Blogs

Spending billions but coming up short on the trust scale

Posted 9:00 am U.S. ET, Jan. 25
blogs Krishnan Anantharaman is a news editor for Automotive News in Detroit.
 
SAN FRANCISCO -- Auto dealers are pillars of their communities. They sponsor Little League teams. They fund scholarships for disadvantaged children. They donate vehicles to first responders. They pay their taxes and fly big flags. So why do so many consumers drive out of dealerships feeling uneasy -- even if they got the car they wanted at roughly the price they wanted? What explains the fact tha ...
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Lengthening loan terms get brokers', banks' attention

Posted 12:01 am U.S. ET, Jan. 24
blogs Richard Johnson is print editor of Automotive News.
 
The best handicappers of the U.S. market may be the folks lining up to buy dealerships. They place bets in the form of the multiples of earnings they're prepared to pay for stores. "The goodwill numbers people are willing to pay have probably peaked," says broker Mark Johnson. "If you buy a store, you want to be able to forecast growth. That's how you get the multiple to work for you." You'll of ...
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Could a Super Bowl loss deflate car sales in New England or Seattle?

Posted 4:45 pm U.S. ET, Jan. 24
blogs Nick Bunkley reports on Ford for Automotive News.
 
SAN FRANCISCO -- Cars are emotional purchases for consumers. A Wisconsin dealer told me he got clear evidence of that this week, after the Green Bay Packers were eliminated from the NFL playoffs is heartbreaking fashion. Until then, sales had been going well at Rapids Ford-Lincoln, owner Allen Taylor said. "We were just clicking away all month," he said. Then, the Packers inexplicably blew a 16- ...
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Sometimes success comes from a loving push

Posted 12:00 pm U.S. ET, Jan. 24
blogs Lindsay Chappell is the Mid-South bureau chief in the U.S. for Automotive News.
 
SAN FRANCISCO -- A few months ago, I interviewed a West Virginia car dealer named Mike Wood. You might have caught the article we ran in Automotive News. Wood struck me as a dynamo. He is building a dealership group the old-fashioned way -- long hours. Wearing many hats. Doing without. Getting by on too little sleep. Praying for good weather. Celebrating every little move forward. Buying underper ...
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North of U.S. border, big dealer groups emerge on 2 fronts

Posted 11:00 am U.S. ET, Jan. 24
blogs Dave Versical is Automotive News' director of editorial operations.
 
SAN FRANCISCO -- Canada and the United States. Neighbors, yet worlds apart by some automotive yard-, er, metre sticks. The U.S. typically sells 10 times as many vehicles as Canada. GM has long been No. 1 in its home country; Ford rules to the north. But Canada is looking more like the U.S. in one area: Dealer groups are getting bigger. “Consolidation is happening in our country,” sa ...
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Money's cheap, so here come the store upgrades

Posted 9:30 am U.S. ET, Jan. 24
blogs Dave Guilford is a news editor at Automotive News.
 
SAN FRANCISCO -- One of the better indicators of the health of a business is its willingness -- and ability -- to make capital expenditures. By that measure, auto retailers are doing well. There’s all the activity at the Moscone Center's multiple halls during NADA 2015, of course. But Chip and Brent Wampler, partners in Custom Facilities of Cincinnati, have an especially clear view of deal ...
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Where are you spending your dollars on digital?

Posted 5:00 pm U.S. ET, Jan. 23
blogs James B. Treece is a News Editor at Automotive News.
 
SAN FRANCISCO -- The impact of digital tools on dealerships’ marketing has grown exponentially. Those tools have been a hot topic at the last few NADA conventions. But it may be time for the focus to shift. “Digital marketing has left the building,” Scott Gruwell, general manager of Courtesy Chevrolet in Phoenix, told me on the sidelines of an automotive lenders conference. &ldq ...
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NADA, Tesla, pitchforks and torches -- a missed opportunity

Posted 1:00 am U.S. ET, Jan. 23
blogs
Elon Musk drew a huge crowd last week in Detroit, when he spoke at the 2015 Automotive News World Congress. (GLENN TRIEST)
NICK BUNKLEY:  SAN FRANCISCO -- Jeb Bush and Jay Leno are the keynote speakers at this weekend’s NADA convention, which is great, because car dealers tend to love Republicans and bad jokes. If there’s one thing many car dealers can’t stand right now, it’s Tesla. Yet here they are, thousands of them, spending a few days right in Elon Musk’s backyard. It’s hard to have a dealer ...
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Building a new fortress to protect data

Posted 2:00 pm U.S. ET, Jan. 23
blogs James B. Treece is a News Editor at Automotive News.
 
