Booz Allen Study: Third of new car dealers to offer multiple brands

Munich. The German car dealer and service industry is facing "strategic changes of dramatic dimensions," says a study commissioned by an unnamed automaker and conducted by Booz Allen Hamilton business consultants.

The study covered 405 car dealers and 50 service workshops.

According to those surveyed, 29 percent of new car dealers are preparing to enter the multi-brand market. Some 35 percent also said they aim to use the opportunities that the new block exemption provides to expand their aftersales business. The dealership partners of the VW group and Opel are the driving forces, the study said.

"The results of the study reflect the fact that many car dealers are deeply dissatisfied and that their loyalty towards their main brands is declining,"

said Steffen Schick, a member of Booz Allen Hamilton's management board and responsible for surveying the automotive industry.

Decreasing profits, OEMs' demanding expectations and slow sales at dealers have resulted in an increasing number of companies looking for new opportunities to increase the utilization of their workshop capacities, raise their turnovers and to reduce risk.

When asked about multi-brand sales, 31 percent of dealers expect an increase in their return on investment of more than 1 percent and 23 percent expect a rise of at least 0.5 percent.

Only 13 percent of those questioned believe that multi-brand sales will reduce costs in the new-car industry. Companies see more saving potential within the workshop area. Smaller Audi dealers, for example, hope that additional service contracts will increase use of the workshops.

"The importance of multi-branding will increase significantly within the next five years," Booz Allen Hamilton partner Hans-Bernhard Port forecasts.

In future, 30 to 40 percent of dealers will be selling more than one brand and 40 to 50 percent of service workshops will be authorized by more than one OEM, the study indicates.

Port believes that with the location clause ceasing to apply by 2005, the changes will become more dynamic.

A small consolation for the manufacturers: Most multi-brand dealers want to sell brands from one single car group.

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