By on November 16, 2012
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Over a year after the last domestic car dealership left San Francisco, Ford is hoping to gain a foothold in the Bay Area again with a series of “pop-up” showrooms.

“Pop-up” shops are short-term retail spaces located in trendy areas – often times, the temporary nature of the store is also a way to have some presence in an area where a long-term rental agreement would be too expensive. And in a market like San Fransico, where rents are sky high and local consumers are firmly in the “import camp”, a pop-up showroom might not be such a bad idea.

The Wall Street Journal reports that Ford is using the pop-up concept in San Francisco as part of an ongoing project this past year. Ford has been renting vacant spaces for 30 days once per quarter and placing vehicles along with experimental marketing efforts to help win over Bay Area residents, as the WSJ outlines below

The store that opens Thursday will be film-themed. People who drift into the store can do a casting call for chance for a role in an independent movie Ford is sponsoring. Other shops offered fitness classes, cooking classes and competitions and art galleries, said Travis Calhoun, who handles Ford marketing in the Western U.S.

Ford says that sales in the Bay Area are up 17 percent year-to-date, though they have a long way to go before catching up to the likes of Toyota, Hyundai and Honda. Of course, there’s one problem with the pop-up store concept; you can’t actually buy a Ford at any of the locations, and consumers will have to go to Marin County or Oakland to buy one.

 

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47 Comments on “Ford Launches Pop-Up Stores To Crack Bay Area Market...”


  • avatar
    cwallace

    Too bad a dealer in Marin County or Oakland doesn’t have the sense to partner with Ford on these things. People couldn’t buy directly from the manufacturer, sure, but a dealer rep on site could handle the paperwork and have the purchased vehicle delivered to the pop-up store or to the purchaser’s home.

    • 0 avatar
      dtremit

      There’s probably some kind of idiotic franchise law against it.

    • 0 avatar
      ranwhenparked

      Ford probably doesn’t want to show favoritism to one dealer over another, and doesn’t want the hassle of figuring out a way to divvy up sales leads between the whole group.

      • 0 avatar
        tedward

        Just guessing…but I’m sure this is a lead generation exercise. Ford’s product guys go out and gin up leads, then divvy them up to any dealership applicable by zip code. Every manufacturer does this already, it seems (anyone actually know?) new to do this in order to fill holes in showroom coverage though.

        If they allowed a single dealership to participate they might be sued by other dealers, depending on who’s paying for the program.

  • avatar
    holydonut

    You have a type-o in the last paragraph:

    “though they have a long way to go before catching up to the likes of Ford, Hyundai and Honda. Of course”

    Aside from this I think these are interesting ideas but there is too much negative stigma for American cars. People who grow up in the Bay area seem to be ingrained with the notion that the social status conveyed by a non-American car is worth the premium charged for competing vehicles.

    The only people in my office with American cars are transplants from the Midwest. All the others *must* buy Japanese or German.

    • 0 avatar
      Macca

      holydonut: “People who grow up in the Bay area seem to be ingrained with the notion that the social status conveyed by a non-American car is worth the premium charged for competing vehicles.”

      Have you actually researched Ford’s pricing versus the competition, especially the Japanese and Koreans?

      • 0 avatar
        holydonut

        I used to work with vehicle pricing at the corporate level (transaction prices at the retail level net of incentives). I know unequivocally that similarly equipped cars from the Detroit-3 transact for hundreds (if not thousands) less than German and Japanese alternatives.

        Couple that with real experiences in show-rooms while car shopping indicate that there is much more wiggle room when haggling on Domestic metal than similar priced alternatives.

        An average customer could easily save quite a bit buying a Ford versus a similar Honda. A surprisingly large group of people would rather pay extra thousands so they wouldn’t have to explain to people why they bought an American car. They rationalize this based on expected depreciation or repairs.

        There is a catch-22 going on here… Detroit cars have higher depreciation because they tend to transact further below MSRP/Invoice than similar vehicles from other makes due to the incentives. But the American-based companies have to offer the incentives to overcome the mindset that their vehicles have higher depreciation.

        If people in California are “open to trying things” the vast majority sure aren’t open to trying an American car.

      • 0 avatar
        sunridge place

        ‘I used to work with vehicle pricing at the corporate level (transaction prices at the retail level net of incentives). I know unequivocally that similarly equipped cars from the Detroit-3 transact for hundreds (if not thousands) less than German and Japanese alternatives’

        How long has it been since you worked there? Things have changed in the compact and subcompact areas.

