U.S. consolidations on hold, Ford says
Last fall, Ford reined in the Auto Collection strategy in the United States following dealer outrage at the company's intrusion into retailing.
Now Ford is stating plainly that it plans no new U.S. consolidations.
All in all, it was not one of Ford's better ideas.
Ford Motor Co. set out to answer the AutoNation threat with a network of company stores. But apparently it never occurred to the automaker that its 4,800 independent dealers might be opposed to that type of competition.
That original foray into Indianapolis failed. There were reports that Ford's buyout offers to dealers were on the stingy side.
Eventually the company set up Auto Collections in Salt Lake City; Oklahoma City and Tulsa, Okla.; San Diego; and Rochester, N.Y.
They performed poorly, and last fall Ford began overhauling them. They returned to traditional retailing practices such as commissioned managers, price and product advertising and higher trade-in allowances. One-price selling remains, and salespeople are still salaried.
GM almost got into the factory store act last fall. Dealers were told the corporation planned to buy and operate up to 770 dealerships in major metropolitan areas.
CEO Jack Smith scotched the idea. 'We never had any intentions of running factory stores,' he told Automotive News. 'We've done that before, and it wasn't a great success.'