Mercedes-Benz Canada Names 10 New Star Dealers


Mercedes-Benz Canada has chosen its class of 2015 Star Dealers.

Ten dealerships across the country were recognized with the designation this year, which highlights stores' accomplishments in the area of new and pre-owned sales, service and parts, as well as customer satisfaction. 

Ontario was the dominant province this year, with five of the awards doled out to dealers in this area.

Quebec didn’t show up at all this time around, with New Brunswick, Manitoba and Alberta dealerships rounding out the list of this year’s Star dealers.

“The strong momentum Mercedes-Benz is experiencing in Canada would not be possible without the support of our dealer network. Their unwavering commitment to consistently deliver the highest brand experience is the catalyst that drives our business forward,” said Tim Reuss, president and chief executive officer of Mercedes-Benz Canada.

“This year, I am pleased to congratulate the dealers who performed with particular distinction by delivering the absolute best at every turn. Star Dealers represent the finest examples of excellence from a truly exceptional group and I commend them for their dedication in embodying the brand’s guiding principle of the best or nothing,” he continued.

The award-winning dealers (from East to West) are as follows:

Ian Brett, Tristar Fine Cars — Saint John, New Brunswick
Peter Santos, Mercedes-Benz Peterborough — Peterborough, Ontario
To be Announced*, Mercedes-Benz Markham — Markham, Ontario
Van Malkhassian, Mercedes-Benz Midtown — Toronto
Jason Ground, Mercedes-Benz Newmarket — Newmarket, Ontario
Sylvester Chuang, Mercedez-Benz Oakville Autohaus — Oakville, Ontario
Brian Lowes, Mercedes-Benz Winnipeg — Winnipeg, Manitoba
Perry Itzcovitch and Steven Itzcovitch, Hyatt Auto Gallery — Calgary, Alberta
Tom Wilson, Weber Motors — Edmonton, Alberta
Sylvester Chuang, Three Point Motors — Victoria, British Columbia

*Mercedes-Benz Canada pointed out the Mercedes-Benz Markham general sales manager recently left the company to pursue other opportunities, and the role has not yet been filled.

DealerRater Sets Dealer of the Year Finalists

WALTHAM, Mass. - 

Dealer review website DealerRater announced today the current leaders in its annual Dealer of the Year Awards Program for North America. The program awards Canadian and U.S. dealerships for distinction in outstanding customer service based on consumer reviews on the DealerRater website.

The final five dealers for each make, for those manufacturers that had more than five dealers nominated, have been selected for each country, with the final winners to be announced at the 2015 NADA Convention and Exposition in San Francisco, Jan. 22-25.

DealerRater will also introduce an expanded annual recognition program for top dealerships in North America in January, which will complement the Dealer of the Year awards.

“We are sharing the preliminary results for the 2015 Dealer of the Year awards to motivate dealers to prioritize customer service through the end of the year,” Gary Tucker, DealerRater’s chief executive officer, said. “We hope that this increase in customer engagement will encourage online reviews and sales. The frontrunners for our Dealer of the Year Awards Program lead by example through using online reviews to build trusting relationships with car shoppers and differentiate themselves from their competition.”

The complete listing of dealers currently left in the running for the Dealer of the Year Awards in Canada can be found .

Canadians Vote Honda & Toyota Tops For Quality


It seems the vehicle preferences of Canadians haven’t changed much in the last year, as the 2014 iteration of ALG’s Canada Brand Perception of Quality (BPQ) rankings look very similar to the 2013 edition.

Once again, Honda, Toyota and Volkswagen are tops for the mainstream sector, with scores of 61.9 percent, 60.6 percent and 60.5 percent, respectively, on a 100-point scale.

And Mercedes-Benz came out ahead in the premium market with a score of 65.8, followed by BMW (65.4) and Porsche (64.3).

“It’s clear that the established German luxury marques, along with Lexus, have a solid advantage in the battle for public perception,” said Geoff Helby, Canada regional director, partner development at ALG.

The company also pointed out overall perception of brand quality in Canada has risen nearly a full point, showing increased confidence in automakers — even amid the extensive recall campaigns launched this year.

Though 2014 BPQ results — which were calculated from an on-line survey of 2,000 recent new-vehicle buyers across Canada —  show similar rankings from last year, ALG pointed out a few notable shifts.

