TORONTO - Despite record sales last year, the relationship between Canadian auto dealers and their factories remains no better than lukewarm.
According to the annual Canadian Automobile Dealers Association Dealer Satisfaction Index survey, the overall satisfaction level of new-car dealers in 2000 remained essentially unchanged from 1999, at 71.1 percent.
The survey also revealed that dealers feel their franchises have lost value compared with three years ago.
As usual, luxury brands received high marks from their dealers, with Porsche topping the standings for the second year in a row, followed by Mercedes-Benz, Lexus and Infiniti. But Jaguar slid to eighth place from third while BMW climbed to 11th place from 22nd. Kia, in its first full year on the Canadian market, captured fifth place in the survey.
For the third year in a row, Ford was at the bottom of the list. Ford of Canada has upset many dealers during the past few years with its new retailing policies, including the elimination of the Mercury franchise. The company's highest ranking in the past decade was only 12th of 24 in 1995.
The survey also found that Ford dealers are even more pessimistic than last year about their future profitability.
Dennis DesRosiers, an automotive consultant in Toronto, said the survey 'should be read upside down' because the most energetic, consumer-oriented companies get the lowest scores from dealers.
'It's a popularity contest, period,' he said. 'The companies that are doing the most and being the most aggressive with their dealers and, therefore, heading toward success in the marketplace will be ranked at the bottom because dealers are whiners.'
The survey polled 2,800 dealers nationwide and drew a 50.5 percent response rate.