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Kingsport's Metro Lincoln Mercury getting out of new car business

Sharon Caskey Hayes • Oct 22, 2008 at 12:00 AM

KINGSPORT — The Metro car dealership on Stone Drive is getting out of the new car business.

Business Manager M.E. Addington said the dealership, which has operated as Metro Lincoln Mercury Inc. since April 2006, has sold its Lincoln Mercury franchise back to Ford and is reorganizing its remaining operations.

Addington said Ford has been looking to consolidate dealerships and recently offered to repurchase the franchise.

“Ford’s been trying to consolidate dealerships for a number of years, and the current economic conditions and $4 gasoline kind of required the owner to look down the road — where will we be a year from now, and where would we be if we took this offer?” Addington said.

He indicated the choice was clear.

“The car business around the country is in trouble. So we made a decision to sell the franchise back to Ford, and we’re going to regroup and reorganize and come back,” Addington said.

He said the Metro Recreational Vehicle Department, which includes sales, service and parts for campers and motor homes, remains open for business.

In addition, he said the dealership’s service and parts department also remains open, providing routine service and general repairs to vehicles.

Ford Motor Co. has trimmed at least 400 dealerships in the past two years — mainly by consolidating stand-alone Lincoln Mercury dealerships with Ford stores. Other car companies are closing and consolidating dealerships as well.

A new report released by Grant Thornton, LLP, suggests that as many as 3,800 dealerships across the country are at risk of closing due to slower sales and tightening credit.

Grant Thornton analysts say 2,736 dealerships would need to close just to maintain sales per dealer at last year’s level of 747 units.

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