Car Culture

Car Culture

Dodge and Kia tie as the highest-ranking brands in the J.D. Power 2020 Initial Quality Study for initial overall quality, with Genesis ranking highest among premium brands.

The study, redesigned this year, measures components that fail and features that are difficult to use, hard to understand or don’t work the way owners want.

The study, now in its 34th year, examines problems experienced by owners of new 2020 model-year vehicles during the first 90 days of ownership. Initial quality is determined by the number of problems experienced per 100 vehicles (PP100), with a lower score reflecting higher quality.

The Chevrolet Sonic
The Chevrolet Sonic had the best overall score

Dodge and Kia tie for highest in overall initial quality, each with a score of 136 PP100. Dodge is the first domestic brand in the study’s history to rank highest. This is the sixth consecutive year that Kia is the highest-ranked mass market brand. Chevrolet and Ram place third in a tie (each with 141 PP100). Genesis is the highest ranked premium brand for the fourth consecutive year in the study.

The Chevrolet Sonic, with just 103 PP100, has the best score of any model in this year’s study, as well as topping the Small Car segment.

Other top scores within segments include: Audi A4 (Small Premium Car); Kia Forte (Top Compact Car);  Hyundai Veloster (Top Compact Sporty Car); Genesis G70 (Compact Premium Car); Chevrolet Malibu (Midsize Car); Ford Mustang (Midsize Sporty Car); Cadillac CTS (Midsize Premium Car); Cadillac CT6 (Upper Midsize Premium Car); Nissan Maxima (Large Car);  and BMW 8 Series (Large Premium Car).

We can chalk this up to one of 2020's many surprising twists 'n' turns. The much-anticipated release of the resurrected Ford Bronco is being delayed, yet again, to July 13. Let's hope the third time's the charm.

Twitter took to roasting Ford Motor Co. over the coincidental date.
Twitter took to roasting Ford Motor Co. over the coincidental date.

The original reveal of the now 2021 Bronco was slated for March '20, with the smaller, "Baby Bronco" to be showcased a few weeks later at the New York International Auto Show. That show was canceled because the venue, the Javits Center, was repurposed as a field hospital for COVID-19 treatment.

The second scheduled release of the Bronco was for July 9. Then the Detroit Free Press pointed out that the new Bronco would share a birthday with infamous Bronco passenger, O.J Simpson. As you may recall, Simpson, with his friend Al Cowlings behind the wheel, took a '93 white Ford Bronco on a 45-minute drive through the streets of L.A. with the police in close pursuit.

Ford tweeted a new release date for the Bronco2020
Ford 's June 19 Twitter response

Ford recently tweeted that it would delay the release of the Bronco, again, by another four days to July 13. 

Which just happens to be Harrison Ford's 77th birthday. Was there some shrewd marketing behind these date choices?

Probably not, unless Harrison Ford ends up in a Bronco ad.

The base price of the new Bronco will be $30,000 with tons of add-on options. There is even rumor of a manual version with seven speeds. 

After a 24-year hiatus, the Bronco will soon be rolling off the assembly line at its old home, the Ford Michigan Assembly Plant in Wayne, Mich. 

 

Watch TopSpeed's sneak peak behind the new 2020 Ford Bronco below:

 

According to a new report published by ValuePenguin/LendingTree, the Ford F-150, Chevrolet Silverado and Honda Civic are the most searched cars in America. And while searches for cars, especially pickup trucks, trended downward during the onset of the COVID-19 epidemic in the United States, recent data suggests that searches for these popular models may be hitting annual highs. America’s five most searched cars are: Ford F-150; Chevrolet Silverado; Honda Civic; Toyota Tacoma and  Honda Accord.

Outside of the Northeast and California, a pickup truck was the most searched car in every state. High population density in the Northeast is why sedans like the Honda Civic and Honda Accord are more popular, whereas more open space out West and in the rest of the country makes driving a pickup more attractive and accessible.

According to Michael Hoffman, senior research analyst at ValuePenguin, “these findings provide a pulse on consumer demand trends in the U.S. auto industry, at a critical moment for the economy and auto manufacturers following several years of record-breaking vehicle sales.” He adds, “Several manufacturers like GM and Fiat Chrysler have expressed concern that demand may outstrip supply amid factory shutdowns due to the novel coronavirus.”

After first postponing the 2020 show dates, organizers of the New York International Auto Show have decided the next show will take place April 2-11, 2021, with press days on March 31 & April 1. 

The Javits Convention Cente is being used as a  field hospital for COVID-19 cases.
The Javits Convention Center is one of NYC's largest field hospitals for COVID-19 cases

The Jacob K. Javits Convention Center, originally scheduled to host the event, continues to be closed for all expo business due to its role as a field hospital for COVID-19 cases.

The show, originally scheduled for last month, was  initially postponed to late summer, but organizers pulled the plug for 2020.

“Since the beginning of this pandemic, we have worked closely with the Governor’s office and with Javits officials to protect our attendees,”

The first New York Auto Show, 1907 Madison Square Garden
The first New York Auto Show, 1907 Madison Square Garden

said Mark Schienberg, president of the Greater New York Automobile Dealers Association, the organization that owns and operates the New York Auto Show. “We also understand the immense planning needed for the automakers and their exhibit partners to construct a show of this magnitude. Because of the uncertainty caused by the virus, we feel it would not be prudent to continue with the 2020 show and instead are preparing for an even greater 2021.”

