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Fiat Chrysler is squeezing U.S. dealerships’ profits by increasing vehicle invoice prices — but not the corresponding sticker prices. Dealers now will pay 1 percent more for the Chrysler, Dodge, Jeep and Ram vehicles they sell, or $300 on a vehicle with a $30,000 invoice. The increase is part of a larger effort by FCA US to boost profits. The automaker’s corporate profit margin is half that of General Motors and one-third that of Ford Motor Co., says an analyst. The National FCA Dealer Council was informed this month via a conference call from Reid Bigland, FCA US’ head of sales. Bigland said the price increase was effective immediately, according to people on the call. “It will impact some dealers’ profits. It will reduce their front-end gross,” said one Midwest dealer, speaking on condition of anonymity. Notably, both Fiat and Alfa Romeo brand vehicles were exempted from the pricing move.
Source: Automotive News
General Motors said [Tuesday] that it sold 2,421,123 million vehicles globally in the first quarter, a 1.9 percent increase from a year ago. GM trails Volkswagen AG by about 70,000 vehicles in the race to be the world’s biggest automaker. The other main contender, Toyota Motor Corp., is scheduled to release its global sales on May 1. GM credited its first-quarter sales increase to higher volume in China and North America. It also pointed to Opel/Vauxhall’s strength in Europe.
Source: Automotive News
Jaguar Land Rover has appointed car dealer review website JudgeService as one of four preferred suppliers to provide lost sales follow-ups to 220 UK dealerships.
As part of the lost sales management programme, dealers will run a programme to identify where sales may have been lost and to create new opportunities for the sales team.
JudgeService’s ProAct survey will be offered to dealers looking for independent customer feedback on their dealership visit.
ProAct uses targeted surveys to give dealers information about lost sales and what changes they can make to ensure future opportunities and prospects are maximised.
It also aims to enhance customer service by enabling dealers to evaluate how a customer feels about their buying experience, what they think of a dealership and if they have identified any issues in the process.
Three years ago a friend of mine wrote off her car in an accident, so unexpectedly found herself in the market for a new one.
She trawled the showrooms finally settling on a shiny new family four door.
The buying experience itself was reported as reasonably painless, and at that point she was on board, excited about her new wheels and happy with the dealer experience.
So, will she go back to that dealership when she’s looking for her next car in the future?
No, they’ve lost her – and for two simple reasons.
Firstly, on each occasion she’s called back since buying the car the staff have repeatedly asked if she has been in touch with them before (when a good CRM system would know this and with a full call history would make the caller feel important). Secondly, she’s been plagued with delays in getting call backs, and worse at times, no call back at all.
Yet, it’s a well-known fact that one of the best and easiest ways to increase sales and profitability is to upsell to your existing customers.
You’ve already opened the door to them and they are virtually inviting you in for a cup of tea.
The UK Electric Vehicle Supply Equipment (UK EVSE) Association has launched its first electric vehicle charge point procurement guide.
The document, a general procurement guide for private and public sector organisations wishing to purchase EV charging equipment, has been written by Cenex, the UK EVSE Secretariat.
Editorial and advisory input has been provided by UK EVSE members, who include charge point manufacturers, charge point network operators, charge point testing service and equipment suppliers, and maintenance providers.
The parts categories include crash related items including headlamp and mirror assemblies, passenger airbag modules and rear bumpers.
Suzuki genuine parts are available for all cars dating back to the 1990s.
Wayne Dye, general manager of the parts and accessories division at Suzuki (GB) said: “The latest reduction further quashes the common perception by insurers that using independently sourced parts are cheaper than those which are genuine when assessing vehicles for repair.
“It is important that manufacturer-approved components are turned to as a priority when estimating repairs.
“This could make all the difference between keeping a car on the road, and writing it off,” he said.
Keith Ruggles, director of the Oxford Automotive Group (OAG), which manages Suzuki’s bodyshop programme, said: “This is a very positive move to reduce the average repair cost for insurers and subsequently the cost of ownership for Suzuki customers.
It will also help to reduce the number of Suzuki cars that become subject to a total loss, allowing them to be repaired using Suzuki genuine parts.”
Fiat is hoping to bolster its fleet sales and break into the top 15 fleet manufacturers in the UK this year with the arrival of the new small SUV 500X this week.
Fiat increased its fleet car sales by 16% to 24,195 units last year, which put it in 17th position just behind Honda.
The Italian firm has built its brand in the UK around its 500 supermini, which represented more than half (55.5%) of its corporate sales last year. Fiat is hoping to trade on the style and goodwill built up by the 500 to attract 7000 conquest customers with the 500X.
