Fast-Changing Retail Landscape Strains Factory-Dealer Relations

First Up 06/07/21

Fast-Changing Retail Landscape Strains Factory-Dealer Relations

It's a great time to be an auto dealer, reports Automotive News. However, beyond the daily challenge of securing sufficient inventory and wooing back workers, the long-term prospects of the industry are fraught with uncertainty as the franchise model faces new pressures. Once the current frenzy of supply and demand straightens out, the underlying tensions in the dealer community that were simmering pre-pandemic will return with greater force. They include a revolutionary shift toward electric vehicles, digital sales, and direct-to-consumer transactions. As automakers adapt to those industry shifts, some retailers worry that the new vehicles and sales programs being pushed by the manufacturers are encroaching on their role as franchised dealers. "What we're talking about here is the OEMs exerting more control over the retail process and the retail customer experience," said Peter Lanzavecchia, owner of Burns Buick-GMC, Burns Hyundai and Genesis of Cherry Hill in Marlton, N.J. Read more here (Source: Automotive News).

Volkswagen Chairman to Seek Re-Election at Shareholder Meeting

Reuters reports that Volkswagen Chairman Hans Dieter Poetsch will seek re-election at a coming annual general meeting, the carmaker said on Saturday. Poetsch, 70, became chairman of the supervisory board in 2015, weeks after the start of the diesel emissions scandal – in which Volkswagen in 2015 acknowledged using illegal software to rig diesel engine tests in the United States – and was instrumental in averting a leadership crisis at Europe’s largest carmaker late last year. A spokesperson said in a statement that the supervisory board of Volkswagen AG “recommends to the upcoming AGM that it elect supervisory board chair Hans Dieter Poetsch” for a full five-year term.” The date of the AGM has not been announced. Read more here (Source: Reuters).  

Nissan Delays Release of Flagship Electric Car Amid Chip Crunch

Nissan Motor Co. is pushing back the release of its flagship Ariya electric vehicle, highlighting the struggle automakers everywhere are facing in trying to launch new cars amid a persisting shortage of semiconductors. According to Bloomberg, when the Ariya SUV was first unveiled in July last year, Nissan said it was scheduled to go on sale in mid-2021. On Friday, the company said a limited-edition model will be available in Japan “this winter” followed by a wider domestic and global roll-out. “One year ago, we made our announcement we were targeting the middle of this year, but after that, Covid-19 has lingered longer than we expected and there is the issue of semiconductor shortages,” Nissan Executive Vice President Asako Hoshino said during a briefing. Read more here (Source: Bloomberg). 

Nearly Half of All Americans Support Phasing Out Internal Combustion Vehicles for EVs

Nearly half of U.S. adults support the idea of phasing out vehicles using internal combustion engines, according to a new report by the Pew Research Center. The Detroit Bureau reports that a narrow majority, 51%, still oppose the idea, but the trend is moving in the direction of EVs, based on earlier studies. The Pew study finds a generational gap that appears to underscore the continuing shift. Solid majorities of Gen Z and Millennial adults support a phaseout, though such a proposal is backed by only 38% of Baby Boomers and older generations. The idea of phasing out gas and diesel-powered vehicles is one that regulators worldwide have begun addressing. Britain and Norway expect to be entirely electric by 2035, with several other European countries considering similar measures. China wants a quarter of all vehicles sold by 2025 to be powered either by all-electric or plug-in hybrid technology. Read more here (Source: The Detroit Bureau). 

Despite Inventory Woes, Automakers Post Records as May Sales Soar

U.S. auto sales roared in May compared with a year earlier, when the coronavirus pandemic was in full swing, giving every sign that Americans are shaking off the global health crisis. But, reports Automotive News, record-low vehicle inventories — a direct consequence of the pandemic disruption — continued to drag on the industry as consumers struggled to find popular vehicles, including pickups. Several automakers hit monthly sales records in May. For the seven automakers reporting results for last month, sales rose 37 percent from May 2020. In addition, five of those automakers even beat numbers from May 2019 — a sign that demand is back. "May sales appeared to be strong but probably left many automakers wondering what would have been if inventory were more plentiful," said Jessica Caldwell, executive director of insights at Edmunds. "One thing that is working for automakers and dealers is that Americans are ready to spend money and want to buy cars." Most automakers no longer release monthly sales figures, but analysts said the overall industry posted strong results last month. Read more here (Source: Automotive News). 

Podium Announced as Mercedes-Benz Digital Certified Messaging Provider

“In my judgment, Podium was the best tool we came across. It certainly was cost-effective, but it was also process-effective, which was very important to me because I’m a process-driven person. Dealerships get rewarded based on how happy we make our customers and how many cars we sell, and Podium helps us achieve both of these goals. It’s just that simple.”

- Jeff Garris, Director of Sales and Finance, Mercedes-Benz of Buckhead

Podium announced as a new Mercedes-Benz certified digital messaging provider as part of the Mercedes-Benz Certified Digital Program. Podium is an Interaction Management platform for thousands of auto dealers. From getting found online to winning repeat business, Podium powers every step. It’s the simplest way to collect reviews, gather insights, and talk to customers in real-time through text. 

Check out this customer success story with a Mercedes-Benz dealer. 

See why Mercedes-Benz and 90,000+ businesses trust Podium. To learn more and enroll with Podium visit,

Around the Web

$1.3M Parking Spot in Hong Kong Sets New Record [Autoblog]

This is the EV That Costs the Least Over 5 Years [MarketWatch

An Energy Reporter's Quest for a Clean, Affordable, and Versatile Car [Axios]

Elon Musk Says Tesla Officially Canceled the Model S Plaid Plus [CNBC]