      • 0 avatar
        holydonut

        It’s convenient that you pick the class of cars with the least amount of margin to wiggle with. I agree the band between the automakers in the low-price-point cars almost results in parity. But when you get to mid-size and crossover/SUV territory the Domestics continue to have net-pricing on average lower than similar imports.

        Go browse Truecar.com and poke around their pricing section. Look for their “Ratio of Incentives to Average Transaction Price” charts. While not a super-awesome-100%-fool-proof metric (due to geography and product mix), this ratio is a decent metric for how much cash on the hood the average full line automaker needs to put on the hood to move the metal.

        Generally (across the entire USA across their full product mix) Ford is actually doing rather well trying to stem the tide on idiotic incentives to drive margins. But Nissan hasn’t learned from the mistakes of others and is seriously hurting their brands and long-term success by channel stuffing and increasing incentives to match.

        I still contend in an area with the social norm of “import = intelligent” (such as SF-Bay-Area-California), the average Domestic offers more incentives to lower the transaction amount than similarly equipped import options.

      • 0 avatar
        sunridge place

        Ok…I went to Truecar. My area (Austin Texas) with the Truecar ‘Target Price’ listed:

        Smaller Crossovers:

        2013 Chevy Equinox base model=$23,967 (2.49% off MSRP)
        2013 GMC Terrain base model= $25,095 (2.53% off MSRP)
        2013 Toyota RAV4 base model= $21,726 (7.74% off MSRP)
        2013 Honda CR-V base model= $23,028 (2.11% off MSRP)

        Larger Crossovers:

        2013 Chevy Traverse= $30,825 (1.63% off MSRP)
        2013 GMC Acadia= $33,954 (2.64% off MSRP)
        2013 Toyota Highlander= $27,825 (6.53% off MSRP)
        2013 Honda Pilot= $28,633 (5.34% off MSRP)

        Like I said, things have changed. I can go through the same exercise on smaller cars if you’d like.

      • 0 avatar
        holydonut

        In case you’re wondering I said that I was speaking in generalities is because you will always find a few occurrences that buck the trend. You did a great job cherry picking the most favorable comparisons for your argument.

        The Rav-4 is a double-face-lifted vehicle (most recently 2 model years ago). The Rav-4 is long in the tooth versus an Equinox that is refreshed for 2013. Talk about fishing for a biased event. The Acadia and Traverse are also refreshed for 2013.

        Also consider that the base Terrain has an MSRP that is much higher than the base Rav-4 or CR-V because of content load. I’m going to guess the on-paper pricing difference of the “base” models is ~$1,000 without actually checking because GM is trying to make their cars have more content (even as base) to bump up their brand value in the long run. Toyota hardly sells any strippo Rav-4’s, and comparing the two “base” cars is misleading.

        You’ll have to do some research to figure out what it takes to content adjust a Rav-4 to be on par with the feature set of an Equinox and then identify the average transaction price of vehicles similarly equipped.

        And if you ran premium comparisons (Buick, Cadillac, BMW, Lexus, and Audi), you’ll definitely see a clear pattern. Trust me, content adjusting for pricing is a huge pain.

        The average parity vehicle of similar content levels will show the transaction prices of vehicles coming out of Detroit are lower because people will pay a premium for imports of like ability and feature level.

        Last, run this analysis for the Pacific business region… my comments are focused on the topic of this article which were the ingrained biases of average customers in the San Francisco bay area.

      • 0 avatar
        sunridge place

        The Equinox is refreshed for 2013? Uh, no it isn’t.

        Yes, the Traverse/Acadia/Enclave are refreshed for 2013. That’s how things work. Its an ever-changing market and that was my point.

        So, according to you, I’ve now ‘cherry picked’ the compact, subcompact, and crossover markets to pick the most favorable markets to support my argument against your statement that:

        ‘I know unequivocally that similarly equipped cars from the Detroit-3 transact for hundreds (if not thousands) less than German and Japanese alternatives’

        Ooookay.

        I’ve also only considered the base models in my comparison? If I go uplevels on Traverse/Acadia/Enclave/Equinox/Terrain I’ll find a different story? If I go deep into Cruze vs Corolla I’ll find Corolla priced higher than Cruze at all trim levels? If I go Yaris vs Sonic I’ll find Yaris priced higher than Sonic at all trim levels? If I go deeper into RAV or CR-V, I’ll find that that Toyota/Honda wins in the higher trim levels? Really?

