FTC Needs Better Insights Before Adding New Rules

First Up 07/18/22

FTC Needs Better Insights Before Adding New Rules

The Federal Trade Commission's proposed dealership compliance rule may be well intended, but the development of the guidance has been rushed and uninformed. It's time for the commission to get auto industry stakeholders involved — and listen to them. The proposed regulation would prevent dealers from selling customers products that provide no value, ban them from running misleading pricing advertisements, and require them to offer additional pricing disclosures and a list of add-on products with prices online. It also puts confusing and likely onerous limits on how dealerships communicate with shoppers and adds bureaucratic burdens for consumers who choose to negotiate or purchase voluntary protection products. The FTC estimates that compliance will cost dealers $1.4 billion to $1.6 billion over 10 years reports Automotive News. NADA and NIADA say the rule is likely to increase consumers' already rising vehicle costs and make the car-buying process longer and more complicated. The FTC said it received more than 100,000 "auto related" complaints in each of the past three years. Many were related to vehicle sales, leasing, financing and service — but also matters completely out of dealers' hands, such as warranties, auto parts, rentals and even gasoline. Click here for the full story.

First Look: All-Electric Mini Cooper SE Convertible Concept

In a market where ragtops have been all but abandoned, the Mini Cooper Convertible has carved out a small but loyal following. Now, it’s offering a hint of what could come as the automotive world goes electric. The British automaker has pulled the wraps off the all-electric Mini Cooper SE Convertible, a potential companion to the hardtop Cooper SE. The Detroit Bureau reports that there are no firm production plans, at least not yet, according to U.S. marketing, product and strategy chief Patrick McKenna. But that could change, depending upon how potential buyers react to the prototype — which made its formal debut during the biennial Mini Takes the States, a gathering that, this year, included more than 600 loyal owners making a 1,000-mile group trek from Burlington, Vermont to Spartanburg, South Carolina. The electric convertible shares the same basic design — but for the folding roof — and dimensions as the Cooper SE hardtop. It measures 152.1 inches in length, with a 98.2-inch wheelbase. It stands 56.4 inches tall and measures 68 inches in width. The top can be folded down or put back up in about 18 seconds. Click here to learn more about the Mini Cooper SE Convertible concept.

Data Analytics in F&I — Remember, Humans are Behind the Numbers

When dealerships use data to take a more granular look at how the different departments are performing, it can uncover a lot — positive and negative. How much of a margin is held in sales? What is the average RO in service? Are parts personnel pricing for proper margins vs. local suppliers? Data is critical to getting a snapshot of what’s working and what’s not. But there is one department where you must temper the objective and cold effect of data with the real-world expectations of human behavior…F&I. Your F&I staff has arguably the most intense level of pressure to deliver every day for the dealership reports CBT News. They are tasked with bringing in the highest profit in the dealership behind service. Now imagine how much the expectations have increased in 2022 with F&I departments having made a radical shift to a more digital experience and losing some of that face-to-face human connection they thrive on to sell products and services. The data you gather on the effectiveness of your F&I department should be tempered by and seen through the filter of a changing selling process. Click here for the full story.

VW Reveals Charging Hub That Reuses EV Batteries

In the decade that EV fast-charging stations have been around, they haven't really become much less expensive to build. The amount of work — from obtaining permits to coordinating with the local power company and putting in underground infrastructure — takes months and costs tens of thousands of dollars. One way to bypass the costly and time-consuming installation work is by making fast chargers more or less portable and ready to be installed just about anywhere. They still require a connection to the grid, but not a new one, and no complex underground work. What they do require is energy storage of their own, permitting them to slowly gather energy from an existing grid connection, and then deliver it to EVs at much faster speeds. Autoweek reports Volkswagen is one of several companies working on fast-charging infrastructure that relies on a power storage container, and it has just opened a station in Saxony, Germany. The container is composed of 96 cell modules, taken from pre-production versions of the all-electric VW ID.3 and ID.4 — cars that are usually crushed rather than sold — with a net capacity of 570 kWh. Click here for the full story.

U.S. Electric Car Sales Climb Sharply Despite Shortages

Americans are buying electric vehicles at a record pace, undeterred by rising prices and long waits for delivery, a further indication that the twilight of the internal combustion engine is on the horizon. Vehicles that run on batteries accounted for 5.6 percent of new-car sales from April through June, still a small slice of the market but twice the share a year ago, according to Cox Automotive. Overall, new-car sales declined 20 percent reports The New York Times. Companies like Tesla, Ford Motor and Volkswagen could have delivered more electric cars if they had been able to build them faster. The carmakers struggled with shortages of semiconductors, which are even more essential to electric cars than to gasoline vehicles, while prices soared for lithium and other raw materials needed for batteries. At the same time, the popularity of electric vehicles has taken the industry by surprise and exposed deficiencies that could slow the transition to battery power, which is considered essential to containing climate change. Click here for the full story.

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