For example, Dodge and GMC moved in “opposite directions”, ALG analysts reported.

Dodge saw a BPQ bump of 2.8 points this time around to 53.8, which was nearly two points more than the overall average of 55. According to survey results, the appreciation for Dodge was split between genders. While women’s opinion of Dodge went up nearly 2.5 points, men’s fell by approximately half a point.

On the other hand, General Motors’ truck brand saw perception fall by one point to 53.3, which was enough to drop the brand down five spots in the overall rankings.

Opinions of GMC dropped among both genders,  and ALG pointed out that various demographic groups, such as “leading-edge boomers” and buyers without a college education, also lowered their opinions of the brand.

Another mainstream brand to see a drop in perception of quality was Hyundai, which has moved forward recently in other avenues.

The brand, though, ranks just above average for BPQ, falling below brands such as Subaru, Jeep and Ford.

“Hyundai's biggest shift was among trailing-edge boomers and, more worryingly, millennials,” Helby said.

And new for this year, ALG broke down the BPQ results by geographic region, highlighting the Quebec results as particularly interesting.

In Quebec, VW ranked significantly above Toyota.

“The German brand also had an advantage when it comes to younger buyers, with Millennials and Gen-Xers ranking marginally below Honda in terms of perception of quality,” Helby explained. “Many of these buyers did not experience the quality issues Volkswagen struggled through in the early- to mid-2000s, and just associate the Volkswagen name with German engineering.”

And this dedication to German engineering was particularly obvious in the luxury rankings. Results for the premium brands panned out in similar “clusters,”Helby pointed out, with the Germans at the top, the second-tier Japanese luxury brands near the average, and the U.S. brands towards the bottom.

“Each of the latter groups have struggled to compete with the Teutonic luxury juggernaut, and have continually sought to reinvent themselves in order to jump-start their market share, though Acura and Infiniti get the benefit of the positive association with Japanese quality,” Helby said.

Interestingly, the biggest alteration in the premium sector was seen toward the bottom of the list, with Tesla (15) and Alfa Romeo (14) switching places.

ALG asserts this change is due to increasing familiarity with the Tesla brand, while Alfa Romeo “still relies on public memory of its brand to inform buyers of its quality levels, which is not conducive to high levels of perception.”

While Alfa lost more than a full index point, Tesla gained 4.5 points.

SiriusXM Canada Subscriber Wins Her Wheels


SiriusXM Canada recently announced the winner of its summer Win Your Wheels contest.

Bonnie Stimers, a resident of Peterborough, won up to $40,000 to use toward a new or used vehicle purchase.

The contest, which was available to any customer who signed up for a one-year subscription to SiriusXM at the time of purchasing their vehicle, was won by Stimers, who purchased a 2014 Hyundai Tucson from Carmax Hyundai in Lindsay, Ontario. She was randomly chosen in September.

“I was absolutely floored when they let me know I had won my brand new car,” Stimers said. “It’s exciting enough to get a new vehicle, but to find out someone else is footing the bill is something else. I will enjoy my new car even more now, as well as my SiriusXM subscription!”

James Byun, SiriusXM Canada’s vice president, OEM, presented Stimers with her check on Thursday, Nov. 6.

“This was a great opportunity for us to reward a subscriber,” Byun said. “It also gave us a chance to talk to dealerships across Canada, who are so vital to our business.”

Toyota Celebrates 50 Years in Canada


It has been 50 years since Toyota entered the Canadian marketplace.

A half a century ago, Toyota granted a distributorship agreement to Canadian Motor Industries, Ltd., which would later become Toyota Canada Inc. (TCI).

The following year, TCI would sell only 755 vehicles.

To put the automaker’s growth in perspective, Canadians have purchased over 4.6 million vehicle as of this year, and the lineup includes 40 vehicles.

"On this special occasion of our 50th anniversary, we thank Canadians for making Toyota a part of their lives, and allowing us to be woven into the social and economic fabric of this great country," said Seiji Ichii, president and chief executive officer of TCI. "Our customers are the inspiration that motivate us — and they are behind the passion that drives our innovation in the automotive industry."

And TCI has put an emphasis on creating jobs in the country, as well.

Today, almost half of the Toyota vehicles sold in Canada are made at Toyota Motor Manufacturing Canada Inc. (TMMC).

