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Dealer appeals closure notice

Gold Rush Chevrolet is Auburn’s GM source
By: Gus Thomson Journal Staff Writer
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Gold Rush Chevrolet owner Steve Snyder is fighting to keep GM new-car sales alive in Auburn. The Highway 49 dealership was one of 1,330 that General Motors is attempting to close. Snyder said he has asked GM to re-evaluate its decision not to renew his contract when it ends Oct. 31, 2010. GM has been criticized at Senate and House hearings over its dealership closing intentions. In Auburn, Gold Rush Chevrolet is both a major employer and tax revenue source. Snyder, who has owned the Auburn Chevrolet dealership for 23 years, said that he doesn’t believe the GM decision is a certainty and that he’ll know better where he stands after he has heard back on his appeal. “I’m sitting here waiting for a decision,” Snyder said. Snyder said one of his major focuses has been to assure customers that warranty work will continue until at least Oct. 31, 2010, and service, repairs and parts will continue to be available at the Highway 49 location. “In our case, we’re lucky to have franchises,” Snyder said, noting that the adjacent Gold Country Subaru dealership is part of a U.S. sales success story over the past year. It’s the only auto manufacturer to gain in sales, he said. “People still need to service their vehicles,” Snyder said. “Eighty percent of our service is not warranty-related. So we’ll continue to service those vehicles.” Snyder said that with Toyota, Chrysler, Ford and Honda dealerships in Auburn and North Auburn, it would make sense for GM to retain a competitive presence in the marketplace. Snyder’s combined Subaru and Chevrolet businesses, including the Quick Lube Service Center, employ about 60 people. New-car dealerships like Gold Rush Chevrolet also provide a significant contribution to the local sales tax base, he said. “Everyone’s been very supportive,” Snyder said. “They’ve been more than willing to write letters but I don’t think GM is going to pay attention to them.” Auburn Mayor Mike Holmes said he’s also under the impression that a groundswell of local political support would not have an impact because direction on elimination of dealerships has come directly from the Obama administration. For Auburn, the loss of the GM dealer would be a blow in both jobs and sales tax receipts. “We would be willing to take steps to keep the dealership open, including directly appealing to General Motors,” Holmes said. GM provided some hope this past week when North American sales and marketing vice president Mark LaNeve told the Associated Press that about 20 appeals had been granted out of the 500 the Detroit automaker has received. The Journal’s Gus Thomson can be reached at gust@goldcountrymedia.com.