black car salesman*(Via Detroit News) – Rainbow PUSH Coalition leaders Wednesday urged automakers to add more African-American automotive dealers and African-American suppliers during an annual summit in Detroit.

Of the about 18,000 dealers in the U.S., just 261 were owned by African-Americans at the end of last year — down from about 750 before the recession, according to the National Association of Minority Automobile Dealers. Just two had been added as of July this year, said Damon Lester, president of association, speaking at the Rainbow PUSH Coalition’s Global Automotive Summit.

“Opportunities are not being awarded to us,” Lester said.

General Motors Co. has a goal to add 25 minority dealers this year, though executiveswould not say how many GM has added so far.

Eric Peterson, GM’s newly appointed U.S. vice president of diversity dealer relations, said the company likely will add the dealers near the end of the fourth quarter.

“We’ve got a bunch we’re working on right now,” Peterson said.

GM North America President Mark Reuss said the automaker lost many dealers, including minority dealer operators, when it cut eight brands to four. “Now we’re selling more with four brands than we did with eight,” Reuss told reporters. “ So now’s the time to go at this and really change our composition.”

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