M&A activity declined in 2016, and now dealmakers eye Trump

The global auto industry looks healthy this year, but PwC says mergers and acquisition experts want to assess President Trump's influence on environmental rules, international trade and the overall economy before pursuing new deals.


Ford will offer parts for non-Ford vehicles

Ford Motor Co. is expanding its customer service division with a new Omnicraft brand of aftermarket parts to cover non-Ford and non-Lincoln vehicles.

VW's $1.21 billion emissions settlement with U.S. dealers OK'd by judge

UPDATED: 1/23/17 10:13 pm ET - adds details

U.S. District Judge Charles Breyer granted final approval to VW's settlement worth up to $1.21 billion with 650 U.S. dealers over diesel emissions violations. VW's dealers will receive an average of $1.85 million each over 18 months under the settlement.

Lexus Super Bowl ad features 'Man & Machine' with Lil' Buck

Lil' Buck -- who challenges gravity in a new ad for Apple's AirPod headphones -- will dance onto advertising's biggest stage in a Super Bowl ad for

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N.J. law would restrict use of starter-interrupt devices

The New Jersey Legislature has passed a bill that imposes disclosures and restrictions on the use of starter-interrupt devices, which auto lenders sometimes require be installed in vehicles when they approve loans to consumers with poor credit.

Introduce the F&I manager straightaway

F&I managers and customers should meet at the beginning of the transaction. Otherwise, the customer sees the F&I manager as someone "just selling some more stuff," says Ron Reahard of Reahard & Associates. The quicker a dealership implements a consistent process of introducing F&I managers and customers from the start, he says, "the better for everyone involved."

Lincoln Financial set to roll out lease mileage credit program

Following a successful pilot, Lincoln Financial Services this year will roll out nationwide a “Lincoln Miles” lease credit program that's aimed to minimize lease anxiety, Lincoln President Kumar Galhotra told Automotive News this week on the sidelines of the Detroit auto show.

Auto finance forecast: Mostly sunny with a few dark clouds

The forecast for auto finance in 2017 is mostly sunny. But growth in longer-term loans, a corresponding increase in negative equity, declining used-car prices, a high level of incentives, and an uptick in interest rates are dark clouds to keep an eye on, analysts said.

Online information sets your store apart

Make it easy for customers to begin the buying process online, suggests Gabe Aldrete, of EFG Cos. Accurate information should be accessible, and emails should answer customers' questions without pressuring them to come into the store. “Simply by being transparent online, you will differentiate your dealership from the competition, resulting in increased foot traffic,” he said.

Ford targets stand-out customer experience

Ford and Lincoln are celebrating 40 years of selling branded F&I products. Last month, two executives overseeing the F&I business spoke about their progress, dealerships' F&I profitability and the role F&I could play in an autonomous driving world with Staff Reporter Hannah Lutz at Ford Motor Co.'s headquarters in Dearborn, Mich.

5 F&I trends to watch in 2017

Are there big changes in store for the finance and insurance office in 2017? Here are five issues and trends to watch in the new year.

Building up F&I offerings and brand loyalty

EasyCare believes it has a tool that will help dealerships build loyalty for their particular stores, not just the brands they're selling. It's called the Custom Dealer App, which enables dealerships to maintain relationships with customers long after they purchase a vehicle.

Credit repair specialist helps customers and her store

Every couple of months, Jennifer Oribello spends time mining the docket of the U.S. Bankruptcy Court in Detroit and Googling contact information for bankruptcy attorneys. She sends letters to gauge whether credit-blemished folks on the docket or among the attorneys' clients would be interested in buying and financing at her dealership.

Get personal to get buyers to protect tech

When trying to convince customers of the importance of having an extended service contract to protect their tech-laden new vehicle, do your F&I managers spell out the intricacies of Bluetooth or stability control? If so, tell them to take a step back and zero in on the customers' interests, experts say.

Treat customers as informed equals

Don’t approach customers like you have more information than they do, advises Bill Jarrett of Jarrett Ford in Avon Park, Fla. With information easily accessible online, the customer is often well-informed. When customers feel like they’re on the same level as their sales consultant, "they become comfortable," he said.

How to engage customers and other savvy advice

Each week the F&I Report features a savvy tip from an industry expert. This year F&I insiders shared advice on engaging customers, working with sales staffers, catering to millennials, sharing positive reviews and more. Here's a snapshot of our 2016 offerings.