By on June 17, 2019

Due to weakening new-vehicle sales, the United States was staring down the barrel of near-record inventories a couple of months ago. Encouraged by the factory to ensure their lots were filled with the latest wares, dealers have watched their margins evaporate as employees and customers drowned in the sea of metal parked out front.

While still uncomfortably high, U.S. inventories started creeping back down in May. By the end of the month, the number of vehicles waiting to be adopted fell below 4 million for the first time since the beginning of 2019.  (Find Out…)

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.” (Find Out…)

By on May 23, 2019

The last couple of weeks (and, um, stories) have been awash in negative press and bad vibes for Nissan. Fortunately, mother nature stepped in to help one Florida dealership restore the cosmic balance by having a family of ducks move in.

A few months ago, a nest of ducklings hatched outside Sutherlin Nissan Orlando. They decided to stick around, creating an interesting incentive for customers. While we doubt the company would implement new dealer conditions that mandate an on-site petting zoo, it could be a novel solution to its sales woes. After all, promoting dogs worked extremely well for Subaru. Maybe Nissan can become the duck brand.  (Find Out…)

By on May 10, 2019

When you give your car over to the dealership for repairs, you’re trusting them to fix it. You’re also trusting them not to take your pride and joy out for a Sunday drive so they can teach a co-worker how to drive stick. We figured this went without saying but last week showcasing exactly that.

A customer affected by Ford’s head gasket recall on the Focus RS had the good sense to install a dash cam before taking it into Hawk Ford of Oak Lawn, Illinois, resulting in eleven minutes of two men discussing all the odd noises the car makes as they clumsily pilot it around a residential area.

Despite the poor sound quality of the clip, some of those noises are audible and likely to cause minor physical comfort among highly sympathetic types. (Find Out…)

By on April 29, 2019

Unlike components used in new vehicle assembly, the finished product is not shipped to the customer in a just-in-time manner. There’s usually a healthy amount of dealer-ready vehicles on hand, though recent months has seen inventories slide into obesity. Extended downtime and shift cuts at assembly plants are one result of a bloated supply made worse by falling U.S. sales (Fiat Chrysler’s Windsor Assembly is just the latest victim), but autoworkers aren’t the only ones bearing the brunt.

Figures from the beginning of April shows the inventory problem is only getting worse, with pressure growing on the dealers tasked with selling these vehicles. (Find Out…)

By on April 11, 2019

Image: GM

A Chevrolet dealer in Chattanooga has a PR problem on its hands, and an FBI task force has a case to get to the bottom of.

Mountain View Chevrolet finds itself at the center of a bizarre story in which a disabled customer claims a salesman kidnapped him and threatened to kill him and his family if he didn’t withdraw large sums of cash from local banks. (Find Out…)

By on April 8, 2019

U.S. light-vehicle dealers reported an operating loss for the first time since the National Automobile Dealers Association (NADA) began collecting data in 2009. While everyone continues reporting pretax net profits, concerns are beginning to swell around their dependency on factory incentives, which are not included in operating tabulations.

NADA’s analysis of 2019’s first-quarter auto sales shows that incentive spending is down compared to the same period a year ago. The group expects above-average discipline from automakers in terms of incentive spending throughout the year. According to J.D. Power, average incentive spending per unit was down $119 to $3,821 through March 2019 — with the brunt of that going toward trucks. However, if sales remain low, spending may creep back up to help clear out languishing inventories.  (Find Out…)

By on March 25, 2019

Dealers got an early look at a prototype build of the upcoming Ford Bronco. Gathered in Palm Beach, FL at the behest of the automaker, dealers were asked to hand over their phones in order to avoid any leaks. Fortunately, their memories were sufficient in giving us a better idea as to what to expect come 2020.

While the event’s focus stayed on the Bronco and some of its more-interesting features, Ford also shared its plan to develop a family of off-road vehicles to complement the model. Introductory vehicles include the Bronco, its smaller counterpart, and a little unibody pickup to slot beneath the Ranger.  (Find Out…)

By on March 5, 2019

On Thursday, Tesla announced it will finally begin delivering the Model 3’s long-awaited base trim to the public through direct online sales. By eliminating storefronts, the automaker believes it can reduce costs — helping to get that pesky profit situation under control.

Unfortunately, reports have emerged that claim those employees had no idea their jobs were on the line. Meanwhile, the company’s share price took a hit in the wake of the announcement, causing its stock to drop significantly. Since last Thursday, more than $8 billion disappeared from Tesla’s market capitalization.  (Find Out…)

By on February 28, 2019

2017 Toyota Camry XLE side, Image: © 2017 Sajeev Mehta/Paardensex

Dearest TTAC readers,

I’ve come to know you incredibly well over the last seven years. I realize that what I’m about to tell you is somewhat akin to waving a dripping piece of red meat in front of a starving, caged tiger. But, like Bane, I am here for you, the people, and I’m willing to suffer abuse at your hands because the truth will ultimately set you free.

