Sit down with the dealer for any brand, and the conversation will turn to product. There are other important issues, such as quality, profitability, advertising and the like, but product is high on the list of every retailer.
Automotive News talked to dealer council representatives for all major brands sold in the United States. Those interviews will be published in the four Automotive News NADA Dailies.
As might be expected, Toyota dealers are happy with "an incredible number of new models," the council chairman says. And there are more to come, such as the FJ Cruiser and the Yaris.
Lexus dealers would like a sports car and a superluxury sedan. Do they make money on car sales? "That's what we are there for," the chairman says.
Honda dealers are delighted with the new Civic, but profitability is slipping, and dealers do not have enough service capacity to handle the increase in customers.
Dealers handling sibling Acura want a clear brand image, and while you're at it, a convertible, a hybrid and a flagship V-8 sedan would be nice, too.
It's the year of the sedan for Nissan dealers, with the Versa due in May followed by the new Maxima and Sentra. Infiniti dealers like what they have, but they complain that the factory is slow in talking about new product.
Chevrolet dealers are still basking in the glow of beating Ford in sales last year.
Hummer people want a competitor to the Jeep Wrangler, and Buick dealers are stumping for more new and distinctive products. The Rainier and the Terraza are not doing the job, the council chairman says. Saturn dealers are eager for the Sky roadster, the Aura sedan, the Vue Green Line hybrid and the Outlook cross-over.
Volvo's chairman says he believes his brand can be a top-tier luxury player, but it must expand its products, improve quality and pay more attention to serving the customer.
BMW dealers are miffed by a 1 percent cut in the dealer discount. Hyundai retailers sing the praises of the upcoming Santa Fe SUV, Azera sedan and Entourage minivan. Kia dealers are happy with the Rio and the Spectra and are looking down the road to other new products.
Profits, new product and quality top Ford dealers' wish list, and Dodge dealers are pleased that the wait for new products has ended - they are getting the Caliber (Neon replacement) and the Nitro SUV.
You may e-mail John K. Teahen Jr. at [email protected]