Lee Wight of Wight Chevrolet in Williamsfield said despite restructuring announced Monday by General Motors, business is fine in rural areas of the Midwest. GM plans to cut 21,000 U.S. factory jobs by next year and phase out its Pontiac brand as part of a major restructuring to get more government aid.
Lee Wight of Wight Chevrolet in Williamsfield said despite restructuring announced Monday by General Motors, business is fine in rural areas of the Midwest.
“Our used car sales are down a little bit, our new car sales are fine,” Wight said.
GM plans to cut 21,000 U.S. factory jobs by next year and phase out its Pontiac brand as part of a major restructuring to get more government aid. GM faces a June 1 deadline. If the government doesn’t approve the plan, the company may have to file for bankruptcy protection.
Wight said “Detroit, California and Florida are just a mess” and the national news media focuses on those areas.
Wight said his dealership has plenty of vehicles in stock.
“We can trade among dealers, like we always do. We also have a pretty healthy inventory right now,” he said.
Wight said GM’s plan is to get inventory more in line with demand.
Dealers in Galesburg and Monmouth agree with Wight.
Jeff Jones, general sales manager of Yemm Chevrolet Cadillac Buick Pontiac GMC in Galesburg, said, “We’ve kept our inventory up. Plus, we’ll order a little extra now. I think that was part of their game plan.”
Jones said business has been “good. We had an excellent March. We’re off a little bit, year to date. This part of the country is not suffering like some other areas.”
Although Wight’s has been a Chevy dealer since 1936, including a time with a satellite dealership in Victoria, Wight said “I am surprised they pulled the trigger on Pontiac.”
He said he thought GM would keep Pontiac as a niche product.
“What they’re trying to do, we’re all stand-alone dealerships. GM does not own our dealerships. They just can’t come in and shut you down. They have found over the years factory stores don’t succeed,” Wight said.
He said GM is trying to downsize its brands.
Jones, however, said he was not surprised by GM’s decision to scrap the Pontiac nameplate. He agreed with Wight about why GM is taking the action.
“Their goal is to have less dealers,” Jones said. “That’s the first step, eliminate some of the lines, put them under one line, rather than having ‘cousin’ cars. It will make them more profitable.”
Of Pontiac customers, Wight said, “I think they’ll switch over to Buick or Chevy, one of the two. They had so much overkill. Basically the same car (but with Chevy, Pontiac and Buick models). They don’t need so many divisions.”
Jones said some longtime Pontiac customers no doubt will be disappointed.
“Just like what happened to Oldsmobile,” he said. “There will be some people upset. In the long run, it will be a good thing for GM.”
He, too, predicted those customers will switch to Chevys and Buicks.
Wight said Buick is doing very well. He thinks GM also may move more into the truck business in Europe.
“There’s a big truck market overseas,” he said. “Chevy is their bread and butter. We’re very fortunate we’re a Chevy franchise.”
Mike Tapper, sales manager of Bruce Foote Chevrolet-Cadillac in Monmouth, echoed many of the comments made by Jones and Wight.
“Business has actually been very good this year,” Tapper said. “New car sales are down, used car sales are up.”
Tapper said with Bruce Foote’s new vehicle sales down a bit, he anticipates no problem with sufficient inventory.
He said many people are holding onto their current cars and having them repaired.
“We’ve always had a good service department,” he said.
Wight said that customers who buy used Pontiacs at his dealership that still are under warranty have no worries.
“Any Pontiac we sell under warranty, we’ll stand behind them,” he said.
Jones said there are hurdles yet for all businesses, but he’s confident better times are down the road.
“In the long run, everything is going to be fine,” Jones said. “We’ve just got to get through it.”
John R. Pulliam can be reached at email@example.com.