Friday

More GM Dealers to Get Chopped

Last month 1,124 GM dealers got their notice that they were being chopped. Now GM has come up with a plan to axe even more.

Seems that there are another 450 GM dealers whose franchises will expire within the next year that GM has decided will not be renewed. That has the same effect as shutting them down.

Reportedly, GM decided who to chop based on dealership profitability, its capitalization, its sales "effectiveness", and the dealer's customer-satisfaction scores. All of those are long-standing criteria used by manufacturers to score financially successful dealership operations.

All of this comes as GM is putting the finishing touches on what is expected to be the largest business bankruptcy ever filed in the US, which analysts predict will probably be filed Monday, June 1st, 2009.

On top of this new round of chop notices, when GM gets rid of Pontiac, Hummer, Saturn and its involvement with Saab, there will probably be several hundred other dealers that will be out of the picture.

The story now is the same as before. If you've got a lemon GM car, or any lemon car or lemon truck, you need a good attorney now more than ever. Don't put up with any repair shop run around either.

Burdge Law Office
Helping consumers get rid of lemon cars since 1978.

Tuesday

GM Predicted to File Bankruptcy Any Day


As of late afternoon on May 26, 2009, sources involved with the GM restructuring are saying it's all but over with.

GM had to get 90% of its bondholders to accept its "debt for equity" swap to avoid filing the largest ever industrial bankruptcy in US history by the end of the month and the final deadline is midnight. The tally? GM won't release the actual numbers but Reuters News is reporting that "a source" on the inside is saying the percentage is in the low single digits.

That means it's all but done for GM.

With no way to avoid reality, it seems it will now be impossible for GM to avoid filing bankruptcy any day now.

If you've got a GM built car, still under warranty, now's the time to get it in the shop, while the dealer might still honor the GM warranty work that you need. Pretty soon, that may not be the answer you get.

Burdge Law Office
Helping consumers protect themselves since 1978.

Thursday

List of Chrysler Dealers Being Chopped


On May 14, 2009 Chrysler notified 789 of its dealers that they were being chopped. That's about 25% of the total Chrysler dealer network. Reports are that the list was created largely with instructions of Fiat, who is expected to be the new owner in the coming weeks.

Fiat understandably would not likely sell well in the rural US, which may explain why many dealers on the chopping block are located in rural areas of the country. By closing the nearly 800 stores, the vast majority of remaining Chrysler dealerships are stores that sell all 3 brands under one roof --- Jeep, Dodge and Chrysler --- and that has been the goal of Chrysler for years. Too bad it took financial collapse to get it done.

To find out if a dealer near you is on the "you've been chopped" list, check out the Wall Street Journal's list posted here: http://online.wsj.com/public/resources/documents/Chryslerdealerlist05142009.pdf

If that link doesn't work, try here: http://msnbcmedia.msn.com/i/CNBC/Sections/News_And_Analysis/_News/__EDIT%20Englewood%20Cliffs/ChryslerDealership.pdf

Meanwhile, if you've got a Chrysler with defects, a Dodge that won't run, or a Jeep that won't beep, you better get it back to your dealer right away and try to get warranty work done while they are still around.

The Chrysler Bankruptcy actually involves about 25 corporations that Chrysler "owns" and here's the list along with their bankruptcy case number, for the curious crowd:

Petitions:
09-50000 Chrysler Realty Company LLC 09-50001 Peapod Mobility LLC09-50002 Chrysler LLC 09-50003 Chrysler Aviation Inc.09-50004 Chrysler Dutch Holding LLC09-50005 Chrysler Dutch Investment LLC 09-50006 Chrysler Dutch Operating Group LLC09-50007 Chrysler Institute of Engineering 09-50008 Chrysler International Corporation09-50009 Chrysler International Limited, L.L.C. 09-50010 Chrysler International Services, S.A.09-50011 Chrysler Motors LLC 09-50012 Chrysler Service Contracts Florida, Inc.
09-50013 Chrysler Service Contracts Inc.09-50014 Chrysler Technologies Middle East Ltd.09-50015 Chrysler Transport Inc.09-50016 Chrysler Vans LLC09-50017 DCC 929, Inc. 09-50018 Dealer Capital, Inc.09-50019 Global Electric Motorcars, LLC 09-50020 NEV Mobile Service, LLC09-50021 NEV Service, LLC 09-50022 TPF Asset, LLC09-50023 TPF Note, LLC09

You can monitor the Chrysler bankruptcy filings in Court at this website here: http://www.chryslerrestructuring.com/

If you've got a lemon Chrysler or a lemon Jeep or a lemon Dodge, now's the time to cross your fingers and try to get your dealer to agree to fix defects for free, while they are still there and while Chrysler might still pay them.

