Kalkaska is a small northern Michigan town (pop. 2,300) where the two franchised auto dealers are accustomed to delivering new cars out of inventory and taking in trades or off-lease units with few if any questions asked.
The Ford-Chrysler-Dodge-Jeep dealership is owned and managed by Dan McCormick, Sr. and Dan Jr.
All is going relatively well at the McCormick store, located on M-72 next to Voice Chevrolet-Buick-Pontiac. It stayed off the Chrysler termination list.
“Kalkaskans are incredibly loyal to the domestic brands” and particularly like light trucks, the elder McCormick says.
“But our inventories have been so reduced by the clunker program and the Chrysler bankruptcy that all we have left are 14 units: seven Ford F-series trucks, three Dodge Rams, one Ford Edge, one Jeep Commander and two Jeep Grand Cherokees.”
What irks McCormick is the fact that despite excitement generated by the clunker program, the miles per gallon requirements for new vehicles rule out higher-powered cars like the Chrysler 300, Dodge Charger, Ford Crown Victoria and Jeep Grand Cherokee and Commanders.
“They used the arbitrary 22 mpg figure for qualifying new cars,” he says. “But if they want to save on gas, they should have used 4-cyl., 6-cyl. or 8-cyl. — and let us have a shot at selling large or high-powered cars that the factories require us to stock to get more fuel-efficient models.”
McCormick also says the early enforcement of rules seemed to disqualify transactions where the new vehicles had to be ordered. “Chrysler (manufacturing) was shut down during most of its bankruptcy, and we're still short of their units,” he says. “Haven't the feds heard about sold orders and waiting periods?”
Yet, he likes the concept of federal rebates for such new-car deals.
“It created a lot of buzz up here,” he says. “Chrysler and GM showed bankruptcy isn't so terrible after all, and the feds paid their way back to solvency. They should keep the clunker rebate program forever.”