Dealers dish dirt
CAR dealers rank alongside journalists when it comes to public perceptions but knowing how happy or unhappy a dealer is with the brand they represent might help you drive a bargain.
The Australian Automotive Dealers Association has just published its top-secret annual report known as the dealer satisfaction survey — a copy of which has fallen in our lap.
The buying public may not care about how a dealer is coping with Australia’s supercompetitive car business but the report makes for interesting reading.
For example, the Chrysler Jeep group of brands ranks last in the survey of the Top 15 car companies when it comes to “product quality, reliability and consumer expectations”. And that’s from the people who know the cars best: the dealers who sell them.
The report also did not bode well for Holden, Ford, Nissan and Mitsubishi, whose dealers rated the brands they represent as being below the industry average for the same criteria.
The graph for dealer profitability was also telling: dealerships that sell Holden, Hyundai, Mitsubishi, Nissan, Honda, Kia, and Jeep were all below average. That means they have less incentive to invest in their dealerships and their staff. It also shows that the past couple of years of heavy discounting are starting to take a toll.
The profit for market leader Toyota was industry average. Elsewhere, dealers reported healthy margins for Mazda, Ford, Subaru, Audi and Mercedes-Benz.
So if you’re in the market for one of the latter brands, be sure to haggle. But don’t be surprised if there’s not much wriggle room among the brands reporting below average profits.
Two examples of popular small cars from the past two months: the margin on one $20,000 Japanese car was $450 and on a $20,000 South Korean car was just $650.
No wonder they won’t throw in floor mats or window tint on some cars these days.