By on September 13, 2021

Cadillac’s instance that it be the first brand owned by General Motors to go entirely electric has resulted in a shrinking U.S. dealership network, though perhaps a healthier bottom line for GM in the long run. It may also foreshadow the trajectory of other brands committed themselves to EVs and give us a sense of what the dealer landscape might look like in a decade or two.

Over the last few years, American luxury brands have been attempting to grow in select markets they believe will bring in new, affluent customers by building experience centers that mimic high-end airport lounges. Cadillac even briefly moved its base of operations to New York City as a way to gain distance from its rustbelt background and ingratiate itself into high society. More recently, Lincoln introduced a Central Park-themed Navigator as both have been trying to lay down roots in parts of California after ceding a large share of the market to the competition decades earlier. But GM’s insistence that Cadillac become an all-electric brand (with Lincoln also targeting a glut of EV sales by 2026) seems as though it could create complications, even if the end result is a major victory.  (Read More…)

By on August 9, 2021

With various government and corporate entities pushing rolling restrictions to our everyday lives, the automotive sector has gotten extremely creative in how it does businesses over the last nineteen months. Everything is being digitized so business can be conducted remotely, including sales. But this creates an issue for shoppers who — and this is going to sound crazy — actually want to see and familiarize themselves with one of the largest purchasing decisions they’re likely to make this year before committing.

Luxury brands were already testing at-home test drives and subscription-based vehicle exchange programs by the start of 2020. But we’re now seeing more pedestrian brands trying similar strategies to reach customers from beyond the confines of the dealership. Kia even recently announced a pilot program to sync digital sales with at-home test drives. Called “[email protected],” the service allows shoppers to schedule a vehicle to be sent to their home for an hour-long assessment.  (Read More…)

By on June 29, 2021

With just about every resource trading at unappealing premiums, now may not be the time to make any major purchases unless you’re a financial masochist or so wealthy that the normal rules of living no longer apply. But it remains a seller’s market for just about everyone, including the plebian masses. Giant, unaccountable financial institutions will happily purchase your home and there’s a sea of disenfranchised people who will give you their last dollar if you can help them make sense of an increasingly hectic world. In the automotive sphere, we’ve seen dealerships and rental agencies hungrily scooping up secondhand automobiles for unheard-of prices just so they’ll have something on the lot.

The end result is a lot of overpriced merchandise that larger businesses are desperate to buy so they can pass on their elevated expenses to the customer. We’ve already covered the stupidly high prices surveyed consumers claimed they’d be willing to spend on a new vehicle. But there have been numerous reports claiming those days are coming to an end, with just as many suggesting we’re still in the thick of it. Yours truly has been wondering just how close to reality those assertions happen to be.  (Read More…)

By on June 14, 2021

With automakers having a difficult time keeping production schedules thanks to COVID restrictions nuking demand and upending supply chains, 2021 arrived with plenty of problems. Desperate to replenish fleets they had sold off while everyone was locked indoors, rental agencies went on a used car buying spree. But it wasn’t just rental fleets that needed to be restocked, dealerships are also finding themselves with fewer models on the lot than they’re accustomed to — which is a bad position to be in when surveys have revealed consumers are now willing to pay stupidly high prices for automobiles.

They’re reportedly going to great lengths to acquire used cars as the great buyup of 2021 continues.  (Read More…)

By on March 29, 2021

Years from now, there’s a distinct chance that humanity will look at blank check firms, better known as special-purpose acquisition companies (SPACs), with disdain. Today is not that day, however. Cazoo Ltd, which has often been called the British Carvana, is reportedly selling itself to Ajax Holdings for a breezy $7 billion USD.

