Volkswagen's dealers find themselves wondering what's next and if the diesel scandal would end.
Dealers seemed hopeful when the initial fallout came as Volkswagen seemed to understand what could happen. The German automaker offered emergency aid to its dealers which earned Volkswagen of America's CEO Michael Horn a standing ovation at Volkswagen's national meeting.
But three months on and a scandal that seems to go in a new direction every day, dealers are becoming worried and frustrated.
"This thing isn't getting better with time. We don't have a fix. We don't have a timeline," said Alan Brown, chairman of VW's dealer council. The unknown, he added, is "what makes the anxiety of this even worse."
Part of worrying feelings that dealers are the confusing signals coming out at Volkswagen. The internal probe hasn't revealed any details about who was involved or how it began. Not helping is the constant changes in Volkswagen's executives. Meanwhile in the U.S., Volkswagen is currently waiting on the EPA and CARB to approve their fix for the 2.0L TDI engine.
Not helping is the uncertainty in the values of affected Volkswagen diesel models. Competing brands won't accept used TDIs on trade, and Volkswagen dealers feel pressure to take in TDI models at lower prices to reflect there more than 15 percent drop in price at auctions. Customers who are trying to trade in their TDIs are seeing offers that leave them discouraged. Volkswagen's offer to buy up used TDIs sitting on dealers lot turned out to be a one-time program that ended on October 22nd.
Also giving Volkswagen dealers a bit of a headache is the low inventories of gas vehicles. Steve Kalafer, owner of a Volkswagen dealer in New Jersey says he has fewer than 50 saleable Volkswagens in stock, causing him to say his sales prospects in December are bleak.
"We would be hopeful that Volkswagen would ship these cars on overtime," Kalafer said, but during the holiday season, "the auto business from the manufacturer side basically shuts down."
There is also the question of incentives. One of the reasons for Volkswagen's 25 percent drop in sales in November was the decrease in incentives. In October, VW offered $2,000 for returning owners. In November, that amount was reduced to $1,000 to $1,500 dependent on the model.
Brown says Horn should be demanding money from Volkswagen to offer the best new car deals in the industry to keep and attract customers.
"We cannot be arrogant and higher priced," said Brown.
Source: Automotive News (Subscription Required)