Category: Dealer News

By on July 31, 2017

used cars used car lot

Earlier this year, auto lenders assured us that the stagnating car market and an unprecedented number of off-lease vehicles flooding into used vehicle lots would coalesce into the perfect storm of unprofitability. However, despite stoking the flames of terror at the beginning of the year, automotive lenders are doing just fine.

We’re sure you’re all very pleased to read car financiers are still doing so well and have likely collectively exhaled a sigh of relief. But there’s more good news. Some of these companies aren’t just surviving, they’re thriving. Several have even reported record high profits, even though used car prices continue to fall. It may be time to pop the champagne corks, pour out the bubbly, and hoist our glasses for the financial institutions we all love so dearly. Read More >

By on July 31, 2017

Ford Sync 3, Image: Ford Motor Co.

Technology is a major component in what makes a modern-day automobile desirable. It’s so important, in fact, that numerous quality and customer satisfaction surveys have cited owner misunderstandings of a vehicle’s electronic interface as the primary reason for specific models losing marks.

MyFord Touch was among the worst offenders, thanks to unreliable connectivity features and lethargic software. While Sync3 is much improved, it isn’t a perfect system and can still perplex luddites — just like any modern vehicle’s interface.

With that in mind, a Lincoln dealership in Michigan is conducting monthly seminars to help older folks feel more comfortable with all the newfangled electronic gizmos the kids today seem so damn enthusiastic about. It’s the sort of behavior most dealers should have been engaging in from the start but, unfortunately, has been reserved primarily for premium automakers.  Read More >

By on July 23, 2017

dodge demon

Even though we knew the limited supply of Dodge’s SRT Demon would drive up prices astronomically, Fiat Chrysler still made a valiant effort to reduce markups by prioritizing deliveries to dealerships offering the vehicle at (or below) MSRP. Unfortunately, the plan didn’t work as intended.

This was especially true after some dealerships found a workaround by having intermediaries on eBay auction off the right to buy one of their Demon allocations. Instead of selling the car above the $86,090 sticker, which forces Dodge to omit custom nameplates and other Demon perks, they’re allowing prospective buyers to bid on the “privilege” of purchasing a Demon at the manufacturer’s stipulated value — for thousand of dollars. Read More >

By on July 17, 2017

2017 ford fusion, Image: Ford Motor Co.

Likely the answer to the prayers of one very bored sales representative, an Ohio-based Ford dealership was issued a batch of Mexican-built Fusions sedans with roughly $1 million of marijuana hidden inside. The vehicles were assembled in Hermosillo, Sonora, Mexico and shipped by rail into a CSX yard in Lordstown before making their way to a Youngstown Ford dealer.

According to the local police department, the dealership gradually discovered the marijuana between July 7th and July 11th — packaged in half-moon containers covertly stored in the spare-tire compartment under the trunk’s lining. Since it’s unlikely this is a bold new promotional strategy on the part of Ford, authorities are currently trying to uncover who was supposed to take delivery of the drugs before they arrived at the dealer lot.  Read More >

By on June 22, 2017

lynk-and-co-model-02

Geely may be pushing the Lynk & Co brand as the most connected and tech-savvy in existence but its senior vice president Alain Visser believes its sales strategy should remain simple. With cars supposedly rolling out in Europe and North America for 2019, Lynk & Co is only planning to offer an extremely limited number of trim choices that rotate seasonally. It’s a fine strategy for an unknown element breaking into the marketplace but it does omit the ability to rake in the additional dough via optional extras. However, it also permits for lower production costs and a flat rate Lynk & Co claims buyers won’t need to bother negotiating.

How convenient for everyone.  Read More >

By on June 19, 2017

FCA Windsor minivan assembly Dodge Grand Caravan 2011 - Image: FCA

Chrysler’s minivans have been a never-ending beacon of purity and goodness for over thirty years. Less so lately, but the segment remains an important part of the FCA lineup. Intended to replace both the Chrysler and Dodge minivans, the Pacifica did not outsell either at launch. While Pacifica deliveries eventually eclipsed the Town & Country, it was really only due to the venerable model’s extermination. Meanwhile, Dodge’s Grand Caravan continues as the stronger seller and remains a popular option for rental fleets.

This has convinced Fiat Chrysler to extended the Caravan’s death date more than once, but it won’t last forever. In fact, it’s about to suffer a sort of prelude to non-existence as production will go on an extended hiatus in mid-August and won’t resume until December, when the 2018 models appear.  Read More >

By on June 19, 2017

2017 smart fortwo cabrio electric drive (Euro spec image)

It’s been roughly a decade since Daimler’s Smart Automobile first caressed America’s purple mountains and amber waves of grain with the microscopic Fortwo. Despite a promising first year in the United States, the brand never really managed to carve a space out for itself in a competitive and size-obsessed marketplace. The same is true (over a slightly longer timeline) for Canada.

Standalone Smart dealerships have become a rarity, frequently rolled into Mercedes-Benz sales lots over the years. But both have to ask themselves the same question: Is it worth pursuing sales when Daimler converts the little two-seater into a pure electric later this year and abandons the gasoline engine?

