Bay Area auto dealers resort to auctions

May 23, 2009 5:04:28 PM PDT
Tough times for U.S. automakers are forcing several Bay Area dealers to get creative. At least one hosted an automobile auction this weekend to try and clear their lots before they are forced to close.

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These are desperate times. Nearly 100 new Chryslers were on the auction block at Serramonte Chrysler Jeep Dodge Saturday. On Saturday new cars were auctioned off. On Sunday used cars will be auctioned off. It has created a lot of foot traffic but not many sales.

The sign said one thing but what was happening on the dealership lot was a different story.

"I think they're on number 40 or 50 now and nobody's even bid," auction attendee Mike Cerreta told ABC7.

The likely reason is that attendees expected a lot more than a $4,000 discount on a new Jeep Wrangler, especially from a dealership that Chrysler corporate has ordered to shut down in the next two weeks. Serramonte Chrysler and nearly 800 other dealerships nationwide are casualties of the auto makers restructuring plan.

"We are sad because it's almost like a funeral for Chrysler and Jeep, and Dodge," said Alam, a salesperson.

Attendees were definitely not there to pay their respects. They were hoping to benefit from Chrysler's bankruptcy.

"I hope to get a good car at a good price," said attendee Tam Nguyen.

But the prices were not luring in buyers. One attendee even tried to name his own price, $4,000 for a 2009 Jeep Cherokee.

"They're setting their price. The prices are high and it's not a bargain. It's not a deal," said attendee Cory Narog.

The deals the car buyers were looking for involved at least a 30-percent mark down. One woman left empty handed after getting this explanation from a sales associate.

"What doesn't sell goes to a sister dealership in Southern California. So, I don't think they're as desperate to liquidate as we expected," said attendee Laura Belzer.

Chrysler is promising to redistribute left over inventory to the company's remaining 2400 dealerships.

Dealerships are not sure how this closure will impact auto row. They hope less competition will help business which has been slow. A nearby Ford dealership's goal was to sell ten cars Saturday. By evening they had only sold one.

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