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GM pulls plug on Manteca Chevy sales

Manufacturers’ bankruptcy leads to dealership’s demise

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GM pulls plug on Manteca Chevy sales

An auto transport worker checks the vehicle identification number as he inventories vehicles being loaded and taken away from the shuttered Sexton Chevrolet dealership on Friday.

GLENN KAHL/The Bulletin

POSTED June 6, 2009 2:52 a.m.
General Motors bankruptcy filing has cost Manteca its Chevrolet dealership.

Workers at Sexton Chevrolet were notified in an 8 a.m. staff meeting Friday that GM pulled the plug on the franchise. By mid-afternoon, the entire inventory of the Spreckels Avenue dealership had been loaded up on auto transports and hauled away.

Manteca Auto Plaza owner Mike Peters had been trying to buy the dealership and had been managing it for the past few months. It survived GM’s announcement in mid-May that it would be terminating 1,100 of its 6,000 dealerships by not renewing their contracts in October 2010.

The new management reportedly enjoyed success moving vehicles. What did them in, however, were the more pressing needs of GM to restructure even further in bankruptcy proceedings. Although GM saw value in keeping the Sexton dealership open it was no longer a decision they could follow through on after the bankruptcy.

Sexton Chevrolet’s original workforce of about 45 workers had been whittled down to about half. Several of the workers were hired by Manteca Auto Plaza which has the factory trained technicians to service all makes of GM vehicles.

While two dealerships have been shuttered – Manteca Dodge and now Sexton Chevrolet, Manteca still has the same number of new car offerings that it did in 2005. Cabral added Chrysler – a line that wasn’t previously available in Manteca – and picked up the Dodge franchise. It also has added a Suzuki dealership in the past several years.

Manteca Auto Plaza lost the Oldsmobile line and now the Chevrolet dealership has closed. GM is also phasing out the Pontiac line that Manteca Auto Plaza carries.

Since 1995, Manteca has a net loss of one new car nameplate. The Honda franchise moved to Tracy in the mid-1990s while Nissan was traded out for a Kia franchise.

What will happen to Chevrolet site?
The loss of the Chevrolet dealership opens up an opportunity to convert the site at the corner of Spreckels Avenue and Norman Drive to other uses.

Manteca Mayor Willie Weatherford said the dealership building could easily be converted to light industrial uses and other buildings built on the parking lot area to create a small business park that would dovetail into other Spreckels Park uses.

Originally, the city hoped to develop an auto mall with adjacent land using Sexton Chevrolet as the anchor dealership.

It never, though, got off the ground. AKF Development has since started pursuing office-type uses. It had some success with selling one of the adjoining parcels for the construction of the Yosemite Medical Center.

The mayor noted that location was a bit problematic for the dealership to begin with.

Weatherford noted that the site was away from major traffic corridors where most dealerships flourish.

The city helped with a small redevelopment agency loan that was repaid by the dealership hitting improved sales tax and employment goals.

Both Ripon and San Joaquin County tried to lure the dealership away when the original site at Yosemite Avenue and Highway 99 was sold by the property owner for the development of In-and-Out Burger and surrounding highway commercial.

The RDA loan that covered a relatively small portion of the overall cost of building the new dealership kept the jobs and a portion of the sales tax in Manteca.

Sales tax on car sales are taxed according to where the car owner lives and the sales tax money is distributed to that community.

Weatherford said the city stands willing to work with the private sector to turn the dealership site back into a use that will generate jobs as well as tax receipts.

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