects in cities and towns across the country as thousands of jobs are lost and taxes are not paid.

The list of dealerships to be closed includes Family Chrysler Dodge Jeep in Cleveland, which already had closed earlier this year, and Duvall Chrysler Dodge Jeep in Clayton.

Chrysler also included on its list dealerships in Augusta, Claxton, Dalton, Decatur, Jackson, Jasper, Milledgeville, two in Newnan, Savannah and Thomaston.

Chrysler spokeswoman Kathy Graham would not comment other than to say the company will notify dealers before speaking publicly. A hearing is scheduled for June 3 in U.S. Bankruptcy Court in New York to determine whether to approve Chrysler’s motion.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.



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