        There are certainly examples that support your point. But, you really shouldn’t look at OEM level incentive amounts and incentive/transaction prices when one OEM is heavy in trucks and another isn’t and call them equal.

        I would imagine that if you really looked hard into sub-compact, compact, crossvoer segments that you won’t find the US OEM’s trailing the pack in the areas you think they are. Mid-size is in transition for Ford/GM.

        If you look into Trucks/Full Size SUV’s, you will find huge incentives but you won’t find too much foreign OEM involvement there…that where the huge incentives are.

        Yes, the domestics don’t do well in Northern California. That wasn’t what you said. You made an absolute statement about pricing that I challenged as stated above.

        I also orginally asked you how long ago you had your role in OEM pricing etc and you never answered that…that was part of my point.

    • 0 avatar
      icemilkcoffee

      It’s actually the opposite. People in California are the most open to trying foreign cars, hybrid cars and whatever else. That’s why Toyota, Nissan and Honda were all popularized in California before they gained acceptance elsewhere in the US.

  • avatar
    Silvy_nonsense

    “Ford says that sales in the Bay Area are up 17 percent year-to-date, though they have a long way to go before catching up to the likes of Ford, Hyundai and Honda.

    I wish Ford success in catching up to itself.

  • avatar
    philadlj

    All recent Artscapes in Baltimore and arts festivals in Philly I’ve been to have had pop-up Chevy displays – there are a few new cars you can sit in and kick the tires (this is how I first sat in a ’13 Malibu), though as they tend to be surrounded by foot traffic of the festival, a test drive would be tricky, and I’m not sure you can actually buy a car from them, either.

  • avatar
    rnc

    Ford has one thing going for it that GM and Chryco don’t, the original Ford Taurus and the millions of now adults who rode in them as kids. Despite TTAC omission from the most influential list, it had more impact on the design, both exterior and interior of our current car world than anything before or after it. Those were nice cars, revolutionary from a US manufacturer standpoint, and unless their family was a total dysfunctional hell, the positive memories of that car is planted in the sub-conscience and will influence (latently) the possibility of buying a Ford for the first time, especially with their current line-up. (yes I know about CR, but software glitches in the infotainment system aren’t quite the same as a Roger Smith special leaving the factory). This move has Farley written all over it.

    • 0 avatar
      Macca

      Count me in as one of those adults who grew up riding in a first-gen Taurus (when it was operable). I think you’re forgetting (or overlooking) that these cars had serious reliability issues. My family had two Taurii (a loaded 1986 LX and a more basic 1988 L model). Both experienced serious automatic transmission issues, amongst other problems that prompted them to be replaced as our family’s transportation. During my childhood my parents also owned a 1989 Cougar and a 1993 Thunderbird, both equipped with the Essex 3.8L V6 – both of which suffered from that engine’s propensity to eat headgaskets (also a problem in the Taurus if so equipped, and to a lesser extent with the smaller Vulcan 3.0L).

      While I don’t hold this experience against Ford’s products today, I certainly don’t see the “Taurus” name as something many folks will get misty-eyed over. The nameplate even had to be retired for a year or so in hopes buyers would forget how long Ford let the third/fourth gen rot on the vine.

      Today, the Taurus is a huge-outside, small-inside premium-priced full-size sedan that lacks any discernible selling point over the seemingly compelling Fusion. At MSRPs exceeding $40k for a Limited AWD, I fail to see the Taurus as a compelling product or a huge draw for folks entering their early 30s…

      • 0 avatar
        danio3834

        My family too had a first gen Taurus growing up, (and I have since owned at least one from each generation for a time) and I certainly wouldn’t consider any of them aspirational vehicles, eventhough they were all generally reliable without any major issues while I had them.

      • 0 avatar
        golden2husky

        Vulcans are not head gasket eaters, period. Not that it really matters as the Essex more than made up for it…

      • 0 avatar
        corntrollio

        1st and 2nd gen Tauruses here. My first gen ran to 180K on the first automatic transmission, but the Vulcan was fine (and getting 30 mpg hwy sometimes) beyond that point.

