BLOG: Richard Johnson

A new Gold Rush sweeps over California

Posted 12:45 pm U.S. ET, Jan. 25
blogs Richard Johnson is print editor of Automotive News.
 
SAN FRANCISCO -- George Soros' people weren't the only nontraditional buyers of car dealerships prowling the NADA convention. Rick Kotzen and Ron Sompels, partners at accounting firm Crowe Horwath, held meetings here with several well-heeled groups looking for a piece of the considerable action in auto retailing. In the past year or so, Kotzen says the firm has been in c ...
     Continue reading "A new Gold Rush sweeps over California" » Jan 25, 2015 12:45 pm U.S. ET
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Lengthening loan terms get brokers', banks' attention

Posted 12:01 am U.S. ET, Jan. 24
The best handicappers of the U.S. market may be the folks lining up to buy dealerships. They place bets in the form of the multiples of earnings they're prepared to pay for stores. "The goodwill numbers people are willing to pay have probably peaked," says broker Mark Johnson. "If you buy a store, you want to be able to forecast growth. That's how you get the multiple to ...
     Continue reading "Lengthening loan terms get brokers', banks' attention" » Jan 24, 2015 12:01 am U.S. ET
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Low gas prices - the good ... and bad for dealers

Posted 8:25 pm U.S. ET, Jan. 23
A lot of auto people can't seem to make up their minds about whether low gasoline prices are in the long-term best interest of the car industry, given that they may not be in the best interest of the economy at large.But none of those people are dealers, it seems. Just ask the dealers at the Moscone Center."It sure doesn't hurt," said Steve Germain, CEO of Germain Motor Co ...
     Continue reading "Low gas prices - the good ... and bad for dealers" » Jan 23, 2015 8:25 pm U.S. ET
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Can a 'driver's car' brand mission and driverless tech coexist?

Posted 11:17 am U.S. ET, Jan. 13
DETROIT -- If your calling card is “The Ultimate Driving Machine,” what do you do when the machines drive themselves? How can you reconcile autonomous vehicles with your brand’s deep-rooted mission? BMW design director Karim Habib conceded the problem a few minutes after taking a look at the pilot-less “F 015 Luxury in Motion” on rival Merced ...
     Continue reading "Can a 'driver's car' brand mission and driverless tech coexist?" » Jan 13, 2015 11:17 am U.S. ET
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Volvo CEO Samuelsson details U.S. agenda, 'e-ordering'

Posted 11:46 am U.S. ET, Jan. 12
Volvo CEO Hakan Samuelsson didn’t exactly deny a report from China on Sunday that the Swedish brand is considering a U.S. assembly plant, but he wasn’t quite embracing it either. The Reuters report cited unnamed executives at Geely, which owns Volvo. When asked about it Sunday night, Samuelsson suggested that the idea was premature for a company that sold just ...
     Continue reading "Volvo CEO Samuelsson details U.S. agenda, 'e-ordering'" » Jan 12, 2015 11:46 am U.S. ET
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Hyundai scrambles for more crossover turf

Posted 2:45 pm U.S. ET, Oct. 16
CHICAGO -- Hyundai’s no longer growing by leaps and bounds in the United States, in part because it’s only a bit player in the crossover boom. “Mix is definitely a piece of it,” Hyundai Motor America CEO Dave Zuchowski said on the sidelines of Automotive News’ Best Dealerships To Work For event here. “We’re very short on all of ou ...
     Continue reading "Hyundai scrambles for more crossover turf" » Oct 16, 2014 2:45 pm U.S. ET
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The joy of being a Jeep dealer in 2014

Posted 3:35 pm U.S. ET, Oct. 15
CHICAGO -- Holy Toledo, what's it like to be a Jeep dealer in 2014? Andy Shaver, president of the Shaver Group, just smiles when I ask. A smile that says: "Awesome and then some." "It's really great," he says. "We were just talking about this and someone said Jeep is the strongest domestic brand right now." Understatement alert! Of course, this fourth generation dealer ...
     Continue reading "The joy of being a Jeep dealer in 2014" » Oct 15, 2014 3:35 pm U.S. ET
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From boosting Renault to designing boats

Posted 4:02 am U.S. ET, Oct. 3
You could argue that the reason Renault was able to shock the auto world in 1998 by acquiring Nissan was the emergence of a delightful Renault design language in the 1990s. And you could give credit for that look to the man shown here -- former Renault styling chief Patrick Le Quement, the erstwhile Ford of Europe design boss. To be more specific, the shape and package, a ...
     Continue reading "From boosting Renault to designing boats" » Oct 3, 2014 4:02 am U.S. ET
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Ghosn's take on being on the front lines in battle for auto talent

Posted 5:53 pm U.S. ET, Oct. 1
PARIS -- How does Carlos Ghosn feel about the high-level executives who have left Renault-Nissan of late? He takes it all in Ghosn-like stride, which is to say: analytically, not emotionally. "We are obviously a target for headhunters, but we are‎ simultaneously recruiting the best and the brightest," he said. Infiniti chief Johan de Nysschen recently went to‎ C ...
     Continue reading "Ghosn's take on being on the front lines in battle for auto talent" » Oct 1, 2014 5:53 pm U.S. ET
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The Nissan Leaf's top-selling town?

Posted 10:31 pm U.S. ET, Oct. 1
PARIS -- It's true that sales of Nissan's Leaf have picked up momentum this year in the U.S., but what is the geographic mix across the country? Where is the Leaf doing well? At the Renault-Nissan dinner‎ tonight, CEO Carlos Ghosn challenged the scrum that engulfed him to name America's No. 1 Leaf-loving town, the place where 1,000 of the electric vehicles were sold i ...
     Continue reading "The Nissan Leaf's top-selling town?" » Oct 1, 2014 10:31 pm U.S. ET
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Ghosn's take on being on the front lines in battle for auto talent

Posted 5:53 pm U.S. ET, Oct. 1
PARIS -- How does Carlos Ghosn feel about the high-level executives who have left Renault-Nissan of late? He takes it all in Ghosn-like stride, which is to say: analytically, not emotionally. "We are obviously a target for headhunters, but we are‎ simultaneously recruiting the best and the brightest," he said. Infiniti chief Johan de Nysschen recently went to‎ C ...
     Continue reading "Ghosn's take on being on the front lines in battle for auto talent" » Oct 1, 2014 5:53 pm U.S. ET
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New M&A lingo: 'nontraditionals' and 'family offices'

Posted 7:16 pm U.S. ET, Jan. 26
Tim Lamb of Tim Lamb Group, whose stand was crawling with acquisitive dealers, says he's beginning to see signs of it.George Chaconas of Performance Brokerage has noticed it "just in the last six months."These deal makers are starting to hear from "nontraditional" dealership buyers.Of course, the market doesn't need buyers; it needs sellers. But owners of those privately h ...
     Continue reading "New M&A lingo: 'nontraditionals' and 'family offices'" » Jan 26, 2014 7:16 pm U.S. ET
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Why George Chaconas is such a busy man

Posted 4:24 pm U.S. ET, Jan. 25
NEW ORLEANS -- Sit with dealmaker George Chaconas of Performance Brokerage Services at the Starbucks outside the convention hall, and you discover a busy guy."Well, the dealers just got out a meeting," he says as a herd of well-dressed retailers stream by -- a couple of whom seem anxious to meet up with Chaconas right then and there.A lot of dealers want to check in with b ...
     Continue reading "Why George Chaconas is such a busy man" » Jan 25, 2014 4:24 pm U.S. ET
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