SAN FRANCISCO -- It may be too late to be paranoid. When it comes to protecting sensitive data against hackers, the days of building thick digital walls and moat are over, said Boulton Fernando, chief security officer at Toyota Financial Services. We should assume the hackers are already inside our preliminary defenses, he said. Now it’s about moving the crown jewels into a safe inside a c ...
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Toyota channels Muhammad Ali for Camry Super Bowl spot

Posted 1:59 pm U.S. ET, Jan. 23
blogs
The spot features Amy Purdy, who snowboards, jogs and dances on prosthetic legs.
VINCE BOND JR.:  Toyota channels boxing legend Muhammad Ali in its Camry Super Bowl spot about overcoming obstacles. Paralympic snowboarder Amy Purdy, who knows all about challenges as a double amputee, stars in this motivational ad featuring a classic Ali poem. Ad agency Saatchi LA produced the spot. “How Great I Am” was originally slated to run pre-game, but Toyota confirmed today that it will now ...
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The other side of the digital ad craze

Posted 7:15 am U.S. ET, Jan. 23
blogs Lindsay Chappell is the Mid-South bureau chief in the U.S. for Automotive News.
 
SAN FRANCISCO -- Car dealers will be deluged with talk of digital advertising this week at the National Automobile Dealers Association’s annual convention here Digital ad spending by dealers will increase 25 percent this year, according to a recent forecast by market watchers Borrell Associates. But ad agency owner Terry Lancaster has some different advice for retailers: Don’t be so ...
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Low gas prices - the good ... and bad for dealers

Posted 8:25 pm U.S. ET, Jan. 23
blogs Richard Johnson is print editor of Automotive News.
 
A lot of auto people can't seem to make up their minds about whether low gasoline prices are in the long-term best interest of the car industry, given that they may not be in the best interest of the economy at large.But none of those people are dealers, it seems. Just ask the dealers at the Moscone Center."It sure doesn't hurt," said Steve Germain, CEO of Germain Motor Co. in Columbus, Ohio. "For ...
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Navigating the great digital divide

Posted 3:30 pm U.S. ET, Jan. 23
blogs
AutoNation CEO Mike Jackson says that most customers don't want a fully digital deal in which their vehicle is delivered to their home or office. They want to come into a store, look the car over, maybe even change their minds. (DAVID PHILLIPS)
DAVE GUILFORD:  SAN FRANCISCO -- The data vs. the gut. As auto dealers gather for the NADA convention here in the heart of the United States’ disruptive, digital culture, it’s clear that they have to navigate between those two styles of management. Again and again, speakers at the Automotive News Retail Forum on Thursday explained how they were adapting to the shopping styles of modern consumers, ma ...
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Fox, incoming chair, stumbles and takes on look of a prizefighter

Posted 2:01 pm U.S. ET, Jan. 22
blogs Jim Henry is a special correspondent for Automotive News.
 
SAN FRANCISCO -- Bill Fox, incoming NADA chairman, tripped and fell in San Francisco earlier this week, requiring five stitches in his chin and three trips to the dentist so far for repairs, according to outgoing NADA Chairman Forrest McConnnell. McConnell subbed for Fox in a presentation Thursday at the American Financial Services Association Vehicle Finance Conference. ...
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Why Jeep executives might be praying for more snow days

Posted 1:48 pm U.S. ET, Jan. 22
blogs Larry P. Vellequette covers FCA for Automotive News.
 
SAN FRANCISCO -- There are six basic questions that journalists use to write and explain what’s going on around us. They’re expressed very simply, but on occasion, incredibly hard to answer. Who? What? Where? When? Why? And How? And when you think about Jeep -- specifically the brand that tallied over 1 million global sales in 2014, including 692,348 sales in the U.S. -- most of thos ...
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Industry's rising chorus: Timing is everything

Posted 6:27 pm U.S. ET, Jan. 22
blogs Dave Versical is Automotive News' director of editorial operations.
 
Dealers spoke. NADA listened. So this year’s convention started a day earlier, to get you home for the entire last-week-of-the-month sales push. That nod to time is a rising industry issue. We hear a lot about the 60-minute transaction. The thinking: Impatient millennials will be drawn to stores that can close a deal on a $30,000 car in just twice the time Domino’s delivers a pizza. ...
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Luddites? Really?

Posted 12:01 am U.S. ET, Jan. 22
blogs James B. Treece is a News Editor at Automotive News.
 
