Automortal Sins will be an infrequent series about the true sins in the auto business. It won’t be the sins which some bloggers regard huge. We won’t blame lapses in styling, branding, we won’t lambast OEMs for abandoning sports cars in favor of appliances. Building the wrong car once in a while is a minor iniquity compared to the huge, most egregious, and definitely mortal sins committed by automakers every day, without the smallest amount of remorse. Here is the first one:
Five years ago, car dealers throughout the country were hit hard by carmageddon. Now, they are about to get hit again where it really hurts: In the workshop, where the real money is being made. The auto sales collapse of 2008 winds its way through the years like a diet through an anaconda. While showrooms were empty five years ago, now it’s the service bays that are deserted. (Read More…)
The story on Saab pulling the plug on the diagnostic computer, and hence on repairs that need that access, ruffled a lot of feathers. The Church of St. Victor is so angry at the apostate article that it broke its self-imposed code of silence and mentions TTAC by name. Delusional as they are, they believe that their links send us traffic. Selfless as we are, we probably have done more to Saabsunited’s fame than any other site. Ingrates as they are, they call our story
“the most stupid article I have ever seen! This website has no clue how things work and this is why we never refer to them… I’m making a one time side-step from that policy!”
In their rage, they overlooked a small detail …
Portland’s 82nd Avenue is one of those streets that exists in nearly every American city. Unofficially demarcating Portland proper (“the right side of the tracks”) from the extensive working-class suburbs that bleed into Gresham (“the wrong side of the tracks”), “Shady-Second” is home to a vast strip of wall-to-wall buy-here-pay-here lots, used-car hustlers, and small repair shops that line both sides of the road from Sandy Boulevard all the way down to Division. Like every other used-car strip in every other town in America, it’s where folks go when they need a car and don’t have much money to spend. Unlike most other low-cost car Meccas, however, 82nd Avenue is also home to Oregon’s last remaining Saab dealership. And it’s something of a symbol of the hell that Saab dealers are going through right now.
Volkswagen just sold one of my inventions, and I didn’t get a dime for it. Volkswagen didn’t get rich on the sale either. After more than 20 years of trying not too hard, Volkswagen is getting out of the non-OEM service business and sells its Stop + Go chain of quick-fit shops to the management.
Electronics retailer Best Buy raised a few eyebrows when it began selling Brammo electric motorcycles alongside its flatscreens and Xboxes a few years back. Two years after that agreement was announced, however, Brammos are sold at only three West Coats Best Buys (one here in Portland, OR, two in California) and Brammo is expanding its own dealership network independently of the big box chain. Was Best Buy’s Brammo experiment a disappointment? If so, it’s not stopping the retailer from pursuing other electric vehicle opportunities, as Best Buy’s mobility and transportation honcho Chad Bell tells Automotive News [sub] that it’s talking to electric car firms about a possible retail deal.
We are having conversations with some of the startups. I would say the conversations are going well. We are very excited about several partnerships that we can’t talk about yet. We probably get more traffic in a weekend than some of these dealers do in a month. The benefits for a small automaker trying to cobble together a sales and service network are obvious.
Born in 1977, Mr Goodwrench was a marketing brand used to sell GM parts and service at franchised dealers. Now, after 33 years in service to The General, Mr Goodwrench is passing on to join Pontiac, Oldsmobile and HUMMER in GM’s crowded brand graveyard. Automotive News [sub] reports that
GM marketing chief Joel Ewanick wants the vehicle brands, not corporate, to be the stars of GM, and that includes service and repairs
In order to honor the passing of this past-its-prime symbol of GM’s decidedly mediocre service reputation, we’ve assembled a few Mr Goodwrench ads below the fold.
Cadillac contracted the services of the Ritz-Carlton to train Cadillac dealers to provide 5-star service. The Ritz Carlton, first recipient of the Baldridge award in 1999, has a side business in training other companies to provide quality service.
Don Butler, Cadillac’s marketing VP, said to Automotive News [sub] that the program will emphasize customer treatment rather than facilities. For instance, he said, a dealership employee might take an umbrella and walk a customer out to his or her car when it’s raining. “It’s simple,” Butler said. “It’s the things that don’t cost a lot of money.” If he would only know. (Read More…)