A federal judge in Alexandria said yesterday he will decide next week whether to temporarily prevent General Motors from offering its new line of downsized cars with radios as standard equipment.
Ten independent radio distributors and installers are claiming in a suit filed in U.S. District Court in Alexandria, that if the line of cars, scheduled to be introduced on April 19, are offered with radios as standard equipment, they will eventually go out of business.
GM contends that if they are temporarily prohibited from doing so their loss in advertising and printing of brochures for the cars is greater than any cost of the radio dealers and that the radios were made standard so that their cars could remain competitive with other domestic and foreign models.
U.S. District Judge Oren R. Lewis, before recessing for the day, asked what bond both sides felt would be required if he did order the injunction, but he added that he had not yet made up his mind in the case.
The distributors argue that GM's decision to include its own radios as standard equipment in the new downsized cars called the X-cars amounts to restraint of trade. The automaker has been phasing in radios as standard equipment in some cars in some cars since 1973.
Earlier during the three-hour hearing Lewis asked GM's Chevrolet Division general manager Robert D. Lund what effect would a one, two or four week delay in the scheduled introduction Thursday have on the company.
Lund said he had no exact figure, but it would be "a tremendous amount of money and a great deal of confusion."
"We already announced it will come on this date," Lund said. "It would lead people to believe we were disorganized and didn't know what we were doing."
Former Virginia Attorney General Andrew P. Miller, representing the distributors, said that they were not seeking to prevent the automakers from selling the approximately 50,000 new cars already delivered to the dealers, but stop GM from offering any of the newly manufactured cars with radios as standard equipment after the date of the injunction.
Lewis set May 14 to hear the dealers request for a permanent injunction.