Nation's biggest Chevy dealer closes dealerships

COLUMBUS, Ga. (AP) - Bill Heard Enterprises, the biggest Chevrolet dealer in the country, is closing its 13 remaining dealerships. The company says it's unable to survive in a weak economy with high gas prices and an inventory heavy on trucks and SUVs.

The Columbus-based company says in a statement that it tried to avoid the closures, which will affect about 2,700 employees.

The statement says a difficult sales environment was made worse by the ongoing banking and financial crisis. GMAC Financial Services last month discontinued credit for new inventory for some of the company's dealerships.

Phone calls to several Bill Heard dealerships this afternoon went unanswered.

GM spokeswoman Susan Garontakos says the Heard operation was the single largest chain of Chevrolet dealerships in the country. She
says GM will honor all Chevrolet warranties at other nearby
dealerships, which can be found on the Chevrolet Web site.

She declined comment on reasons for the chain closing other than
to say it was an independent business with GM franchise agreements.

(Copyright 2008 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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