While the used-vehicle retailer initially planned on an initial public offering in London, merging with Ajax Holdings means it’s to be listed on the NYSE and probably at an astronomical price if the history of SPACs are anything to go by. This one happens to be owned by American billionaire and career hedge fund manager Dan Och, who said he would like to join the company’s board once the deal has gone through.  (Read More…)

By on March 22, 2021

The latest from Detroit has General Motors considering tweaking its delivery strategy for electric vehicles. While this appears to tangentially fall into the industry trend of trying to shove EVs into an online sales model, GM’s plan is distinctive and would introduce centralized inventory lots for the 2022 Chevrolet Bolt (hatchback and EUV) before Christmas. But we can already see the dual-sized nature of the plan that will be used to promote and condemn it, should things move forward.

General Motors could be seen as throwing dealerships a bone by finding a way for those located in areas where EV buyers are less prevalent to provide their customers with electrified options. This saves them from having to prep their lots for charging and making space for vehicles people might not bother buying until the technology has further matured. However, with industry giants (including GM) vowing to continue making more of their lineup battery-powered, dealers might also view this as a coy way for the manufacturer to obtain more control over retail operations. Other manufacturers have already explained that they want to prioritize online sales of electric automobiles, with the end result likely mimicking the Tesla sales model … something that doesn’t include traditional dealerships.  (Read More…)

By on March 16, 2021

Electric-truck startup Rivian has signed the lease for its first showroom in New York City and has selected one of the trendiest spots in Brooklyn. Once known for its high crime rate, Williamsburg has undergone three decades of gentrification and is now awash with luxury retailers normally reserved for the swankiest parts of Manhattan. In the 1990s, the neighborhood was still rough around the edges but had started to become ground zero for the East Coast hipsters, starving artists, and young musicians who gradually influenced its trajectory. The next three decades saw Williamsburg moving steadily upward with rental prices keeping pace. Riverside warehouses were replaced with high-rise hotels, the average household income closed on six figures, and dog parks are situated conveniently near designer ice cream shops.

It’s now the perfect place for a showroom dedicated entirely to electric vehicles, especially one that seems like a merger between Tesla Motors and REI.  (Read More…)

By on March 8, 2021

volvo emblem logo grille

Last week, we discussed Volvo Cars’ plan to transition to an online sales model as a larger quotient of its product becomes electrically driven. As luck would have it, the concept hasn’t been a runaway success with auto retailers. Vehicles becoming increasingly digitized, combined with the unparalleled consumer access offered by the internet, has made numerous manufacturers wonder why the dealership role couldn’t be diminished. After all, Tesla has done alright without a traditional sales network.

But Tesla didn’t have a gross of existing showrooms ready to make a fuss. Volvo has nearly 300 and dealerships are reportedly voicing their concerns as the manufacturer does what it can to assuage fears about the possibility of their being put out of businesses in the coming years.

(Read More…)

By on December 7, 2020

When the United States announced it would be offering payroll relief to the countless small businesses it impacted with government shutdowns intended to combat COVID-19 earlier this year, everyone breathed a sigh of relief into their mask. Unfortunately, the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) became a confusing bureaucratic mess almost instantly. It wasn’t clear how companies would account for part-time or contracted employees, numerous banks denied help to those with less than stellar financial histories, and the application website repeatedly crashed — which was awful for a service that was designed to accommodate candidates on a first-come-first-serve basis.

There were also numerous provisions that allowed big business to take advantage if their individual locations were small enough and loopholes for companies that weren’t even required to shut down operations. Criticisms understandably began to surface, followed by months of commercials asking concerned citizens to report instances of fraud. One such example came into focus this week after a former sales representative for a Pennsylvania-based dealership group launched a federal lawsuit against their ex-employer alleging that it had violated the False Claims Act in relation to PPP.

(Read More…)

By on November 25, 2020

Cadillac dealers disinclined to spend a sackful of money on revamping their businesses to sell and service electric vehicles received some moderately good news this month. General Motors is willing to issue them fat stacks of cash for stores that cannot rationalize the sizable expense of installing charging stations, training staff, and retooling the garage.

While it smacks of the consolidation efforts headed by Caddy’s former President Johan de Nysschen in 2016 with Project Pinnacle, and makes us wonder how the brand plans on turning a profit if it keeps eliminating storefronts, GM thinks buying out dealers who don’t want to participate in the EV experience is the way to go. Though the company has expressed an interest in gradually embracing a more digitized sales model as Cadillac strives to become an exclusively electric brand by 2030.

