FCA US recognizes 468 dealerships for top sales and service experience


FCA US announced Tuesday that it has awarded 468 Chrysler, Jeep, Dodge, Ram and FIAT dealerships with Customer First Award for Excellence designations this year.

The winning group of dealerships achieved the highest level of customer experience recognition in the program's five core areas: people, facility, processes, customer performance metrics and training certification.

“The fact that our Customer First Award for Excellence dealers demonstrated this level of excellence in such a highly competitive market demonstrates their drive to be the best of the best,” FCA head of U.S. sales Reid Bigland said in a news release. “Customers today have higher expectations of the shopping and ownership experience, and our Customer First Award for Excellence dealers are meeting – and exceeding – those expectations.”

The program was originally launched in 2015 with FCA dealer partners and J.D. Power to improve customer satisfaction with Chrysler, Jeep, Dodge, Ram and FIAT dealerships in the U.S.

“The number of Customer First Award for Excellence dealers continues to increase year-over-year, demonstrating FCA and our dealers' consistent focus on providing a superior customer experience,” said FCA US head of network development Al Gardner. “These 2018 Customer First Award for Excellence dealers are leading the way for our network, and the award is clear evidence of their everyday dedication and commitment to their customers.”

Each year, all 2,600 Chrysler, Jeep, Dodge, Ram and FIAT dealerships across the country are eligible to earn the award.

Toyota tops Vincentric's Best Value in America Awards list


Vincentric awarded the Toyota brand top honors in its 14th annual Best Value in America Awards.

Toyota received a total of two and eight model-level awards, including the Toyota Tacoma which earned honors for the 14th year in a row.

For the second year in a row, the Toyota brand also earned awards in the passenger car and SUV/crossover/van categories.

Among other mainstream brands, Ford won the Best Value Truck brand award for the third year in a row, and the Honda Odyssey received recognition for Best Value Minivan for the ninth time.

Additionally, BMW earned top honors in the luxury car category, and the Lexus ES 300h took home the Best Value Luxury Hybrid award for the sixth year.

“By measuring all costs buyers incur when owning a car, we deliver a data-driven analysis that identifies which vehicles provide the best value over time,” Vincentric president David Wurster said in a news release. “The insight gained by these awards not only informs buyers, but it also helps dealers and OEMs understand which vehicles are delivering value and which vehicles might need to have their cost structure re-evaluated.”

Vincentric measures cost-of-ownership across eight different cost factors: depreciation, fees and taxes, financing, fuel, insurance, maintenance, opportunity cost and repairs.

To identify Best Value in America winners, Vincentric measures cost-of-ownership using eight different cost factors: depreciation, fees & taxes, financing, fuel, insurance, maintenance, opportunity cost and repairs.

According to the company, more than 3,000 vehicle configurations were evaluated in all 50 states and Washington, D.C. using a range of annual mileage intervals and insurance profiles.

United Auto Credit honors 5 auctions, including 2017 Auction of the Year


United Auto Credit recently honored its 2017 Auction of the Year, along with handing out four other regional winners.

Receiving the award as the consignor’s Auction of the Year was Dealers Auto Auction of the Southwest.

“We have been doing business with DAASW for several years, and they have consistently done a great job for us. We are so proud of them for taking the top honor," said Scott Mousaw, director of remarketing for United Auto Credit.

“Each year, we aim to honor the auctions with the best retention, highest conversion rate and operational efficiencies,” added Mousaw, who himself has recently collected honors as he was named the 2017 National Remarketer of the Year this past November during .

DAASW is located in Phoenix operating six auction lanes on more than 20 acres. The operation offers more than 600 vehicles weekly for commercial consignors, franchise and independent dealers.

“We have an amazing team here at DAASW, and we continue to strive to provide the best service to our customers,"  DAASW general manager Jim Mumford said. “We are very proud to have this honor and look forward to 2018.”

United Auto Credit utilizes approximately 32 auction locations throughout the U.S. United Auto Credit also recognized the following auctions as regional winners:

—Lone Star Auto Auction

—Carolina Auto Auction

—North Bay Auto Auction

—Missouri Auto Auction

“We work with the best auctions in the markets where our vehicles are located, and based on the list of winners, we are happy to be working with independent auctions,” Mousaw said.

Honda leads US News Best Cars for the Money list


U.S. News & World Report announced Tuesday that Honda earned more Best Cars for the Money awards than any other automaker this year.

