When the pandemic crashed into our lives last March, the prognosis in the automotive retailing industry was apocalyptic. Selling cars has been almost perversely different from every other retailing experience in the modern age: haggling is the norm, deals are done face to face and sealed with a handshake, and cars are almost never purchased without a test drive.
More than any other consumer good, our cars are an expression of our identities. That’s why, when a discontinued model rises Lazarus-like from the grave, it’s news. Both Ford and Fiat Chrysler are bringing back two famous SUVs that were last seen in the ‘90s, trying to recapture their past glory. Both companies have revealed the direction they’re going, but whether the redesigned vehicles will catch on is anyone’s guess. Continue Reading
The Citroën Ami looks like something out of an early ‘70s sci-fi movie, a tiny motorized box that transports our protagonist from one side of a futuristic city to meet with the supercomputer that runs their civilization. Released in the spring to the European market, the Ami is a shade below eight feet long, seats two, and gets around with an efficient electric motor with a top speed of 28mph and a range of 46 miles and can be charged from a standard home outlet. In other words, it’s a car perfectly engineered for city living: easy to park, cheap to drive, and with enough kick to handle traffic. It’s already a hit in the infamously gridlocked Paris. Continue Reading
When customers’ transportation needs and income take a nosedive at the same time, you don’t need to be a marketing guru to know it’s not good news for car dealerships. I’m not here to pile on more gloom and doom. On the contrary; while the market is not in the best shape, the news isn’t universally bad. So keep in mind that while certain numbers are down in many cases, what we’re seeing is not the death of an industry, but rather a call for deeper change. A simple signal to adapt to the changing terrain.
When the pandemic first landed on us in late March, we all knew it would have an effect on the automotive retailing industry. Prognostications were everywhere, and they were uniformly bleak. As with most things, the truth ended up being far more complex and unexpected. Continue Reading