updated 6/8/2010 1:22:12 PM ET 2010-06-08T17:22:12

About 900 General Motors dealerships that the company had planned to cut loose appear to be getting a reprieve.

GM North America President Mark Reuss has told The Associated Press that the automaker should wind up with about 5,000 dealers in July. That's the end of a process that allows dealers to appeal GM's decision.

The company originally planned to have only 4,100 dealers across the country.

The decision reflects a shift in strategy from GM's previous regime and could save thousands of jobs.

GM wants to avoid the expense and time of the closures. Reuss and other new leaders at the company also feel shedding dealers isn't critical for GM to achieve profitability.

GM won't estimate how many jobs the decision will save, but an auto industry trade group says about 50 people work at an average new-car dealership.

GM and Chrysler announced plans to shed nearly 2,800 dealers last year as part of their bankruptcy reorganizations.

Both companies said their U.S. sales didn't justify so many dealers, and that closing some would make the remaining ones more profitable and allow them to invest in nicer facilities, advertising and training.

GM had around 6,000 U.S. dealers when it went into bankruptcy protection, while Chrysler had 3,800.

Copyright 2010 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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