Good grief! GM wants to go retail
I couldn't agree more emphatically with Keith Crain's column and your editorial (Oct. 11) concerning General Motors and factory ownership of retail locations.
GM can't even demonstrate that it can produce cars and trucks that sell, or at least that it can deliver them to its dealerships. How can GM seriously believe that it will have its act together on this one?
If Ford has proved anything with its Auto Collection, it is that it has thrown more than $100 million at Tulsa, Okla., and Salt Lake City alone, proving that none of its theories or retail initiatives work with the buying public.
And now GM, the Keystone Kops of the retail industry, wants us to believe it can out-retail Ford, which is consistently more on the ball in every game they play together.
JAMES A. ZIEGLER
Ziegler Supersystems Inc.
The writer is a retail consultant to the auto industry.
Mercedes policies win top grades
As a Mercedes-Benz retailer for nearly 43 years and as an eight-time member of the Mercedes Retailer Board, I'm a little confused by the letter you published Oct. 4 from a sales representative of a Mercedes dealership who referred to 'ruinous marketing decisions' on the part of Mercedes-Benz USA.
What I'm wondering is this: Are those the decisions that tripled our annual volume from 60,000 in 1993 to where we are today?
Would those be the decisions that have led to record profitability for Mercedes retailers and new levels of customer satisfaction?
Would he be talking about Mercedes-Benz USA's controversial decision to do whatever it takes to ensure that its retail network is not only competitive but preferable to superstores and e-commerce (while other automakers seemingly are giving up on their retailers and buying up stores so they can control the customer interface)?
In my retail center alone, I can speak for the result even beyond a sales increase of 225 percent in six years. Even more important, net profit has increased 760 percent in that period.
Today, most Mercedes retailers net more in a month than they used to net in a year. That is why we disposed of all our other franchises to become a truly exclusive Mercedes center.
Today, an amazing number of people visit our dealership who would never have considered a Mercedes a few years ago. Among our buyers are clients we haven't seen for more than a decade; they are returning because of the Mercedes value story.
Most of all, we're seeing willingness on the part of our clients to trust us, something hard won in our business.
If, indeed, this is where the 'ruinous' decisions of Mercedes-Benz USA have led, call me crazy, but I say, 'lead on.'
MORTON J. ZETLIN
General Partner and
American Service Center
Don't buy used car from the Internet
Buying used cars over the Internet is not for me. I'm old fashioned.
I want to inspect the cars I buy. Look in the trunk; has the floor been pushed in or pulled out? Look under the hood for any frame damage. I want an opportunity to drive the car after I buy it, as at most auctions.
If a customer did not bring in his trade but said he had a tape of it, would you appraise his car from the tape?
At the auctions, you have only 45 seconds to make a buying decision, but you can inspect the car in the yard before it hits the block, and you can drive it after you buy it. If you find a bad apple, you can go to arbitration.
You can see the car, touch it and drive it at the auctions, and you also have such protections as title, salvage title, odometer reading, frame damage and Vehicle Identification Number.
The place to buy the best used cars is right in front of your showroom. If you want to play Russian roulette, buy used cars from the Internet.
Used Car Manager
Lessors, dealers worked together
An important fact was omitted from your Sept. 27 article headed 'N.Y. limits new-vehicle sales by lessors.'
The National Vehicle Leasing Association is the largest central representative body for all members of the vehicle leasing industry. The Metro New York-Connecticut chapter supported the efforts of the Greater New York Automobile Dealers Association in closing the loophole in the New York dealer licensing law.
The loophole permitted so-called any-car stores to retail new vehicles without a franchise. The any-car stores are not lessors or members of our National Vehicle Leasing Association Metro New York-Connecticut chapter.
Your article appeared to present the lessor as the problem in the dealers' need for the legislation.
The only opponents of the bill were the used-vehicle dealers association and some high-profile any-car stores. The best effect of this bill was to unite the like efforts of the leasing industry and the new-vehicle dealer associations.
National Vehicle Leasing Association
Roslyn Heights, N.Y.