Category: Editorials

By on July 29, 2016

Data, Image: rh2ox/Flickr

I’m back like a rebel making trouble with another installment of Dealers Are The Worst Businessmen. Today, we’ll be talking about the information that most dealers use to make every decision in the dealership, and how it’s completely and utterly useless.

To those of you who’ve worked in the dealership world, you already know what I’m talking about, right? Yep. The CRM (Customer Relationship Management) tool. Doesn’t matter whether it’s VinSolutions, DealerSocket, or any of the other popular software solutions on the market. Nowhere will you find a more prominent example of “garbage in, garbage out” than in the customer data mining that occurs at every dealer group. It’s a wonderful example of how most dealers spend thousands of dollars on tools they believe they need and then neglect to learn how to properly use.

But first, a story.

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By on July 29, 2016

2017 Buick Encore

Buick is all about China, where the brand claims more than 5 percent market share.

Buick’s achievements in the United States, once storied, are now not nearly so impressive. Buick’s market share in America today is half what it was in 2002, after volume declined in eight of 14 years, tumbling from more than 430,000 sales 14 years ago to 223,055 last year.

This is part of the Buick story we told you yesterday. In touting record global sales as one of the planet’s fastest-growing volume brands, Buick’s General Motors parent company also made clear that the brand is achieving rapidly increased rates of sales because of the Chinese market, even though U.S. sales are declining, albeit marginally.

Following our managing editor’s press of the publish button, we almost immediately heard from Buick. Read More >

By on July 28, 2016

2016 Buick Envision

General Motors today fêted Buick as the planet’s fastest-growing volume automaker. Ignored in GM’s press release was the Buick brand’s declining volume in Buick’s home market.

As if we needed more evidence that North America is an increasingly unimportant component of Buick’s future plans — Buick is discontinuing the Verano, its most popular car model in the U.S. and the most popular Buick overall in Canada — GM revealed that Buick added more Chinese sales between January and June than the whole U.S. Buick division managed in toto. Read More >

By on July 28, 2016

2016 BMW X4 M40i

U.S. sales of SUVs and crossovers grew 8 percent in the first-half of 2016, a gain of more than 240,000 units compared with the January-June period of 2015.

Producing a utility vehicle which transfers buyers from the passenger car sector to the SUV/crossover side of the ledger is almost as automatic as increasing ride height, installing body cladding, and inserting an X into the nomenclature.

Or is it? Read More >

By on July 28, 2016

2014 Lincoln MKT

It seems so recent that the degree to which I detested the Lincoln MKT was off the charts. Few vehicles more sorely offended me.

The Lincoln MKT’s styling, it seemed to me, suggested that its designers wanted the MKT to appear as though it had a head cold; that its swollen sinuses were infected. The MKT’s taillamps were warnings to keep you away from its contagious front end. You, too, may end up with a runny nose if you come into close contact. “Dual exhausts are simply more orifices through which germs can flow,” I said in 2010. I joked that the MKT was perfect for people with small noses who wanted to make up for their nasally challenged status.

But I’m a changed man. I now look at the MKT’s styling, which I still consider to be hilariously awful, as a selling point. Wrapped around this spectacular package is bodywork so outlandish that it makes the Ford Flex seem downright normal. Also, the MKT is Canadian-built, like me. Then there are MKT sales. Always abysmal, MKT volume now barely appears on radar, meaning you can drive a luxurious, powerful, family hauler and never see yourself coming the other way.

This is the anti-Grand Caravan. This is perfect. What was I thinking? Read More >

By on July 28, 2016

passatr36

Is there anybody left in this country who gives a single damn about Volkswagen? If so… why?

This is a company that has spent the past 40 years treating their American customer base with the kind of contemptuous disdain that most of us associate with the wait staff at Le Bernardin. The thousand injuries of Wolfsburg we have borne as best we could — from the Westmoreland Rabbits to the 8-valve Mk2 GTI to every single aspect of the Phaeton ownership experience — but when the company ventured upon insult to the very air we breathe, that should have been enough for all of us to abandon the brand permanently.

The problem is that some of us just can’t let go. Maybe it’s misplaced loyalty. Maybe it’s dim memories of the Corrado VR6. Maybe it’s just a certain delight in the way that Volkswagens feel when you’re driving them. Whatever the reason, there’s still some goodwill left in the United States on which the company can capitalize. One of the ideas being floated is a “hot Passat”, or at least a slightly sportier Passat. Our own Steph Willems made the case earlier in the week that such a car would be a waste of time.

I disagree, and I’ll tell you why.

Read More >

By on July 26, 2016

2016 Ford Focus RS

Customers are having their 2016 Ford Focus RS orders cancelled, and the automaker is giving differing reasons as to why, depending on who you ask.

Ford is telling dealers and buyers who placed orders for Ford’s hottest hatch that they’ll receive 2017 models instead. This, for a model Ford said it could build as many as customers wanted. Read More >

By on July 26, 2016

2016 Honda CR-Z, Image: Honda

Lichtronamo writes:

Hi Bark,

I’m starting the process of finding a used car for my daughter who turns 16 in September and will (hopefully) get her license afterwards.

She’s 5’3″ and about 90 pounds, so a B- or C-segment car would be right in terms of size. She’s also listened to me go on about how great it is to drive a manual transmission since she was born, and believes this to be a fundamental need of any car purchase. Our budget is upwards of $10,000 with driver safety the other primary criteria. Fuel economy and reliability aren’t negatives. While I should probably zero in on finding a nice Corolla, I’m looking for an out-of-the-box choice with some car-guy (and girl) cred. Golf? Mini? Mazda3?

Read More >

By on July 26, 2016

2015 Honda Odyssey EX potato field, Image: © 2016 Timothy Cain/The Truth About Cars

Ten days ago, we were reaching the final stages of a basement semi-renovation that would see GoodCarBadCar’s headquarters moved from the top floor of GCBC Towers to the basement. The new office would make room for a new miniature inhabitant upstairs, create easier outside access for the dog, and carve out greater work/life balance. Ikea is more than a year from opening in our locale, however, so it fell to Mrs. Cain and me to install new shelving. We needed lumber. Lots of it.

Naturally, this calls for a pickup truck. That’s how it works, right? That’s what the marketers tell us. That’s what many of us tell ourselves. That’s what society has led us to believe.

We took our Honda Odyssey instead.

Thus began a 1,000-mile nine-day span in which our long-term 2015 Honda Odyssey would once again prove that minivans make the most sense most of the time. Read More >

By on July 26, 2016

Kraftwerk, a.k.a. David Sanborn, a.k.a. Piston Slap Yo Mama

Editor’s Note: Please welcome TTAC commenter Piston Slap Yo Mama, or David Sanborn as his parents call him, above the fold. After a semi-casual trip to Florida’s Department of Motor Vehicles, Mr. Sanborn became Kraftwerk, and this is his inside story.

Choose one: a soul crushing morning at the DMV waiting to renew your driver’s license amid a sea of crying infants or a visit to the ham-fisted death dentist your insurance plan forced on you? Everyone rich or poor inevitably has to do these things, and unless you’re Charles Nelson Reilly, there’s no preferential treatment.

As my fiancée Jennifer and I had just moved to Florida, we had to visit the grey bureaucrats at the DMV within 30 days or risk the ire of the state apparatus.

Read More >

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