December 09, 2009

If you are driving one of the following vehicles, you might want to go check on it now!

The Insurance Bureau of Canada has just released its annual list of the most frequently stolen vehicles and the Honda Civic takes the cake. But the number of thefts has dropped 15 per cent since 2007.

The two-door 2000 and 1999 Civic placed first and third respectively this year. A favourite on the list every year it seems, the 2000 Civic sport injection racing model was the most targeted for theft in Canada.

The bureau says the appearance of high-end models like the Escalade, which has four models on the list, demonstrates an increasing involvement of organized crime in auto theft.

1. 2000 Honda Civic SiR 2-door

2. 2003 Cadillac Escalade ESV 4-door AWD

3. 1999 Honda Civic SiR 2-door

4. 2006 Chevrolet/GMC Trailblazer SS 4-door 4WD

5. 2002 Cadillac Escalade EXT 4-door AWD

6. 2005 Cadillac Escalade ESV 4-door AWD

7. 1997 Mitsubishi Eclipse Spyder 2-door

8. 2000 Audi S4 Quattro 4-door

9. 2006 Hummer H2 4-door AWD

10. 2005 Cadillac Escalade 4-door 4WD

Source: Insurance Bureau of Canada with files from The Canadian Press

VW pays $2.64 billion for 20 per cent of Suzuki

VW Volkswagen AG has announced it will fork over 222.5 billion yen (CAN$2.64 billion) for a 20 per cent stake in Suzuki Motor Corp.

The new partnership will make one of the world’s largest auto alliances and allow both to tap into the growing Asian market.

The Associate Press is reporting that Suzuki will also buy shares in Volkswagen to solidify the partnership. The deal will reportedly be complete in mid-February next year.

Combined, VW and Suzuki had global sales surpass 8.6 million vehicles in 2008, beating out Toyota by about a million. The new partnership will also included product development and sales, as well as a focus on hybrid and other clean technologies.

“The world automotive industry is in the midst of significant changes,” Suzuki said in a statement. “It is difficult to adapt to these numerous issues on our own.”

Specific details were not provided on how the two companies would help each other.

Experts suggest the deal could boost sales in new markets where one is strong and the other is weak.

Suzuki logo This giant auto get together helps Suzuki replace General Motors Co. which sold its 17 per cent stake in the Japanese automaker in 2006.

Until then, the companies had enjoyed a 23-year releationship in Canada.

- With files from The Associated Press

December 08, 2009

BorgSolutions has the recipe for increased fleet sales

BorgsWeb BorgSolutions says its BorgFleet maintenance software puts sophisticated fleet maintenance software into the hands of the small fleet operator, and it can mean more fleet sales for the dealer.

The small fleet operator – under 20 vehicles – can monitor his fleet’s need for basic maintenance such as oil changes and other maintenance, service warnings, fuel use and spot vehicles in need of repairs in excess of the vehicle’s book value, Borg Fleet says. The software also creates work orders.

“Small fleet managers now have the one system that lets them control the cost of operating their fleet,” BorgFleet CEO Chris Borg told Canadian AutoWorld. “It’s a full management tool.”

Borg says the Free Starter Addition is ideal for the small operator interested in getting a taste of what web-based fleet management can do for their company. And the price is right: It’s free.

“The system can be worked very well simply be entering the information manually. Just check the odometer and enter the information online.”

Continue reading "BorgSolutions has the recipe for increased fleet sales" »

Prepaid service plans tailored to used cars are profitable

Only one year after the Canadian launch of its Loyalty Smart Card, Loyalty Logistix is offering a spin on the its use: a pre-paid service package, the company says offers move value than discounts, particularly on used car sales.

Loyalty Logistix’ president John Dixon explains: “Dealers can retain more margin and build better long-term relationships with more of their used car customers, an area where service retention is traditionally poor.”

Dixon says he’s eager to share the secret to unlocking this profitable opportunity: simple administration and staying in touch with customers.

That’s where the Loyalty Smart Card system comes in to play.

“It delivers, more or less, guaranteed incremental revenue opportunities by creating an easy-to-sell product, which may include any number of dealer-defined scheduled services, annual inspections, as well as soft benefits such as car detailing, pick up and drop off.”

