Anyone can sell for $100 over
Today's consumers are better informed than ever before. There's no denying that we are in the Information Age.
We can find the invoice price of any new car, as well as what percent over invoice is a good deal.
Keep in mind that you can't buy a car from the Internet, Consumer Reports or any other consumer publication.
Ultimately, the vehicle must be purchased from an auto dealer. So stop whining about all the short deals and how much money you're not making. After all, you did accept the deal.
I know it's a competitive market, but we can turn it around. Stop lowballing customers and letting them walk with their numbers. Believe in your product and hold out for a good gross. If dealers sell cars for $100 over invoice, that's what customers will expect to pay.
Anyone can close a deal for $100 over invoice, so get rid of your weak closers; they are costing you much more than they're worth.
And to the hard-working salespeople putting in long hours for such dealers: Demand that you get paid from dollar one (the holdback), or move on.
Qualified, talented salespeople are hard to come by, so offer your talent to a dealer with backbone.
Time for tobacco to quit motorsports
I am responding to Keith Crain's April 27 column, 'Time to kick the habit.'
Motorsports today is one of the most popular forms of entertainment as well as a highly successful venue for advertising dollars.
Thanks to the big tobacco companies, which had the vision, daring and initiative to put advertising money into racing in the 1930s and 1940s, we now enjoy one of the world's most competitive leagues of auto racing, the NASCAR Winston Cup Series.
This is not an endorsement of Big Tobacco; it is an endorsement of Crain's views. It's time for the Big 3 to put up or shut up.
The 50 years of NASCAR Winston Cup racing have brought countless advancements in the safety and performance of street vehicles and billions of dollars in car sales. Remember the slogan 'Win on Sunday, sell on Monday'? I would venture to say that Big Tobacco, albeit indirectly, has contributed millions of dollars to the research and development departments of the Big 3.
U.S. automakers have coasted on motorsports and Big Tobacco for far too long.
Big Tobacco's exit from motorsports is imminent, and I want to thank those companies for what they have done. They will be missed.
But Crain is correct. It is time for Ford, General Motors and Chrysler to step up to the plate and spend some of their millions.
RONALD A. JUDD
Lafayette Hill, Pa.
Tobacco sponsors: Why ban 'em now?
I have a question in response to Keith Crain's April 27 column about tobacco sponsorship in motor racing: Why now?
Why, after 30-plus years' involvement in the sport and hundreds of millions of dollars in sponsorship money, do the 'political agendites' now find it necessary to ban a major contributor to our sport?
I don't know who came up with the idea that sponsorship creates new abusers. If that were the case, there would be a lot more alcoholics because of beer sponsorship.
Sponsorship does not create smokers; parents and peers create smokers. Sponsorship tries to sway people who already smoke to switch to that brand. If a 12-year-old smokes, don't blame RJR; blame mom and dad.
Another point that may be a little hard to swallow is that tobacco companies have contributed so much money to the sport that a certain amount has to have trickled down into research and development for auto manufacturers.
In other words, tobacco companies have supplied some of the r&d funds for the technology in today's cars.
Smoking is horrible. I wish we could prevent kids from starting, but it's not the fault of racing.
Western Regional Manager
3-D Auto Frames
City of Industry, Calif.
Prowler gouging is a bad idea
Since Plymouth introduced the Prowler, I have been trying to buy one at a reasonable price, and I assure you that $20,000 to $30,000 over sticker is not reasonable.
Mercedes SLKs and Porsche Boxsters were hot, but I had no problem buying them for sticker.
I have written to the brass at Chrysler, and I have even offered dealers a Jeep and Prowler deal.
Don't get me wrong, I want the dealers to make money. We need good dealers - dealers who care and who want repeat customers.
But I assure you, if a Prowler goes for $60,000 and one year from now the price is sticker or less, I doubt very seriously that you'll ever see that customer again.
So, dealers, what is it going to be?
For the love of money?
For the love of the Prowler?
For the love of that repeat customer?
Cascio Storage & Warehouse Inc.
Profit tears down proud car names
All this talk about new theories of 'brand management' has me a bit confused. Ever since the mid-1930s, when blue-chip Packard began producing cheap, six-cylinder products, automakers have been cashing in their 'brand equity' for short-term profits.
Consider Lincoln. In 1963, a Ford was a pretty nice car, but the Lincoln was something else entirely.
A Lincoln owner could look anyone straight in the eye and say that he or she had bought the best car in the world.
Sales were a paltry 35,000 (about what Lincoln now sells to rental fleets), but wasn't exclusivity supposed to be the point?
