For Ohio Dealer, Virtual Sales Manager is the Real Deal

First Up 02/23/21

Out of the Gates: Dealers Will Go to the Mountain

In his inaugural Out of the Gates blog post, 2021 Chairman Steve Gates writes that as a kid, when things didn’t go my way, he would think about the old saying, “If the mountain will not come to Mohammed, Mohammed will go to the mountain.” The idea being that when faced with seemingly insurmountable challenges, you must change your approach. Last week, Gates says he accepted the Chairman’s gavel via Zoom link. It’s safe to say that wasn’t how he pictured his first day on the job. But, as Gates has seen across our industry over the last year, it is further proof that dealers are smart, flexible, and more than prepared to adjust with the times.  AIADA’s work may look different in 2021, but the results will be the same – international nameplate dealers defying expectations and reaching new heights of success. The path for international nameplate dealers has never been easy or smooth, but it has always been rewarding. Let’s move forward together. Let’s go mountain climbing. Read more of Gates' first blog post here. 

For Ohio Dealer, Virtual Sales Manager is the Real Deal

Just a year ago, the idea of adding a virtual sales manager — who worked from home and monitored showroom traffic via online cameras — would have earned a chuckle from John Connelly, owner of Acura Columbus in Dublin, Ohio. Today, reports Automotive News, the chuckle would be over how well it's working. Connelly can't imagine operating without the store's "VSM," in the rapidly evolving lingo of pandemic retailing. The longtime dealer is now also interested in hiring a virtual finance and insurance manager, and maybe even a virtual service representative. Maybe even one who lives out of state. "If this would have come up a year before, or even six months before, we would have said, 'That's crazy,' " Connelly told Automotive News. Read more here (Source: Automotive News). 

Electric Vehicle Firm Lucid Motors to Go Public in $11.8B SPAC Deal

Electric vehicle firm Lucid Motors plans to go public at an $11.75 billion combined equity valuation and $24 billion pro-forma equity value through a reverse merger with a blank-check company started by veteran investment banker Michael Klein, reports CNBC. The deal between Newark, California-based Lucid and Churchill Capital Corp IV is the largest in a series of such tie-ups involving EV companies and blank-check firms, also known as a special purpose acquisition companies, or SPACs. Previous SPAC deals with EV start-ups such as Nikola, Fisker, and Lordstown Motors garnered pro-forma valuations of less than $4 billion, but Lucid is farther along than those companies. Lucid is set to deliver its first vehicle – a luxury sedan called the Air – this spring. The deal will generate about $4.4 billion in cash for expansion plans for Lucid, including its current factory in Arizona. Read more here (Source: CNBC). 

Mercedes-Benz Reveals Redesigned C-Class with Larger Body Style, Advanced Safety

Mercedes-Benz isn't giving up on the luxury sedan despite the surge of SUVs, which have led to a decline in passenger-car sales, reports USA Today. While several other automakers are ditching cars, German automaker Daimler invested resources in overhauling one of its signature sedans, the Mercedes-Benz C-Class, for the first time in seven years.  The automaker revealed the redesigned 2022 C-Class on Tuesday, showcasing a longer and wider body style with a new mild-hybrid powertrain featuring an electric motor to boost the 2-liter, 4-cylinder gas engine and 9-speed automatic transmission. The C-Class was Mercedes-Benz's second-most popular passenger car in the U.S. in 2020, trailing only the E-Class. But sales slumped 46.5% to 26,294 as the vehicle faced the same challenges that have led other automakers to discontinue sedans, namely the surge in popularity of SUVs. The company also recently redesigned its S-Class sedan, its most luxurious passenger car. Read more here (Source: USA Today). 

Auto Captives Offer Payment Help for Texas Storm Victims

Automotive captive lenders are offering assistance to borrowers whose lives were upended by the winter storm that struck Texas last week, reports Automotive News. Toyota Financial Services and Lexus Financial Services will offer payment extensions and lease deferred-payment options to impacted customers. Consumers are urged to contact the lender to work out details, Toyota said in a release. Meanwhile, Ford Credit will assist Ford and Lincoln customers "who may need to defer a payment or two until their situations improve, or who need to request other assistance," a company spokeswoman told Automotive News in an email. Read more here (Source: Automotive News).  

ICYMI: Watch AIADA's 51st Virtual Annual Meeting

Last week, AIADA held its 51st Annual Meeting – virtually. Three days of programming featured a look back at 2020 with Chairman Jason Courter, the passing of the gavel to 2021 Chairman Steve Gates, and an in-depth Q&A with Toyota Motor North America's Bob Carter. If you missed any of the programming, visit to watch.


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