Dealers grapple with growth

VW dealer Jimmy Ellis: The brand's marketing needs to drive shoppers to the dealerships.
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What are the top issues facing dealers as the convention begins?

In recent weeks, Automotive News spoke with 24 dealer leaders representing 29 brands. The series of interviews begins on Page 6 and continues in the Sunday and Monday issues of the NADA Daily.

Here's some of what the dealers told us:

• Jimmy Ellis, a VW dealer in Atlanta, said Volkswagen advertising needs to include a call to action. He said: "In the last few years, Volkswagen has been really creative in a lot of their spots. It's been more about branding -- about really trying to establish VW as an interesting and unique brand.

"What I haven't seen enough of is a real call to action, a real reason for someone to come in and drive one of these vehicles. That's one thing that we're looking to do in 2014 is improve our marketing."

• Chevrolet dealers face complications in retaining customers coming off from leases because rather than having a single captive finance company, General Motors uses a mix of GM Financial, Ally, U.S. Bank and Wells Fargo, says Steve Hurley, a Florida dealer. He hopes the introduction last year of two years of paid maintenance across the lineup will help keep those buyers in the fold.

• Acura dealers are happy with their strong truck sales, but "we have to get our sedan sales going," said Art Wright of Lehigh Valley Acura in Emmaus, Pa.

• Having competitive leases will be crucial for the Ford Fusion, Focus and Escape -- part of what Ford calls its Super Segment -- where "the transaction payment is hypersensitive," said Beau Smith, a Ford dealer in suburban Denver.

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