TYLER, TX (KLTV) - Big news and possibly even bigger changes are happening in the auto industry. Nearly 800 Dodge, Chrysler, and Jeep dealerships could be headed for the chopping block. Chrysler made the request Thursday morning in bankruptcy court as part of a sell-off deal with European car company, Fiat. Several East Texas dealerships made the list. Many of them finding out, just Thursday morning.
The future of these dealerships and the East Texans who buy their cars from them is still uncertain. In Longview, Hughes Springs, San Augustine and Tyler they received unsettling news.
"[It was] just a very generic letter stating that our agreement will no longer be renewed under the Fiat Corporation," said Mike Pile, an auto dealer.
Jeeps have been on Pile's lot for nearly a decade and a half.
"What it means is we lose a very loyal customer base that we've had for the last 14 and half years," said Pile. "That's the sad thing about it."
Mike Pile joins Canton Motors, Dewey Moore, Jack-O-Diamonds, San Augustine Motors and Wayne Williams motors; all East Texas dealers whose Dodge, Chrysler, and Jeep dealing days could be dwindling along with 789 others across the rest of the country
In a statement, Chrysler vice chairman and president, Jim Press said the "unprecedented decline in the industry" forced "Chrysler to reduce production" and as a result "the size of its dealer body."
"Obviously, there's more dealers than customers at this point," said Pile. "And we're feeling the effects of it. If you figure an average dealership employs 30-50 people, the economy is going to get worse before it gets better."
Pile said he contacted Chrysler with no response. He said he still doesn't know what put his dealership's name on the list but...
"Our hope is we keep our Jeep brand," he said. "I love the Jeep product. I drive a '99 Jeep most of the time. If it doesn't happen, it doesn't happen."
In the meantime...
"Our obligation to the consumer hasn't changed," said Pile. "We'll still be there."
Pile said if the request is approved, they hope to cover their losses with their Mazda and BMW brands. As of right now, there has been no official word about moving the Jeep brand to Allen Samuel's Dodge, but Pile said that would be the obvious choice. If the deal goes through, June 9th will be the last day the rejected dealers will sell Chrysler cars.