        I always hear people call these vehicles unreliable, but besides the transmission, I spent at most $500-1000/year on stuff that wore out after the car was 10 years old and had over 150K miles. The only troublesome components were the remanufactured alternators I got after the original one blew sometime after 150K miles, but the 5th or 6th one held (all the remans were replaced under warranty, and I’ve heard that many of them suck), and then the replacement AC unit (replaced at 165K probably) didn’t last very long — probably less than 10K miles.

        Also, Vulcans didn’t eat headgaskets like the Essex.

    • 0 avatar
      el scotto

      Now if GM only made RWD Cadillacs and 4WD Suburbans. Oh wait ….

  • avatar
    burgersandbeer

    “…and consumers will have to go to Marin County or Oakland to buy one.”

    According to Ford’s website, there is a dealership in Colma (Serramonte Ford) and another in San Mateo (Veracom Ford)

    Colma is very close to SF and San Mateo is reasonable too. I’m not sure where you got the idea that you have to cross bridges to either Marin or Oakland for a Ford dealership.

    • 0 avatar
      porschespeed

      Serramonte is the quickest and easiest for all but those looking for an excuse to run up to Marin.

      Right off the 280 and unless you’re heading down there during morning commute, it’s maybe a 20 minute shot from Top of Market.

    • 0 avatar
      Steve65

      Derek seems to think the “Bay Area” starts and ends with SF. There’s no shortage of Ford stores in the area.

      Ferrari of “San Francisco” is in Mill Valley. There aren’t many car dealerships of ANY brands in SF, for the same reasons the domestics have left. High rents and congestion. I wouldn’t want to test drive an unfamiliar vehicle in SF regardless of the brand.

      The “pop-up” stores may be a new technique to generate sales, but the idea that Ford needs to establish a “foothold” in the area is absurd.

      • 0 avatar
        silverkris

        Exactly, couldn’t agree more, just like there aren’t a lot of car dealerships in Manhattan left. The San Francisco Bay Area does not start and end with the 47 or so square miles that is the city of San Francisco, which only has around 800,000 people in a total metropolitan area of over 7 million. Ford or any other car make isn’t going to live or die by not having a dealership in SF proper.

        In this area, we are going towards “auto malls” or concentrations of car dealerships. Some of the major “auto rows” in the area include Burlingame’s California Drive (dominated by Putnam and Mike Harvey dealerships), Oakland’s Broadway, San Jose’s Stevens Creek Boulevard and Capitol Expressway, Fremont’s Auto Mall Parkway, etc.

        That said, going back into history, for many years the first Ford dealership in history was Hughson’s in San Francisco, established in 1903, and closed in 1979.

        One of the oldest continuing dealer operations in the country is Normandin Chrysler/Jeep in San Jose, which began in 1875 as a horse and buggy shop.

      • 0 avatar
        corntrollio

        Yeah, also, like Manhattan, a surprisingly large number of those 800,000 don’t drive regularly. SF is also a crappy place to test-drive a car — you’d just sit in traffic a lot. But hey, maybe you could test your manual transmission skills on the hills.

        Serramonte/Colma have an automall just over the city border, as others said. People in SF are used to going to Serramonte for big box stores like Target, Home Depot, or Petco because SF is relatively hostile to them (although there is a Best Buy or two in the city).

  • avatar
    Beerboy12

    What about post sales service?

    • 0 avatar
      CJinSD

      Since they won’t be selling any cars at the pop-up stores, that won’t be a problem.

    • 0 avatar
      burgersandbeer

      What do you mean? Just go to the dealership closest to work for warranty repair. They may have loaner cars or offer a shuttle to work.

      Ford has plenty of presence in the SF Bay area, even if they don’t have a location inside SF city limits. If you are interested in buying a Ford in the SF Bay area, there is no practical reason stopping you.

    • 0 avatar
      MrWhopee

      When I was living in San Francisco I never went to a dealer inside the city for services anyway. They charge too much! It’s always a dealer in the suburbs anyway.

  • avatar
    windnsea00

    If I had to settle on a new American car Ford would definitely be the go to brand.

  • avatar
    el scotto

    Is this just different spin than the goober in the mall standing by a vehicle and handing out business cards or a Fiat “studio” in an abandoned store in the mall with more goobers handing out business cards? I mean goobers cause all I’ve ever seen in the mall are the new guys.

    • 0 avatar
      danio3834

      I must be really out of touch because I find this kind of marketing stupid and insulting.

