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By William Maley
Purchasing a car at a dealership is a stressful and painful experience: Finding the right vehicle, dealing with various sales and finance people, mountains of paperwork, and so on. Hyundai is hoping a new program will make the experience slightly better.
Hyundai Shopper Assurance promises to streamline the buying process with four key parts; fair-market pricing (MSRP minus incentives and dealer discounts), flexible test drives at a customer's place of choice, streamlined purchasing process, and three-day money back guarantee.
“Shopper Assurance is the next step in that tradition and is car buying made simple. We expect this to be a differentiator, as our research showed that 84 percent of people would visit a dealership that offered all four features over one that did not. It is the future of car buying, and our commitment to creating a flexible, efficient and better way to purchase a car in partnership with our dealer body,” said Dean Evans, chief marketing officer for Hyundai Motor America.
Most of the parts are self-explanatory except for the 'streamlined purchasing process'. This means a buyer can complete the paperwork, apply for financing, get a credit approval, figure out monthly payments, and value their trade-in all from the comfort of their home.
Hyundai will launch Shopper Assurance in four markets this year; Dallas, Houston, Miami, and Orlando. The program will expand nationwide early next year.
Press Release is on Page 2
HYUNDAI TRANSFORMS RETAIL CAR BUYING WITH SHOPPER ASSURANCE
Industry-First Nationwide Commitment to Modernizing Car Shopping Offers More Options and Convenience for Customers Launches Today in Miami, Orlando, Dallas and Houston and Will Roll Out to All Hyundai Dealers in Early 2018 FOUNTAIN VALLEY, Calif., Oct. 10, 2017 – In building on the brand promise to provide customers with a better experience, Hyundai introduces Shopper Assurance, an industry-first nationwide program that streamlines and modernizes the car-buying experience. Today, a majority of car buyers are frustrated with the automotive retail experience and are looking for new ways to shop for and buy a new car. Shopper Assurance focuses on four elements that make the often arduous process of purchasing a car easier, faster and worry-free.
Transparent Pricing: Participating dealers post the fair market pricing (MSRP minus incentives and any dealer offered discounts) on the dealer websites, so the customer knows exactly what the market pricing is for the vehicle. This can reduce the time it takes to negotiate a price and can eliminate the frustration of widely advertised incentives not being available on dealer websites. Flexible Test Drive: Customers are given the option to conduct a test drive for any new vehicle on their own terms through Hyundai Drive, a platform that allows the test drive to be scheduled by contacting the dealer on their website, by phone or by using a custom-built app (in available markets). The selected test-drive vehicle can be at a location of the customer’s choosing, such as their home, their office or a coffee shop. Streamlined Purchase: Reduces the time customers spend at the dealer by allowing car buyers to complete most of the paperwork online prior to visiting the dealership for a vehicle in the dealer’s inventory. This includes applying for financing, obtaining credit approvals, calculating payment estimates and valuing trade-ins. Three-Day Money Back Guarantee: Any customer who is not satisfied with their purchase is given a three-day buy back period to return the car for a full refund, contingent upon a dealer inspection and the vehicle having fewer than 300 miles since the purchase/lease date. This turns potential second thoughts into peace of mind. “For nearly a decade, the word ‘Assurance’ has been synonymous with Hyundai and represents our efforts in redefining the car ownership experience,” said Dean Evans, chief marketing officer, Hyundai Motor America. “Shopper Assurance is the next step in that tradition and is car buying made simple. We expect this to be a differentiator, as our research showed that 84 percent of people would visit a dealership that offered all four features over one that did not. It is the future of car buying, and our commitment to creating a flexible, efficient and better way to purchase a car in partnership with our dealer body.”
“We’ve listened to our customers, and they want convenience and simplicity when it comes to buying a car. Shopper Assurance is going to give our dealers the tools we need to exceed the expectations of today’s shopper,” said Andrew DiFeo, chairman, Hyundai National Dealer Council and dealer principal, Hyundai of St. Augustine. “With a strong lineup of new cars and CUVs, we expect that Shopper Assurance will give us a competitive advantage and help turn prospects into buyers. We are creating a modern purchasing process where transparency and convenience are paramount.”
Shopper Assurance is available for any new model in the Hyundai lineup and will initially launch in dealerships in four markets: Miami, Orlando, Dallas and Houston. It will be live nationwide by early 2018.
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By William Maley
For the past month, I have been doing a bit of window shopping for a possible replacement for my current vehicle - a 2006 Ford Fusion with almost 270,000 miles on the odometer. Usually, whenever I go look at vehicles, I tend to have automotive ADD; tending to look at all kinds of vehicles with no set price or type. But this recent excursion caused me to notice that I had unknowingly set my sights on a certain group. All of the vehicles I was looking at were all compact cars and none were crossovers. Why is that?
To get to the bottom of this, I began to look at my driving habits when I am not driving a new car for review. For the most part, I tend to drive in a small radius from where I live - about a 20 to 25 Miles. I don’t really carry passengers in my car and the back seat is primarily used for transporting groceries or other items. Plus, I only get about 22 to 24 mpg in mostly city driving. Looking at this information, it makes some sense as to why I happen to be looking at small cars. I don’t take advantage of all the space on offer for cargo and passengers, and it would be nice to get to some higher fuel economy numbers.
