By on November 16, 2020

Over the last few months, the automotive industry has been feeding the media a steady stream of materials about how great electric vehicles are. Your author even spent an hour last week on a press call where a famous German automaker attempted to educate us on how to use the cost of ownership over 10 years to help readers rationalize buying them over something requiring gasoline. While that should stay something about how the industry sees our relationship, it also seems to indicate it’s preparing an EV offensive in North America or has next to nothing up its sleeve for the remainder of 2020.

Of course, these are the legacy manufacturers we’re discussing, EV startups walk a slightly different path. Awash with more investment funding that seems reasonable, they’re in the midst of setting up factories so they can begin production of largely hypothetical products. There are also logistical questions that need handling, including figuring out who will be fixing EVs when nobody seems interesting selling them using the dealership model.

Over the weekend, Rivian explained how it planned on handling repairs. Though, if you thought it would be more complicated than copying a page from the Tesla playbook, you’re going to be disappointed.

(Read More…)

By on February 14, 2020

Image: Lucid Motors

Marc writes:

Hi. Long-time reader, and have had a past question answered. With all the hype surrounding electrification, there is one aspect I see little discussion about — the impact on the service and parts business. If the majority of profits at a dealership comes from service and parts, what is the impact of no oil changes, etc, and the myriad of ICE parts that electric vehicles don’t have? Jiffy Lube, Aamco, Midas, all done.

The economic implications are huge. Your thoughts?

(Read More…)

By on November 18, 2018

High-end sports cars are much more likely to endure the onslaught of time that inevitably forces most automobiles into the junkyard. Why such vehicles might not all serve as pampered automotive “investments” for wealthy individuals, most are still well cared for and subject to fewer harsh winters and daily commutes than their mainstream counterparts.

Porsche claims that over 70 percent of all vehicles it has ever manufactured are still in operation today and the majority of those cars reside in the United States, not Europe. As a result, the automaker wants to expand its Porsche Classic operations in the region — helping owners keep their vintage machines in pristine condition while earning dealerships some side cash in the process.  (Read More…)

By on August 4, 2017

model car mechanic

Mechanics at roughly 130 new car dealerships in Chicago went on strike Tuesday morning. According to the Automobile Mechanics’ Union Local 701, nearly 2,000 grease monkeys threw in the towel before also tossing a wrench into dealer maintenance schedules — leaving customers to fend for themselves.

On the first day of the strike, Mark Bilek, senior director of communications for the Chicago Automobile Trade Association, issued a statement that most affected dealerships would remain open with partially functional service centers. “They may not be performing complex repairs, but oil changes, stuff like that, it’s business as usual,” said Bilek in a statement.

However, the union stated that wouldn’t last for long if demands were not met.  It has been bargaining with the New Car Dealer Committee since June, citing uncompensated time, unacceptable schedules, unsatisfactory pay, and no opportunities for career progression as its chief complaints. Deadlocked since negotiations began, the union decided to halt all work at the beginning of August — despite Bilek’s assurance that customers could still get their oil changed or tires rotated.  (Read More…)

By on June 8, 2017

Ford Service Center, Image: Ford Motor Co.

Ford Motor Company may soon press dealership service centers to prioritize maintenance and repairs for ride-sharing fleets and their employees. This comes after the company’s decision to expand its in-house shuttling firm, known as Chariot, and as its long-term plan to bring an autonomous ride-sharing solution to market by 2021 takes shape. But Ford also knows rival companies can be a strong source of revenue. Omnicraft, anyone?

Even moderately sized cities have several thousand Uber and Lyft drivers, and Ford’s CEO of Smart Mobility Raj Rao thinks they represent an untapped resource. He believes service centers should go the extra mile for them, even if it means some dealerships have to stay open 24 hours to provide swift turnarounds.  (Read More…)

By on June 4, 2017

oil change, Image: Yonkers Honda

Robots may be able to assemble your car, but they aren’t going to be servicing it anytime soon. Automation has made many industrial occupations irrelevant over the last few decades. Machines have even begun entering the fast-food industry and proven themselves adept line cooks. So then why aren’t they changing your oil?

The technology is available but implementing it is too damned expensive and slow. No machine yet qualifies as a “full-service” device, so centers would have to purchase multiple rigs and keep someone on staff to operate them — not exactly cost-effective. However, as those machines come down in price and gain in number, we’ll begin seeing them put into use more and more. Eventually, you’ll be returning to the servicing department to complain about a robot ruining your car instead of an inexperienced mechanic. But when? (Read More…)

By on March 16, 2017

Buick Grille Logo Emblem, Image: General Motors

J.D. Power and Associates continued its courtship of Buick and Lexus in its latest scorecard for consumer satisfaction with dealer service departments. While J.D. passes out awards around like a teacher giving PARTICIPANT ribbons at an elementary school science fair, its consumer index is a decent way to track automotive trends. In this instance, that trend is continued improvement of American manufacturers. Well, most of them.

Fiat Chrysler should sincerely consider making a large contribution to J.D. Power so it can get out of last place in literally every single category.

Meanwhile, General Motors is on its best behavior with a score of 807 out of 1,000, an improvement over last year by a full 10 points thanks to Buick taking top honors (860 points) and its other brands scoring substantially above the industry average. Buick was followed by Mini, GMC, Chevrolet and Nissan in the mass-market brand rankings. (Read More…)

By on December 19, 2016

engine generic

Ford Motor Company’s parts division, Motorcraft, has undergone a massive overhaul intended to improve dealer sales and reduce overhead costs. Executives from the Blue Oval spent much of 2016 focusing on how to boost the profitability of their dealers’ service centers and body shops while addressing concerns with the division.

Their solution involved expanding coverage on older model vehicles, expansive pricing reductions, and a monumental decrease in parts complexity — making for a leaner, more efficient Motorcraft. (Read More…)

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