Looks Aren't Important: Mercedes-Benz Dealers Get a 10-year Break From Image Maintenance
If Mercedes-Benz dealers manage to overhaul their stores to the brand’s updated “Autohaus2” image standards, the locations can forget about additional modifications until after 2024.
The German automaker’s promise to leave dealerships alone is abnormal, and comes after the second generation of its controversial Autohaus standard established — to the chagrin of dealerships — in 2008. Much of Mercedes’ salesforce objected to the mandatory image alterations, similarly to how Cadillac’s dealer network has responded to that brand’s Project Pinnacle.
Hoping to ease tensions as showrooms adhere to the new status quo, the 2024 pledge provides all sides with a reprieve. The Autohaus2 plan, and subsequent dealer amnesty, was penned under former Mercedes-Benz USA CEO Steve Cannon, though the company’s current North American boss, Dietmar Exler, also supports it.
“It was the right thing to do,” Exler told Automotive News. “There is no backtracking from that. We’ve made a commitment to the dealers.”
According to Mercedes spokeswoman Donna Boland, the more youth-focused branding and image modernization is fine with a 10-year buffer. However, the majority of Benz dealerships have yet to update to Autohaus’ second incarnation. Stores were required to submit their renovation plans or meet with a company designer prior to last November, but work doesn’t have to be completed until June 30, 2018.
While Mercedes was obliged to follow some new franchise laws that disallows incessant image updates, not every state is subject to the same laws and it could have shortened the 2024 timeline for those stores. However there are over a dozen U.S. states states that have passed seven, ten, or even fifteen year limits on frequently manufacturers can require showroom overhauls.
Dealers seem generally pleased with Mercedes’ mandatory benevolence, however it came to be. “Mercedes hit the sweet spot,” said Jeff Aiosa, a Benz dealer in New London, Connecticut. “Ten years is a good number for the state statutes across the country.”
I just hope the Autohaus2 look remains contemporary a decade later. A lot can change in a year in terms of what’s hip and you don’t want a showroom filled with the automotive or architectural equivalent of mullets and flared jeans.
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Funny, most FCA Chrysler-Dodge dealers seem to have gotten a 20 year break on image maintenance, judging by their appearance.
In this category of vehicle...is the store ambience a big deal with customers? My view is I DGAF about what it looks like, much more concentrating on the deal. But I know I'm an outlier.