AutoGuide News Blog
The AutoGuide News Blog is your source for breaking stories from the auto industry. Delivering news immediately, the AutoGuide Blog is constantly updated with the latest information, photos and video from manufacturers, auto shows, the aftermarket and professional racing.
Ask AutoGuide No. 42
Apparently family values matter. Conservative politicians tap-dance around these issues, pundits prognosticate about their demise and segments of the driving population make them a central issue when it’s time to purchase a new vehicle. Not surprisingly they play a starring role in this week’s installment of Ask AutoGuide.
Suzuki of Wichita is switching brands rather than shutting down in light of the Japanese brand pulling out of the U.S. market.
Once upon a time the automotive market was radically different. Just a few decades ago things were much simpler for consumers than they are today. Unless they’re shopping for a new Tesla, buyers face a borderline-absurd number of choices when they walk into a typical dealer showroom. This is why we’re here. Ask AutoGuide’s expertly trained, nationally certified Oracles are ready, willing and usually able to help new-car shoppers in distress. Think of them as caped crusaders fighting for what’s right… as long as they don’t have to get up from their desks or change out of their Velcro Hush Puppies.
Dealers may be in for an arduous summer as Japan’s auto parts shortage is on track to choke off new vehicle deliveries for months, with dealers potentially receiving no new vehicles until September.
The best case scenario will be a resumption of production on May 9th, after Japan’s traditional holiday break. But manufacturers are still unable to comment due to the unstable nature Japan’s auto industry, which is still reeling from the natural disasters that rocked the country in March.
“We are currently planning North American production for next month based on parts availability, so we are not yet ready to project our situation,” Mike Goss, a spokesman for Toyota Motor Engineering & Manufacturing North America told Automotive News. “We are planning the best we can, but everything depends upon parts. It’s a very fluid situation, changing daily.” The paper reports that Toyota will continue Japanese production at 50 percent capacity, and reassess the situation after June 6th.
Nissan declined to publicly comment, but told dealers that it will only receive 7,500 vehicles from Japan and Mexico in May, down from the usual 40,000. Dealers are beginning to fret over inventory levels, which will only take them through the end of May. Honda, as well as Toyota dealers are reporting similarly reduced numbers, while even General Motors is said to be producing and allocating vehicles in a conservative manner, due to uncertainty over parts supplies and the overall marketplace.
[Source: Automotive News]
With its Lincoln luxury brand currently facing tumultuous times, parent company Ford has created a new internal division to help bring Lincoln back up to speed, after a period where the brand lacked resources needed to compete.
Ford has set aside a staff of 85 to help work on various aspects of the Lincoln brand, including marketing, product development and dealer outreach. Half of the personnel have come from Ford while the other half have come from competitor brands like Cadillac and Audi.
Lincoln is expected to hold its dealer meeting around April 18th, and while the brand is expected to show future products like the 2013 MKZ sedan, other questions, like Ford’s plan to axe a number of dealers, and force others to invest heavily in showroom upgrades, will likely surface. Ford has committed to launching several new products and has given Lincoln a budget of $100 million for advertising this year.
[Source: Automotive News]
Fiat said in September, 2010 that it wanted to see their dealerships open by the end of February, but only 30 to 40 franchises will have their facilities open by mid-March. At this rate, 130 of the dealerships should be running by September, 2011. With that said, dealers are only expected to get their inventory sometime towards the end of March. Fiat USA head Laura Soave stated that Fiat was “…a tiny bit behind schedule”, and we applaud her diplomatic way of framing the issue.
[Source: Automotive News]
Any time a hot new car is released, the inevitable race to squeeze every last dollar from consumers starts almost immediately, and the Chevrolet Volt is no exception.
With supply extremely limited and demand strong, Chevrolet dealers seem to be taking advantage of market conditions. An investigation found that prices ranged from $46,923 in Michigan to a whopping $65,590 in Florida. Since dealers are independent franchises, they’re technically free to set whatever prices they want, and the Manufacturers Suggested Retail Price is just that.
Ford‘s quest to trim the fat from Lincoln‘s dealer network continues as the company aims to cut another 100 dealers in what it calls “major markets”, from 500 to 325. So far the brand is down to 434 as for December 31, 2010.
With more roughly 4 times as many stores as other luxury brands and an average buyer age of over 60, Lincoln feels that their current level of 1,200 outlets is unsustainable in the current economy. Ford is offering buyout packages to dealers as an incentive to walk away from their Lincoln franchise. Ford is hoping to complete the process by year end, while introducing 7 new or revised products over the next three years.
Lincoln sales were down 21 percent in January, but the brand saw its market share increase by 5.6 percent.
[Source: The Detroit News]
The last time McLarens were sold in North America (not counting the Mercedes McLaren SLR, of course), a company called Ameritech was importing the McLaren F1 on the sly.
For the launch of their new MP4-12C supercar, McLaren is going all out. As the rendering shows, the new showrooms will be ultra-modern, stark affairs designed to appeal to the wealthy, sophisticated clientele who are apt to buy a McLaren over a nameplate that will impress the opposite sex.
The first six locations announced are Auto Gallery in Beverly Hills, CA, Park Place in Dallas, TX, Miller Motorcars in Greenwich, CT, Price Family Dealerships in San Francisco, CA, Lake Forest Sportscars of Chicago, IL and Dew Luxury Motor Cars in Tampa Bay, FL. McLaren is expected to announce their representatives in Philadelphia, Orange County, Toronto and Miami shortly. Despite the expected price tag of between $225,000 and $250,000, the cars should have no trouble finding owners in these markets which are chock full of finance types, professional athletes and inherited money.