Category: Dealer News

By on January 23, 2020

The extended UAW GM strike of 2019 was the longest the automotive industry endured in a couple of generations. At the time, General Motors said the situation would delay production across its entire model lineup, including the 2020 Corvette. The mid-engined C8 is all-new, encouraging plenty of interest. It was assumed the model was destined to be sold out months before the strike occurred.

While GM later confirmed models were still available, it warned that the strike might delay its launch and could impact dealer allocations. In November, the manufacturer said the C8 wouldn’t arrive until February of 2020, though the latest word from retailers indicates GM will cut back on allocations of the C8. Read More >

By on December 18, 2019

The National Automobile Dealers Association (NADA) released its annual new-vehicle sales forecast for 2020, estimated a modest decline in U.S. volume. The announcement dropped on Tuesday, citing rising transaction prices as the probable cause. With fewer sedans on the market (especially among domestic automakers), customers are shifting to crossover vehicles with higher price tags. Fortunately, the United States’ economy has remained roughly as stable as the cost of fuel — avoiding market conditions that normally encourage customers to swap into affordable economy cars or simply hold onto their current ride.

“We expect new light-vehicles sales will come in at 16.8 million units for 2020, roughly a 1.2 percent drop from 2019 sales volume,” NADA senior economist Patrick Manzi explained. “As for 2019, it appears new vehicle sales will best the expectations of most in the industry by topping 17 million units for the fifth straight year.” Read More >

By on September 4, 2019

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My father has historically been a Ford man. Despite numerous forays into Chevrolet, Chrysler, Volkswagen and Toyota, he has always returned to the Blue Oval when the time came to purchase a keeper. Other nameplates came and went, receiving slightly less attention, but there was always at least one well-maintained Ford in the garage. As a result, I became familiar with dealerships using the suffix “Ford Lincoln Mercury” at a very young age.

For me, it was an opportunity to ogle the fancier sedans my father claimed didn’t make financial sense. “It’s the same car,” he would always say. “This one just costs more.”

When you’re eight and have nothing to distract yourself with other than the swizzle sticks you stole from the coffee area, fatherly advice has a way of sinking in. I’ve often wondered why automakers would even dare place their premium offerings so close to their less-expensive models. But times have changed.  Read More >

By on August 22, 2019

On Saturday, Nissan’s North American dealerships found themselves with a problem. A power outage at the automaker’s data center in Denver disabled a system dealers use to order vehicles, procure parts, check on recall statuses, obtain rebate information, and file warranty claims. As a result, the manufacturer’s communications in the U.S., Canada, and Mexico were disrupted. “Some of our dealer business applications have run in a reduced capacity using manual processing,” Nissan said on Wednesday.

Dealers were not pleased. Read More >

By on August 20, 2019

It’s no secret that Volvo dealers aren’t keen on the factory subscription plan. Last December, the California New Car Dealers Association even asked the manufacturer to end Care By Volvo on the grounds that it was taking business away from storefronts. The automaker responded by saying the service had proven popular with consumers, attracting new customers to the brand while reassuring dealers that version 2.0 of the subscription plan had been approved by the Volvo Retailer Advisory Board and would give shops more to do.

Rather than take the wait-and-see approach, the California New Car Dealers Association petitioned the state’s New Motor Vehicle Board. Last week, the group unanimously voted to direct the state’s DMV to investigate Care by Volvo and four claims that the service violates provisions of the California vehicle code — potentially leading to disciplinary actions.  Read More >

By on June 28, 2019

2019 Mercedes-Benz G-Class Camo

When it comes to buying new cars, I don’t have much patience. When I bought my Focus RS in 2016, I spent less than an hour doing the whole deal, including actually deciding what car I wanted to buy. Got a blank check approval from my bank, spitballed some ideas with my older brother and my good friend Bozi, and then put down a deposit on a car at a dealership about a thousand miles away. But there was one time when I tried to have patience, and was sorely disappointed.

Eleven years ago, I put down a $5,000 deposit and placed an order for a BMW 135i with my local BMW dealer. It was the launch year for the ill-fated 1 Series in the states, and I wanted to have one of the very first Ones to hit our shores. I ordered a very stripped down version — black, stick shift, cloth seats, no roof. After about 12 weeks, the dealer called to let me know that my car had arrived. Well, a car had arrived… but certainly not mine.

This example was an automatic. But that wasn’t the only thing they got wrong. They added somewhere in the neighborhood of $5k to the sticker, including nearly every option, even a red leather interior. Imagine my disappointment and frustration with the dealer, who had recycled sales people a couple of times since my order and couldn’t seem to track down anything about it, not even the original order sheet.

I asked for my money back, which they reluctantly gave me, and I ended up buying a Pontiac G8 GT instead — not a bad trade. But not everybody who goes through the ordering process is so fortunate. Click the jump for a question from our friend Andy about his experience in ordering his own custom German whip.

Read More >

By on April 8, 2019

U.S. light-vehicle dealers reported an operating loss for the first time since the National Automobile Dealers Association (NADA) began collecting data in 2009. While everyone continues reporting pretax net profits, concerns are beginning to swell around their dependency on factory incentives, which are not included in operating tabulations.

NADA’s analysis of 2019’s first-quarter auto sales shows that incentive spending is down compared to the same period a year ago. The group expects above-average discipline from automakers in terms of incentive spending throughout the year. According to J.D. Power, average incentive spending per unit was down $119 to $3,821 through March 2019 — with the brunt of that going toward trucks. However, if sales remain low, spending may creep back up to help clear out languishing inventories.  Read More >

By on March 25, 2019

Dealers got an early look at a prototype build of the upcoming Ford Bronco. Gathered in Palm Beach, FL at the behest of the automaker, dealers were asked to hand over their phones in order to avoid any leaks. Fortunately, their memories were sufficient in giving us a better idea as to what to expect come 2020.