The awards recognize vehicles that provide consumers with the best combination of quality and value in .

Honda models earned awards in four categories, including the CR-V for best compact car, the Odyssey for best minivan, the Fit for best subcompact car and the HR-V for best subcompact SUV.

"Honda has a well-earned reputation for quality," U.S. News Best Cars managing editor Jamie Page Deaton said in a news release. "The winners show that the brand goes above and beyond when it comes to offering smart tech features, comfortable day-to-day performance and great utility. Each of Honda's winners also has a good reliability rating, so buyers can enjoy their new car worry-free, with fewer repairs to help keep ownership costs low."

Honda’s luxury brand, Acura, also took home an award this year. And Toyota, along with its luxury brand, Lexus, won two awards each.

The only award winner from domestic automakers is the Ford Edge, and the Audi A3 is the sole winning model from a European brand.

According to U.S. News, within each category, vehicle quality and value data is combined into a composite score. Vehicles with the highest score are named the Best Car for the Money in that category.

Award trophies will be presented at the 2018 Chicago Auto Show on Thursday.

To view a full list of this year's award winners, .

J.D. Power awards Buick, Porsche for best vehicle ownership experience

COSTA MESA, Calif. - 

J.D. Power announced Thursday that mass market brand Buick and luxury brand Porsche will both be receiving their inaugural J.D. Power Total Ownership Experience Award, which honors brands that best satisfy consumers throughout the stages of vehicles ownership.

To determine recipients of the new award, J.D. Power used results from its five automotive studies, including the Automotive Performance, Execution and Layout, Customer Service Index, Initial Quality Study, Sales Satisfaction Index and Vehicle Dependability Study.

J.D. Power said the Buick and Porsche brands are recognized for superior appearance, sales, service, initial quality and long-term reliability.

“J.D. Power has prided itself on being the voice of the automotive consumer for 50 years, and we continue to examine every aspect of customers' opinions on vehicle sales, quality and dependability, as well as dealership customer service,” J.D. Power senior vice president of global automotive Doug Betts said in a news release. “Addressing these areas effectively creates repeat buyers and brand advocates, so it's important for manufacturers and dealers to listen, learn and continue to evolve with the times.”

Study finds smartphones most satisfying when shopping online

Additionally, in other news, J.D. Power’s recent Manufacturer Website Evaluation Study Cross-Device—Winter, found that overall satisfaction for the smartphone platform averages 842 on a 1,000-point scale compared to 816 for the desktop platform.

The study measures the usefulness of automotive manufacturer websites when shopping for a new vehicle.

In order of importance, the study examines information/content, appearance, speed and navigation. The study was fielded in November 2017.

FORTUNE names auto industry leaders among 'World's Most Admired Companies'

CARY, N.C. - 

Several companies in the automotive industry have once again made the list of "World's Most Admired Companies" released by FORTUNE magazine.

The list includes AutoNation, BMW, CarMax, Daimler, Ford, General Motors, Honda, Nissan, Penske Automotive Group, Toyota and Volkswagen.

This year, Toyota has been named the list’s top motor vehicle company for the fourth consecutive year.

"Toyota is honored to be listed among the world's most admired companies once again, and to be recognized as the most admired auto company in the world for the fourth year in a row," said Jim Lentz, chief executive officer at Toyota Motor North America. "This ranking acknowledges the many successes of our global team who are committed to advancing sustainable, next-generation mobility for our customers."

FORTUNE’s annual list is based on company surveys, along with industry peer ratings from senior executives, directors and industry analysts.

The survey measures nine attributes that can be considered vital to a company's global success; they include: quality of products and services, social and environmental responsibility, global competitiveness and value as an investment.

Additionally, this year, Penske Automotive Group was acknowledged as one of the World's Most Admired Companies in specialty retailing.

"Penske Automotive is honored to be recognized as an industry leader and one of the world's most respected and reputable companies," said Penske Automotive Group Chairman Roger Penske. "This recognition exemplifies the outstanding commitment made by our team members to the success of our company, and reinforces our goal to provide customers with an exceptional experience."

For a full listing of FORTUNE’s, World's Most Admired Companies .

In other awards news, the National Association for Business Resources (NABR) recently named Donlen one of the country’s Best and Brightest Companies to Work for the third consecutive year.

