Steel, Aluminum Tariffs Could Raise Car Prices by $300

First Up 03/13/18

Steel, Aluminum Tariffs Could Raise Car Prices by $300
An upgraded steering wheel on a Volvo. A special paint color on a Mazda. A rear-window defroster on a Ford pickup. According to The Wall Street Journal, that is what buyers may have to forgo if they don’t want to shell out more for a new car in the wake of the new tariffs on steel and aluminum instituted by President Donald Trump. Analysts estimate the levies will add about $300 to the price of vehicles bought in U.S. showrooms. That is about enough to cover some options offered by car makers.  “Higher prices could turn off frugal consumers…leading to a dip in both auto sales and auto-related jobs,” said Cody Lusk, chief executive of the American International Automobile Dealers Association. Mr. Lusk said that while the possibility of tariff exemptions for Canada and Mexico is a positive sign, dealers are concerned any new tariffs could “trigger a tit-for-tat trade war, crippling an already flat auto sales market.” Indeed, President Donald Trump has threatened multiple times to slap taxes on automobiles brought into the country by BMW AG, Daimler AG’s Mercedes-Benz brand and other European auto makers. Read more here

Edmunds Recognizes Over 350 Dealers for High Customer Satisfaction Ratings 
Edmunds announced Monday that its Five Star Dealer Awards have recognized over 350 car dealers nationwide for their outstanding customer satisfaction ratings, reports Auto Remarketing. This year, 25 dealers were also selected to receive Edmunds’ Five Star Premier Dealer designation for receiving the highest overall satisfaction ratings. “Car shopping is a daunting task for many, but finding the right dealer shouldn’t be,” said Avi Steinlauf, chief executive officer of Edmunds. “We raised the bar on what it takes to become an Edmunds Five Star dealer in 2018, making it easier for shoppers to find a local dealer that shares our commitment to superior customer service and support.” In addition to participating in the Edmunds Dealer Partner program, to qualify for a Five Star Dealer Award, dealers must have earned at least 30 five-star sales reviews on Edmunds over the past two years. For the full list of 2018 winners, click here

Luxury Brands Seek Geneva Spotlight Glow
European luxury brands such as BMW, Mercedes-Benz, and Aston Martin used last week's Geneva auto show to make a splash at the top of the luxury market dominated by VW Group's sprawling yet integrated empire of upscale brands. Their problem is not just competing against Audi, Porsche, Bentley or Lamborghini, but the combined firepower of all four, reports Automotive News. "The VW Group has a huge advantage over other European luxury automakers in terms of the breadth of its luxury portfolio," said Ian Fletcher, principal automotive analyst at IHS Markit. "They have an unsurpassed ability to share key technologies, which allows these brands to enter spaces that they may not have had the resources to do alone." VW Group CEO Matthias Mueller saw only upsides to this sharing across brands. "We earn more money, we are faster and we have more power than our competition," he said. "The customer gets a technology that is well proved for good money. What could be better?" Read more here

Consumer Reports Says These Are the 10 Worst Brands 
There are individual car models that stand out, but Consumer Reports magazine has gone a step further, looking at how vehicle brands as a whole stack up. USA Today reports that in doing so, Consumer Reports addresses the question of what are the worst brands in the auto world – not just the best – when it comes to predicted reliability, owner satisfaction, road performance, and safety taken as a whole. The answer, it turns out, is Fiat. Just like last year, Fiat was in the cellar among 34 brands rated. With a score of 39, it was a long way behind second-worse Jeep with 48. By comparison, the best brand of all was Hyundai's new Genesis luxury division, with a score of 81. Besides Fiat and Jeep, other Fiat Chrysler divisions rating in the top 10 worst, from the bottom, included fourth-place Alfa Romeo, eighth-place Dodge and ninth-place Ram. Only the Chrysler division, which consists these days of the Pacifica minivan and the 300 sedan, placed above average. It came in 11th on the list of the best. Read more here

GM Plans to Launch Airbnb for Your Car
General Motors Co. plans to start a pilot program this summer that will enable car owners to rent out their vehicles when they aren’t using them, according to people familiar with the matter, reports Bloomberg. The tests will begin in early summer through GM’s Maven car-sharing unit, said the people, who asked not to be identified because the plans aren’t public. GM vehicle owners will be able to put their cars on Maven’s platform for other drivers to rent and share the revenue with the automaker. The pilot – which GM will try to grow into a full-fledged business if it’s successful – could mark another step forward in GM’s transition from manufacturer to mobility provider. After GM’s stock stagnated for years as investors fretted over peaking car sales and Silicon Valley’s offensive on the auto industry, the shares rose to a record high in October as its self-driving car plans and services like Maven gained traction with investors. Read more here

The Future is Here: Connected Retail  
When 85% of car-shoppers are more likely to buy from a dealership that offers at least one component of digital retailing, dealers must get more digital or risk becoming irrelevant. “Connected” Retail not only meets consumer demand to start the car-buying process online and complete it in the store, it also allows dealers to remain in control of profitability while still providing a delightful buying experience. Click here to read more

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