The Used Car Dealers Association of Ontario recently looked to discover how much curbsiding remains a problem in the region. An analysis of online advertisements posted on three popular websites between Aug. 1 and Oct. 21 revealed some astonishing numbers.
UCDA's search turned up 76,000 ads accounting for more than 48,000 unique vehicles in Ontario. Officials said the “top prize” went to a single individual in Ottawa who advertised 38 vehicles. Meanwhile, a Toronto resident was promoting 24 units.
The association discovered 530 different curbsiders were each advertising three vehicles for sale, while another 2,913 individuals were offering two units apiece.
“All this activity in just 90 days — and this exposes only the cars they ‘advertised,’” UCDA declared.
The association’s analysis stemmed from a review of listings at Kijiji, AutoTrader and Auto Catch. UCDA indicated the majority of the 3,825 total curbsiders used Kijiji’s free listings. In fact, this made up 76 percent of the overall total.
“Finding curbsiders there was like shooting fish in a barrel,” association officials pointed out.
Also as part of the study, officials ed some of the curbsiders. Oftentimes, they said the curbsider would indicate the vehicle advertised had been sold, but “he had a couple more” available.
UCDA turned over its study findings to the Ontario Motor Vehicle Industry Council as well as the Canada Revenue Agency’s HST Enforcement and Audit Section. UCDA believes OMVIC has strong track record of prosecuting curbsiders, levying a minimum fine of $2,500.
“These studies just show the tip of the curbsiding iceberg,” UCDA officials contend. “Like most legitimate dealers, curbers don’t advertise all of their vehicles, and many don’t advertise at all. So the true total is likely far higher than our results show.
“Our studies only shine a light on those cars that curbsiders advertised,” they continued. “We’d doubt that there’s a member anywhere that doesn’t pass a suspected curber’s house on the route to the dealership."
J.D. Power provided the following data in its 2010 Customer Retention Study regarding the retention rates for 34 brands:
|Industry Average||48 percent|
|Land Rover||41 percent|
The Pre-Owned Automobile Dealers Alliance is offering dealership management another free opportunity to learn more about the CarMark Certified Pre-Owned program before 2010 concludes.
A pair of dealership executives who have already seen what the CarMark program can do, along with CarMark’s national director and a representative from one of the POADA’s partners, are scheduled to participate in an upcoming Webinar. The event is scheduled to begin at 2 p.m. ET on Tuesday. It will be the last in the POADA’s yearlong series of Pre-Owned LIVE sessions.
Randy Beeninga, owner of Auto Focus in Greensboro, N.C., and Ken Champagne, president of Gem Chevrolet in Willimantic, Conn., plan to discuss how this unique certified program has helped to enhance their used-vehicle inventory for customers, as well as boost sales.
Also joining the 45-minute session will be Dave Coleville, national director of CarMark Certified Pre-Owned, and Chris Gluth, the senior partner development manager at Carfax.
The panel will highlight the value of CarMark Certified, which officially rolled out earlier this year. The Webinar also has a segment scheduled so dealers can ask questions and hear responses straight from dealers already using the program.
“Franchise, former franchise and top independent dealers can make more by certifying through the CarMark Certified brand, an OEM-equivalent certification program with no royalty or franchise fees,” explained POADA executive Bill Zadeits.
“The CarMark program is available exclusively to members of the POADA, and membership is open to all qualified dealers at no cost,” Zadeits added.
Free registration for the Webinar: CarMark Certified Pre-Owned — A CPO Program for ALL Dealers — can be completed .
More details about the POADA are available at . Previous sessions of Pre-Owned LIVE that covered a myriad of other topics crucial to dealer success can be accessed .
CarWoo set out recently to refute a longtime belief that dealers treat customers differently because of gender.
Turns out, CarWoo’s analysis showed that in 80 percent of cases, there was no difference in either offers extended or negotiation styles based on the buyer gender or dealer gender. Officials said their study reviewed marketplace transactions for vehicles of the same make, trim and option package in the same geographic area to get a good understanding of trends.
However in 20 percent of the cases, CarWoo conceded there was a significant difference in offers extended to men versus offers extended to women.
Here’s how the company arrived at these determinations.
CarWoo set seven parameters to create a sample of deals started by both men and women:
—Limited to one major metropolitan area in the U.S.
—All deals were for the same make and model of vehicle.
—The deals were started in same time frame within two to three weeks of each other.
