By on October 10, 2017

 

2018 Hyundai Sonata Sport - Image: Hyundai

Last month Volkswagen announced it had significantly upgraded its warranties and, not a week later, Hyundai gave word that it was making a big announcement on October 10th. As the brand with the most extensive factory coverage in the business (along with Kia and Mitsubishi), we expected them to respond assertively.

The gauntlet had been thrown down and it was time for Hyundai to remind VW who the world’s value leader was. What would the response be? One million miles of bumper-to-bumper coverage? Free hats? We were ready for anything and everything.

The announcement came and Hyundai is now promoting its new retail program, called Shopper Assurance, which allows you to schedule a test drive via the internet, browse dealer inventories online, and offers a three-day money-back guarantee. Needless to say, it’s slightly disappointing, but it isn’t all bad news.  (Read More…)

By on October 9, 2017

baby driving
People love generational studies. The notion that being born a few years away from another person creates a disparate, irreconcilable identity is an appealing one and is, to some extent, backed by plausible evidence. After all, growing up in 1975 was different than growing up in 2005. However, when exactly those subtle differences surface to an extent where they can be measured is debatable.

That’s why I was so intrigued by a recent study indicating that Generation Z will be “nothing like their Millennial predecessors” when it comes to financing automobiles and purchasing automotive insurance. Members of Generation Z currently run between the ages of five and 21. So, how exactly will your five-year-old go about procuring coverage or a loan for their first automobile?  (Read More…)

By on October 3, 2017

Genesis Boutique Downtown Toronto Canada - Image: Hyundai CanadaHyundai’s Genesis Motors offshoot intends to finalize its transition into an entirely separate U.S. dealer network within the next three years.

The process of building an undetermined number of distinct Genesis outlets has not yet begun, but it’s clear the brand is well aware of the limitations with which it’s currently operating.

“The reality is, many, many luxury customers tell us they love our products, they’re amazing, but I’m not going into a Hyundai store to buy it,” U.S. Genesis boss Erwin Raphael tells Automotive News.

No kidding. (Read More…)

By on September 3, 2017

Chevrolet El Camino 1966

While there are dealerships that will happily service your vintage automobile, there are reasons a lot of classic cars are wrenched at home or taken to speciality shops. It’s not typically in a service center’s best interest to hunt down rare discontinued parts and train employees on the reassembly of carburetors. But it still happens, especially among premium brands.

Porsche is rather obsessive about its heritage and has extended that to maintenance and repairs at a large number of stores. It isn’t alone, either. Mark Rogers, a 20 Group consultant with the National Automobile Dealers Association, estimates as many as 1,800 U.S. franchised dealerships are willing to service vintage cars. Some are even selling them — putting desirable classics on the showroom floor in the hopes they might garner positive attention.  (Read More…)

By on August 25, 2017

pexels-photo-279949

For a variety of reasons (the post-recession binge finally cooling off is the biggest), new-car sales are down in the United States. One would expect that would hurt the revenue of new-car dealerships. Not so much, it turns out, as dealers have found other ways to generate revenue. Or at least that’s what a Bloomberg report says. But there are caveats that suggest the Bloomberg piece may be generalizing. In other words, maybe some shops are seeing more revenue from more work, but other shops aren’t, even as they get busier, due to other factors.

Traditionally, new-car dealerships have always generated revenue and profit from their service and parts departments – and those departments outshine sales at many stores. So it’s not surprising to see dealers turning to a reliable profit center when sales slump.

(Read More…)

By on August 14, 2017

smart-cabrio

Daimler announced in February that it would stop sending gasoline-powered models to North America this summer and move exclusively to EVs after inventory levels decline. Dealers had until the end of June to decide if they wanted to be a part of the next wave of personal mobility.

With Smart swapping to electric-only drivetrains for U.S. retailers, we assumed the majority of Mercedes-Benz dealers still clinging onto the microscopic Fortwo would abandon it — as would every standalone Smart store still in existence.