You might be wondering why am I not considering a compact/subcompact crossover? There are two reasons for this. One is that I find crossovers to be a little too big for my needs and wants. Second is that I can get a better deal on a car than a crossover. For example, I have been looking at various Chevrolet Cruzes and have been surprised how much dealers are marking them down. I have seen price cuts ranging from about $2,000 to $5,000. That means I could get into a decently equipped Cruze for around $20,000 to $22,000. Can’t really do the same when talking about the Equinox.
There have been a couple pieces flowing around within the past few months talking about how a number of us tend to buy the largest vehicle we can afford because we tend to think about the extremes that will happen rarely during the ownership of the vehicle. Having a big vehicle for when you decide to move or pick up some large items is a nice thing to have, but how often will that happen for most of us? Twice? Three times? We may think that we are using rational reasoning to try and justify buying something bigger, but the irrational parts of our brains ultimately color the final decision.
All of us should buy a vehicle that fits our needs and wants. But that doesn’t always work out. Some of us enjoy driving a bigger vehicle such as a full-size sedan or pickup truck. If you get a sense of joy every time you get in, despite the faults and issues that will come up, then I don’t see any problem. For me, I would enjoy having a full-size sedan such as a Chevrolet Impala because of its comfortable ride and looks. But at the moment, it doesn’t make sense for me.
I guess what I am trying to say is the next time you’re deciding on your next vehicle, try your best to keep the needs and wants in check. Don’t fall into those traps of thinking about the extremes. Who knows, you might be like me and find yourself surprised at what you are looking at.
Pic Credit: William Maley for Cheers & Gears
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By William Maley
In the coming months, one of the most anticipated and important vehicles will begin rolling off the production line. The Tesla Model 3 has a lot riding on it as there are over 370,000 pre-orders for the upcoming entry-level model. This is the vehicle that can either make or break the company.
So it seems quite interesting that Tesla is trying to pull attention away from this important model. During Tesla’s first-quarter earnings call, CEO Elon Musk expressed dismay at the lack of attention given to their flagship sedan, the Model S.
"We have seen some impact of Model S orders as a function of people being confused" that Model 3 is the upgrade to Model S, Musk said on a conference call.
"We want to be super clear that Model 3 is not version 3 of our car. Model 3 is essentially a smaller, more affordable version of the Model S with fewer features,” Musk went on to say.
But why is Musk trying to put the spotlight back on the Model S? One only needs to look at the customer deposits for the Model S and X. In the first quarter, deposits on both models dropped 7 percent. The Model S is also getting up there in age. Let us not forget that Model S was first shown back in 2009 and didn’t enter production till 2012. Despite the numerous over-the-air updates with new technology features such as Autopilot and upgrades to the powertrain, it is still the same vehicle we saw many moons ago. Considering the types of models the Model S competes against, this isn’t a good thing.
Still, the Model 3 is the current sweetheart of Tesla whether they want it to be not. Unknowingly at the time when the world to the Model 3 back in 2015, Elon Musk had opened a Pandora’s Box. Many people like Tesla because they are not like your standard automaker and this has garnered the company a cult of personality that is more common with Apple or Google, not an automaker. When the Model 3 was shown and price tag revealed to be $35,000 (without federal and state tax incentives), everyone went crazy. People who envied those with either a Model S or X would now be able to join the cool kids and enjoy the perks of owning a Tesla.
With all of these pre-orders, Tesla has to get these models out quickly or face the wrath of angry buyers. But there are some serious concerns as to whether or not Tesla can meet it. For one, the company has a long track record of missing production dates. Remember how the Model X was supposed to come out in early-2014? Thanks to a number of delays, Model X production didn’t begin until the fall of 2015. But Tesla believes they have a solution to get the Model 3 in production on time.
Tesla’s reasoning for skipping this step is that it brought a number of problems for the launch of the Model X. According to a source speaking to Reuters, “Tesla was unable to take any of the lessons learned from this before ordering the final production tooling,” due to a tight production deadline.
"Soft tooling did very little for the program and arguably hurt things," said the source.
One only needs to do a quick Google search on Model X issues to see a long list that includes massive gaps with the body panels and the futuristic Falcon Doors malfunctioning. But this is nothing new. Tesla’s build quality issues have been around for awhile and they still haven’t gotten them fully ironed out on either model. This isn’t a good sign when you’re getting to launch a model that will be produced in large quantities.
If there is one thing that Tesla has proven time and time again, it has been their resilience. Despite the bad news or fault, they have always seemed to find a way out. The Model 3 will be the ultimate test of their resilience. If they can pull off the launch of the Model 3 with only a few hiccups, then it would propel the company towards a higher place. But one massive screw-up or miscalculation could put Tesla in a difficult spot, one they might not be able to get out.
It makes sense that Elon Musk is trying to draw the attention away from the Model 3, but it is too late. The pandora's box has been opened and there is no way it can be shut. All eyes on are the Model 3 and Tesla just needs to ride it out.