(Read More…)

By on November 23, 2020

Unless you happen to be the primary stakeholder in Amazon, 2020 probably hasn’t’ been the kind of year you’re likely to miss. However, there is no shortage of lobbyist groups and trade organizations willing to praise it as a triumphant time for modernity. This includes the National Automobile Dealers Association (NADA) Chairman Rhett Ricart, who believes digitizing the industry is the best pathway forward. While he hasn’t forgotten that pandemic-related lockdowns closed showrooms and factories, resulting in extremely lean inventories and weak sales, he claims it has accelerated everyone’s willingness to utilize online sales formats.

But there’s little reason to assume such a move would be better for dealerships from our vantage point. Haggle-free, direct pricing and ordering over the internet removes a lot of what the showroom does. This new model runs the risk of obliterating smaller storefronts and relegating the rest into glorified service centers doubling as a delivery hub.

(Read More…)

By on November 9, 2020

Nissan will begin encouraging dealerships to place examples of the Toyota RAV4 on their lots so customers will have the ability to compare the best-selling vehicle in America that isn’t a pickup truck against its own Rogue. While pitting your bread and butter against a model that is often better reviewed and outsells it by a margin of nearly 2-to-1 seems foolish, we think we see where Nissan is going with this plan.

Toyota’s RAV4 retails a bit higher than Nissan’s Rogue and its base LE trim is about as basic as it gets for the segment. We’re willing to bet that’s the model that will be used in comparisons. As both are fairly appliance-like automobiles to drive, this gives Nissan an opportunity to showcase the Rogue’s slight advantage in overall comfort and features without being eclipsed by a better-equipped RAV4. Meanwhile, customers finding themselves less interested in crossovers than they were upon arrival are free to browse the rest of the Nissan lot.

(Read More…)

By on November 4, 2020

If you hadn’t already heard, Europe began taking actions to prepare itself for another pandemic-related lockdown. Last month, leadership in Germany and France noted that existing restrictions were “not enough anymore” and began issuing specific citizens “certificates” allowing them to move freely within the country. As you might have imagined, this didn’t exactly bolster automotive sales.

While most of the new restrictions were implemented at the tail end of October, they’ve foreshadowed additional measures introduced as more countries climbed aboard (like the UK’s second banning of sex with people from outside of the household) and began signaling that automotive sales were about to be routed. Gains made in September look to be completely undone, with Germany’s Federal Motor Transport Authority stating new-car registrations fell by 3.6 percent in October (vs 2019) on Wednesday. But that’s only the beginning of the bad news.

(Read More…)

By on November 2, 2020

The National Automobile Dealers Association (NADA) has announced a decision to strengthen diversity quotas by dividing the country into three distinct regions and passing a bylaw amendment that expands the number of at-large seats reserved women and ethnic minorities — moving both from two to three positions.

While the organization had been discussing the matter all summer, with CEO Peter Welch telling NADA members racism and discrimination had “no place in the car business” and needed to be “rooted out,” it has also begun making moves that support new inclusion and equity programs. Roughly 41 percent of the NADA employees are women at present, with another 20 percent representing minorities. But Welch said the group could and should strive to improve those numbers.

(Read More…)

By on October 22, 2020

GMC

With the Hummer EV Edition 1 selling out over what would constitute an extended lunch break, General Motors is clearly aware it has a hot commodity on its hands. While that may not continue into subsequent model years, the electrified monstrosity is seeing demand comparable to what we witnessed with Dodge’s Demon and GM has a similar solution in mind.

Rather than allowing dealers to see what they can get away with on the standard Hummer pickup when it goes on sale next year, GMC will be implementing a strict no-haggling policy. That’s undoubtedly going to be a blow to dealers thinking they could clean up on markups and a blessing to customers who don’t want to spend a few extra grand on their already expensive midlife crisis.

(Read More…)

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