TrueCar and Taj Mahals have everyone thinking
Jason Stein is editor of Automotive News
Scott Painter probably never imagined the day when his name would share the podium with gray tile or grout.
But there they were Friday -- the oddest of bedfellows.
If there is an early theme in this NADA convention, it is this: While business has recovered from the horror of 2008 (Great Recessions are so last decade) and NADA attendance is up, most dealers aren't ready to celebrate just yet.
Which brings us back to TrueCar CEO Painter and tile.
In better times, margins -- rather than just survival tactics -- are on everyone's mind, which means factory-mandated dealership improvements are a touchy subject and TrueCar is a household word. Not a repeatable word.
When TrueCar came up for the fourth time in two hours Friday at the J.D. Power International Automotive Roundtable, Group 1 Automotive CEO Earl Hesterberg said what most were only saying privately: "They help you give away cars with no profit."
Hesterberg's point: Only 5 percent of all vehicles sold in 2011 went at MSRP. A race to the bottom on price, or ripping up tile to match a better shade of gray at a time of recovery, helps no one.
Said Hyundai boss John Krafcik: "We are not specifying the type of grout to be used in our bathrooms."
A recovery often includes some potholes. But usually not grout.
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