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.
So Long, Summer
Like memories of band camp August is dead and buried. Regrettably the eighth month of the year didn’t go quietly; it took summer down with it. Sure, the season’s not officially over but we’re too emotionally devastated about the loss to care. At least new-vehicle sales in the U.S. were strong.
Considering a pre-owned vehicle instead of a brand-new model? Going used is generally a good idea but you may want to think twice about the decision because prices are creeping upward.
Welcome to 2014! Apparently in Chinese Astrology it’s the year of the “wood horse” but let’s hope this timber pony can canter away and carry the auto industry to continuing sales success. Which brands drove away with buckets of cash and which ones took a tumble down the stairs? Let’s take a peek at last month’s showroom winners and losers.
Overall the market took a small slide in 2014’s first month. January’s inhospitable weather likely kept shoppers at home huddled in front of their heat registers instead of out and about shopping for cars. Compared to the same time period in 2013, new-vehicle deliveries declined three percent to a little more than one million units.
Sales moved in the wrong direction, though fortunately the decline wasn’t severe. Still, a number of automakers did post some welcome gains, though these were offset by others that dropped.
Everyone has an interesting dealership experience, usually involving a stressful and pushy salesperson. GM is thinking of changing the way dealerships treat customers with its new “Shop, Click, Drive” Online shopping tools.
We live in a digital world. For many new-car shoppers megabytes and gigahertz are just as important as horsepower and fuel economy. To members of the younger demographic chips are made of silicon, not potatoes, and ram has nothing to do with trucks. But what about the rest of us? To help customers understand the high-tech features of their cars, every Lexus dealer is staffed with dedicated experts that are at the ready to answer any questions a buyer may have about their vehicle.
It’s been four months since the Lincoln MKZ midsize sedan was supposed to arrive at dealerships around the country.
That’s finally the case according to Ford marketing executive Jim Farley, who made the statement today during a conference call with reporters. Ford said it has shipped 11,000 units of the MKZ to dealers since production began in December, 2012 and that it expects to have sold over 4,000 in April.
The failed launch turned nightmarish saga began in the maker’s Hermosillo, Mexico manufacturing plant where MKZs leaving the assembly line were met with quality concerns.
Those models were then diverted to another plant in Flat Rock Mich. where the flaws were addressed, but it was too late to save the car’s planned launch. Required fixes created an accordion effect and before long, customers who placed pre-orders were left banging their forks and knives on the dinner table — literally.
In an attempt to salvage customer relationships, Lincoln offered to buy irked consumers a night out on the town in the form of $100 gift certificates.
With all that past, the brand is hoping things will smooth over.
“Although we’re encouraged, we’re far from victory,” Farley said.
To discuss the Lincoln MKZ, please visit our Lincoln MKZ Forum
[Source: The Detroit News]
The same new design language and platform pulling the Mazda6 and CX-5 out of automotive doldrums will likely make it to the compact Mazda3 by this fall according to a new report.
Things are looking up for automakers in the United States. All told sales topped 1.1 million new cars and trucks in November. That’s nearly a 15 percent increase compared to the same month in 2011. Year-to-date sales eclipsed 13 million units, an improvement of almost 14 percent compared to the same time period last year.
The National Automobile Dealers Association (NADA) is tackling two contentious issues facing new car dealers in the U.S. today: two-tier pricing programs and mandatory facility upgrades.
The latest detail in what’s become a sad saga of failure has to do with dealerships and their reaction to being caught in the fallout. It’s probably easy to forget, but if an automaker goes belly-up, the folks who made a living pedaling their products have to find a new source or go home.
That’s exactly what’s happening with many of the 900 Saab dealers worldwide who are either giving up the ghost or getting creative to stay in business.
Depending on their plans for the company, anyone trying to resurrect the defunct brand may find a dealer exodus too great a burden to overcome.
Without a conduit to sell cars, there is very little an automaker can do to bring their vehicles to market. Given this development, there is only one realistic business option: a company absorbing Saab purely to own their patents and to adopt their engineering.
If that were the case, we could start seeing Saab drivetrains and tech popping up in other cars around the world.
Brand names changing hands isn’t uncommon in the automotive world, Fiat now owns Chrysler and Ferrari, Volkswagen is the master puppeteer behind a myriad of companies including Porsche and Lamborghini and the automotive smorgasbord is hardly finished.
That said, we’re anticipating Saab will continue its slow somersault into the scrap bin with fewer hands reaching to catch their fall as the months wear on.