Today it was 25% of Chrysler dealers who got chopped. And tomorrow? General Motors says it will release its list of GM dealers who'll be chopped and reports are the numbers are only going to be bigger.

Burdge Law Office
Helping consumers get rid of lemons since 1978.

Saturday

Big Sam & Boxes on Wheels


There was a time when cars were king. Every model was a wondrous work of art, styling, and powerful engineering. Maybe it was because we were young. Maybe it was because they were just a different kind of car.

Back then I had one of these. A '59 Chevy Impala that I modestly called "Big Sam." It wasn't new when I got it, not by a long shot. But it was something else.

The jet style fins jumped into a short-lived automobile fashion with the General Motors 1959 models, although hints of what was coming sneaked into a couple of concept cars and the subtle model lines of several mid and late 50's cars. But with the '59, GM just went wild, admirably so.

Big Sam was a car I had back in my college days. It had a trunk that was bigger than whole cars I would later own and an engine compartment that was so big and roomy that you could actually climb in to work on the engine and you actually could work on the engine too. And when you pressed on the gas pedal, there was no turbo hesitating to get up to speed and there was no 4 cylinders looking for the rest of the engine either. It just got up and went. Fast.

I named Big Sam after an old grizzled man who frequented a family neighborhood bar nearby, named Sam. His face was time-worn and his hunched over stance, leaning forward slightly, reflected his sixty some years of a hard struggling life that led to his then-current daytime job as a mechanic for a local family amusement park, at a time when there still were such things.

He looked older than his years, but every day he quietly left his small two room dusty cabin next to the park and walked over to start his day changing oil and tightening chains on kids' rides that were easily as old as him. At the end of each day he just as quietly left the park to walk to Andy's Bar, where he'd drink a small bottle of cheap red wine, or two, before the night air turned dark and damp and he'd start his walk home.

Sam was a tired man but he was kind too. He tried to be friendly with everyone and seemed to understand when occassionally his time-roughened appearance caused strangers to ignore his soft "howdy." It was a greeting that marked his exit from another place in time no one else remembered. He had a warm smile that he seldom found a reason to show, but when he did, you knew it was real. He was a lot like that big old lumbering 59 Chevy Impala I had. It was a remarkable aged icon of another, earlier time that still was unique with a well-worn sort of dignity too. It was so like him that I got some paint and painted "Big Sam" in small print just beside the door handle. I never named a car before that one. I never named one after that either.

A lot of things have come and gone over the years. Some have hung around. Honesty. People trying to do what's right. That still matters. Being proud of what you do, that does too. And doing your job right, that still matters too. The line workers in Detroit and elsewhere, they know that too. Somewhere along the way, though, the bosses became bean counters and the only thing that mattered was profit. When that happened, the Big Three started to slide. They've been sliding ever since.

What we need from GM, and Chrysler too for that matter, is some of what used to matter in Detroit. A sense that people matter --- more than profit or the cost-cutting machines that replace them. Efficiency matters, but quality matters more. And maybe not forgetting that quality is something that starts with the hands that work the assembly line. And we need cars that are a thing of beauty again. It has taken GM decades to realize that maybe we don't really need cookie cutter boxes with wheels on them that have interchangeable labels, some Buick, some Pontiac, some Chevrolet, some Oldsmobile.

Motor vehicles have aged in the last 100+ years from a thing of convenience and necessity, to Beautiful Art on Wheels and then back to convenience and necessity again. There is a place, I'm sure, where cars are still a work of art that stirs emotion. If GM and Chrysler can find where that is, they'll survive and probably prosper. If they don't, well they'll probably survive anyway.

That place is what made the cars of another generation fun to drive, amazing to just look at, and sell with excitement. And it wasn't all that bad either.

I still remember Big Sam. Somewhere along the way I went on to other cars and other bars. I never knew what happened to Sam. Not him. Not the car. Years later I went by the street corner where Andy's Bar had been and it was gone too.

My wife and I don't drive a GM or a Chrysler now. Sometimes I wish I did. Whether I will in the future depends on them more than me. Still, I'd hate to lose GM or Chrysler. They're sort of like that uncle that everyone in the family talks about but doesn't know what to do about.