In 1965, Ford Division moved upmarket with its new LTD that was 'quieter than a Rolls-Royce.' Lee Iacocca soon discovered he could charge a lot more for LTDs if they were renamed Lincolns. Mercury has never been the same.
Today's Lincoln Navigator is typical of what Lincoln became during the 1970s and 1980s - a Ford Division product with a stand-up grille and a monster price tag.
Moving Lincoln downmarket may have made profit sense for Ford Motor Co., but I cannot understand why General Motors, with no fewer than seven brands, is so upset about Lincoln topping Cadillac in sales volume.
Cadillac should be producing exclusive, comfortable, powerful, rear-drive cars like the BMW 750, Lexus LS 400 and Mercedes S class, not itching to slap its already somewhat beleaguered nameplate on a Chevy Tahoe.
Need we mention the 'C' word - that early 1980s Cadillac product named after a small town in the mountains of New Mexico?
And speaking of Mercedes-Benz, it will be interesting to watch that proud brand as it begins its descent down that slippery slope.
The writer is an attorney and industrial designer.
Another glory for LaSalle
Congratulations to John Teahen on his insight into the revered name of LaSalle (April 6). It isn't often that I agree so completely with a column. I am not wild about sport-utilities, either!
I suspect that the story of the LaSalle might be sadder had it survived into today's marketplace. It might be facing the same clouds that now confront Oldsmobile.
Though I never drove a LaSalle, it was a great source for the standard transmission that would bolt directly to an Oldsmobile V-8. It was a tough transmission, capable of holding up to the power put out by the heavily modified (often supercharged) Olds V-8 engines used in the early days of hot-rodding and drag racing.
The LaSalle was an elegant automobile in its day and even more so in today's memories.
The writer has been in fleet, leasing, auction and dealer finance work for 35 years.
Keep Oldsmobile, drop Buick
Let's look to the future for a moment instead of the past, because when I look at Oldsmobile, I see the future of General Motors.
When viewing the beautiful yet flawed Aurora, the Intrigue of which I have heard nothing but praise, and the soon-to-arrive Alero (also getting positive reviews), I see the only division that truly reflects GM's future direction.
Olds has or will have a narrow product line clearly focused at specific customers which, it would appear, is exactly what your paper says GM should pursue. For a division that almost died, Olds' best years are yet to come, and the division will develop into a quiet profit maker for GM.
If any division should get the ax, it should be Buick. Nobody seems to want the vehicles it offers.
With an aging customer base and no sport-utility, can you justify its relevance?
The writer is a client service representative.
Output numbers are 'invaluable'
I have been using the data in your production tables for almost 2 years. It assists me in planning and estimating peaks and lulls in my current product lines.
Since I am a Tier 1, 2 and 3 supplier to Ford Motor Co., General Motors and Chrysler Corp., I constantly use this up-to-date production information from the end users of my components. This is the best source of this information that I have found.
This information is invaluable to my division. Please continue to provide it. It is the sole reason I subscribe to your publication.
Metal Mold Division
A-CMI Michigan Casting Center,
Ford didn't have a better idea
Please, Ford Motor Co., if it ain't broke, don't fix it.
I have been a Ford and/or Ford, Lincoln and Mercury dealer principal since 1960, sometimes in as many as three stores, so I believe I can speak with some authority.
I've suffered through the introduction and downfall of imports - Capri, Merkur XR4TI and Scorpio. There were other marginal models, but we survived because we have a few good models to go with them (bless our trucks and sport-utilities).
With other dual dealers in other states, we recently fought the battle to get the Navigator and other Lincoln products. Most recently, some no-brainer at Ford (or a bunch of Whiz Kids) decided to set up a mixing center in the Kansas City rail yard to speed deliveries to dealers in the Southwest. Overdue vehicles, where are you?
Ford Motor Co. had better hope that the people who recommended the Kansas City Rail Mixing Center do not have any part in the new Ford Retail Network that soon will begin in Tulsa, Okla.
Zoeller-Davidson Ford Inc.
Nissan should promote Maxima
The Nissan Maxima, with its 190-hp V-6 engine, is the best-kept secret in the industry. Why doesn't Nissan promote that car?
In my 40 years in the business, I've had a lot of demonstrators - Cadillacs, Lincolns, Chrysler New Yorkers, Camrys, Mercedes, Saabs, Ford Crown Vics, Ford F-150s, Buicks, Oldsmobiles - but I've never had a demo like the Maxima.
Nissan should offer weekend test drives of the Maxima. The car will sell itself. Come on, Nissan: Let's wake up America to this car.
Used Car Manager