David Hellmuth, the general manager at Passport Chrysler in northern Virginia, says his dealership has been struggling since early 2008. Hellmuth says sales are down 70 percent this year. He used the word "deflation" (a negative inflation rate which lessens the value of money) to explain what is happening.
|David Hellmuth, General Manager at Passport Chrysler, says sales are down 70 percent this year|
"We are selling vans now for less than we were selling minivans probably in 1997," he said, "because the economy is not as good as it was. So we have really had, I can't swear by this, deflation with a number of our cars."
A salesman, who used his first name Sid, said he is able to sell some used cars with customers and a few new sport utility vehicle Jeeps, but little else. Sid said he's never seen it as bad as this in the 25 years he has been selling cars. When we asked him what it would mean if Chrysler, General Motors and Ford went under, he added, "It would be an institution going down. I mean the two major industries are housing and automobile. I don't think it will ever get to that. Hopefully, it will work out."
An office inside the dealership is filled with memorabilia and pictures of happier days, with customers smiling on the lot having just purchased a Chrysler.