Smart only sold 54 electric models within the United States between January and May, so it’s understandable that this summer saw over two-thirds of all retailers opting out of the deal. That leaves Smart with only 27 sanctioned stores within the United States, making it more exclusive than Lotus, Ferrari, Lamborghini, and even Rolls-Royce.  (Read More…)

By on August 8, 2017

Round Rock Genesis dealer - Image: Genesis Motors

“We do in fact have to expedite our process of separating our brands.”
– Genesis Motors General Manager Erwin Raphael

From the start, Hyundai Motor America’s plans to launch its upmarket Genesis brand inside Hyundai showrooms was easy to question. Do consumers want the link between a $68,100 Genesis G90 and a $14,745 Hyundai Accent to be so obvious?

Of course not. But affording Genesis a mere corner of certain Hyundai showrooms wasn’t the only problem — Genesis general manager Erwin Raphael also had issues early on with the number of Hyundai dealers signed up to sell the Genesis brand.

“We may see that (350) figure go down,” Raphael said in November 2016, only a few months after the brand began selling cars in America. “I think it is too high.”

Fast forward to August 2017 and Hyundai’s plan to eventually separate the Genesis brand with standalone showrooms, perhaps in 2020, is about to be pulled way forward. “For this brand to really survive and thrive,” Raphael tells Automotive News, “and for us to develop the culture within ourselves and within our dealer network to support and take care of these customers, we do in fact have to expedite our process of separating our brands.”

So what happens to all of those Hyundai dealers who recently spent thousands renovating showrooms to include Genesis studios? (Read More…)

By on August 4, 2017

model car mechanic

Mechanics at roughly 130 new car dealerships in Chicago went on strike Tuesday morning. According to the Automobile Mechanics’ Union Local 701, nearly 2,000 grease monkeys threw in the towel before also tossing a wrench into dealer maintenance schedules — leaving customers to fend for themselves.

On the first day of the strike, Mark Bilek, senior director of communications for the Chicago Automobile Trade Association, issued a statement that most affected dealerships would remain open with partially functional service centers. “They may not be performing complex repairs, but oil changes, stuff like that, it’s business as usual,” said Bilek in a statement.

However, the union stated that wouldn’t last for long if demands were not met.  It has been bargaining with the New Car Dealer Committee since June, citing uncompensated time, unacceptable schedules, unsatisfactory pay, and no opportunities for career progression as its chief complaints. Deadlocked since negotiations began, the union decided to halt all work at the beginning of August — despite Bilek’s assurance that customers could still get their oil changed or tires rotated.  (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 26, 2017

cars dealer dealership, Image: HappyAlex/Bigstock

In the last five years, I’ve visited over 2,500 dealers in 44 different states. Sometimes I think I’ve seen everything. And just when I think that, I’m invariably proven wrong.

This week, I walked through the doors of a massive dealership — easily one of the largest dealers I’ve ever set foot in (the name and make of this dealer shall remain anonymous, since the conversation was “off the record”). This dealer sells upwards of 500 new cars a month and about 200 used per month, and they’re planning to add even more floor space so they can increase their volume.

As I waited to talk to the GM, I browsed the cars on the showroom floor. Considering the overwhelming success of this store, you can imagine my surprise when I saw that every car on the floor, without exception, had an extra sticker on the window.

(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 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 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…)

Recent Comments

  • pacificpom2: The most telling indictment of the car industry in Australia was told by the ex boss of Mitsubishi...
  • anomaly149: Why on earth would anti-trust regulators in Japan or the US care about Nissan and Mitsubishi...
  • uofsc93: The rear of the old one looked like Darth Vader’s helmet. This one looks like a Cylon Raider.
  • Dan: “Biggest complaints were TINY gas tank” GM has been doing this to many of their vehicles, they knock...
  • JohnTaurus: Hey man, hope you’re subscribed so you will see this, assuming that is the case, I ran across this...

New Car Research

Get a Free Dealer Quote

Staff

  • Contributors

  • Matthew Guy, Canada
  • Ronnie Schreiber, United States
  • Bozi Tatarevic, United States
  • Chris Tonn, United States
  • Corey Lewis, United States
  • Mark Baruth, United States
  • Moderators

  • Adam Tonge, United States
  • Corey Lewis, United States