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.
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]
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.
Dealerships across Colorado are stepping up to help the victims of this summer’s wildfires and recent massacre.
A swath of GM dealers chose to bet the farm in the hope of keeping their franchises amid the automaker’s massive 2009 restructuring, but that decision is turning out to be a bad one for at least eight locations.
Social media is a great way to keep in contact with friends, family and share baby photos with one another, but it can also be used for finding a favorable car dealership. Thats according to a new study released just on the eve of Facebook’s IPO.
Taken from a security camera at what looks like a Russian Nissan dealership, a crazed person (not sure if he was a disgruntled customer or just a destruction enthusiast) rams his vehicle into the showroom, wrecking the whole place.
This clearly was no accident as the driver made several charges to destroy anything he could hit. Despite extensive damage to the attackers vehicle, he carries on with no regard until he has destroyed almost the whole showroom floor.
Not much information is available regarding this clip, but you can watch the destruction below:
Regular vehicle maintenance can often be a tricky subject, both from a customer and dealer perspective. Delayed scheduling and lack of routine servicing can often cause problems down the road for the former, while it can eat into profits for the latter.
In an attempt to rectify the problem, BMW North America is embarking on a plan to make better use of its onboard vehicle diagnostic system. Known as TeleService, the system is designed to automatically diagnose potential vehicle problems or maintenance requirements and then trigger a request for service to the automaker.
BMW then forwards the request onto the dealership closest to the owner of the vehicle, which can then follow up with the customer and make the scheduled appointment.
However, despite being an effective system in theory, in practice it has proved harder to implement, with some dealers simply not responding to follow ups. In order to improve the situation, BMW has said it plans to take a number of steps. These include introducing a program that helps assist dealers who could make more service appointments using TeleService, sending out BMW staff to under performing retailers to help train employees to better use the system, improving communication channels to make it easier for dealers to schedule appointments as well as providing greater awareness to BMW customers via direct marketing.
At present, according to BMW NA Aftersales Systems manager Tom Black, the company has some 800,000 vehicles on the road using the TeleService system and last year, corporately handled some 938,000 individual automated service requests, so the potential for generating business and improving customer satisfaction is significant.
[Source: Auto News]
Shopping for a car has always been harder for a woman. You’re always concerned you’re going to be taken advantage of or talked down to, just because you’re female. Bringing a male friend or husband to a dealership is standard practice – and when you think about it, it’s just plain unfortunate that women still feel the need to do this.
But ladies, you’ll be happy to know that times they are a-changin’. Thanks to auto manufacturers, retail trade groups and fed up women, the word is getting out as to which dealerships are more inclined to treat women like intelligent consumers. Using social media and word-of-mouth, women are talking about which dealerships to shop at and which ones to avoid.
The proof comes from a study published by WomenCertified that says that women account for 51 percent of the cars purchased in the U.S. and influence 96 percent of sales. The study focuses on what women car buyers want when shopping for a new vehicle, and the results found that just as important as buying experience is the way women are treated during the process. It turns out that during the service experience is when women face the harshest treatment.
So what makes a dealership “women friendly?” According to WomenCertified, the best dealers show “a genuine concern for the customer,” and offer a “nuance of hospitality” in everything they do. These dealers listen to women and understand the specific needs of the customer.
As well, the survey found that women are more likely to return to the dealership if they are happy. They will not only come back the next time they need a new car, but also to take care of service and other car needs.
You can see the list of the top woman-friendly dealerships after the jump.
[Source: The Detroit Bureau]
Who would have thought that in an era where the government is mandating increasingly stringent fuel consumption guidelines, used SUVs would be a hot commodity.
Believe it or not, that’s the case, or at least it probably will be very soon. The number of three-year-old SUVs being returned from lease has dwindled from about 2,500 per month last year to a tiny 200 per month in 2011 according to the National Automotive Dealers Association. The trouble is, in 2008 almost nobody was lining up to buy a new SUV, and those who would have couldn’t get loans because every major financial institution was suffering.
Fast-forward to the end of 2011 and we’re starting to see the residual effects of that purchasing lull. There wasn’t really anybody leasing new SUVs, so now nobody is returning them, meaning dealers are scrambling to stock up for the winter season.
“I think we will feel the impact of this in late January due to the time it takes to process, sell and market the lease turn-ins,” Jake Moore, general manager of Country Chevrolet, in Warrenton, Va. said to MSNBC.
While the short supply is a bad sign for someone looking to buy an ’08, the lucky few who have them can probably broker a nie deal for a brand new model.
Starting today, through January 3, 2012 you can feel especially good about buying or leasing a new Subaru.The company kicks off their fourth annual Share the Love event that lasts 46 days and promises to raise as much as $5 million in charitable donations.
The company will donate $250 for every new sold or leased car off their lots to one of the following five charities: American Forests, The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, the Make-A-Wish Foundation, the Meals On Wheels Association of America, or the Special Olympics.
Subaru says they will also give an additional $250,000 to the five charities based on votes collected via Facebook. Each user may vote to allocate one dollar and share the experience with friends to promote more voting.