"One of the core values of Donlen is that we strive to attract and retain the best, brightest, and most engaged employees through rewarding work and exceptional career development and advancement opportunities. When employees are engaged and invested, they provide higher levels of customer satisfaction, and our clients appreciate that,” Donlen’s president Tom Callahan said in a news release. "To be recognized as one of the Best and Brightest Companies to Work For in the Nation for our efforts for the third year in a row is an honor and an affirmation for all of us at Donlen."

The Best and Brightest Companies to Work list recognizes companies that show a commitment to both excellence in operations and employee enrichment, according to the company.

NABR ranks companies based on regional data concerning performance and a set standard across the U.S.

Each of the companies named on NABR’s list will be featured in the Feb. 8 online edition of Corp! magazine.

IHS Markit names GM top manufacturer for loyalty


General Motors Co. recently received the IHS Markit Loyalty Awards program's top distinction at Automotive News World Congress.

The annual awards are now in their 22nd year and recognize winners in more than 30 categories for loyalty leadership.

With a loyalty rate of 69.1 percent, the American manufacturer took home the evening’s top award – Overall Loyalty to Manufacturer.

Meanwhile, the Ford brand received an IHS Markit award for Overall Loyalty to Make.

“Our Automotive Loyalty Awards program continues to demonstrate the focus automakers, brands and their dealer networks place on winning back and conquesting customers during a strong sales year that’s become even more competitive,” IHS Markit, automotive senior vice president Joe LaFeir said in a news release. “We are honored to recognize those industry leaders that are working to improve their loyalty efforts year over year.”

Both manufacturers and brands were recognized for superior customer retention and conquest efforts made during the 2017 model year, which includes October 2016 through September 2017.

Additionally, IHS Markit said it found that there were approximately 17.5 million new-vehicle registrations during the 2017 model year.

According to the company, 53.6 percent of customers returned to market to purchase or lease another new vehicle from the same make they already owned, which is up 0.8 percentage points from last year. 

“As the market plateaus, insight from advanced analytics will enable OEMs and their dealers to engage with consumers more efficiently and effectively, through a better understanding of consumer buying behavior,” said Steve Had, vice president, sales and product marketing solutions for IHS Markit.

Other IHS Markit loyalty award winners from this year include Jeep for highest conquest percentage for the 2017 model year; Toyota for highest ethnic loyalty; Buick for most improved loyalty to make and Jaguar for most improved conquest percentage.

KBB names Toyota, Porsche Best Resale Value Award brand winners

IRVINE, Calif. - 

Kelley Blue Book announced Tuesday that the Toyota and Porsche brands are the 2018 model-year brand winners of the annual Best Resale Value Awards.

Its Porsche's second consecutive luxury brand Best Resale Value award, and Toyota takes it’s third-ever win, following recognition for top brand in 2014 as well as last year. 

The awards are in their 16th year and are based on projections from the Kelley Blue Book Residual Value Guide.

Recognized vehicles are awarded for their projected retained value following the initial five-year ownership period.

“Once again, Toyota and Porsche earn tops honors in the brand and luxury brand categories, respectively, with the highest average projected resale value among their full model lineups,” KBB director of residual values Eric Ibara said in a news release.

“You can be confident a vehicle will retain its value well if you pick from Kelley Blue Book's list of Best Resale Value Award winners,” he said.

While a 2018 model-year vehicle only will retain about 35.1 percent of its original value, each vehicle named in Kelley Blue Book's Top 10 for Best Resale Value is projected to retain more than 46 percent of their MSRP.

After five years, the Toyota Tacoma, which is named this year’s top Best Resale Value vehicle in the mid-size pickup truck category, is expected to bring 61 percent of its MSRP, according to KBB.

“The Top 10 vehicle winners are predominantly trucks, which reflects the high demand that exists for these models. Despite the higher incentives available on trucks today, used-car buyers are willing to pay more for trucks, relative to the initial MSRP, than they are for sedans. Without the prospect of higher gas prices, this trend doesn't appear to be slowing,” Ibara explained.

The list of the top 2018 Best Resale Value vehicles includes the following models:

  1. Chevrolet Colorado
  2. Jeep Wrangler
  3. Chevrolet Silverado
  4. Subaru WRX
  5. Ford F-Series
  6. Toyota 4Runner
  7. GMC Sierra
  8. Toyota Tacoma
  9. Honda Ridgeline
  10. Toyota Tundra

Residual values used for award calculations are based on the 2018 model-year vehicles featured in the January/February 2018 KBB Residual Value Guide.

