By on August 27, 2020

vw

While North America isn’t receiving Volkswagen’s ID.3, it might have been for the best. The car launched with software glitches that made certain tech functions inoperable and probably wasn’t suited for our market, anyway, according to the manufacturer. But the ID.4 (formerly ID Crozz) crossover is coming here, and promises to deliver a pleasant electric-driving experience and a range of up to 310 miles — assuming you bought the right package and are familiar with the European WLTP cycle.

Volkswagen also wants to use the model to test its new customer experience initiative, which allows shoppers to make reservations online. While the pandemic has encouraged the industry to do more of its business over the internet, the reservation trend was becoming popular ever since carmakers learned that such fees for in-demand models could preemptively line their pockets with cash.

Originally, this was done to ensure customers were serious about buying models produced in limited supplies, or as a way to help startups fund their production efforts ahead of time. It’s now become fairly common, as everyone seems to understand the scam program. In a virtual press conference Thursday, Volkswagen said it would allow parties to reserve the ID.4 next month for a $100 deposit. Duncan Movassaghi, vice president of VW Sales and Marketing, claimed it was the best solution for dealers — and was in line with how people have to live their lives during COVID-19. (Read More…)

By on August 24, 2020

AutoNation’s collision parts division is scheduled to be eliminated by the end of 2020, freeing up some cash after the two-year endeavor proved less than profitable.

Former CEO Cheryl Miller had made it clear that one of her main goals for the company was to ramp up services in an attempt to enhance revenue and diversify the business. But this tactic has proven perilous for the automotive industry at large, often offsetting opportunities to make money with sizable financial risks.

Mobility is probably the best example of this, as its broad enough to encompass everything from self-driving vehicles to subscription models and relies on the market maturing into something that will presumably see returns on investment years down the line. However, AutoNation’s diversification was far more traditional. It seemed like a sure thing, since the collision parts business was forecast to grow over the next five years. In fact, despite being the the largest automotive retailer in the United States, the company actually owes 46 percent of its gross profit to parts and service. Selling cars (both new and used) only accounts for 24 percent — with the rest coming from finance and insurance. (Read More…)

By on July 30, 2020

Cox Automotive eliminated around 1,600 jobs this month as it prepared to better embrace online commerce (and nobody having any money). The company axed nearly 300 employees in June after having furloughed over 12,000 people in response to the coronavirus pandemic this spring. A large number of those positions were related to its Manheim auction arm, which suffered the hardest due to stringent lockdown protocols that prohibited public gatherings.

Now it’s talking about improving some of the digital features it added to Autotrader this year and embracing the virtual landscape to future-proof itself while forecasting a 25-percent cut in annual profits, and letting people go  with the majority of the layoffs coming to furloughed Manheim employees. (Read More…)

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 April 21, 2020

Don’t expect the Present Year to come close to the sales tallies racked up in 2018 or the year before. No analyst foresees such a scenario; globally, LMC sees auto production taking a 20-percent haircut in 2020.

But the return to normality is underway in the U.S., aided by the federal government’s reopening plan (a set of guidelines to be acted on by individual states), but especially by the realization of governors that car buyers need some way to bring a vehicle home. Michigan, via an executive order, greenlit online sales on April 9th. Now it’s Pennsylvania’s turn. (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 May 28, 2019

With Audi’s TT slated to be replaced, eventually, by an all-electric model that doesn’t skimp on the performance thrills, the vehicle needs a send-off special edition. Starting June 5th, such a model will be available. However, the vehicle appears to be more of a way for Audi to test an online-only shopping model than a celebration of the outgoing TT.

Limited to 99 examples, the Audi TT Quantum Gray Edition will be sold exclusively in German using the company’s “initial pilot project for online direct sales.” (Read More…)

By on March 12, 2019

Tesla Model 3, Image: Tesla

If Tesla doesn’t exist anywhere on your shopping list, it’s easy to ignore the turmoil surrounding the automaker. If Tesla’s your employer, however, the past few weeks have been a roller coaster ride.

Retail employees, who, along with store managers and regional managers, learned of the automaker’s plan to divest itself of stores through media reports, claim they’re hanging by a thread, stripped of their commission and still in the dark. (Read More…)

By on May 2, 2016

CRX with finger

TTAC commenter Piston Slap Yo Mamma has given us a great gift.

While perusing used cars on his local Craigslist site, he noticed a trend occurring in the vehicle images. Fingers. Lots of them. Obscuring license plates. Possibly, revealing more about the driver than the plate itself.

So numerous were these crooked appendages, often topped with purple or naturally yellow nails, that he felt the need to share them. So, this Tumblr page was born. (Read More…)

By on April 8, 2015

2015 BMW i3 Range Extender Exterior-002

You can order a lot things from Amazon, including books, CDs and giant drums of lubricant. If you’re in Japan, though, you can also order a BMW i3.

(Read More…)

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