While the event’s focus stayed on the Bronco and some of its more-interesting features, Ford also shared its plan to develop a family of off-road vehicles to complement the model. Introductory vehicles include the Bronco, its smaller counterpart, and a little unibody pickup to slot beneath the Ranger.  Read More >

By on February 19, 2019

When I was a lad, there were two family-owned and operated dealerships within walking distance of my home. Upon reaching driving age, one had already closed while the other began adding storefronts in different towns. It now has three locations, ensuring a meaty inheritance and lifelong job security for several members of my graduating class.

It’s the nature of the free market and a familiar story. According to an assessment from the National Automobile Dealers Association, singular showrooms have gone from 7,514 strong to just 4,904 between 2008 and 2018. That’s a 35-percent decline, whereas the number of dealers with 10 or more stores increased 62 percent over the same period.  Read More >

By on January 28, 2019

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Last year, Ford announced its intent to develop a rewards program aimed at keeping customers engaged — while also making it worth their while to stick with the brand for their next purchase. While customer rewards are old hat, regardless of industry, automakers are busy devising new ways of using the venerable marketing theory to improve customer retention. It’s an urgent gambit, given today’s cooling market.

General Motors launched its “My GM Rewards” loyalty program in 2018, using a points-based system to reward customers who use OnStar’s new services, purchase a new vehicle, or service an older one. Those points can then be redeemed, knocking some cash off a subsequent GM purchase. Meanwhile, Honda previewed “Dream Drive” at the recent Consumer Electronics Show — a concept with its own redeemable points system (one that incorporates some potentially unsettling gamification within the app).

While Ford’s FordPass-based efforts appeared similar, it wasn’t until this month’s North American Dealers Association (NADA) meeting that the automaker was willing to flesh it out.  Read More >

By on January 28, 2019

While the closing day of the 2019 National Automobile Dealers Association meetup revolved around charitable opportunities, engineering equality in the workplace, and a talk from author, pro golfer, and USAF veteran Major Dan Rooney on the merits of personal accountability, the rest of the event focused more directly on the auto industry.

One of the larger announcements came from Jack Hollis, general manager of Toyota North America’s Toyota division, who told dealers that his company intends to introduce 19 entirely new, redesigned, or refreshed vehicles over the next three years — focusing on utility models, but not ignoring cars. Toyota and Hollis are adamant that the brand can take advantage of other manufacturers abandoning sedan sales by both keeping them in its roster and continuing to improve them. Still, they acknowledge that SUVs and crossovers are essential in wrangling today’s buyers.

The secret, according to Toyota, is having a diverse lineup. However, pure electrics (and maybe minivans) don’t make the list, at least until sales data makes a better case for them.  Read More >

By on January 25, 2019

Cox Automotive, in conjunction with Automotive News, just released its Retail Brand Scorecards Study for 2018. The survey is interesting in that it ranks the perceived value of automakers by assessing how desirable they are to dealerships via an A-through-F grading system. Though, as engaging as it might be to look at these traits from a highly specific viewpoint (how dealerships see you in relation to specific manufacturers), we’re not sure how useful the average consumer will find them. Dealers and industry geeks, however, may want to take notice.

“This study represents a comprehensive review of brands from a unique perspective — how well they support the success of dealers,” said Cox Automotive Chief Economist Jonathan Smoke. “As we assembled the data and began to see how the brands performed differently, we started looking at the results as grades in high school, where the most well-rounded and high-achieving students are those who perform well across a wide range of disciplines. With that scorecard framework, we found a clear set of brands that are honor-roll worthy, as they are in essence the hardest-working, most successful students.”  Read More >

By on December 17, 2018

Last week, a retired college professor walked into Missouri’s Coad Toyota with an interesting proposal. He was willing to part with five first-generation Toyota MR2s as a trade-in for a gently used 2016 Mazda MX-5 Miata.

Considering the amount of maintenance five vintage MR2s must require, maybe he’s not the absolute madman we initially presumed. Since the deal went down in Missouri, he probably spent a ludicrous portion of his time on rust prevention alone.  Read More >

By on December 13, 2018

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This time last year, Lincoln was busy promoting its Experience Centers — storefronts that promote the brand and its products, but don’t serve as active dealerships. Then, in August, it asked around 80 Ford/Lincoln dealerships to commit to building separate Lincoln-only facilities by July. It was an attempt to elevate the premium brand by making it appear more exclusive, akin to what Cadillac attempted with Project Pinnacle and what Hyundai Group wants to achieve with Genesis.

Unfortunately, all of these programs garnered a “mixed response” from dealers. Many complained that the cost of building a separate showroom for higher-end models is prohibitively expensive. That has also been the case with Lincoln. The California New Car Dealers Association even wrote Ford Motor Co. last month, asking it not to punish storefronts that fail to divide their facilities, and it looks as though the automaker has acquiesced.  Read More >

By on December 8, 2018

As we explained earlier this year, the fledgling Genesis brand is going through puberty. The brand’s constantly evolving dealer strategy is now set in stone, or what passes for it in the world of Genesis, but the process of separating the brand from its Hyundai parent won’t take place overnight. There’s dealers to whittle down, licenses to gain, standalone stores to build, and inventory to stock.

It’s a work in progress, but the 2019 models — which now total three — are beginning to find their way to more buyers, Genesis claims. Be patient. Read More >

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  • Timothy Cain
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