Carolina Dealers Brace for Hurricane Florence, Close Early

First Up 09/12/18

NAFTA? We Hafta
Contentious NAFTA negotiations are once again making headlines, writes AIADA Chairman Brad Strong. The latest language in the agreement hasn’t been released, but we’re hearing reports of how our industry might be affected. For now, we can’t know with certainty what impact a NAFTA agreement might have on the White House’s plans to apply 232 National Security tariffs to imported vehicles.  We DO know that without NAFTA, economists, mayors, and business leaders all agree that American economic growth and jobs will sustain a serious blow, and American businesses will be put at a global disadvantage. So yes, when it comes to NAFTA, we HAFTA cut a deal. Without a trilateral NAFTA our carefully, sometimes precariously, balanced industry will be put into jeopardy. NAFTA is crucial to dealers, as is establishing a NAFTA that works for all manufacturers and keeps cars affordable. For dealers, NAFTA isn’t a nice to have – it’s a must have – and our elected officials need to hear that message from us. Read more here. 

Carolina Dealers Brace for Hurricane Florence, Close Early
Dealerships in the Carolinas and beyond spent Tuesday securing inventory and sending employees home as they prepared to close in the face of Hurricane Florence's path toward the mid-Atlantic region, reports Automotive News. "We're telling them, first and foremost, make sure your employees stay safe," said North Carolina Automobile Dealers Association President Robert Glaser. "Second, from a facility point of view, is just be smart." That means taking computers off the floor in flood-prone areas and putting new-vehicle inventory in secured locations, he said. Vehicles at Team Chevrolet store in Swansboro have been moved to higher ground or put indoors. After 2 p.m. Tuesday, that store will shut down until further notice. For locations away from the coast, "The company is playing it by ear," Raymond said. "Depending on the winds and the speed [of the storm], we may be able to squeak out the whole week." Tips from the Germain stores led to placing sandbags around dealership buildings and unplugging, wrapping up and storing all electronics in a central location. Read more here. 

Tesla Cuts Stock Colors to Streamline Production
Tesla is dropping two of the seven colors it had offered to customers as it tries to streamline production, reports The Detroit News. In a tweet early Tuesday, CEO Elon Musk said obsidian black and metallic silver will still be available, but at a higher cost. Tesla fans can still choose solid black and “midnight silver metallic,” as well as pearl white, deep blue metallic, and red. The company, based in Palo Alto, California, has struggled to vault from a niche maker of expensive electric cars into a mass-market automaker. It missed several deadlines to produce 5,000 of its mass-market Model 3 cars per week but reached that milestone earlier this summer. Musk has promised that as it sells more Model 3s the company will turn a sustained net profit starting this quarter. A Tesla spokesman said dropping the paint colors is not an indication of any production problems. “We occasionally adjust pricing and available options to best reflect the value of our products and to streamline our manufacturing operations,” the company said in a statement. Read more here. 

Barnett Auto Group Cross Trained Staff, Brought Discipline to Ad Spending During Great Recession
Carl Barnett Sr.'s new-vehicle sales were off about 25 percent and his gross profits were falling short of expenses. The president of Barnett Auto Group, of Paris, Texas, was facing the worst economic downturn to grip the nation since the Great Depression. At that time, reports Automotive News, he owned Paris Ford-Lincoln, in Paris, Texas, and Gorman McCracken Volkswagen-Mazda, in Longview, Texas. Barnett, 70, still owns both. He acquired Onion Creek Volkswagen, in Austin, Texas, five years ago. Barnett's three dealerships retailed 1,452 new and 1,069 used vehicles in 2017 and is tracking to exceed those numbers in 2018, he said. Things weren't nearly as good during the recession. Barnett neither laid off employees nor cut their pay, though he did eliminate overtime. And there were no pay raises. He had always met with managers on a monthly basis to review his dealerships' expenses department by department. During the recession, the meetings grew longer and more intense, he remembered. Read more here. 

States with the Highest and Lowest Gasoline Tax
Prices at the pump have headed higher lately as crude oil keeps recovering from its mid-2010s slump, reports USA Today. For drivers, another factor adding to their transportation costs is the trend toward rising gasoline taxes imposed by state governments. New Jersey recently announced that it would boost its state gasoline tax by $0.043 per gallon, effective Oct. 1. That will bring the total state taxes per gallon of gas up to $0.414. The increase adds insult to injury after a massive $0.23-per-gallon increase two years ago, which was prompted by needing to pay for highway and railroad infrastructure improvement projects across New Jersey. Yet as this chart shows, New Jersey doesn't come close to having the highest state gasoline taxes across the nation. That honor goes to one of its neighbors, and some other states that are infamous for high prices at the pump also make the list. California has routinely used gasoline taxes as a funding source, with its latest $0.12-per-gallon increase coming last November. Read more here.

2018 Vehicle Tech Features Study
In-vehicle technology has significantly increased in importance to vehicle shoppers over the last four years. In fact, vehicle tech now ranks ahead of exterior styling when it comes to deciding which car to buy. The Vehicle Tech Features Study can help OEMs and dealers more effectively target in-market shoppers, close more sales and upsell tech features to new and existing customers. Read more here.

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