Local GM dealers not seeing much impact from recall

The highly publicized recall of General Motors vehicles with defective ignition switches has not had an impact on vehicle sales, the head of three Baton Rouge GM dealerships said Monday.

Eric Lane, president of Gerry Lane Enterprises, told the Press Club of Baton Rouge that he’s “only had two customers” call him over concerns about driving their cars.

“We’ve got about 60 to 70 cars right now that are being checked out in the shop,” Lane said. “We’re addressing this as we speak.”

Since February, GM has recalled 2.6 million cars — mostly Chevrolet Cobalts and Saturn Ions — over the faulty switch, which can cause the engine to cut off in traffic, disabling the power steering, power brakes and air bags and making it difficult to control the vehicle.

“Our sales are doing about what they do,” he said. “We’re doing the best we can to handle the recall questions.”

As a matter of fact, he said Gerry Lane Chevrolet is coming off its best February and March for sales in 28 years, with sales up 25 percent over the previous years.

He credits the sales increases to a steadily improving economy.

“There were people trading cars in with over 200,000 miles,” Lane said. “They have been waiting for years to get out of the recession and buy a car.”

Other south Louisiana GM dealerships, responding to calls on the subject, said they haven’t seen much of an impact from the recalls.

William Southall, GM sales manager for Brian Harris Buick GMC in Slidell, said he’s heard from “very few” people who were concerned about the recalls.

“It’s not really had any impact on us,” he said.

Brian Pesses, general sales manager for Don Bohn Buick GMC in Harvey, said GM sales at the dealership “have been steady.”

“We haven’t had any irate customers and come in and dump on us because of the recall,” he said. “We’re moving forward as far as the brand goes.”

Gerry Lane’s three local GM dealerships are Gerry Lane Chevrolet, Gerry Lane Buick GMC and Gerry Lane Cadillac.

The dealership is about to start selling a new vehicle line out of its Gerry Lane Imports on Florida Boulevard. The MV-1, the first American-made vehicle designed and built from the ground up for wheelchair passengers, will start arriving this week. Gerry Lane is the only Louisiana dealer who will carry the vehicles.

The MV-1 is built by AM General at a former Hummer H2 plant in Indiana.