Local Chrysler Dealer Hopeful
Mike McBrayer concedes that he was worried about the future of Chrysler until he heard that the company is filing for bankruptcy.
He owns McBrayer Chrysler/ Dodge/Jeep on U.S. 15-501 in Aberdeen. He has been selling cars in Moore County since 1976 and has handled Chrysler products since 1980.
McBrayer listened to President Obama's news conference on the radio Thursday morning when he made the announcement about the bankruptcy filing.
"It was like listening to a cheerleader," McBrayer said. "I worried and fretted and couldn't sleep. But I feel relief now that something has been decided, and we're not lingering any more."
Obama encouraged people to buy American cars, saying in the news conference that "if you decided to buy a Chrysler, your warranty will be safe."
McBrayer agrees now that he knows that Chrysler is backed by the government.
"We're not going anywhere," he said. "It's going to take time, but, honestly, we will get through this period. We're going to be a great company. I hope our friends and loyal customers stay with us. I want to assure them that it will be business as usual, just like yesterday and today.
"We have a great customer base, and we're going to continue to look after them. Now they know that the federal government is backing the deal."
McBrayer said his dealership will not change the way it delivers the service that earned its high ranking in customer satisfaction.
The deal is a complicated alignment of government money, stock being offered to the United Auto Workers union in exchange for benefit and wage concessions and the introduction of Fiat, an Italian automaker, as a partner with the American automaker.
McBrayer, like other Chrysler dealers, isn't quite sure how the bankruptcy will shake out. He is still trying to digest everything that is involved in the process. There are many questions involved in what will happen in the next several months, but he said he chooses to concentrate on what he sees as positives in Thursday's an-nouncement.
McBrayer is happy to see Fiat entering the mix and that the union now owns stock in the company.
"They (Fiat) will be a major asset," he said. "It will allow Chrysler's entry into smaller cars, more fuel-efficient cars. They've been there, done that."
He pointed out that Fiat has a good track record of producing efficient smaller cars, similar to the Mini Cooper. He said the Italian company has an engine that already meets and exceeds Environmental Protection Agen-cy guidelines.
Although some news reports say Chrysler won't be rolling out the Fiat model until at least 2012, McBrayer said that isn't quite accurate.
"It's a question of when they start transferring the cars over here," he said. "I believe they can start doing it within six months. Now it might take until 2012 to have the plants in this country rolling out the car, but I don't even know if it will take that long."
As for the union, McBrayer said some have expressed concern about its being a stockholder.
"I'd rather have people building the car that are part of it, than people who are just paid to do it," he said. "They traded their benefits in for stock. Now they are part and parcel of getting that car off the (assembly) line."
McBrayer admitted things aren't all rosy and that the stigma of bankruptcy could be bad for Chrysler, but he pointed out that the economy in general is bad for all industries.
"It's not just Chrysler," he said, "but the financial situation of the whole country. It's a been a strain for everyone when 10 percent of the country is unemployed. It's hard for you to think about buying a new car when you don't know if you'll have a job tomorrow."
Contact Hunter Chase at 693-2478 or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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