—Limited to a vehicle with a small option set.
—Limited to new units with an MSRP of less than $40,000.
—Limited to buyers where there was no ambiguity of gender, such as someone named Pat or Chris. CarWoo stressed that its program is anonymous but it does show the buyer’s first names to dealers.
—The same set of dealers was observed across the trial period.
Drilling down deeper in the study results, CarWoo indicated 65 percent of dealers offered the exact same price to both men and women. When there was a difference, the company said 15 percent of dealers made an offer with a price difference being less than $500, while 20 percent presented a deal with a price difference greater than $500.
For those dealers who presented offers with the greatest difference, CarWoo wanted to learn why. Here are two responses the company shared.
“It’s a negotiation, and you have to size up the person who’s across the table from you,” one dealer stated. “If I sense that person is going to be a strong negotiator, I might set my price higher.”
Another dealer shared that “there are cultures where negotiation is a part of life. In some in fact you lose face if you don’t negotiate. Culture impacts my pricing because the price I sell the car at determines how much I get paid in the end.”
“What is surprising in this data is not the 20 percent of the cases where there is a significant difference. The eye-opener is that 80 percent of the time there is no difference at all. That is certainly not what people commonly believe or expect,” declared Peter Chiu, vice president of product management for CarWoo.
“Beyond the raw data, we also interviewed a number of dealers, and in the cases where there was a consequential difference in the offers, it seems that this was not a case of gender bias, but rather was a case of a skilled negotiator making a judgment about how best to close a sale,” he continued.
Tommy McClung, chief executive officer of emphasized that this study showed how important the company service can be to connect shoppers and dealers together.
“The CarWoo marketplace data is a rich repository of real time market data. We see thousands of transactions per month and are constantly reviewing this data to extract value for both consumers and for the auto industry,” McClung explained. “This analysis represents a particularly significant finding in an industry where distrust is rampant."
Ford is refurbishing one of its plants in hopes the additional capacity and infrastructure will enhance its capability to produce fuel-efficient units and respond to quick-changing dealer and consumer demand.
The automaker said Thursday it’s taking $600 million to transform its Louisville Assembly Plant into a modern, flexible facility for manufacturing the next-generation Escape for the North America market starting late next year.
Executives pointed out this plant is the third North American body-on-frame truck facility that Ford is re-tooling to enable production of fuel-efficient products from its global vehicle platforms. They noted Louisville Assembly has been building the Ford Explorer since 1989.
Ford indicated that it moved production of the all-new 2011 Explorer to Chicago Assembly in order to overhaul the Louisville facility.
When the transformed Louisville Assembly Plant restarts production next year, officials mentioned it will operate on two shifts with approximately 2,900 employees. Currently, they said the plant uses only one shift and approximately 1,100 employees.
Ford thinks the 1,800 additional jobs are expected to be filled through a combination of transferring employees from other facilities, re-activating workers on indefinite layoff at the time of launch and hiring new workers.
The Escape scheduled to be produced at this reconfigured plant is expected to debut at the North American International Auto Show in January, according to officials.
Beyond making the Escape, Ford highlighted the capability of the tooling and facility upgrades in its final assembly area and body shop. Louisville is scheduled to house reprogrammable tooling in the body shop geared to allow the plant to produce multiple vehicle models at the same time without requiring downtime for tooling changeover. Ford believes this strategy should make the Louisville Assembly Plant its most flexible high-volume plant in the world.
With this new technology, the OEM explained Louisville Assembly can build up to six different vehicles at the same time, allowing Ford to meet demand more quickly in the event of potential shifting customer preferences dictated by changing economic conditions.
“Our Louisville Assembly Plant transformation further proves our commitment to American manufacturing and our commitment to deliver the high-quality, fuel-efficient vehicles people really want,” declared Mark Fields, Ford’s president of The Americas.
“Working closely with the UAW and Kentucky officials, we have found a way to competitively deliver an important new vehicle that is good for our customers and supports our plan to deliver a well-balanced product portfolio of cars, trucks and utilities,” Fields continued.
Jim Tetreault, Ford’s vice president of North America manufacturing, elaborated how the flexibility this refurbished facility should have coincides with the automaker’s overall strategy.
“Manufacturing flexibility is a key to competitiveness, and we are continually exploring ways to raise the bar in this critical area of the business,” Tetreault insisted.
