Changes are happening quickly. The automobile retail business is in the middle of more upheaval than we have seen since the beginning of World War II.
Mazda is solidly under the control of Ford Motor Co., which is not surprising, but now Mazda's import arm in California is, too. There are cuts, consolidations and lots of changes. Just how long it will take Ford to pull Mazda into Dearborn is anybody's guess.
Republic Industries continues to buy dealerships at a steady and staggering rate. It should be a little more selective about what it buys. It is a setback for Republic to be told by an administrative law judge in Texas that there must be a hearing to determine whether Toyota must transfer as many franchises to Republic as Republic wants.
It appears that Toyota won a round in the fight to control how its cars and trucks are marketed in the United States. But it probably will not slow Republic down. Republic still seems to be buying dealerships at a rapid and unrelenting pace. Maybe Republic will just skip getting involved with Toyota for now.
Meanwhile, Ford has tossed the biggest surprise of all. The whole industry is watching Ford's plan to really revolutionize the franchise business. One thing is fairly certain: Indianapolis isn't the only city in which Ford plans to take over the retail business.
I can't help but wonder if the judge who ruled in favor of Toyota wouldn't suggest to Ford that it must demonstrate that it can run a retail operation before it takes over any more markets.
It's nearly impossible to figure out what all this means, and whether it's good or bad.
We are in the middle of a retail revolution. At least, that is where those outside forces and all their changes seem to be heading. What is happening today will affect every dealership and every franchise in the United States.
But the question is: How? No one knows what effect all these changes will have on the retail automobile business, and no one is likely to figure it out any time soon.
It's not exactly a mess, but if you were just starting out in the retail business, it would be pretty tough to figure out what kind of career you'd like.
Things haven't been normal for a while, and they won't return to normal any time soon.
That's just the way it's going to be.