The automotive analysts who establish KBB Residual Values review output from statistical models built upon millions of transactions, according to the company.

Additionally, low-volume vehicles are excluded from award consideration unless there are being evaluated within in the electric, luxury, sports car and high-performance categories.

Residual values demonstrate the projected auction values of vehicles with 75,000 miles after a five-year lease or ownership period, according to KBB.

RMS receives Car Remarketing Award at Fleet Europe Remarketing Forum


RMS Automotive recently announced it took home the inaugural Car Remarketing Award at the in Estoril, Portugal.

Senior director of RMS Automotive European sales and marketing Sebastian Fuchs accepted the prize during the awards ceremony at the end of the forum organized by Nexus Communications.

The company was recognized for “the innovative character of the company, the added value for the customer, the good Return of Investment (ROI) and because it is a future-proof company,” RMS Automotive said in an email.

The global enterprise software provider currently holds operations or contracts in 29 countries, and service is available in 29 languages and 42 currencies, according to the RMS Automotive website.

The 2017 Car Remarketing Award jury included Marcel de Rycker, managing director of International Warranty Solutions; David Baudeweyns, sales and business development at Nexus Communication; Frank Jacobs, editor at the Fleet Europe; and Luc De Moor, managing director at Educam Group.

In addition to RMS Automotive, this year’s award contestants included ALD Automotive, Aston Barclay, AutoBid, Autorola, DAT Consulting, GT Motive and Reezocar.

AuSM founder Ron Smith to retire Jan. 1

CARY, N.C. - 

Ron Smith, the founder of AuSM and its parent company, S&A Cherokee, has announced his retirement, which will be effective on Jan. 1.

Smith, who will remain a part-owner of S&A Cherokee in retirement, has gradually delegated day-to-day operational duties to fellow owners/principals Bill Zadeits and Chuck Norman over the past year.

“Ron is an incredible businessman, mentor, boss and partner, and an even better husband and father,” said Zadeits, who is the publisher of AuSM. “We hope to continue his legacy of providing excellent service and communications with the highest ethical standards to our clients and constituents.”

“I can’t say enough about what Ron has done for me professionally and personally,” said Norman. “It’s truly been an honor working with him, and after decades of hard work and sacrifice, he’s earned a rewarding retirement. We know he’s just a phone call or email away, but everyone on our staff wishes him their best.”

Smith will remain part of the S&A Cherokee management team, which includes Norman, Smith, Zadeits, Amanda Dunlap and Michael Colborn.

Smith founded public relations firm Smith and Associates in 1982, before starting Cherokee Publishing Company eight years later.  The activities of the PR firm and publishing company were then established as one business entity, as the company was rebranded S&A Cherokee in 2005.

The company now includes two divisions: S&A Communications, a PR and marketing firm; and AuSM, a publishing company that produces such publications as AuSM, SubPrime Auto Finance News, BHPH Report and AuSM Canada.

CMG also produces digital publications and organizes/operates automotive trade conferences, including Used Car Week.  

Lifetime achievement award

It was at this year’s Used Car Week conference where Smith was the recipient of the AuSM Lifetime Achievement Award.

AuSM correspondent Arlena Sawyers was on hand for the award presentation, and provided this recap below:

But before becoming a publisher and an entrepreneur, Smith was a journalist. He started the National Independent Automobile Dealers Association’s Used Car Dealer Magazine while working for the association.

After NIADA took the publication in-house in 1990 Smith shunned naysayers who said the industry didn’t need a publication dedicated to the used-car business. AuSM was born.

Smith recognized that the used-car industry was growing and evolving and he wanted to be a part of it.

“The manufacturers, the auction association, the independent dealers, the franchise dealers, all of those people,” have all been instrumental in that growth, Smith said. “We’ve been fortunate to see it grow dramatically.”

Smith said his staff is “outstanding” and that support of his wife Donna, helped his dreams become reality.

The AuSM Lifetime Achievement Award has been renamed the Ron Smith Lifetime Achievement Award.

Smith on AuSM Podcast 

Prior to Used Car Week, we recorded an intervew with Smith for the AuSM Podcast. 

Check out our conversation, recorded earlier this fall, below.

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