The 500 is the brand’s only model to make it into the top 50 best-selling fleet cars last year, according to figures from the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders, with an increase of 23.5% to 13,437 units.
Kate McLaren, Fiat’s new head of brand in the UK, said the company would also be looking to actively convert up to 3000 customers that have bought a 500 supermini in the past to the 500X.
She said: “We need to replicate the success we’ve had with the 500 with the 500X.
“We need to play a part in all channels with the 500X, not just retail. Motability and user chooser business will be big for us and we have expanded our corporate sales team to from 16 to 30 people in order to grow our fleet volumes.”
Fiat already has the larger 500L MPV but McLaren wants the 500X to sit beneath it in the range and compete in the rapidly expanding segment that includes the Mini Countryman, Peugeot 2008 and Renault Captur. McLaren believes there is room for the 500X to steal sales as the segment has grown from 55,000 units in the total UK market in 2012 to a predicted 180,000 units market this year.
Today is the day that time finally ran out for old websites.
Starting from today, Google has announced a small, but important change to the way it displays website URLs in mobile searches.
Mobile search results will now display a website’s actual name instead of its URL, along with what Google calls a “breadcrumb-like format” for the URL structure.
The changes are rolling out to mobile search gradually starting in the US today and site breadcrumbs are rolling out worldwide.
Google is making the changes because smartphone use is now at the centre of internet use for so many more people. Their objective is to get people to use search on mobile phones and to make it a much better experience.
Land Rover is celebrating the production of its landmark six millionth vehicle by giving it a unique design feature.
The completion of a Yulong White Range Rover LWB Vogue SE on April 2 saw Land Rover hit the milestone and, to celebrate, has been fitted with a bespoke puddle lamp graphic to signify its unique status.
The luxury SUV is being showcased at the 2015 Shanghai Auto Show, this week, showcasing its one-off motif, which replaces the standard Range Rover silhouette projected by the vehicle’s puddle lamps. The image is created by an inscribed lens within the door mirror-mounted downlight and displaying the Land Rover logo and landmark figure.
Director of group sales operations at Jaguar Land Rover, Andy Goss, said: “For 67 years Land Rover has been building the world’s most capable all-purpose vehicles. Over this period, a range of ground-breaking innovations and technologies have blended great design, refinement and unmatched all-terrain capability.
“It’s fitting that the six millionth Land Rover to be produced is a Range Rover, since this year marks the 45thanniversary of the original Range Rover’s launch and even today, the vehicle remains peerless. With the growth of sales in China since the latest version of the Range Rover was introduced in 2012, it is entirely appropriate that this landmark vehicle is destined for a Chinese customer.”
The six millionth vehicle was built at Land Rover’s Solihull facility, where the company has been producing its world-famous SUVs since 1948 – this month marks the 67th anniversary of the brand. The factory has undergone a significant transformation in recent years, almost trebling production and doubling its workforce.
Volkswagen Commercial Vehicles has unveiled the sixth-generation of its Transporter model.
The current model sold some two million units around the world during its 11 years in production.
Since the launch of Transporter in 1950, around 12 million vehicles have been produced. Although the Transporter went on sale in Germany and the rest of Europe 65 years ago, right-hand drive versions were only available to special order until 1954 when they became standard production line models. Since then, more than 300,000 Transporters have been sold in the UK.
A completely new generation of TDI engines are being launched for the EU6 markets.
The sixth-generation Transporter will arrive in the UK later this year. Specification and pricing will be confirmed in the near future.
Platform Service and Repair (PSR) has taken delivery of 23 Vauxhall Vivaros for its technicians, who provide nationwide support to plant hire companies with access platform fleets.
The vans are all long wheelbase Vivaro Sportive CDTi 120 bi-turbo models with LED running lights, colour coded bumpers and wing mirrors and reversing sensors. Specified for driver comfort, they have cruise control, sports seats, Bluetooth and air conditioning. The vans are fully racked out to the engineers’ specifications and the centre front seat folds flat to act like a desk, providing a mobile office space.
Kevin Shadbolt, operations director of IAPS Group, which owns PSR, said: “Our mobile service engineers spend a considerable part of their working lives in their vans so it was important to us to make them comfortable.
“The Sportive drives like a car and the cab has all the modern creature comforts that our drivers wanted. The fuel consumption is also markedly better, which is important when your fleet does well over half a million miles a year. Also this higher specification model has a higher residual value, which benefits us on leasing costs.”
The RAC has partnered with Belfast-based vehicle management company DFC to provide breakdown recovery, accident management and telematics on all contract hire vehicles.
The RAC telematics software allows vehicles to be tracked remotely. The service also contains mileage records which can be used to assist with mileage expenses claims.
DFC claimed the partnership would drive down costs and provide an insight into how its fleet fleets is functioning.