      If I even have a remote intest in buying a car, I want to see it, touch it, drive it. If I like it, I might just buy it.

      I’d really really like to see the internal ROI projections on this project.

      • 0 avatar
        Silvy_nonsense

        Based on this write-up, where do you get the idea that one can’t drive one of the cars?

        Even if one can’t drive a car, so what? Here are some other places you can’t drive a car – car shows, cars parked in malls, cars parked in front of Costco, cars displayed above slot machines in a casino, cars in magazine ads, cars in TV ads, cars in magazine stories, cars in stories on this website… Yet, crazily enough they all expose consumers to a product and have the potential to influence purchasing decisions despite the fact that you can’t drive the car.

        Regarding ROI, from the WSJ story – “Ford said it has generated about 500 dealer leads from the events….the San Francisco region has had the second-largest sales increase this year and has grown 17% year-to-date.”

      • 0 avatar
        el scotto

        @danio3834 At the Fiat boutiques you get 2 out of 3. This probably all written off as advertising anyway.

    • 0 avatar
      Slab

      When the Evoque first came out, I went to the Range Rover pop-up store. Things I liked:

      1. It was open on Sunday, so I could actually sit in the vehicle, play with the controls, etc.
      2. The person manning the store was not a salesperson, but knew the product. Brochures were available, and he had lists of inventory, including what was still “on the boat”.

      It was enough for me to decide I didn’t need to take time off from work for a test drive, potentially wasting hours at a dealership.

  • avatar
    Zackman

    I don’t know if any of you are from the Bay Area, but if you’re not, you DON’T want to take a test drive in SF; it’s a miserable experience, unless it’s a smart car or something almost as small.

    I’ve been there many times over the last 42 years, and driving in the city keeps getting worse. Head down I-280 and take your drive in the outer communities. A much more realistic option.

    • 0 avatar
      burgersandbeer

      In general, I agree. I don’t think you can learn much test driving in the middle of any congested city.

      I did recently take a test drive from a Toyota dealership in SF, and they had a pretty nice route. Went through parts of the Presidio – while you can’t go very fast there, you at least get an opportunity to turn the wheel. Nice views as well. To test they highway ride the sales guy let me take the car over the Golden Gate into Marin, and even expensed the toll to his manager.

      I was worried about the test drive route from a city dealership, but it worked out pretty well. Certainly better than many of the dealer strips off of 280 near Santa Clara/San Jose. Those are just a grid with mostly straight, wide roads.

  • avatar
    jthorner

    The author clearly isn’t from around here. Like others have said, there are very few auto dealerships of any kind in San Francisco proper. Heck, the “San Francisco” 49ers are building a new stadium in Santa Clara, far far from downtown San Francisco.

    San Francisco is a small land mass with sky high real estate prices and heavily congested roads. Not a place for a car dealership. How many car dealerships are in Manhattan or downtown Boston?

  • avatar
    jthorner

    FYI, Ford sells roughly as many vehicles in California as Honda does. It is not exactly scrambling for a “toe hold”.

    http://www.cncda.org/secure/GetFile.aspx?ID=2401

    • 0 avatar
      jimmyy

      If you remove all the fleet sales to rental car agencies in California, as well as police fleets and municipal cars, Ford is not much of a sales force in California.

  • avatar
    jimmyy

    Not sure why Ford would be so San Francisco oriented. In California, Southern California is much larger, wealthier, and where all trends are set. In fact, most important trends are established in the New York area and in the Los Angeles area. The Bay area is just a step child of Southern California. If I was a Ford executive, I would focus on Southern California. The Bay area will just follow auto trends established in the South. It has always worked that way, and it always will.

    • 0 avatar
      el scotto

      “Not sure why Ford would be so San Francisco oriented.” Good Taste

    • 0 avatar
      corntrollio

      That’s why some auto manufacturers set up design studios in LA, yes. But I’m not convinced the Bay Area follows LA trends as much as you say — there aren’t legions of starving actors in the Bay Area driving 3-series/A4/C-class, and Bay Area residents are more likely to want diesels, hatches, and wagons than SoCal, and less likely to want Ferraris, Lambos, and Porsches than SoCal (as an aggregate).

  • avatar
    punkybrewstershubby aka Troy D.

    After the next quake flattens the area, these pop-ups will be quite popular, and Ford is ahead of the game. Just sayin…


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