I'm a lawyer who has spent his entire career representing consumers against motor vehicle manufacturers and dealers. If manufacturers just built them right in the first place, and their dealers were just honest folks, I probably would have spent my career doing something else. I still wouldn't mind it now, but I suspect neither of them will change anytime too soon. Unfortunately, hard economic times don't get rid of all the crooked car dealers or the bumbling manufacturers. In the meantime, consumers need to be careful out there. And if something bad happens to you, call us. Getting rid of lemons is still what we do. Everyday. Since 1978.

Because life is too short to put up with a bad car or a bad dealer.

Friday

GM Parties on Government Money

Literally weeks before a government deadline to avoid bankruptcy, GM threw a Resort Getaway party for 500 of its biggest customers. Well, it's good to see that last billion dollar bailout is being put to good use (sarcasm intended).

CBS' KPHO television station reported that GM paid for airfare and treated 500 guests to a two night stay at the Phoenix lux resort Sheraton Wild Horse Pass Resort & Spa.

The GM guests work for rental car companies, government agencies and businesses that buy GM vehicles. To help them get around during their stay, GM reportedly shipped in 150 vehicles for them to use.

But not all the sun, fun, games, golf, and spa time is on GM. Apparently golf and spa costs aren't being covered by GM. Well, that's certainly reasonable, folks (more sarcasm intended).

Local tv station CBS 5 News wanted to get on the property to ask more questions about the event but the resort would not allow media inside. Here's a link to the station's news piece about it: http://www.kpho.com/video/19400972/index.html

GM bleeds and borrows and then parties on taxpayer loans. And then DFO Ray Young said GM will need almost $3 billion more of government loan money now and probably $9 billion more during the rest of the year. It makes you wonder what these bozo's are thinking.

"We cannot cut costs fast enough to offset that revenue loss," Young is reported to have said. "People are concerned about bankruptcy, and that's the reason why we want to avoid it if at all possible." He might as well have added, "cutting those greens fees and spa treatments really helped, too."

Well, there's certainly nothing like a good party to chase away those bankruptcy blues, that's for sure.

Detroit auto workers need help and that means the company needs help, but luxury weekend resort time on the government tab is not a good PR move. It doesn't take a genuis to realize it either. Stunts like this are a good example of why GM is sliding toward bankruptcy and more and more likely to land smack dab in the middle of a bankruptcy courtroom.

Meanwhile, if you've got a GM product and it needs warranty repair work, you better get it in the shop quick. Some dealers are already reported to be refusing to do warranty work out of fear that they won't get reimbursed for it by the factory. Gee, I guess those resort weekends can get expensive.

Burdge Law Office
Helping consumers protect themselves in tough times.

Wednesday

Best Buy to Sell Motorcycles



Motorcycles for sale at your local Best Buy? The deal has been inked and they are set to go on sale first in the West Coast's Best Buy stores. It could go national after that.

And if the quality turns out to be accurate, normal modest sized motorcycles will be up against some stiff competition. They're electric powered and not bad looking at all.


For a new company to create a network of dealers from scratch is a huge hurdle. Craig Bramscher, CEO of electric motorcycle maker Brammo, made a really smart move, though. He made a deal with Best Buy.

The Brammo Enertia model is a carbon fiber urban commuter motorbike with a top speed of 50 mph and a 40 mile range. What helps get past its small range is its cool looks. It doesn't hurt that the company founder is a "car guy" either, starting out at a parts store in Kansas City and building a media company that works with media industry giants now.

Later this spring, the first Brammo EV bike model (there are 3 models planned) will go on sale online, but you can pick up one at some Best Buy stores later this spring too. Details are sketchy at this early stage but the Best Buy models are set to include the Brammo.

Although Brammo started out to build super cars, the rage for electric vehicles turned his thoughts to electric cars but he quickly realized that the start up costs would be impossible. However, building an electric motorcycle from scratch was a whole different thing.


Brammo’s goal is nothing less than being the first profitable pure "EV" company, and the plan is that motorcycles will make that happen. The Enertia is priced at $12,000, and reports are that an upscale version is already sold out. A federal ten percent tax credit actuallly can take the price down to $10,000.

“This is a super-efficient motorcycle,” company founder Bramscher is reported by Bnet Auto to have said. “It can travel 7,500 miles on $50 worth of energy. Existing motorcycles can do, at best, 80 mpg. We are orders of magnitude more efficient—and 10 times as efficient as a Prius, too.”

Tax credits, a reasonable price, terrific mileage, and wide market availability --- these are the makings of success and Bramscher could have a terrific product on his hands. If you want a motorcycle that will get you around town at a modest cost and that'll let you just drive right on by every gas station, then this just might be it.

Burdge Law Office
Helping consumers get rid of lemons everyday. Since 1978.