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 26, 2017

2017 Ford Fusion Sport

According to a report from a Minnesota news outlet, Mexican drug smugglers and their American co-conspirators are using imported Ford Fusions to ferry marijuana across the border.

The news follows recent drug busts in the state, with suspicion growing that the $1.4 million in weed found in 22 Fusions bound for dealerships is part of a larger smuggling ring. (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…)

By on April 18, 2017

[Image: Mitsibishi Motor Sales of Canada]

Maybe it’s not the product, but the dealerships? It might not be the solution to all of the problems facing an increasingly less troubled Mitsubishi north of the border, but it can’t hurt.

Under a new five-year plan, the automaker plans to revamp and modernize all of its 90 Canadian dealers. Bright, glassy and inviting, the redesigned dealerships are worth the expense if it helps draw more buyers into a customer base that hasn’t grown much in years. (Read More…)

By on April 10, 2017

Couple buying cat Courtesy chronicleherald.ca

Fine print exist almost entirely to float something egregious under the radar. People get law degrees and spend countless hours decrypting the tiny text to see who got the better of who in a courtroom. If you see fine print in an advertisement, it usually means the drug you desperately need has life-ruining side effects, or the deal that seems too good to be true has horrible stipulations. It’s more or less a legal way to lie to you.

Dealerships use this all the time with the classic triple zero gimmick: NO Money Down, NO Factory Financing, and NO payments until October!

However, if you take a peek below the giant block lettering promising you the greatest deal of a lifetime, you’ll see infinitesimal print that reads, “With Approved Credit to Qualified Buyers.” If you have to wonder if you are a qualified buyer, I can already assure you that you are not. Blessedly, a new website called Disclaimers Online wants to give consumers a sturdier leg to stand on.  (Read More…)

By on April 3, 2017

2017 Ford Taurus

The Blue Oval is dolling out Big Green to dealers in an attempt to clear stubbornly unsold 2016 models from its inventory.

The plan could see Ford dealers collect bonuses of up to $6,000 per vehicle, a new report states. As you might have already guessed, the languishing models are certainly not of the truck, SUV or crossover variety. (Read More…)

By on February 18, 2017

Honda dealer sign

It’s been a rough week at Frank Ancona Honda of Olathe, Kansas.

The family-owned dealership, in operation just southwest of Kansas City since 1961, has successfully weathered all of the storms that periodically pummel dealers of all stripes.

Then, last weekend, a body discovered on the banks of Missouri’s Big River — about a five-hour drive to the east — gave the dealership the kind of attention that no business wants. The corpse, which had a bullet hole in its head, also had a name: Frank Ancona.

No, the founder of Frank Ancona Honda is still alive and well at 85. But much to his dismay, the Frank Ancona discovered by the Big River was none other than the 51-year-old imperial wizard of the Traditionalist American Knights of the Ku Klux Klan. (Read More…)

By on February 13, 2017

2017 Ram 1500 Laramie Limited Crew Cab 4x4

Fiat Chrysler Automobiles has made a turnoff on the wrong road in the hopes of boosting its flagging sales, argues Jim Appleton.

The president of the New Jersey Coalition of Automotive Retailers is accusing the automaker of being reckless and short-sighted in its bid to open 380 new dealerships across the country. If FCA wants to reverse its market slide, Appleton claims, it should first take a good hard look at its product. (Read More…)

By on February 13, 2017

Alfa Romeo Stelvio nose logo badge

At least 20 Fiat and Alfa Romeo dealers in California have filed protests against Fiat Chrysler Automobiles after the manufacturer altered franchise agreements last December. Dealers objected to the changes, claiming it placed the struggling brands at a further disadvantage.

While the grievances vary between dealers, the protests revolve around a few key issues. FCA’s obligation to provide vehicles to the franchisees, the legal standard dealers must meet to sell those units, alterations to the definition of parts or accessories and how that might enable third-party distributors, and the constantly changing language surrounding dealer responsibilities were all common themes among the filed complaints.  (Read More…)

By on January 31, 2017

e-tron

Along with the rest of Volkswagen AG, Audi has made plans to invest heavily into electric vehicles. The company expects EVs to comprise 25 percent of its U.S. sales by 2025 and is devoting the e-tron moniker to an entire division of electrified models, with the first arriving next year.

Addressing the J.D. Power Summit at this year’s National Automobile Dealers Association Convention and Expo, Audi of America President Scott Keogh told salesmen to welcome the electric mobility market with open arms or learn to cope with an ambivalent future. However, jumping head-first into a relatively small market with a huge potential for growth isn’t without pitfalls, and it isn’t unwise for dealers to remain cautious. Still, with Audi planning to introduce three new BEVs within the United States by 2020 and Volkswagen Group hoping to have 30 battery-electric models out by the 2025, you can see why Keogh is pressing the issue.  (Read More…)

By on January 29, 2017

2017 Cadillac XT5 luxury crossover

Cadillac’s rollout of Project Pinnacle has been, let’s face it, a categorical mess. The program faced an immediate backlash from dealerships when General Motors explained it would categorize them based on sales projections and require an adherence to a higher standard of customer service. This was followed by smaller dealers refusing to take Cadillac’s buyouts, forcing the company to delay Pinnacle’s launch on two separate occasions.

The most recent postponement was so dealers could have more time to understand the program’s finer details — or so Cadillac claimed. However, now the automaker is altering portions of the incentive program so that dealers receive payments sooner and are eligible for partial bonuses even if they fall as much as 15 percent short of monthly sales goals. Caddy is also easing on some of those high standards it demanded of dealers and eliminating the appeals process for those deemed noncompliant. (Read More…)

By on December 29, 2016

2016 Land Rover Range Rover Sport

Guam, besides having the highest per-capita Spam consumption in the world (16 tins per person, on average), is also home to a recently uncovered fraud scheme that placed high-end vehicles in the driveways of island residents.

On paper, anyway. The unsuspecting residents — over 50 of them, authorities say — had no idea their names were placed next to luxury SUV registrations in the Department of Motor Vehicles database. (Read More…)

By on December 19, 2016

2016 Veloster Turbo, Image: Hyundai

In terms of unpleasantness, buying a new vehicle often ranks up there with visiting a passive-aggressive dentist, or perhaps meeting with your child’s teacher to discuss his or her “performance.”

Overzealous salespeople who stereotype customers, high-pressure them into buying the vehicle and package the seller wants, and generally lack knowledge about their own product likely sour more people on a brand than recalls and scandals. If only there was an easy way to avoid turning customers away while boosting sales.

It turns out, the solution could be very simple. (Read More…)

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