Category: Sales

By on July 14, 2020

Today brings Part II of my 2012 Subaru Outback’s sales and ownership story, as the green all-terrain wagon recently pulled from the driveway for good. If for some reason you didn’t read Part I, find it here.

Now we press on with the vulgar topic of money.

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By on July 10, 2020

I last gave an update on the vehicles which occupy my drive back in February. At the time, the Volkswagen’s roof rattle issues had (finally) been corrected and I was all ready for a quick sale of my Subaru Outback. But said quick sale was interrupted by a few different issues, both local and global.

Uncertain Times for car sales, eh?

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By on June 29, 2020

Having already pulverized the dead horse of waning auto sales into a fine paste, we’ll now turn our focus on how it’s impacting employment among automotive retailers — squashing another pony.

Much of the information up until this point has been anecdotal and conditional to the North American response to COVID-19. Furloughs were rampant as the pandemic progressed and new safety rules seemed poised to cripple sales moving forward. There was an obvious general plight confronting automotive retailers, but we couldn’t nail down what that meant in terms of job losses.

We still don’t, frankly. But it is starting to become obvious that there isn’t much reason to be exceptionally optimistic. AutoNation recently announced that around half of the 7,000 workers it furloughed in April won’t be coming back. Despite some retailers claiming not to need such drastic cuts, plenty are following AutoNation’s model. With fewer customers and sweeping restrictions on how showrooms can be operated, there’s little reason for there to be all hands on deck. But just how many will be forced to abandon ship this year?  Read More >

By on June 8, 2020

2020 Land Rover Defender

Months ago, I was supposed to board a plane to Old Blighty to drive the new Land Rover Defender.

Given the vehicle’s heritage and importance to the brand, I was excited to see if it was a worthy successor to the famous series of SUVs that came before. I was also excited to go to England for the first time. My Austin Powers impression would be so much cooler if performed in the Old Empire (narrator voice: It would not).

Before I could even finish the paperwork for an international excursion, my flight — and everyone else’s — was canceled. As you know, the pandemic killed off new-car launches for the foreseeable future, although JLR merely “postponed” this one.

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By on June 4, 2020

After furloughing staff in response to the coronavirus pandemic, AutoNation has gradually allowed employees to return back to work. Half of the 7,000 people asked to take it easy in April won’t be coming back at all, however.

The automotive retailer has decided to permanently cut 3,500 jobs so it can focus on its bottom line and what it has unsettlingly called “the new normal” — a term frequently used to rationalize unsavory actions taken during the health crisis.

With customers unable to leave their homes to purchase cars, it’s to be expected that America’s largest automotive retailer would need to engage in some light restructuring. It also happens to have the best excuse imaginable for nuking a large portion of its workforce. Back in April, when the AutoNation was furloughing employees, it received nearly $95 million in federal small-business funds via the Payment Protection Program (PPP). A subset of anonymous staff members were said to have leaked the details to the media after deciding the firm was taking cash allocated for smaller outfits.

Outrage ensued and the company sheepishly returned the money.  Read More >

By on May 12, 2020

Image: FordThe arrival of a reincarnated Ford Ranger in 2019, along with the debut of the Jeep Gladiator, caused midsize truck market share to climb to a 13-year high in America’s pickup category. In fact, over the span of six years, midsize trucks nearly doubled their share of America’s truck market.

The primary cause of those market share gains, the new Ranger, ended its abbreviated first sales year on the midsize podium roughly 33,000 sales back of the Chevrolet Colorado.

In the early days of 2020, however, the Ford Ranger is running nearly dead even with the Colorado. But no longer is the Ranger driving the midsize pickup truck market forward. The segment’s share of the truck market is backsliding.  Read More >

By on May 7, 2020

The China Association of Automobile Manufacturers (CAAM) reports that April was healthier than expected, resulting in an estimated 2 million new vehicle sales. This would be the first time in a couple years the market has seen any monthly growth, with CAAM taking to the Tencent-owned WeChat to announce a single-percent gain over April 2019.

Considering the pandemic is anticipated to suppress global auto sales by anywhere from 10 to 20 percent, it seems premature to call anything a victory. Likewise, influence from the Chinese Communist Party has made any statistics coming out of the country highly suspect. Much of the world is currently under the impression that the nation’s leadership is in an all-out effort to project the country’s strength after failing to share helpful information in a timely manner and downplaying its coronavirus-related deaths. We don’t know what information is credible, especially since all groups (which includes individuals, state institutions, and corporations) are required by law to have direct ties to China’s only political party.