Recently, the RAC appointed David Wallace as its new business services director as part of the organisation’s plans to develop its B2B arm.
He joined the RAC from Epyx where he spent three years as its sales and business development director. Prior to that, he was at the AA for 12 years, where he led the business services sales team.
“What attracted me to this role is the great energy, creativity and product innovation that I see at the RAC, and the opportunity to make my own contribution to the already excellent service provided to its customers,” said Wallace. “The RAC is in a good position right now, on a clear journey, with a clear direction, and feels like an exciting place to be.
RoadHawk has formed a partnership with KGM insurance to provide in-vehicle camera technology to the specialist insurer’s taxi and private hire policyholders.
With nearly 35% of road traffic incidents involving at-work drivers and the increasing cost of claims, KGM wanted an improved method of protecting its insured drivers from potential fraud and non-fault blame, while also being able to speed up claims resolution times.
This is particularly prevalent in the taxi and private hire sector where vehicles can be on the road for more than 10 hours per day.
RoadHawk’s managing director, Mark Nelson said: “Very often in a road traffic collision, witness statements and a driver’s version of events can be misleading, often meaning an insurer has a difficult time settling the claim efficiently.
“Our systems offer a true version of events, protecting the professional driver. With our system, KGM will be able to defend claims against its insured drivers and offer an improved claims management service”.
The UK pick-up market is set to experience rapid growth over the next few years with the arrival of three new entrants.
Mercedes-Benz, Renault and Fiat Professional will each be launching a one-tonne pick up in the UK following a series of manufacturing co-operations. Mercedes and Renault will both launch their double-cab models based on the next-generation Nissan Navara pick-up, which goes on sale in the UK at the end of this year, while Fiat is expected to launch its own pick-up based on a tie-up with Mitsubishi and its L200 model.
It expands the amount of manufacturers in the market to 11. Mercedes, Renault and Fiat all have commercial vehicle operations, but will join Ford, Nissan, Mitsubishi, VW, Isuzu, Great Wall, Ssangyong and Toyota in the expanding market.
Fleets and businesses are back in the market for commercial vehicles, with sales up 22.3% to almost 100,000 vehicles in the first quarter of this year. Pick-up sales in particular saw a 27.6% increase in registrations in the March-plate change month to 7463 units.
Mercedes and Renault-Nissan’s cooperation is part of a five-year deal. The German brand will launch premium lifestyle model aimed at personal and commercial use before 2020.
Dr. Dieter Zetsche, chairman of the board of management of Daimler and head of Mercedes-Benz cars, said: “Entering the rapidly growing segment of mid-size pick-ups is an important step in continuing our global growth path.
Lex Autolease has launched an online driver portal to help company car drivers select and manage vehicles.
The top BC50 company said it developed the tool following what it calls “extensive research”, which revealed that drivers wanted an accessible system to make more informed vehicle choices.
Tools include a view of costs including BIK, personal use contribution and fuel. Values can be displayed monthly, annually or over the contract length. Drivers can also compare vehicles using a benchmarking tool and access reviews on possible car choices.
“We’re constantly looking for ways to improve our customer service through innovative new features, especially on digital platforms,” said Christian Hook, Lex Autolease ecommerce manager.
“Our aim has been to create a website that provides drivers with a similar experience to other consumer websites they may use on a regular basis such as Amazon, eBay and those operated by high street retailers,” said Hook.
Car insurance technology is baffling British drivers with just three per cent having taken out a telematics policy, according to research by price comparison and switching service uSwitch.com. And, despite telematics being introduced over ten years ago, a quarter (25%) of British drivers have never even heard of the technology.
Telematics, also known as ‘black box’ insurance, aims to offer drivers cheaper premiums by basing them upon actual driving habits rather than statistics. However, the uSwitch.com research reveals that 26% of British drivers would rule out taking out a telematics policy because of fears over their privacy. Of these, 62% feel it’s too ‘big brother’ and 37% don’t want their driving monitored by their insurance company. Furthermore, almost half (49%) are worried that their data could be sold to other companies and a third (33%) don’t want their car tampered with when the black box is installed.
Ahead of the Department for Transport’s study on telematics and its potential impact on road safety for young drivers, the uSwitch.com research reveals that not all drivers are against telematics solutions. 45% of drivers would consider installing a ‘black box’ – to learn more about their own driving skills (33%), to improve their driving (23%) or to see how well others are driving their car (5%).
To make telematics worth their while though, consumers would want to see savings of at least £98 a year on their insurance premium. Yet this amount differs hugely with age. Those aged 18-34 would need to save £173 to consider taking out a policy, while those over 65 would be happy with just £72 of savings.