Mazda, Mitsubishi Push for Store Upgrades

First Up 07/09/18

Former AIADA Chairman Paul Ritchie Talks Tariffs
The United States' auto industry is anxiously awaiting word on whether new, 25 percent tariffs will be placed on imported vehicles and auto parts. Industry insiders say every car sold in America contains at least some imported parts. Tariffs could result in consumers paying an extra $6,400 for a vehicle that currently costs $30,000, according to the American International Automobile Dealers Association. Hagerstown auto dealer Paul Ritchie, who owns Honda and Kia dealerships, is past chairman of that organization. Herald-Mail Media asked Ritchie about the proposed tariffs. “Depending on how they would implement the tariffs, they could be from a minor inconvenience to major devastation,” he told the publication. “We're trying now to have them not put us in the "national security" realm, which they could then put complete tariffs (in place). We just don't see how automobiles fit into a national security threat.” Read more here. 

Mazda, Mitsubishi Push for Store Upgrades
Both Mazda and Mitsubishi are struggling to elevate their brand images, and both are now banking on ritzier dealerships in the U.S. to help them move upmarket, reports Automotive News. Mitsubishi Motors Corp. kicked off its retail overhaul July 4, saying it will introduce a new exterior and interior design for 5,000 stores worldwide in the next six years. The push already has started in the U.S. with two dealerships, one in Huntington, W.Va., the other in Lewisville, Texas. Those upgrades will be finished by this fall, and Mitsubishi expects to get at least 25 of its 354 U.S. dealerships redesigned by the end of March 2019. "The intent is to ensure consistent image of all outlets globally and enhance customer satisfaction," Mitsubishi CEO Osamu Masuko said last month while previewing the campaign to shareholders in Tokyo. "This will help further instill our brand in the markets." Read more here. 

Tariffs Create Uncertainty in Automotive Industry, Says Former Toyota Exec
The Trump administration’s tariffs might hurt the car and truck industry more than help, auto industry veteran Jim Press told CNBC. “The reality is that tariffs normally don’t go away once they’re enacted,” Jim Press said on “Closing Bell” Friday. “It’s not a negotiating tactic. And it causes a great deal of uncertainty in investment decisions, production decisions, design of product. It’s a very difficult situation for the auto companies.” U.S. tariffs on $34 billion worth of Chinese goods went into effect at 12:01 a.m. EST on Friday. China immediately implemented retaliatory tariffs on its own. Beijing called it the "biggest trade war in economic history." The Chinese tariffs will impact a number of American sectors, including agricultural products and autos. The U.S. exported 267,000 autos to China last year, and has a trade surplus of $6.4 billion in the auto sector with China. Read more here. 

5 Essential Tech Options for Your New Car
A car is never just a car. Yes, there’s the engine, windshield, and axle; these parts have been fundamental to cars since they were known as “horseless carriages.” But the modern automobile is heavily computerized, with oxygen sensors, a stability controller, a powertrain module, and a vast network of other functions. Now, cars are more sophisticated than ever: Bluetooth, rear-view cameras, and zoned temperature controls are standard features in 2018 models. Too many people don’t think about the vast amount of data collection that happens. As automotive technology continually improves, connected cars can radically enhance your driving – and even idling in a driveway can be a dynamic experience. If you’re in the market for a connected car, USA Today recommends five essential features to consider. Read more here. 

U.S. Sales Outlook: What Goes Up . . .
Rising interest rates, higher gasoline prices, and the threat of a tariff-fueled trade war haven't slowed U.S. auto sales in 2018. But, reports Automotive News, headwinds are increasing, and many industry experts say they believe current sales levels aren't sustainable for much longer. New light-vehicle sales through the first half of the year increased 1.9 percent to more than 8.6 million, including a 5.2 percent uptick in June. That equated to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 17.47 million, far surpassing analysts' expectations. "It does appear, once again, the market seems to be defying gravity," said Jonathan Smoke, chief economist of Cox Automotive. "But I would encourage everybody to not be deceived by the underlying health of that number." Industry experts forecast overall U.S. light-vehicle sales this year will come in just under 17 million units, which would be the second consecutive decline following a seven-year growth streak that was capped by a record 17.55 million vehicles sold in 2016. Read more here. 

Beltway Talk Podcast: Social Media and Dealer Advocacy with Toyota's Becca Steele
On the latest episode of AIADA’s Beltway Talk podcast, Toyota’s digital advocacy strategist for government affairs, Becca Steele, drops into the AIADA studios to discuss everything from her background on Capitol Hill to the best ways to make your legislators sit up and take notice of your messages on social media. This episode will help dealers understand why social media matters when communicating with their members of Congress, and how to make the best use of this advocacy tool. Listen in for all the dos and don’ts of sharing your story online by clicking here. 

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