Obviously, the gut reaction is to tell every Mercedes-Benz franchise “probably not” and recommend any standalone Smart dealership immediately consider arson. Small car sales in North America are dwindling and EV sales are miniscule. Claiming a vehicle that exists as one of the least capable examples of both is a good investment is not something any rational person would suggest. But that doesn’t mean there isn’t a place for the unfortunately named Fortwo ED in North America.  Read More >

By on June 9, 2017

2017 Bolt, image: General Motors

General Motors will begin selling the Chevrolet Bolt nationwide in August, a month earlier than it originally planned. While California power nerds like Bill Nye and Steve Wozniak received their EVs months ago, GM’s rollout schedule hinged on dealerships getting their ducks in a row before the rest of America could gain access.

“We were waiting for the training to be done, we were waiting for the right tools to be in place,” Steve Majoros, Chevy’s marketing director, said at a media event. “We are kind of ahead of schedule on implementing all of those things as well as making sure we have enough sufficient inventory.”  Read More >

By on June 6, 2017

Carvana dealership, Image: Carvana

Carvana, the company we previously razzed for its innocuous multistory automotive contrivances, has suddenly found itself facing some legitimate problems. The car dealer is now famous for two things: vehicular vending machines and a majority shareholder with criminal ties to a major savings and loan scandal — who also happens to be the father of the business’ CEO and co-founder.

The organization is also facing a share price that has dipped 40 percent since its April 27 IPO. However, that can likely be blamed on an over-saturated used car market. Secondhand cars are incredibly affordable at the moment so, if you wanted to support Carvana or any other used vehicle vendor, now would be a good time. You just have to be alright with doing business with Ernie Garcia II, the ex-con investors are likely going to blame if the share price doesn’t bounce back.  Read More >

By on May 22, 2017

image: Michael Sheehan AutoNation 2014

At least twenty upper-echelon executives have left AutoNation since the start of 2014, with the vast majority bailing within two years. Short stints with an employer and lackluster job stability may be the norm for bottom-rung millennials but senior managers with years of experience have a tendency to stick around a while.

That doesn’t necessarily mean there is something sinisterly “up” with the largest automotive retailer in the United States, but it does leave you wondering about its future. This concern was heightened after AutoNation’s chief operating officer, Bill Berman, suddenly resigned last week, not even four months after being named president.  Read More >

By on May 1, 2017

dealership tornado

A Fiat Chrysler-affiliated dealership in Texas was hit by a tornado Saturday night, suffering catastrophic damage to its showroom, service center, and inventory. If you’ve ever wondered how your oversized truck would stack up against the awesome power of Mother Nature, look no further than the scattered and overturned vehicles that once occupied Interstate 20 Chrysler Dodge Jeep Ram of Canton’s parking lot.  Read More >

By on April 24, 2017

Toyota Supra

In February, a Texas Toyota dealership and The Genesis Center of Kaufman County joined forces to raffle off a fully restored 1994 Toyota Supra Twin Turbo. Donated by a local resident battling cancer, the entirety of the proceeds from the draw were designated specifically to help fund the center. Genesis is a faith-based shelter which also provides job placement, parenting classes, financial management programs, spiritual counselling, material needs, and medical referrals to women and children in crisis. It is funded largely through the church or via direct donations.

All in all, the dealership managed to raise more than $50,000 for the center. However, when Rebecca Rawl was announced as the winner of the raffle in April, many stated that the name was suspiciously close to that of the wife of sales manager Danny Rawls. Toyota of Rockwall was quick to rectify its mistake, specifying that the name given had been a mistake and “Rebecca Rawls” had in fact been the lottery winner.

As you can imagine, this did not go over well.

Read More >

By on April 23, 2017

2018 Dodge Challenger SRT Demon - Image: FCA

When we announced that the Dodge Demon would have a MSRP below six-figures, the comments section was immediately populated with discussions on how that might not be the case once the strip-focused Challenger arrives in showrooms. The limited supply of early Hellcats came at a significant premium and, for a time, even gently used models were going for the manufacturer’s suggested retail price of a new one.

Gouging on the Demon seems even more assured since FCA has stated that it will be limited production to a mere 3,300 units in North America. Obviously, there is no way in hell to avoid dealer markup on a vehicle like this one but Dodge seems to think it has found a way to attenuate the matter.

Read More >

By on April 22, 2017

2015 Volkswagen Golf family, Image: Volkswagen of America

April has brought good news to diesel lovers and haters on both sides of the border.

After spending the winter (and the better part of last fall) jealously eyeing their southern neighbor’s buyback and compensation program, Canadian owners can now apply for that longed-for envelope of Volkswagen cash, as well as a one-way-ticket to hell for their emissions-rigged TDI model.

On Friday, the automaker settled court cases in Ontario and Quebec, paving the way for a 2.0-liter diesel settlement program that starts next week. The models involved are the same as in the U.S. — 105,000 units in all — and owners and lessees face similar choices as their American counterparts.

Unlike the recent shadowy roll-out of half-fixed 2015 models in the U.S., several Canadian dealers are proudly advertising the availability of “new” TDIs. Read More >

By on April 21, 2017

Fiat Tipo, Image: FCA

Say you’re a dealer with a backlog of slow-selling models. What’s the last thing you would want?

The correct answer would be a springtime deluge of more of the same, whether you asked for it or not. That’s what some angry retailers across the Atlantic are facing after Fiat Chrysler Automobiles dumped 6,000 anemic sellers into Italian dealer management systems at the end of February. Read More >

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