By on April 11, 2019

What happens when specific used car requirements combine with some old fashioned encouragement from TTAC staff?

A one-way road trip spanning five states, that’s what.

(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 December 13, 2018

lincoln navigator grille badge lincoln logo

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 October 10, 2018

This week is the third and final installment of our QOTD series about cornering the used car market and finding the most bang for the buck.

We’re going all out for this finale, and giving you plenty of money to shop.

(Read More…)

By on October 3, 2018

In last week’s Part 1 of this three-part QOTD series, we asked you to scan through the old brain box and offer up good examples of used cars for the budget-minded motorist, keeping your purchase within a stringent $8,000 budget. Today you’ll get a more generous sum of money, but you’ll also find yourself subject to heightened buyer expectations.

Let’s pick out some really tremendous used cars.

(Read More…)

By on September 26, 2018

This week marks the first of a three-part QOTD series where we’ll discuss everyone’s favorite topic here at TTAC: used cars. And for this first installment, we’re on a tight budget.

(Read More…)

By on September 18, 2017

Dealer Showroom

Car dealerships are an American institution. Often controlled by a patriarch with an unusual amount of sway in the local community (and their sometimes cosseted children), dealer franchises dot the country’s landscape like moles on a back. Isolated near exit ramps, they serve as gleaming beacons of civilization as you traverse through long expanses of wilderness on a road trip.

North America wouldn’t be the same without them but, according to one automotive regent, irreparable change is coming to the dealer networks we’ve become begrudgingly accustomed to. Bill McDaniels, president of McDaniels Automotive Group, runs a half-dozen stores selling selling Acura, Audi, Porsche, Subaru, and Volkswagen-branded vehicles in South Carolina. He’s one of those automotive viceroys mentioned earlier, right down to having his son as the chief operating officer for his business, and he’s convinced the era of family-owned dealerships is almost over.

Is this one man’s paranoid delusion or an astute observation of industrywide trends?  (Read More…)

By on September 12, 2017

irmatireiron

We live in polarized times, when acknowledging the existence of one group of evil people is considered to be a defense of a second group of evil people that the first group of bad actors consider their enemies. Some folks have trouble holding the concept that it is possible to despise both sides of a controversy, without having to identify with this or that tribe. I dislike having to use caveats in my writing but let me say at the outset that I think that people and businesses should not unduly take advantage of situations during natural disasters and other catastrophes.

We’ve seen a lot of inspirational stories out of Texas and Florida in the literal wake of two mammoth storms. We’ve also seen some price gouging and looting. Catastrophes bring out the worst and best in both those that are directly affected, and in those who observe from afar.

A couple of Florida car dealers, in Hollywood and further north in Tallahassee, decided to shelter their inventories from Hurricane Irma in public parking structures made available to residents trying to keep their personal vehicles above flood waters (and somewhat protected from flying debris). The dealers may have protected their vehicles from Irma, but that didn’t protect them from a storm of bad publicity. Every car those dealers parked in those structures meant someone’s daily driver couldn’t be saved from the maelstrom. (Read More…)

By on August 23, 2017

2017 Acura CDX - Image: Acura ChinaThe long-established U.S. auto industry is essentially impossible to turn on its head. An automaker can’t simply show up with a new brand or a new philosophy or new design tactics and instantly upset the apple cart.

Just as you can’t teach an old dog new tricks, it’s difficult to teach an old automobile market to adopt new buying habits. Market share swings are incremental. Progress is slow. At Acura, for example, facelifts of the TLX and RLX sedans and improved availability of the MDX (after moving some production to Ohio) will likely not combine to increase the brand’s market share by even one-tenth of one percent.

Given the difficulties faced by Acura in America — sales have fallen by more than a quarter since 2005 — Honda’s premium brand is turning its gaze to a larger, fresher, less established market. A market where buying habits are not cemented, where market share is still up for grabs, where market-specific vehicles are the norm.

And if Acura can soon succeed in China, where the brand has high hopes for the near-term, then Acura stands a much better chance of succeeding in America. (Read More…)

By on August 18, 2017

Karen Radley Acura screenshot - Image: Karen Radley Acura websiteIt made perfect sense. In 2009, when Hyundai wanted customers to view its new Genesis luxury sedan as a premium bit of kit, Hyundai did not compare the Genesis to the Sonata. In an early marketing campaign, Hyundai’s voiceover said the Genesis is “as spacious as a Mercedes-Benz S-Class, yet priced like a C-Class.”

