Chrysler's impact on dealers, customers

The front window of the Manhattan Chrysler dealership in New York City.

TEXT OF STORY

KAI RYSSDAL: Now that the lawyers have taken over, the Chrysler bankruptcy story is going to devolve into a discussion of motions and if it pleases the court. But what happens in that courtroom is going to have some very real impact down the corporate food chain. For workers, of course. Suppliers. And where the rubber meets the road -- if you'll pardon the pun -- The dealerships and the people who might still be buying Chrysler products. We sent Tamara Keith to one of those dealerships outside Washington D.C. to see how it's going for them and their customers so far.


Tamara Keith: Salesmen at Darcars Chrysler Jeep in Rockville, Md. are used to customers asking if they're closing. And they tell them:

John Stakum: We don't anticipate going anywhere. We anticipate only better times.

That's General Manager John Stakum. He says Chrysler's bankruptcy has thankfully ended the uncertainty. And Chrysler cars come with a lifetime power train warranty.

Stakum: Chrysler will be backing that warranty, because we're going to come out of this very, very well. But in addition to that, the federal government has said they'll back these warranties as well.

I was expecting the showroom to feel like the lobby of a mortuary. But it's not. Several people trickle in on a Friday afternoon. George and Ruby Sherwood are looking to replace their 12-year-old Grand Cherokee.

Ruby Sherwood: It's been really wonderful.

Sales Associate Ralph Bowen is showing them a Jeep Liberty Sport.

Ralph Bowen: While you're here, would you like to take one for a test drive?

George Sherwood: No, we don't have time.

Bowen: Oh OK. When you do please come back.

Ruby Sherwood: But we'll be back. If the price is right we'll certainly be back.

Bowen: We'll make it right for you.

But doesn't the bankruptcy bother the Sherwoods?

George Sherwood: No.

Ruby Sherwood: It did me, that's why I want to try and find a car before they totally fold everything.

Ruby Sherwood really wants to get that Jeep before Chrysler disappears, or Fiat gets its hands on it.

Ruby Sherwood: So you hang around so we can come back and find you.

Bowen: I will be here. I promise.

In Rockville, Md., I'm Tamara Keith for Marketplace.

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