The program itself can be customized for different vehicle maintenance requirements, he says.
The second part of this formula is staying in touch, which is achieved by administering this pre-paid service through the Loyalty Smart Card program. 

By using this method of communication, reminders for scheduled services and annual inspections are sent to the customer in addition to any marketing initiatives that the dealer may wish to promote. 

“The opportunity to improve used vehicle service loyalty incremental business is realistic, especially when we know that older cars are much more profitable to service,” says Dixon. “As a result, it will eliminate any obstacles to sell service plans to used car customers, either through the sales force or the business office.”

Using this approach worldwide, Loyalty Logistix says it has helped dealers attain over 40 per cent penetration on used car sales.

“And the best news is that the Loyalty Logistix model is a pay-per-use basis, making it a low-cost option for dealers.”

A division of Autothority Inc., Loyalty Logistix is made up of a group of knowledgeable consultants from the automotive industry. Their aim is to use their skills and experience to deal with the unique challenges in the retail automotive industry and create best-in-class solutions.

Other services include private sale events and loyalty initiatives for auto dealerships.
For further information, please contact John Dixon, president

Loyalty Logistix, (905) 331-8700, (cell) (416) 505-1218, dixon@loyaltylogistix.ca or visit www.loyaltylogistix.ca.


December 04, 2009

Autoshow outlook for 2010

AutoshowWEB Denis Dessureault is a very happy guy. The director of the Montreal International Autoshow said this year’s show will have none of the no-shows that plague others.

“There will be a full house again. We know we are lucky,” Dessureault said. “But the manufacturers see the show as important because the Montreal market is important.”

Yes, Chrysler Canada and GM Canada have trimmed their displays, but the slack has been taken up by other automakers, he said.

While the Montreal market may be alluring, it wasn’t enough to shield the show from the demands of cost-conscious exhibitors. Show management had to ask the management of the Palais des Congrès, the show’s venue, for help.

Continue reading "Autoshow outlook for 2010" »

Kia of Newmarket surprises with features usually seen at upscale stores

“The power to surprise” is Kia Canada’s motto. And the grand opening of Kia of Newmarket served up some examples.

The store boasts a new vehicle delivery room – just the thing to give new-car owners the feeling that at this Kia store, they’re a somebody. And there’s a six-car demo pickup area in the basement. Customers won’t have to wait around while a car jockey shovels off a demo or freeze their backside in a cold vehicle. Simply hop in and drive away.


Dealer principal Mike Croxon said the opening of the “Kia of Newmarket Experience” was the result of a team effort, which saw general manager Steve Nash and staff set sales records while doing business in a trailer.

“We’ve come a long way,” said Croxon, who bought the franchise eight years ago “from a one-car showroom at the back of a plaza.”

The new 28,000-square-foot store, located Newmarket, Ont., a 45-minute drive north of Toronto, sits on 2 1/2 acres of land. There’s plenty of room for expansion, he said.

The store also features a six-bay service area with all-new equipment and cabinets, a detailing shop and a six-car patio display area opposite and visible from the drive-through.

Maria Soklis, Kia Canada COO/VP, said that 90 percent of the Kia stores were image-compliant or well on their way to meeting the standards.
      

‘One-stop shop’ for direct mailing

Len Larose of Printing By Innovation Inc. (PBI) suggests there are easier ways to realize your direct mailing goals than finding someone to design the creative, another company to print it and third party to mail it.

He says to use him.

“We’re a one-stop shop,” he says. “We’ll develop your campaign from the ground up. Once the creative is approved, we take care of the printing, finishing and mailing.”

Opened five years ago and based in Stoney Creek, Ont., Larose says PBI has been slowly casting its business net outside Ontario’s borders and across the country.

PBI deals primarily with the automotive industry and works with dealers directly developing and executing direct mail campaigns. He says he has about 200 dealers nationwide.

While business is still good in spite of the battered economy, he says dealers are doing smaller, more refined mailing campaigns during the recession.

The company offers a range of services from massive unaddressed mail campaigns – one recent job topped out at almost 4.5 million pieces – to hyperlocal, variable mail personalized for individual customers.