The Toyota Corolla and RAV4, and the Lexus RX350 and RX450 hybrid are built at TMMC.

And this year, TMMC also hit a milestone, celebrating the production of its 6 millionth vehicle.

TCI employs 700 associates, and the total of Canadians employed by Toyota in Canada reaches about 11,000 when adding team members, as well as at Toyota Financial Services,  the company said.

And when taking the network of 285 dealerships into account, total employment reaches approximately 24,000 Canadians.

The company said that innovation is at the heart of the automaker’s long-term vision, both for Canada and on a global scale.

In fact, the milestone of 100,000 TCI hybrids sold in Canada was recently reached.

Since 2000 when the Toyota Prius hybrid was first introduced to Canada, based on the total Toyota/Lexus hybrid units sold, using approved government of Canada test methodology, Toyota and Lexus hybrids have saved Canadians almost 260 million liters of fuel and helped avoid over 600,000 tons of C02 emissions, according to TCI.

The company also works to support Canadian communities, with help from its dealerships. Toyota Canada Inc. and the Toyota Canada Foundation work within the community with a primary focus on the environment, safety education and quality.

Toyota and its dealerships support the Toyota Evergreen Learning Grounds program and the Toyota sponsored KartSTART, a driver-safety training program.

In addition, there is support for research in telematics at Canadian universities such as the Toyota Collaborative Safety Research Center (CSRC) project at the University of Toronto, and research done by specialists at a dedicated Cold Weather Testing facility in Timmins, Ontario.

Nissan, Toyota Are 2014 Fleet Favorites

BINGHAM FARMS, Michigan - 

Two Asian automakers and one of the Big 3 topped the list of the 2014 Vincentric Best Fleet Value in Canada awards.

The results of the third annual set of awards were recently announced, and Nissan and Toyota shared the top spot. Each of these brands won a total of eight Vincentric awards.

And even as General Motors recalls this year has the automaker at a rocky point crossing the mid-year line, GM followed closely behind its Asian counterparts with a total of seven award-winning fleet vehicles.  

Chrysler, Mercedes-Benz and Ford were multiple-award winners, as well, taking home the titles of four best fleet value awards each. The Mercedes-Benz Sprinter was a high player this year, winning three of the heavy duty van segments.

Ford, on the other hand, showed its truck savviness with awards notched by the F-150 pickup, as well as the E-150 passenger van.

Lastly, Mitsubishi notched two awards this time around.

"With a three-year history of fleet awards in Canada, we are noticing some trends,” stated David Wurster, president of Vincentric. "The Mercedes-Benz Sprinter and the Toyota hybrids have had strong performances all three years, with GM and Ford also consistently delivering numerous award winners.The Nissan line-up and Ram trucks also had a strong presence in the awards this year, which will give fleet operators a wide range of choices when using total cost of ownership to help guide their vehicle selections," he added.  

Vincentric also pointed out a few factors behind the leading automakers’ success this year.

First off, Nissan’s success was spurred by its crossover class, according to Vincentric analysts, as well as a “strong performance” by its NV product line in the van class.

Toyota rounded up its eight awards through its comprehensive lineup in the passenger vehicles and crossover classes. This includes a few hybrid winners, as well, Vincentric pointed out — one of which is the ever-popular Toyota Prius.

GM’s fleet vehicle prowess was led by its two luxury nameplates: Buick and Cadillac, which notched a total of five awards.

Dodge and Ram brands earned two awards each for Chrysler, with the Ram 2500 and 3500 pickups sweeping the heavy-duty pickup segments.

According to the company, to determine the 2014 Vincentric Best Fleet Value in Canada awards, Vincentric analyzed over 1,900 vehicle configurations in 24 different lifecycle cost scenarios, using eight cost factors including depreciation, fees and taxes, financing, fuel, insurance, maintenance, opportunity cost and repairs.

To check out the full list of 2014 Vincentric Best Fleet Value in Canada Awards,

IARA Canada Announces Industry Award Winners


Awarded during a ceremony at the recent 2014 AuSM Canada conference, the International Automotive Remarketers’ Alliance (IARA) in Canada announced this morning the recipients of the Annual Remarketer of the Year and two Industry Icon Awards.

This year’s Remarketer of the Year is Doug Collis, remarketing sales manager at Ford of Canada.