“While we are launching Louisville Assembly Plant with one key product — the next-generation Ford Escape — we are building in the flexibility to produce other vehicles at the plant in the future, depending upon volume requirements, customer preferences and other factors that affect vehicle demand,” he continued.
Ford emphasized the Commonwealth of Kentucky and the city of Louisville were key partners in strengthening the foundation for its commitment to American manufacturing in Louisville.
The OEM indicated state and local partners have committed up to $240 million in tax incentives during the next 10 years, based on current and potential future investments and job creation at the company’s two Kentucky facilities — Louisville Assembly Plant and Kentucky Truck Plant.
Officials explained Kentucky's incentives are based upon an initial combined Ford investment at both facilities of about $800 million — the $600 million for Louisville Assembly transformation and the previously invested $200 million for accommodating Ford Expedition and Lincoln Navigator production at Kentucky Truck Plant. They added the incentives also allow for further future investment.
“We are grateful to the Commonwealth of Kentucky and the city of Louisville for their support of Ford and our commitment to manufacturing here,” Fields asserted.
“With Louisville Assembly Plant up and running next year, Ford will have nearly 6,600 employees in Kentucky, and the work we have done together makes this an important manufacturing center of excellence for us,” he went on to say.
Gov. Steve Beshear responded by stating, “Kentucky takes great pride in its ongoing partnership with Ford Motor Co. The transformation of the Louisville Assembly Plant demonstrates the depth of that relationship and the tremendous results that can occur when state and local government and the private sector work together.
“It is because of our relationship that the Commonwealth proactively approved an amended incentive package that will create the flexibility to potentially increase Ford’s investment and jobs at Louisville Assembly Plant and Kentucky Truck Plant over time,” Beshear also noted.
Furthermore, Ford mentioned its investment of $600 million in Louisville Assembly Plant for production of the next-generation Escape also is supported by the company’s green partnership with the U.S. Department of Energy.
Officials explained the Louisville Assembly Plant is one of 11 Ford facilities in the U.S. participating in the Advanced Technology Vehicles Manufacturing Incentives Program initiated by Congress and implemented by the Obama administration. The program is meant to help develop advanced technology vehicles and strengthen American manufacturing across the country.
“Only one word can capture the magnitude of today’s announcement — wow,”declared Louisville mayor Jerry Abramson.
“Ford is making a long-lasting investment in the company’s future in Louisville, Kentucky and a tremendous commitment to our citizens by dramatically expanding the number of good-paying jobs,” Abramson concluded.
Coming on the heels of Honda announcing it will discontinue the Element, Forbes revealed its list of 2010 automotive flops, which included the boxy utility as well as a handful of other models from that manufacturer.
The site turned to a panel to pick its top flops. The Element as well as the Insight and Crosstour were included on the list. A model from Honda’s luxury brand was also among those the site chose — the Acura ZDX.
The rest of the list included the smart Fortwo Pure Coupe, Lexus HS250h and Suzuki Kizashi
The Forbes panel that compiled this list incorporated nominations from Jake Fisher, senior automotive engineer for Consumer Reports; Troy Snyder, director of product development at NADAGuides.com; and John McElroy, the host of Detroit’s Autoline Daily.
“Dwindling sales is one way to determine an automotive flop. Excessive hype before a launch, with media silence afterward is another. So is a round of scathing reviews from auto critics, and a Consumer Reports rating that places a car among the 10 worst vehicles of the year,” panel members stated.
“Sure, some owners of these vehicles might love their cars and may be completely happy with their purchases. But overall these lines failed to meet expectations,” they added.
The Forbes panel went on to offer more about each vehicle it mentioned.
smart Fortwo Pure Coupe
Why it flopped: Poor handling, poor public perception of its ability to withstand a crash, not enough gains in fuel economy to justify the first two problems and declining sales.
Why it flopped: Poor handling and drive performance when compared to the Prius and low sales.
Why it flopped: There was a lot of excitement about it because this seemed to make total perfect sense, but unfortunately it just didn't perform. The fuel efficiency wasn’t that good — it gets the fuel efficiency of a Toyota Corolla, so sure, it’s got leather, but it doesn’t really live up to what was promised.
Why it flopped: Polarizing looks, small interior, low sales.
Why it flopped: Polarizing design and not as much space in the trunk and rear as consumers expect for a hatchback-crossover-sedan.
Why it flopped: Low awareness of Suzuki brand in America.
Why it flopped: Seven years straight declining sales and odd design.
For the complete story from Forbes, click .