Their $5 million mark might actually get reached considering the past three events raised almost $15 million in total. Subaru also has more than 600 dealerships across the U.S., which translates into each dealership selling or leasing at least 34 cars before the deadline.
Buying a new car takes time. And you’d think with all the resources at our disposal, thanks to the Internet, the process would be a lot speedier. But new research out says the opposite is true.
According to market research presented at the J.D. Power and Associates 2011 Automotive Internet Roundtable, the World Wide Web does make us better informed, but it slows us down when it comes time to buying a car. Basically, it’s not making us decisive shoppers.
The research gathered shows that more than 80 percent of U.S. new-car buyers use the Internet to shop and research before going to the dealership. While on the web, online car shoppers take longer to make a decision regarding what car to buy because they’ve gathered so much information.
And dealerships aren’t helping to speed up shopping by responding slowly to Internet requests. This research shows that 95 percent of dealers respond to lead inquiries within 24 hours, and only 33 percent respond within one hour.
Breaking it down into demographics, younger car shoppers use the Internet more often to shop and research, but older shoppers are more likely to submit online leads.
Also interesting is the fact that third-party car sites are used extensively throughout the buying process, as they come in handy for vehicle-inventory searches. Other tools that car shoppers are using include build-a-vehicle configurators (31 percent), dealer locators (25 percent) and deal offers (25 percent). And with the popularity of online videos, 63 percent of shoppers say they were more interested in a vehicle after seeing a video of it.
[Source: Wards Auto]
We’ve all heard the horror stories about women who take their cars into a mechanic to fix a minor problem, only to be charged outrageous fees for non-existent or small issues. A national news program went undercover to get the scoop. After placing hidden cameras at several dealerships, the show’s decoy was overcharged for service work.
The MSNBC “Today” show sent a producer with a functional, out-of-warranty 2007 Jeep Grand Cherokee to five New York-area Jeep dealerships. Before sending her on her way, the network hired a mechanic to install a faulty air conditioning relay, so warm air would blow out of the unit. This problem would cost you about $100 to fix.
When the producer took her Jeep to four of the five garages, mechanics found the faulty relay, but they tacked on extra services to the bill. When the show interviewed third party repair experts, they said these extra services were considered unnecessary. At one dealership, the producer was told her air conditioning compressor had blown up and it would cost $2,000 to fix.
But hopefully some good will come from this news segment – Chrysler spokesman Gualberto Ranieri issued a statement to MSNBC: “I can assure you that we are investigating this case.”
[Source: Automotive News]
When it opened last year Chrysler‘s Motor Village, located in downtown Los Angeles, made quite the impression, though not entirely a good one.
The corporate owned store was created by shutting down a franchise dealer, which caused quite an upset among local Chrysler dealers who argued that the company breached state franchise laws which bar it from opening up and running a store within 10 miles of other dealers.
Now after almost a year, the Auburn Hills, Michigan based automaker plans to sell Motor Village to New Century Automotive Group, after a constant stream of complaints from local auto retailers.
North Hollywood based New Century is owned by Dennis Lin, a successful Southern California car dealer who operates multiple import brand stores in the region.
As part of the agreement, Chrysler will retain ownership of the land and buildings, through its realty division, though New Century will own the franchise rights and inventory.
“I really think that Chrysler Group and Fiat are a great marriage,” stated Lin during a recent press statement. “We have Fiats now and more coming in the near future. I’m excited about the new and improved Chrysler, Jeep, Dodge, and Ram products that were launched this year, and the new product coming out now for 2012. I’m very comfortable adding Chrysler Group and Fiat to the product lines I already sell.”
Part of the reason New Century was attracted to Motor Village, was not only the downtown LA location, but also the way the facility is set up, with individual sections for each vehicle brand, as well as it’s loft appearance, which provides a somewhat intimate, sophisticated ambiance, distinctly different from most modern dealerships.
[Source: Left Lane News]
The rejuvenation of Lincoln doesn’t just begin with Roger Sterling. Ford has ordered its Lincoln dealers to spend at least $1 million per dealer to keep up with contemporary luxury trends, or get the hell out of the way.
Lincoln’s rebuilding begins now, said Alan Mulally to 120 Lincoln dealers at a meeting in Detroit last week. Ford expects its dealers to spend at least $1 million on renovating their showrooms, and double that if it’s a Ford-Lincoln combination (and to pour one out for dearly-departed Mercury). If dealers don’t follow through with the renovations, Ford reserves the right to revoke their franchises.
“We talked about the product and the experience and our commitment to make Lincoln a world-class luxury brand,” said Christian Bokich, Lincoln spokesman. “We have seven new or significantly refreshed vehicles coming out in the next three years.”
Ford wants its dealer renovations ready by the end of next year, just in time for a new MKZ sedan and a Focus-based luxury crossover. Ford currently has 1,100 Lincoln dealerships in America, but the majority of dealers targeted are based in urban markets.
[Source: Automotive News]