More Valley Car Dealers Close up Shop

January 22, 2009 8:34:59 PM PST
It has been a tough week for people working for Valley auto dealers. Fresno Mitsubishi and Saturn of Visalia are the latest dealerships to be hit.Fresno Mitsubishi will soon close this North Fresno dealership. It has been in business for ten years but at the end of the month dozens of employees will be out of work. Managers did not wish to speak on camera. In a statement the company said the slowdown in the auto industry and the inability of consumers to obtain auto financing "has made operating the franchise in Fresno no longer financially viable for the owners."

"Nobody is safe nowadays and it's very hard to swallow."

Frank Serpa of Visalia's Serpa Automotive is losing his entire Saturn inventory. GM is buying back all of his Saturn vehicles while it re-organizes. Serpa is frustrated because he invested millions to build this Saturn dealership in the South Valley.

"I'm gonna put the other franchise ... KIA , I'll move it into the Auto Mall so that we don't have to dismiss people or hardly anybody."

Earlier this week ... dozens more were laid off after Bret's Ford closed. The dealership served the Dinuba area for six months.

Economist Henry Nishimoto said, "What we're witnessing is really the anatomy of a recession."

Nishimoto says this troubling trend of closures and layoffs in the auto industry is not over yet.

"We haven't seen the bottom of this yet and I'm sure we're gonna see more dealerships having to close. New car sales are usually the very first to get affected by any kind of downturn."

Car Dealer Frank Serpa says he's just trying to weather the storm. Nishimoto says once the economy recovers ... dealerships are among the first to feel it. That is, if they survive the recession.

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