When the time came to market the Genesis R-Spec, Hyundai reached way upmarket to compare 0-60 mph times with the Porsche Panamera. Hyundai wasn’t under the mistaken impression that the Genesis would steal thousands of sales from $100,000 Benzes and Porsches. But Hyundai was crafting an image. Hyundai didn’t require you to believe that the Genesis was a viable S-Class alternative — the company just wanted you to understand that this is premium-oriented S-Class-sized sedan at a C-Class-like price.

Long before the Hyundai Genesis tried to cultivate a premium persona, Acura was failing to keep up with Lexus in the quest to be viewed as a true luxury rival for the German establishment. It’s still a problem. So Acura dealers are now just trying to make sure you understand that the Acura TLX is better than the Audi A4 Lexus ES Infiniti Q50 2018 Honda Accord. (Read More…)

By on July 14, 2017

screen-shot-2017-07-13-at-10-48-12-am-610x588

“You know, that might be the answer – to act boastfully about something we ought to be ashamed of. That’s a trick that never seems to fail.”

— Col. Korn, Catch-22

It never fails. I’ve visited dozens of Ford dealers this year in the course of my day gig, and they almost always have a Focus RS sitting prominently on the showroom floor. Sometimes, they have two. This week, I visited a dealer that had four.

“Hey, I’ve got one of those,” I said to him, pointing at a 2016 Nitrous Blue RS2 model.

“Would you like another one?” he pleaded. “I’m selling it below invoice.” A quick check of his inventory revealed that it had been sitting on his lot for 217 days, with the others eclipsing the 150 day mark — a lifetime at a Ford dealership.

Of course, we know that Ford has already decided to pull the plug on the RS, and they’re gonna send it off with a limited-edition run of 1500 cars with the RS2 package and a Quaife LSD (something the car has always desperately needed). But why? Why did a car that American hot hatch enthusiasts have been craving for decades see such a short existence in the States?

Ford dealers. Duh.

(Read More…)

By on May 23, 2017

JM Lexus Margate Florida - Image: Lexus.com

Half an hour from Fort Lauderdale, in Margate, Florida, sits JM Lexus, the highest-volume Lexus dealership in the United States.

Even by Lexus standards, where throughput is the best of any premium automaker operating in America, JM Lexus’ 8,000-unit new vehicle sales tally in 2016 was striking. That’s more than 150 new luxury cars, crossovers, and SUVs sold each week. That’s roughly six times the volume achieved by the typical Lexus dealer.

And JM Lexus, perennially the top Lexus dealer in America, does so as part of the Lexus Plus strategy: no negotiating, a single representative per customer, fixed prices for new and used cars as well as service fees and accessories.

Perhaps there’s a lesson to be learned by Lexus’ other dealers. For the time being, according to Automotive News, only 5 percent of Toyota’s premium brand stores operate under the Lexus Plus model. (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 10, 2017

Sales situation in a car dealership, the dealer is handing auto keys to a young couple, they are excited, cars standing in the background, Image: Kzenon/Bigstock.com

You’re all too familiar with that image, aren’t you? She’s laughing hysterically or having some sort of crisis.  Her male friend, hand outstretched to receive his car key, looks on in amazement at her awkward and overblown reaction within this sales situation. They are The Couple, and they are stock image gold.

Want more of them? You got it.

(Read More…)

By on January 23, 2017

Walmart

With the exception of funeral services and stylish clothing, practically anything can be purchased at your local Walmart. Well, that list now includes automobiles. North America’s largest retailer is edging is way into automotive sales with the help of the nation’s largest new-car dealership franchise, AutoNation.

Launching in April, Walmart’s CarSaver program will make it the perfect middleman for impulse car buyers and local dealerships. CarSaver is designed to allow shoppers to browse, select, finance, and insure a vehicle through its website or at kiosks positioned in outside of the nail salons and vision centers of twenty-five Walmart Supercenters. (Read More…)

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