Chrysler seeks termination of 3 Indy dealerships-WEB ONLY

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Chrysler LLC has asked a federal bankruptcy court in New York to terminate the franchises of three of its Indianapolis dealerships and 17 others in Indiana, according to records the automaker filed in court today.

Axed locally would be Palmer Dodge Inc., 4545 E. 96th St.; Palmer Dodge West, 5051 W. Pike Plaza Road; and Gene Beltz Shadeland Dodge, 1630 N. Shadeland Ave.

Chrysler proposes to eliminate 789, or about 25 percent, of its dealers nationwide as part of the bankruptcy restructuring.

The Beltz location is just north of Eastgate Chrysler, which would remain open.

Palmer’s 96th Street Dodge location is across the street from O’Brien Chrysler, which also avoided the closure list.

Chrysler has about 3,200 dealers, but says that’s too many and wants a smaller, more profitable dealer network.

Dealers likely will have a right to appeal to get off the closure list. The closures will affect thousands of jobs around the country and result in millions of dollars in lost tax revenue.

Beltz owner Kevin Beltz could not be reached for comment this morning. Last year, he told IBJ he was interested in buying Eastgate Chrysler. His father, Gene, opened Shadeland Dodge in 1970.

The trouble was that Chrysler provided little incentive for nearby dealers to consolidate, he said. “Unless [they] open their wallets, what’s the incentive? Take one for the team?” he said at the time.

Palmer wouldn’t be without a car line. In recent years he opened a Hyundai dealership on the far-northwest side.

The real slaughter of the local dealership ranks could come this week when General Motors reveals more about its plans to cut up to 40 percent of its U.S. dealers.

Even though GM hasn’t filed for bankruptcy, many of its local dealers have folded in recent years amid growing competition from foreign automakers. Gone are Payton Wells Chevrolet, Bud Wolf Chevrolet and Eric Dickerson Buick.

Earlier this month, the local retailer of GM’s Saab line, Bob Falcone, closed his Indianapolis and Fishers stores as GM seeks to find a buyer for the brand.

Falcone resurrected another closed dealership, however, when he took over the site of Duke Gold’s Speedway International, a Subaru and Volkswagen dealer that closed last November following Duke Gold’s death.

Also closed in recent years were two south-side dealers: Crossroads Chrysler and Sharp Ford.

At the same time, the number of foreign car dealers has grown, including new Honda and Toyota dealerships in Hendricks County and a Nissan store opened in Noblesville by Butler Automotive.

Also on the list of dealers Chrysler seeks to terminate in Indiana are Donato & Sons Motors in Logansport; Byrne Motors in Princeton; Bob Luegers Motors in Jasper; Rob Rohrman Motors in Lafayette; Coyle Dodge in New Albany; Gurley-Jeep Dodge in Mishawaka and Heart City Automotive in Elkhart.

Also on the list: Hendrickson Enterprises in Boonville; Isakson Motor Sales in Hobart; Memering Motorplex in Vincennes; Meyer Auto Sales in Monroeville; Sorg South in Warsaw; South Dodge in Merrillville; Thomas Auto Group in Highland and Tomkinson Dodge in Fort Wayne.

Evansville would lose two dealerships – Evansville Chrysler and D-Patrick Inc.’s Jeep Sales.

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