AutoNation's Jackson says retail recovery in 'early innings'
Photo credit: Joe Wilssens
The automotive economic recovery is only beginning from a retail standpoint, despite a growing seasonally adjusted annualized selling rate, according to Mike Jackson, CEO of AutoNation, the nation's largest auto retailer.
Jackson, who turned 64 on Thursday, said that 2012 marked the bottom of the market in terms of units in service and will recover just as the SAAR has in the coming years.
Dealers' service departments are about to benefit from a growing number of 3-year-old vehicles on the roads, says Mike Jackson, CEO of AutoNation, the nation's largest auto retailer.
"2013 is the beginning of the customer care recovery. We're in the early innings of this automotive recovery from a retail point of view," Jackson, 64, told the audience Friday morning at the J.D. Power International Automotive Roundtable.
Jackson said energy and housing are growing bright spots in an otherwise anemic economic recovery. He said that the recent energy boom and recovering housing market mean a growing demand for vehicles in the United States, saying that AutoNation believes the seasonally adjusted annualized selling rate this year will be in the mid-15 million range.
"All those construction sites and drilling sites are full of American workers with high-paying jobs, and they need pickup trucks to go there," Jackson said.
In his 45-minute speech, Jackson said AutoNation's decision to rebrand its nonluxury stores under the AutoNation brand comes as the industry begins to change the way it does business with consumers, who use the Internet to research potential vehicles long before they enter a showroom.
"Customers do all that homework, then when they enter retail, all of that gets left behind," Jackson explained. "The payoff, if we succeed, is exponentially stronger under one brand than under 15 brands."
During questions, Jackson said he feels that the relationship between auto retailers and automakers is much improved.
He said: "We're in a healthier place today because the balance of power has been adjusted between the retailer and the manufacturer."
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