In the last two months, Automotive News and other publications have reported on tensions between automakers and their dealers. This doesn't involve all automakers, but recent statements from a few have put many dealers, state and metro dealer associations and the National Automobile Dealers Association on high alert:
- Volkswagen has floated an entirely new sales model for its Scout line, which would attempt a direct-sales scheme ("Hall: Dealers 'want Scout vehicles to be in our VW showrooms,' " Automotive News, Jan. 29).
- Honda and Sony have teamed up with plans to launch new electric vehicle brand Afeela, with deliveries starting in 2026. Sales and service plans are still up for discussion ("Sony-Honda vehicles might end up with competing dealers," Automotive News, Feb. 2).
- Volvo is launching a direct-to-consumer sales model in the U.K. and plans to "export the concept" to other markets — potentially the United States ("Volvo CEO stirs up new angst among U.S. dealers," Automotive News, Feb. 10).
What is going on here?
Tension between automakers and their dealers is not new. There will always be differences of opinion on how best to take care of customers and win in the marketplace. In fact, automakers and dealers that address these differences head-on and have open dialogue regarding their resolution have proven over time to be the most successful.