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World's Largest Chevy Dealer Closes; May Be First of Many

Posted: Sep 26, 2008 10:42 a.m.

"Mr. Big Volume" has gone silent.  The Detroit News reports that the world's largest Chevrolet dealership is closing its doors, "unable to survive in a weak economy with high gas prices and an inventory heavy on trucks and SUVs."  Bill Heard Chevrolet will close its last 13 branches, which stretch across the South from Alabama to Texas, laying off 2,700 employees in the process.  The closure is expected to be one of many we'll see in coming years.

Edmunds Inside Line adds, "To all appearances, the failure of the mega-business is another casualty of high fuel prices and an economic downturn that have slashed buyers' interest in the big trucks and SUVs General Motors has relied on selling."

The Detroit News comments, "The automaker is trying to reduce its dealership ranks as its U.S. market share has declined."  All three major U.S. automakers find themselves in a similar scenario, with more dealerships than their share of the market can support.  As the automotive market realigns over the next few years, many dealerships may fail.

Hopefully, future closures will be handled more professionally than the Heard failure, however. Autoblog reports, "The dealer consortium didn't give workers any notice, either. Managers were told yesterday at 2PM that the stores were closing, and the doors are locked today. Customers with vehicles in the service area were told to pick up their cars, fixed or not, and customers arriving to pick up their new cars were given back their trade-ins. What a mess."

The failure also shows, however, what a buyer's market this is.  If you're considering a new car, keep in mind that dealerships are in trouble, and negotiating for your business now.  Check out our list of the best car deals available now, and research the best cars in every class with U.S. News' car rankings and reviews.