[Source: the Detroit News]
General Motors has probably put more effort in the Chevrolet Volt project than in any other car they have produced in recent times, and they are adamant about turning it into a success.
The goal is simple, to sell 10,000 Volts this year alone. Till the end of October, GM has sold just 5,003 Volts, so they have a big task ahead of them to reach their goals in just two-months time.
One way GM will get closer to this goal is by allowing its dealers to finally sell their Volt demo vehicles. At launch, GM had mandated that all its Volt dealers would have at least one Volt on hand as a demo, to educate customers on this new product. Now the dealers are allowed to sell everything they got, including the demos. This opens up about 2300 – Volts across the nation.
According to GM spokesman Tom Henderson, 72% of customers who would like to buy a Volt were turned off by the lack of availability. Perhaps these extra demo units will put more people into the driving seat of this innovative new car.
[Source: Automotive News]
Dealers and their automakers have some good news recently: they are getting the highest transaction prices in 15 years, according to a new report.
CNW Research has crunched the numbers and found that early sales in April were selling at 87 percent of the manufacturer’s suggested retail price, and a reduction in haggling. ”Dealers are the primary beneficiary of these dwindling discounts since they are using fewer of their own dollars to close a deal than was necessary just a few years ago,” said CNW.
With the supply of new cars dwindling, dealers are able to squeeze better prices for themselves: discounts from MSRP from early April were around 13%, down from 23% when the American auto market hit a 27-year low in 2009. Great news for salesmen, but consumers looking at smaller, fuel-efficient cars are going to have to try harder to fulfill their own supply and demand.
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]
With 200 of Lincoln‘s 1200 dealers staring down a possible termination of their franchise, an upcoming dealer meeting will provide little comfort to retailers of Ford’s luxury brand, as the Blue Oval will not share upcoming product details with Lincoln’s sales force.
Even though Ford is aggressively targeting Lincoln dealers with a demand for a $2 million showroom renovation program, the company hasn’t given much information on the 7 products expected to debut over the next few years that are supposed to reinvigorate the Lincoln brand.
Chrysler‘s first dealer meeting in years will kick off today in Orlando as the company shows off 15 new or improved products slated to roll out within four years.
The onslaught comes as Chrysler went through an unprecedented period of product development grinding to a halt, as the company’s lack of cash meant that resources were almost non-existent. Among the products dealers will see are the new Chrysler 300 and Dodge Charger, the Dodge Durango and a revised Jeep lineup.
In addition to the new domestic product, Chrysler is also planning on having a Fiat sales network implemented by February of 2011 Dealers must submit a detailed proposal, and franchisees will be handy picked based on the strength of their proposal, and the sales potential for a small, imported car.
Hyundai has pledged to donate $100,000 each to 68 hospitals and non profit organizations to help fight pediatric cancer. Dealers will contribute $200 from each vehicle sale to the cause, and most of the financing is said to be arriving in this way.
The program, known as Hyundai Hope on Wheels will oversee the distribution of the nearly $ 7 million to the various charities. ”While we’ve made progress over the last few decades and now have an 85 percent cure rate, cancer still takes more lives than any other childhood disease,” said Hyundai Motor America President and CEO John Krafcik. “This September, in support of Childhood Cancer Awareness Month, Hyundai will shine a nationwide spotlight on this cause and provide more than $6 million in grants for pediatric cancer research and support programs. We love taking on big challenges at Hyundai, and we can think of no more worthy challenge than finding a cure for all forms of pediatric cancer.”
Hope on Wheels will have donated close to $23 million by year’s end,
Hit the jump to see the official press release
Livonia Chrysler Jeep Inc, a Metro Detroit dealership that was reinstated after arbitration proceedings with Chrysler in July has now decided to sue the company, claiming a loss of rights under franchise law. The dispute centers around nearby Crestwood Dodge, which was given a Chrysler-Jeep franchise after Livonia’s was terminated and did not have one before. The suit has also been filed against Crestwood Dodge.
Colleen MacDonald, who owns Livonia Chrysler, says that the automaker’s letter of intent, dated August 12, does not return the sales and service agreement that it gave to Crestwood Dodge, after Livonia’s termination and that the law requires Chrysler to reinstate the Livonia dealership to the same position it was prior to the franchise agreement being terminated. MacDonald has decided to interpret the “same position” statement as one whereby her dealership is the only Chrysler-Jeep dealer in the area – which is no longer the case.
MacDonald also operated another Chrysler Dealership; Century Dodge based in Taylor; Michigan, but lost a bid to have that franchise reinstated.
[Source: Automotive News]