The award is chosen by members of the IARA by a nomination process and is intended to recognize an individual who contributed to the awareness, the stature, and overall strength of remarketing as an aspect of the automotive industry, IARA officials explained.

Collis has been with Ford since 1979 and held positions in various areas of the organization.  

Early in his career with Ford, Collis spent two years in Western Canada before returning to Ontario in 2000 to begin his career in “the world or remarketing,” IARA shared.

“With oversight to all of Ford Canada’s remarketing activities Mr. Collis is a genuine expert in the area, although he would most likely disavow a label such as expert,” IARA officials shared. “It is this humble and sociable nature that makes him a welcome addition to any room or conversation as he freely shares his knowledge with anyone.”

The IARA extended honors to two other automotive industry veterans, as well, who were both awarded IARA’s Industry Icon awards.

These Industry Icon awards are presented by the IARA to members who have made substantial contributions to the IARA and the remarketing industry at-large.

Recipients of the IARA Industry Icon Award are Alex Johnston, of Hyundai Auto Canada; and Arnold Lee, from GM Financial.

Johnston, remarketing manager at Hyundai Auto Canada, also oversees the company’s CPO business.

Highlighting the exec’s background, Johnston began his career in the late 1960’s in automotive finance. 

He then worked at American Motors before leaving to co-found Trexar, a leasing company which served Honda Canada, among others. 

After a series of acquisitions Trexar became part of GE Capital where he was actively involved in their growth in the Canadian Market. 

“Johnston was also instrumental in HSBC’s success in the automotive finance business before moving to what was then Financialinx in 2005 and eventually moving to his current position at Hyundai,” IARA pointed out.

Lee, GM Financial’s vice president of remarketing, oversees all aspects of GM Financial’s lease-end process, and he is also responsible for the remaining Financialinx vehicles in GM Financial’s portfolio.

Lee had already begun his automotive career, having worked form British Motor Corp., when he emigrated from Ireland to Canada in 1967.

After holding the position of vice president at two leasing firm, Lee joined Financialinx in 2002.

“Known as a technology pioneer, Lee led the development of an online leased-vehicle return/upstream sales channel process which, while commonplace today, it was industry-leading when it was rolled out in the mid-1990s,” IARA officials sad.

The IARA presented these awards at a ceremony on March 17 during the 2014 AuSM Canada Conference held in Toronto.


2014 ARC Dealer Of The Year: Andrew Lennox Talks Branding, Corporate Ethics

NEWMARKET, Ontario  - 

Andrew Lennox — general manager of Pfaff Volkswagen in Newmarket, Ontario — is already a familiar name with readers as he was featured in the January/ February issue of the AuSM Canada Digital Magazine.

Now, Lennox is back as the 2014 AuSM Canada Dealer of the Year.

Chosen by AuSM Canada staff and our industry partners, The AuSM Canada Dealer of the Year Award, sponsored by Equifax, was presented at an award ceremony on March 17 at the 2014 AuSM Canada conference in Toronto.

In response to the honor, Lennox included his team at Pfaff VW and mentors throughout his career in his accomplishments: “The important thing for me is you only get here through the people surrounding you. And I have been fortunate to be surrounded by some fantastic sales managers and service managers, and that really goes the whole way.

“This really isn’t about me; it’s about the people that I am fortunate enough to work with every single day. I have always thought of myself as someone there to support rather than direct. I am a bit of a director, but I want people to know that I’m there to support them,” he continued.

He also pointed out an award such as this is brought about by stellar performances from all dealership staff — sales, service, reconditioning, and more.

“I share this accolade with all those who touch a used car along the way, and continue to be amazed by the fantastic volume of sales we are producing each and every month,” he said.

To learn a little more about our 2014 Dealer of the Year, AuSM Canada chatted with Lennox, covering a variety of topics including why this GM first got into the automotive business.

More Than 20 Years In The Biz

Lennox began his career in an unintentional manner of sorts. He started selling cars in 1988 at Greg Little Mazda in Richmond Hill, Ontario, and what started as a summer job quickly evolved into much more.

“I started it as a summer job. I was in the middle of going to school. I enjoyed it so much I didn’t go back to school,” Lennox said laughingly. “Really, I think it got in my blood really early on. I love cars and I love people, and the two are a great combination.” 

