But it looks like the firestorm is coming to an end now that the automaker has agreed to sell the facility to New Century Automotive Group of North Hollywood, California, in response to a rash of complaints from its existing dealerships.
Chrysler unveiled the store in conjunction with the Los Angeles Auto Show last November and it began selling vehicles out of the facility in January. The automaker acquired the franchise to sell Chryslers from the former La Brea Chrysler and it closed that dealer's facility to move the showroom to Figueroa Street in downtown Los Angeles. However, local Chrysler dealers rallied against the automaker, stating that it had breached state franchise laws that prohibited it from operating a company-owned dealership within 10 miles of other dealers.
The sale should placate other dealers and it might actually further bolster Chrysler's efforts to reclaim lost ground in Southern California. New Century is owned by mega-dealer Dennis Lin, who also operates a number of successful import brand dealerships across Southern California.
Chrysler will retain ownership of the land and buildings through its Chrysler Realty division, but Lin will own the rights to the franchise and its inventory.
"I really think that Chrysler Group and Fiat are a great marriage," Lin said in a statement released to members of the media. "We have Fiats now and more coming in the near future. I'm excited about the new and improved Chrysler, Jeep, Dodge, and Ram products that were launched this year, and the new product coming out now for 2012. I'm very comfortable adding Chrysler Group and Fiat to the product lines I already sell."
The facility features separate sections for each of Chrysler's brands and it is built to resemble a converted warehouse loft building rather than a typical car dealership. It featured the first Fiat dealership to open in the U.S. since the brand left this market 30 years ago.
"Motor Village is in an excellent location in downtown Los Angeles, a highly visible dealership to showcase all the brands," Lin said.
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