“We can handle a large amount of volume with the equipment we have.”
He said they have the technology with their variable mailing campaigns to personalize not only the text but the images as well.

“We personalize the piece referring to the current vehicle they are driving and send relative information on what they may be purchasing based on their current model and how they service the vehicle,” he explains.

Larose says it’s as simple as using the dealership database to create an individualized piece of mail for each customer. The topics can range from sales information to service reminders.

Adding the little touch of using a “live stamp” instead of a pre-printed postage indicia seems to help too.

“It comes across as something with importance and not perceived as junk mail.”
In addition to expansion, he says the new year will also bring a large push towards their new online b2b solution. He hinted that PBI would be offering the technology soon, remarking how creating variable printed marketing campaigns can be a great way for dealers across Canada to get more out of their marketing dollars.

For more information on PBI, check out www.pbiinc.ca or call 1-888-235-2735.

December 03, 2009

New wheels for accident victim

Crushed RICHMOND HILL, ONT. – It only took a couple of weeks for Todd Jamison to go from crushed and blue to shiny and new.

Jamison, whose 2004 Hyundai Elantra GT was one of two vehicles crushed by a woman behind the wheel of a BMW in mid-October, was given a brand new 2010 Hyundai Elantra Touring GLS by the automaker yesterday.

The incident happened outside Extreme Fitness in Thornhill, Ont. Jamison works at the facility and came out to find his vehicle “a little flatter” than how he had left it.

Video surveillance caught the accident on tape, which became a web sensation garnering hundreds of thousands of views after Jamison posted it online. The video depicted a SUV pulling into an empty parking spot in front of Jamison’s vehicle when it jumped the small dividing curb and crushed the front end of the Elantra.

“We saw it on YouTube and thought, ‘Now there’s an opportunity to help out a customer,’” explained Hyundai representative Barb Pitblado. “It was our random act of kindness.”

The company contacted Jamison and offered to replace his car at no cost to him. He was given the new car at Richmond Hill Hyundai.

And to help Jamison along the way, dealership general manager Roger Linton gave the North York resident free oil changes for life.
    
“We wanted to make sure Todd had an extra special experience,” Linton said. “Now we can give him worry-free driving.”

“It’s great and the oil changes are a total surprise,” Jamison said with a smile.

December 02, 2009

Volt to hit market in California in 2010

Chevy Volt News out of the Los Angeles Auto Show today indicates General Motors plans on selling the Chevrolet Volt in California next year.

The Volt, an electric car that made headlines a few months back when GM announced it could manage 480 km without refueling, is expected to cost around US$40,000. It is expected to hit other markets outside of California after the initial release.

The vehicle runs on lithium-ion batteries but has a gasoline engine that will kick in when the battery power runs low.

Part of the project requires partnership with three utility companies that will see 500
charging stations installed for residential, commercial and public use.

- With files from The Associated Press

Farewell Fritz

Fritz-henderson General Motors Chairman Ed Whitacre Jr. has been announced as the replacement for the outgoing CEO Frederick Henderson, who tenured his resignation late yesterday.

Henderson’s tenure as CEO lasted just eight turbulent months that saw the automaker enter bankruptcy protection in the U.S., axe a brand and unsuccessfully sell two other ones all while posting international sales losses and accepting federal bailout cash.

At a Detroit news conference yesterday, Whitacre read a statement thanking Henderson for his work but noted that restructuring would now be sped up and government paybacks would commence.
 
“Fritz has done a remarkable job in leading the company through an unprecedented period of challenge and change,” he said at the conference. “While momentum has been building over the past several months, all involved agree that changes needed to be made.”

Henderson, 51, succeeded Rick Wagoner in late March. He spent the first few months of his new job working with the government to reorganize the automaker outside of bankruptcy, though that step was eventually taken in June.

During the last eight months, he had tried to downsize the company once known as the world’s largest automaker but discontinuing the Pontiac brand, culling hundreds of dealers from the Canadian and U.S. network and initiating sales for Saab, Opel, Saturn and Hummer.

Three of those sales have failed and the Hummer deal is tenuous at best.

There is no word yet on what Henderson’s plans to do next.