Lennox quickly jumped up from salesman to business manager, which helped launch a career in automotive dealerships that has spanned more than 20 years.

Over the years, Lennox worked with Town & Country BMW in Markham, Ontario, before working with Honda dealers for 17 years.

“Looking back to my Honda days, I still think of the fantastic times working with industry leaders and dealership groups, specifically, that all had this unique knack of taking care of customers first,” Lennox said.

After leaving Honda and spending six years at Roy Foss Automotive Group in Thorn Hill, Ontario, Lennox joined H.J. Pfaff in 2012.

Lennox explained he had an interesting start to his job with Pfaff, taking on an overseeing role before settling into his current position.

“I was initially more of a director and oversaw the construction of the Audi and VW store. I was initially there to oversee the construction; It was rewarding to build two new dealerships in Newmarket,” Lennox said.

Aligning Ethics

Lennox explained one of biggest reasons behind why he enjoys coming to work is the company values at H.J. Pfaff.

“There are a lot of dealers out there that strive for just net profit, and then there’s dealers who grow net profit organically by taking care of their customer base. I think with the Pfaff group, I have found a group where my ethics and the corporate ethics are perfectly aligned,” he shared.

Chris Pfaff, president and chief executive officer of the dealership group, is directly involved with each and every dealership, Lennox said — a boon for each store’s sales performance.

“That’s fantastic because he also has a very good pulse on what’s going on in the marketplace, and it’s great to work for someone like that,” Lennox added.

In fact, direct ownership involvement is not the only unique thing about Pfaff.

“We have a different style of business here,” Lennox said. “I do not have a used-car manager.” 

Instead, Pfaff VW employs sales managers — who are not specific to used cars — who work directly with inventory buyers and remarketing specialists that help get inventory bought and up online.

“It’s not the textbook used-car manager role that we’ve developed here,” Lennox said. “It’s basically inventory coordinators working with sales managers that are not specific to used-cars.”

He also noted the store tries to hire a lot of young people, pulling many of its best employees from Georgian College.

“We believe in hiring a lot of young people. We continually train young people on how to buy cars for the marketplace ... It’s a bit of a new process that we are working on here, and it’s working very well for us,” he explained.

Impact of VW Brand

Not only is Lennox aligned with the dealership group brand, but he also noted the Volkswagen reputation continues to impress.

“I had no experience with VW before I came here. The brand was not one I focused on,” said Lennox. “VW brand image is continuing to get stronger and stronger. We see it in our market share results, and VW Canada sales continue to grow. They’ve got a very solid forecast to be one of the world’s top auto manufacturers by 2018.”

VW is unique, Lennox said, because of its unusually loyal customer base, “perhaps more so than even Honda or Toyota.”

“They (VW buyers) are looking for a premium brand and a premium driving experience. And you know they are getting it at a very good value. For example, the fully equipped Jetta you can get for about $19,000. They know they are getting a German-engineered car that is being priced for the market.”

Lennox also pointed out VW’s client base tends to be not only brand loyal, but also dealership loyal, as well.

“I think that speaks to the reputation that the Pfaff group has in the industry and among its customers,” he concluded.

2013 Ford Auction Quality Award Winners Announced


Ford Motor Company of Canada Ltd.  has officially announced the award winners for the 2013 Auction Quality Program.

The Auction Quality Program is an annual metrics driven auction performance tracking initiative which focuses on the overall quality of auction services and vehicle reconditioning quality at 13 ADESA Auction sites across Canada in 2013.  

Auctions were divided into two sub-groups:

Group A – includes larger auctions that host Ford sponsored factory closed and open sales

Group B – includes smaller auctions that host Ford sponsored open sales

Winners in each grouping were competing for top performance recognition in two categories: Overall Auction Quality and Reconditioning Excellence.

“The Auction Quality Program recognizes outstanding achievement in site services and rates each Ford sponsored auction on its performance as it relates to the standards that Ford of Canada has set out, and encourages the auctions to provide a high level of service to our customers,” said Steve Ross, Ford of Canada’s remarketing operations manager.

“With the auction’s support, Ford of Canada can continue to offer all its customers an impressive selection of high-quality, pre-owned vehicles”, he continued.