Maybe you saw this: Four states received a “Luddite Award” from a Washington, D.C., think tank for laws preventing Tesla from opening its own stores. The four -- Arizona, Michigan, New Jersey and Texas -- collectively were one of 10 organizations or individuals that got the dubious award for having “done the most in 2014 to smash the engines of innovation,” the Information ...
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Farewell to an auto PR legend

Posted 8:17 am U.S. ET, Jan. 21
blogs
One of Tom Kowaleski's greatest hits: Having Bob Lutz crash a Jeep Grand Cherokee through a plate-glass window at Cobo Hall during the 1992 Detroit auto show.
LUCA CIFERRI:  Nothing was impossible for automotive PR man Tom Kowaleski, who died Tuesday at age 63. Whether it was invading a beloved Italian landmark or literally crashing into the Detroit auto show, Tom dared to do it. I was there in the early 1990s when a photographer asked Tom whether it would be possible to take a picture of the first-generation Dodge Viper in front of Milan’s famous Duomo cathedr ...
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Why VW is closer than ever to global No. 1

Posted 5:26 am U.S. ET, Jan. 21
blogs Douglas A. Bolduc is Managing Editor at Automotive News Europe.
 
Volkswagen Group has reason to celebrate after Toyota seemingly conceded the title of world’s largest automaker to its German rival 21 days into the new year. Toyota said today it expects its sales to slump 1 percent to 10.15 million in the current calendar year because of slowing demand in Japan and emerging markets. If that happens and VW manages a slight increase on the record 10.14 mil ...
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The lesson of the pizza delivery man

Posted 11:00 am U.S. ET, Jan. 21
blogs Jim Henry is a special correspondent for Automotive News.
 
Here’s a lesson for dealerships that run security cameras in the F&I office and elsewhere: Treat all store visitors well. A used-car dealership outside New Bedford, Mass. probably regrets -- an assumption, because the store’s not answering the phone -- chiseling a pizza delivery guy out of a tip, an episode captured on security cameras that somehow made its way onto social media l ...
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Why tomorrow's sports cars will have mixed pedigree

Posted 11:00 am U.S. ET, Jan. 20
blogs
The 2016 Mazda MX-5 Miata.
RICHARD TRUETT:  DETROIT -- I’m at the North American International Auto Show sitting in the snug, black leather driver’s seat of the next-generation Mazda MX-5 Miata -- the top-selling, two-seat convertible sports car of all time. First, I can tell you the MX-5 Miata looks better in the flesh than it does in pictures. The photos I’ve seen make the car look like one of those angry kitchen applia ...
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Why Marchionne's Wrangler conundrum will require creativity

Posted 12:22 pm U.S. ET, Jan. 19
blogs
Sergio Marchionne on the productivity of the Toledo Jeep workers: "People that do stuff like this deserve something different.” (GLENN TRIEST)
LARRY P. VELLEQUETTE:  I truly believe that Fiat Chrysler Automobiles CEO Sergio Marchionne would prefer to write a big check and keep the next generation Jeep Wrangler in its historic home in Toledo, Ohio. The problem? There’s not much wiggle room right now in the corporate checking account. One brand -- Alfa Romeo -- is in the early stages of a $6 billion makeover to get back in the game and start contributing ...
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Acura exec drops the chalupa, runs for the border

Posted 8:00 am U.S. ET, Jan. 19
blogs
Mike Accavitti, right, general manager of the Acura division: "I wasn't even hungry. I saw a Taco Bell ad, and gee, I wanted to go to Taco Bell now." (JOE WILSSENS)
HANS GREIMEL:  TOKYO -- Acura boss Mike Accavitti let a case of the Mexican munchies get the better of him when he conceded Taco Bell was a source of marketing inspiration for his luxury auto marque. Speaking during a retail marketing panel at the Automotive News World Congress last week, the Bruce Willis doppelganger was asked where he looked to brainstorm new ideas on selling cars. Outside the industry of co ...
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What keeps leadership dealers awake at night?

Posted 12:01 am U.S. ET, Jan. 17
blogs Jamie LaReau covers the automotive retail beat for Automotive News.
 
DETROIT -- Even in good times, there are things that will keep most dealers awake at night. At the Detroit auto show last week, I sat down with the outgoing chairman of the National Automobile Dealers Association, Forrest McConnell, and the incoming chairman, Bill Fox, to talk about what gives them restless nights. On the surface everything seems wonderful: Many analysts are calling for a 17 mil ...
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Musk's $481 million paper loss in Detroit

Posted 12:10 pm U.S. ET, Jan. 16
blogs
Elon Musk's stake in Tesla is worth $6.7 billion at today's market price. (GLENN TRIEST)
PHILIP NUSSEL:  DETROIT -- I warned him. During a chance encounter on Tuesday with Tesla’s Elon Musk before his appearance at the 2015 Automotive News World Congress, I jokingly told him we were going to put a stock ticker on the screen behind him, “so be careful what you say.” He chuckled and, in his trademark accent, said he should probably say something sort of outrageous. And he delivered ...
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