So that’s it then? It’s all bunk? Not quite. While there are plenty of reasons to doubt information coming out of China, there are also reasons to buy what CAAM is selling.  Read More >

By on March 30, 2020

Auto dealers and manufacturers around the globe have spent the past several years examining the usefulness of digital car sales, but the practice hasn’t been embraced as warmly in the United States, where state franchise laws often prohibit direct sales from automakers to anybody but a licensed auto dealer. Critics say this allowed retailers to become middlemen that customers are forced to haggle, while advocates explain that the system promotes U.S. jobs and provides a local resource for those needing repairs.

Neither are incorrect, yet dealerships have continued to buck online sales, even after manufacturers attempted to work with them on various pilot programs.

With COVID-19 keeping a large portion of the American population at home, dealers are revisiting online sales as a way to cut their losses. Digital transactions now look to be a necessity if shops hope to survive a prolonged pandemic. While many see this as a temporary measure, once the genie is out of the bottle, he’s difficult to put back inside… and may be far less benevolent than we’d like — even if we’re desperately in need of one of those wishes.  Read More >

By on March 17, 2020

As we attempt to wean ourselves off endless discussions the new coronavirus, we’ve noticed there’s not exactly a glut of alternative news out there. Trade shows are being delayed, factories are being idled, and the whole world seems to be in standby mode as we attempt to stall the spread of COVID-19 following its migration out of China.

Regional quarantines in Asia were already doing a number on supply chains, and it wasn’t long before manufacturers around the world began idling production to further slow the virus’s spread. By the beginning of March, it was becoming quite clear that auto sales would suffer significant impacts as people spent the next several weeks isolated in their own homes. Now, the push is on to assess just how much this whole ordeal will impact an OEM’s bottom line.  Read More >

By on March 11, 2020

The virus that’s on everyone’s lips is having an incredible economic impact throughout the world. Auto shows have thus far been disrupted by the virus outbreak, too, and I’ve begun wondering: At the end of the day, do they actually matter?

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By on January 23, 2020

Porsche Cars North America is the latest automaker to join the expanding list of manufacturers abandoning monthly sales reports in favor of a quarterly format. Detroit has made the changeover entirely, with General Motors swapping to quarterly reports in 2018, only to be followed by Ford and Fiat Chrysler the following year. While Asian manufacturers tend to prefer monthly updates, both Hyundai and Nissan are considering trying quarterly reports within the next twelve months.

As for the German manufacturer, Automotive News cited Porsche as wanting to keep a better eye on the bigger picture. But the plan also runs some risks, especially when some automakers are on the monthly schedule and others report just four times per year.  Read More >

By on January 8, 2020

I’ve shared my experience in choosing a suitable replacement for my Subaru Outback recently. And while that mission was accomplished successfully at the end of December (story coming soon), I was left with a tale to share about a particular dealership and its “customer service.”

Time for a quick story about how not to treat the customer.

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By on January 3, 2020

BMW will debut a new version of its very green i3 EV at the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) next week. The compact hatchback has been reimagined for the future — and BMW’s future is one of less usability and much greater expense. You’ll need hired help.

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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 October 29, 2019

2019 Toyota Camry SE white - Image: Toyota

Remember the midsize sedan death watch?

When TTAC introduced the series, Americans were still acquiring over 2 million midsize cars per year. That fact, the 2M+ aspect of the segment and the 1M+ nature of the top models, combined with the category’s 12-percent market share, caused many readers to doubt the possibility that any other intermediate sedans would ever bid farewell.

Others have, of course, fallen by the wayside. Joining the long-lost Mercury Milan, Pontiac G6, Saturn Aura, Suzuki Kizashi, Mitsubishi Galant, and Dodge Avenger in that great midsize parking lot in the sky are cars such as the Chrysler 200 and Ford Fusion. The Chevrolet Malibu is not long for this world.

Meanwhile, sales of the remaining midsize cars continue to tank. The notion that America’s midsize segment is a reliable provider of more than 2 million units per year is now cast by the wayside. Americans are likely to purchase and lease fewer than 1.4 million midsize cars in 2019. That’s 15-percent fewer midsize cars than Americans drove home in 2009 during the depths of the Great Recession. Read More >

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