General Motors Corp. has postponed a meeting it scheduled with metro Detroit dealers to discuss its employee-discount purchase program.
Some dealers were worried the auto maker was going to announce changes that would reduce the money they get for handling transactions through the GM Employee Purchase Program.
Mark LaNeve, GM North America vice president-vehicle sales, service and marketing, originally had invited local dealers to the Rock Financial Convention Center on Aug. 8 to discuss the program “and other related topics.”
A subsequent correspondence says the meeting has been delayed.
GM pays dealers 5% of the manufacturer's suggested retail price to offset lower margins and other expenses in connection with selling GM employees vehicles at a discount.
Some dealers speculated the meeting was to announce a reduction of that percentage, as GM struggles to cut costs.
“Certainly dealers are concerned about a lot of things,” says GM spokesman Peter Ternes. “I can understand their concern.”
He had characterized the meeting as one of many LaNeve holds around the country with regional dealer groups to discuss various issues and keep lines of communication open.
Ternes says he is not sure why the meeting has been postponed, but indicates it may involve a scheduling conflict because of LaNeve's attendance at a women and minority dealer conference in Chicago at the same time.
“The meeting being postponed is good news because I thought it was about chopping off money for us,” says a dealer who asks not to be identified.
Richard Genthe, of Genthe Chevrolet in Southgate, MI, near Detroit, says he had tried unsuccessfully to learn more about the would-be meeting.
“But I talked with a dealer who attended one of the regional meetings elsewhere, and he said GM seemed very concerned about dealer profitability,” Genthe says. “On the other hand, it is trying to cut costs.”
One automotive Internet blogger cites an unnamed source saying the meeting was to announce an end to the entire employee-discount plan.
“I doubt that,” Genthe says. “If that were the case, Mark LaNeve wouldn't just be there; (United Auto Workers President) Ron Gettlefinger would be up there with him.”