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By William Maley
Last week saw the PSA Group (parent company of Citroen and Peugeot) purchasing Opel and Vauxhall from General Motors for $2.3 billion. This move would make the PSA Group the second-largest automaker in Europe. We already know some of the plans that PSA Group has for their new brands such as setting operating profit targets of 2 percent in 2020 (jumps to 6 percent by 2026) and the next-generation Opel/Vauxhall Corsa being the first new product developed with PSA. But as we alluded to in the original news story, there are a lot of questions that remain unanswered such as possible job cuts or what happens to Buick and Holden as they share products with Opel. I have been doing a bit of thinking on these and some other questions. The end result is this piece.
1: Will there be job cuts and plant closures?
In 2016, PSA Group employed 172,000 people worldwide. With the acquisition of Opel and Vauxhall, they will be adding close to 42,000 workers (the majority of those from Opel). The number of plants will also increase to 28 due to this purchase. Sooner or later, PSA Group is going have to make cuts. During the press conference announcing the deal, PSA Group CEO Carlos Tavares said the company “would honor existing labor agreements and closing plants is a “simplistic” solution.” That may be true for now, but this might change within the coming years. Some analysts believe PSA Group will close two to three plants within five years.
The most likely place where the closures and layoffs could take place is in Great Britain. The reason as we talked about in a story back in February deals with the decision made by British citizens last year with leaving the European Union.
“By leaving, the country would lose access to the EU Single Market which guarantees unconstrained trade across the member states. It would mean various countries would be leveraging tariffs on British-made goods, making production in the country less competitive.”
Former British member of parliament and business secretary Sir Vincent Cable outlined how bad this decision looks for Vauxhall in a recent interview on BBC Radio 4.
There could be a way that the British Government could at least stall the possible closures. Back in October, the British Government worked out a secret deal with Nissan to keep them investing in British car production at their plant in Sunderland. This deal caused an uproar as the details were kept as many believed the British Government would be handing over money to keep Nissan happy. But sources told British newspaper The Independent back in January that the deal had no mention of money.
It could be that the British Government could do something similar for PSA Group to keep jobs, but it is too early to say if this will happen or not.
2: Will this affect PSA’s plans of entering the U.S.?
Probably not. Let’s remember that PSA Group is working through a ten-year plan that may or may not see the return of the Citroen and Peugeot, along with the introduction of DS to the country. Already, the first part of this plan is gearing up for the launch of a car sharing service next month. There is also extensive research going on into the U.S. marketplace.
But could there be a possibility of Opel or Vauxhall vehicles being sold here? It would not be surprising if there isn’t talk about this at PSA Group’s HQ. But there is a slight complication to this idea. As part of the sale, PSA Group cannot sell any Opel vehicles developed by GM anywhere in various markets outside of Europe (China and U.S. for example) until they transition to PSA platforms. That means a number of models such as the Astra, Insignia, and Mokka are out of the question for the time being. If Opel was chosen to be one of the brands PSA would sell in the U.S., they might not have a full line of vehicles to sell due to this clause.
3: What does the future hold for Buick and Holden?
If there are some losers from the sale of Opel, it has to Buick and Holden. Buick has found some success with Opel products as the Encore (rebadged Mokka) has become one the best-selling models for the brand. Holden is getting a shot in the arm as the Astra will hopefully help their fortunes in the compact space, and the new Commodore (rebadged Insignia) has a tough task ahead of it with living up to an iconic name. For the time being, Opel will continue supplying models to both brands. It is what happens in the future that many are concerned about.
During the Geneva Motor Show, GM President Dan Ammann said something very interest to Australian journalists about the future of Holden’s products.
This makes sense as the Astra was only launched and the Commodore is getting ready to go on sale. But I wouldn’t be surprised if talks begin very soon about this very topic. The same talks are likely to begin at Buick soon where they face the same issue for the Regal and Encore. Our hunch is Buick might have the easier time of two. The Encore would continue on since it shares the same platform as the Chevrolet Trax. As for the Regal, it could leave Buick’s lineup once the next-generation model runs its course.
4: Does GM lose anything with this deal?
There has been a lot of talk about how much money will be freed up from the sale of Opel/Vauxhall for GM, along with making a bit more profit. But it comes at a cost that could hurt GM down the road. The recent crop of compact and midsize sedans from GM owe a lot to Opel’s engineering knowledge. Vehicles that excel in driving dynamics and fuel economy are worth their weight in gold when it comes to the European marketplace. As we know, one part of why GM went into bankruptcy was the lack of competitive small and midsize cars that got good fuel economy. Opel would prove to be GM’s savior with this key knowledge.
Right now, compacts and midsize sedans aren’t selling as consumers are directing their attention to crossovers and SUVs. This is due in part to lower gas prices. But sooner or later, the price of gas will go back up and cause many to go back to smaller vehicles. With talk about GM scaling back on their small and midsize car lineup, this decision could have consequences down the road. Plus with Opel out of the picture, GM doesn’t have someone it can rely on to get these models back to the forefront. We can hope GM’s North American office has learned some stuff when working with their European counterparts.
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