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…)

By on October 10, 2016

2017 Cadillac XT5

A large-scale culling of Cadillac dealers won’t come to pass, but that doesn’t mean franchise owners are giddy about joining the automaker’s controversial Project Pinnacle.

An overwhelming majority of the brand’s 925 U.S. dealers have opted to sign on to the program, ignoring company president Johan de Nysschen’s last-minute buyout offer to 400 low-volume locations. (Read More…)

By on October 6, 2016

2014 Jeep Grand Cherokee Interior-006

A new wrinkle has cropped up in the lawsuit filed against Fiat Chrysler Automobiles by the parents of late Star Trek actor Anton Yelchin.

Yelchin died in June after being pinned against a gatepost by his 2015 Jeep Cherokee, which was subject to a recall for its confusing Monostable shift lever. According to documents obtained by TMZ, the dealer that sold him the vehicle blames the victim for the accident. (Read More…)

By on October 5, 2016

2015 Chrysler 300C Platinum and 300S, Image: FCA

The lawsuit that sparked federal investigations of Fiat Chrysler Automobiles and changed the way it reports sales is going ahead, minus a racketeering charge.

A federal judge has dismissed allegations that FCA offered payments to dealers in exchange for false sales, but the automaker still faces allegations of antitrust law violation and breach of contract, Bloomberg reports. (Read More…)

By on October 1, 2016

Volkswagen logo badge (Francis Storr/Flickr)

Volkswagen AG is making nice with its once-ornery U.S. dealer network to the tune of $1.85 million per dealer.

The automaker announced details of its $1.21 billion dealer settlement late yesterday, Reuters reports, with cash payouts to its 652 dealers spread out over the next 18 months. Meanwhile, once-loyal Volkswagen owners have hopped on the buyout bandwagon in big numbers. (Read More…)

By on September 23, 2016

2017 Cadillac XT5, Image: © 2016 Matthew Guy/The Truth About Cars

If dealership owners spring for a recent offer by the president of Cadillac, expect to see a vastly reduced brand presence in towns and cities across the U.S.

Johan de Nysschen is offering 400 low-volume Cadillac dealers cash to close up shop and walk away, Automotive News reports. (Read More…)

By on September 7, 2016

2017 Cadillac XT5

A dealer association in California is the latest group to go after Cadillac, demanding the automaker make changes to its controversial “Project Pinnacle” sales incentive program.

The California New Car Dealers Association, acting at the request of 52 dealers in that state, has sent a letter to General Motors CEO Mary Barra in a bid to delay (and alter) the project, Automotive News reports. (Read More…)

By on August 26, 2016

2017 Volkswagen Tiguan

It didn’t take long for sources to squeal about the size of the settlement forged yesterday between Volkswagen and its ornery U.S. dealer network.

According to people familiar with the deal, 652 VW dealers will share about $1.2 billion to offset losses from unsold vehicles and sunk costs, Bloomberg reports. But cash is only one part of the company’s plan. The other involves its customers’ wallets. (Read More…)

By on August 25, 2016

2016 Volkswagen Passat (6 of 14)

America’s Volkswagen dealers took the brunt of the automaker’s diesel emissions scandal, but a cash payout designed to ease their troubles is on the way.

Lawyers for the dealers, who were once poised to revolt against their employer, announced a tentative settlement deal with the automaker today, Reuters reports. (Read More…)

By on August 9, 2016

Couple buying cat Courtesy chronicleherald.ca

With memories of the 2008 financial meltdown still fresh, American consumers aren’t borrowing wildly anymore — except when it comes to cars and credit card purchases.

As of the end of June, car buyers racked up the highest auto loan debt in U.S. history — $1.1 trillion, according to a quarterly report from the Federal Reserve Bank of New York. Also on the rise? Credit risk. (Read More…)

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