The Willys MB Jeep earned icon status during World War II thanks to its ruggedness, simplicity and go-anywhere ability. Following the war, it didn't take long for the handy vehicles to be scooped up by the public, and a brand slowly grew around the vehicles that has continued to thrive. Fast-forward to present day, where it's not uncommon for auto dealers to try to grab some of the magic of yesteryear by displaying classic models to connect customers with their brands' proud histories. Now, a Ca
The US auto dealer industry recently saw a huge shakeup when Warren Buffett's Berkshire Hathaway investment company bought Van Tuyl Group, the country's largest privately owned network of showrooms, for an undisclosed sum. Assuming the deal's regulatory success, it immediately made Buffet one of the nation's largest car retailers. But could the acquisition have come as part of a larger plan to launch a Chinese automaker in the US?
The resounding successes of the iPhone and iPad have Apple shareholders dancing in the streets, but one area in which Apple hasn't been as successful, however, has been business applications. In fact, until recently, Apple retail stores used Windows-based devices to ring up orders. Now, Mercedes-Benz aims to be among the first companies to change that paradigm by bringing the popular iPad tablet into its showrooms.
General Motors Canada has announced that it has begun notifying its dealer body that it will be culling its sales networks by some 42 percent. The massive cut means that GM's 709 dealers will be trimmed by around 245 stores. The cuts will come as the restructuring automaker will elect to not renew its sales and service contracts come October 2010.
Like those affected by the overinflated housing market, many auto dealers are experiencing a similar situation with their real estate. During the recent boom times, the thinking was that you needed a big, flashy facility with all sorts of extras and perks to attract customers. Manufacturers helped push the trend by offering extra incentives to dealers for interior and exterior upgrades, or flat-out demanding that some brand outlets conform to a particular standard.
Online sales are now a big and fast-growing part of U.S. retail sales, for everything from books to auto parts. True, the total amount of retail sales booked online is a small fraction of the total volume of consumer goods, but it is the fastest growing of all sales channels, tantalizing manufacturers with its efficiency and low cost (not to mention the potential boost to the bottom line).
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