The winners of the 2013 Auction Quality Award are:

Group A – ADESA Vancouver with a score of 9.44 out of 10 (4th consecutive year)

Group B – ADESA Saskatoon, with a score of 9.15 out of 10.

“All of the winning auctions received their superior Auction Quality ratings from Ford of Canada dealerships, Ford Remarketing Services personnel and by demonstrating outstanding performance in operational processes including auction communication, on-site auction experience, services provided, vehicle preparation, vehicle delivery and overall satisfaction,” said Doug Collis, Ford of Canada’s remarketing sales manager.

Ford of Canada also announced the winners of the 2013 Reconditioning Excellence Award, which is designed to challenge auction facilities across Canada to exceed Ford of Canada dealer’s reconditioning expectations and to perform their operational procedures at the highest level possible.

Reconditioning Excellence Award winner’s performance in 2013 was measured by Ford of Canada dealers.

The winners of the 2013 Reconditioning Award are:

Group A – ADESA Halifax with a score of 4.85 out of 5 (3rd consecutive year)

Group B – ADESA Ottawa & ADESA Moncton, each with scores of 5 out of 5 (Moncton 6th consecutive year)

Ford of Canada congratulated the general managers of each winning auction site to show appreciation for an excellent year in 2013. The general managers for each winning site are as follows:

•    ADESA Vancouver: John Mac Donald

•    ADESA Saskatoon:  Garnet Rathgeber

•    ADESA Halifax: Lisa Scott

•    ADESA Moncton: Keith Fudge

•    ADESA Ottawa: Joanne Marzsin

In 2013, Ford of Canada welcomed its newest auction partner, Manheim Canada, and launched Ford’s remarketing activities at Manheim Toronto and Manheim Montreal.  Both Manheim locations will take part in Ford of Canada’s Auction Quality Program for 2014.  This increases the number of participating auction locations to 15 across Canada.

 “Ford Sponsored Auction partnerships are important to us, and we thank them for their contribution. With this support, Ford of Canada will continue to offer our customers an impressive selection of high quality, pre-owned vehicles,” continued Doug Collis in closing.


AJAC Awards Name Mazda6 2014 Canadian Car of the Year


During the Canadian International Auto Show in Toronto, the Automobile Journalists Association of Canada announced their picks for the 2014 AJAC Canadian Car of the Year Awards.

AJAC declared the 2014 Mazda6 the 2014 Canadian Car of the Year.

Interestingly, this is the second time that Mazda Canada has earned the overall Canadian Car of the Year title, AJAC reported, having previously won the title in 2004 for the Mazda3.

The awards are given based on a combination of objective data and evaluation by 80 journalists of 174 vehicles, AJAC officials explained.

Commenting on the news, Kory Koreeda, president of Mazda Canada, said, "We are truly honoured that AJAC has named the 2014 Mazda6 as their Canadian Car of the Year, our flagship car that demonstrates the best Mazda has to offer.

“This car introduced a combination of style, safety, fuel economy, and dynamic driving into the midsize segment that has never been available before, and winning CCOTY is an overwhelming acknowledgement of that,” he continued.

The Mazda6 was also the winner of the "Best New Family Car (over $30,000)" class.

Twelve category winners were eligible for the top honors of either the "Canadian Car of the Year" or "Canadian Utility Vehicle of the Year" after being announced on Dec. 3 of last year.

Mazda won three of the 12 categories, while General Motors and Kia each had double wins. 

Other winners included Acura, Jeep, Lexus, Infiniti and Mercedes-Benz.

The whole point of AJAC's Canadian Car of the Year awards. AJAC stated, “is to provide consumers with sound, comparative information on vehicles that are new to the market.”

The vote results and comparative data from the entire 2014 CCOTY awards program are posted to the AJAC website for shoppers to use as a buying guide.  

Interestingly, this could be used as a dealer tool, as well, since shoppers seem to be taking note of the award winners.

Maritz Research, on behalf of AJAC and in association with Honda Canada, conducted a survey of 2013 Honda Accord buyers to test their recognition of AJAC and the Honda Accord as winner of the 2013 Canadian Car of the Year award, the association explained.

All of the survey respondents noted they were award the Honda Accord was selected as the 2013 Canadian Car of the Year by AJAC.

And 56 percent of survey respondents said the AJAC Canadian Car of the Year Award had a positive influence in the purchase decision.