Auto Bailout Squashed, but Local Car Dealers Stay Positive

Auto Bailout Squashed, but Local Car Dealers Stay Positive
By: Heartland News

CARBONDALE, Ill. - You've heard a lot about America's big three automakers and how they're begging for billions of dollars in government loans to survive.  For now it looks like they'll have to keep begging.
Thursday night the Senate rejected a $14 billion auto industry bailout plan.  So now the White House says it's considering other options which could include tapping into the government's $700 billion bank bailout fund.
Either way, the Bush Administration says it's ready to do something to help GM, Chrysler and Ford survive, because it's thought the nation can't afford to see them fail.
If our nation's big three automakers are that bad off, how are our local dealerships able to survive at a time when people just don't seem to have the money to buy automobiles?
As the big three automakers continue with their pitch on Capital Hill for a bailout plan, local auto dealers are also keeping an eye on what's happening in Washington and here on their car lots.
Auffenberg of Carbondale sells Cadillacs, Pontiacs, GMCs and Buicks...all GM products.
Sales manager Mike Firoenzi says customers are getting few and far between these days.
"We're down a little bit, but not very much because our markets are a little different than most people's markets. We've been in business here a long time. We have a good reputation," he said.
In fact, Fiorenzi estimates sales are only off about 10 percent compared to this time last year.
He says with or without a bailout from Capital Hill, GM is still going to be selling cars.
"They're going to take care of their customers," Fiorenzi said. "There's not going to be any problem with the focus of buying a car.  It's going to stay the same.  We're going to have cars. We're going to have warranties."
Speaking of warranties, Firoenzi points out the cars of today are far beyond the shade tree mechanic's knowledge.
"Used to be anybody could work on a car. Now we have technicians here and they're trained. And they go to school, they attend classes and it's a constant re-education process," Firoenzi said.
Just like selling cars, it's an evolving process that Firoenzi thinks will be around in the future.
"I think from all the indications there's some give and take. Somebody will give and it'll come to where it should be. They'll bail them out, they have to."
Or as the old saying goes, as GM goes, so goes the country.