I also know that because much of my source material for this blog post was given to me anonymously and confidentially by one of the most influential dealers in the country, you’ll scream something like “I WANT TO SEE YOUR DATA,” but such is life, guys. I can’t show his numbers to you. I’ve substituted some data from the (the final 2018 report isn’t available just yet). You’ll see the correlation.

Now, let’s get into the meat waving bit, shall we. Breathe deeply, and jump in with me as I tell you this:

In 2019, car dealers are happier than ever to sell you a used car instead of a new one. This could make buying used a bad proposition. Here’s why.

(Find Out…)

By on February 19, 2019

When I was a lad, there were two family-owned and operated dealerships within walking distance of my home. Upon reaching driving age, one had already closed while the other began adding storefronts in different towns. It now has three locations, ensuring a meaty inheritance and lifelong job security for several members of my graduating class.

It’s the nature of the free market and a familiar story. According to an assessment from the National Automobile Dealers Association, singular showrooms have gone from 7,514 strong to just 4,904 between 2008 and 2018. That’s a 35-percent decline, whereas the number of dealers with 10 or more stores increased 62 percent over the same period.  (Find Out…)

By on February 14, 2019

Jaguar F-Pace 2.0TD - Image: Jaguar

Jaguar hopes U.S. buyers fling some woo its way this month, and it’s flinging bundles of cash at dealers to make it happen.

As the British brand is reportedly incentivizing its U.S. dealers to go above and beyond to break sales targets in the early part of 2018, savvy customers stand a good chance of finding a bargain. (Find Out…)

By on January 28, 2019

Last year, Ford announced its intent to develop a rewards program aimed at keeping customers engaged — while also making it worth their while to stick with the brand for their next purchase. While customer rewards are old hat, regardless of industry, automakers are busy devising new ways of using the venerable marketing theory to improve customer retention. It’s an urgent gambit, given today’s cooling market.

General Motors launched its “My GM Rewards” loyalty program in 2018, using a points-based system to reward customers who use OnStar’s new services, purchase a new vehicle, or service an older one. Those points can then be redeemed, knocking some cash off a subsequent GM purchase. Meanwhile, Honda previewed “Dream Drive” at the recent Consumer Electronics Show — a concept with its own redeemable points system (one that incorporates some potentially unsettling gamification within the app).

While Ford’s FordPass-based efforts appeared similar, it wasn’t until this month’s North American Dealers Association (NADA) meeting that the automaker was willing to flesh it out.  (Find Out…)

By on January 28, 2019

While the closing day of the 2019 National Automobile Dealers Association meetup revolved around charitable opportunities, engineering equality in the workplace, and a talk from author, pro golfer, and USAF veteran Major Dan Rooney on the merits of personal accountability, the rest of the event focused more directly on the auto industry.

One of the larger announcements came from Jack Hollis, general manager of Toyota North America’s Toyota division, who told dealers that his company intends to introduce 19 entirely new, redesigned, or refreshed vehicles over the next three years — focusing on utility models, but not ignoring cars. Toyota and Hollis are adamant that the brand can take advantage of other manufacturers abandoning sedan sales by both keeping them in its roster and continuing to improve them. Still, they acknowledge that SUVs and crossovers are essential in wrangling today’s buyers.

The secret, according to Toyota, is having a diverse lineup. However, pure electrics (and maybe minivans) don’t make the list, at least until sales data makes a better case for them.  (Find Out…)

By on January 25, 2019

Cox Automotive, in conjunction with Automotive News, just released its Retail Brand Scorecards Study for 2018. The survey is interesting in that it ranks the perceived value of automakers by assessing how desirable they are to dealerships via an A-through-F grading system. Though, as engaging as it might be to look at these traits from a highly specific viewpoint (how dealerships see you in relation to specific manufacturers), we’re not sure how useful the average consumer will find them. Dealers and industry geeks, however, may want to take notice.

“This study represents a comprehensive review of brands from a unique perspective — how well they support the success of dealers,” said Cox Automotive Chief Economist Jonathan Smoke. “As we assembled the data and began to see how the brands performed differently, we started looking at the results as grades in high school, where the most well-rounded and high-achieving students are those who perform well across a wide range of disciplines. With that scorecard framework, we found a clear set of brands that are honor-roll worthy, as they are in essence the hardest-working, most successful students.”  (Find Out…)

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