The most popular car in America for the first half of 2020 is the Toyota Camry, according to Pretected.com, one of the largest insurance comparison websites in the United States.

The Camry is followed by the Honda Accord in second place and the Ford F-150 in third.

Although the two most popular models come from overseas, Pretected also named the top 10 most popular car makers overall in America for 2020.  Chevrolet led the list, followed by Ford, Toyota, Nissan, Honda, Dodge Hyundai, Kia, Jeep and GMC.

BMW widened the gap with its competitors, continuing its reign as No. 1 most considered luxury brand by consumers, a position it has held for the past three years, despite some close calls, according to the Kelley Blue Book Brand Watch Report for Q1 2020.

The top five luxury brands were: BMW, Audi, Lexus, Tesla and Mercedes-Benz.

The Brand Watch Report is a consumer perception survey that also weaves in consumer shopping behavior to determine how a brand or model stacks up with its segment competitors on a dozen factors key to a consumer’s buying decision.

BMW gained shopping consideration as a brand. The entry-luxury 3 Series sedan, supported by conquest and loyalty lease specials offered in the quarter, moved up three ranks in shopping consideration. The X5 SUV climbed as well. BMW also garnered buzz with the launch of the new 2 Series and the minor changes made to its 5 Series.

Audi Q5
Audi Q5 

Audi and Lexus maintained their spots immediately behind BMW in the quarter. However, Lexus’ shopping consideration dipped from 2019’s Q4 and below Audi’s, due to lower consideration for Lexus’ volume-leading RX SUV. Audi held onto its share of new luxury vehicle prospects, despite declining interest in the Q5 SUV.

Tesla broke into the top 5 for most considered luxury brands, edging past Mercedes-Benz. Despite a dip in its shopping consideration, the Model 3 maintained its hold on the No. 1 shopped luxury vehicle, a spot it has held for four consecutive quarters.

As Auto Dealers large and small are deemed an essential service across the country dealers are turning to online tools to continue to sell and repair cars during the Covid-19 pandemic. Tesla, which was already set up for online buying and delivery has added new social distancing features to protect the buyer and Tesla employees .

Tesla's curb side drop off
A Tesla delivered with Direct Drop

Tesla developed two new-vehicle pick-up options: Express Delivery and Direct Drop, for customers on edge about Covid-19 exposure. Tesla Express Delivery uses Tesla's smartphone app and each new car's onboard data connection to avoid handling or transferring any car keys. A buyer still shows up in person to a Tesla delivery center to a scheduled appointment. Using the apps location tracking the buyer goes directly to their new car to inspect and sign documents. All documents are in the car ready for signing. An advisor  collects the documents for review while a technician adds a temporary tag and license plate.

With Tesla’s Direct Drop everything is done digitally, paperwork is e-signed and payment is handled online, the buyer then uses the tesla app to pick a location for drop-off. Tesla drops off the car at the requested stop and the buyer unlocks the car with the tesla app. The whole process involves no physical human interaction at all.

Select Toyota dealers are offering to deliver a new or certified vehicle straight to a buyers door at no extra charge, and owners in select areas can have service performed remotely at their home. Toyota has expanded their internet and call center to allow for better remote communication.  GM dealers are offering a similar shopping experience.

Township Chevrolet in Summerside, PE
Township Chevrolet in Summerside, PE

Its not just larger Dealers that are adding successful social distancing buying options for their clients either. Township Chevrolet in Summerside, PE is offering social distancing sales, buy allowing customers to pick a vehicle, set a date and time for a home test drive and then delivering the vehicle to the home for a test drive after being sterilized. They have also made adjustments to allow those who visit the dealership to remain properly distanced.

An issue used car buyers and sellers may run into with selling/buying a vehicle, are inspections from an independent mechanic. Dealers may want to make this easier for their buyers by setting up easy third party inspections where they drop off and pick up the vehicle and certify the vehicle as being disinfected after inspection before it is dropped off to a buyer for a test drive. Paperwork can be left in the vehicle and mailed back to the dealership or completed onlline.

certifying vehicles as disinfected
Certifying vehicles as disinfected in the time of COVID-19

There are currently two major contenders that sell used cars nationwide online.  Vroom and Carvana have been setting the standard for selling cars online across the country for sometime. Vroom vehicles undergo a 126-point inspection before they’re accepted for sale. Carvana vehicles, must pass a 150-point inspection as well as undergo an Experian auto check report. After purchase, customers have the option to test drive their cars for seven days before they can return them. Carsense is offering curb-side delivery in there NY and PE locations and home delivery in other locations .

Adding social distancing options like curb-side drop-off, online paperwork, over the phone sales, drop off test driving, delivering and picking up vehicles for 3rd party inspections and certifying vehicles as disinfected will help normalize car sales during the pandemic . According to Google’s latest stats, 71% of people turn to online searches first to solve their problems. Buying cars is no different , people will be looking for what Dealers are doing to minimize contact with social distancing and protecting the buyers through the whole process of purchasing a vehicle.

 

 

Michigan dealership Car City is incentivizing people to practice social distancing – while having some fun. The Wyoming, Mich.- based auto dealership will be running a contest throughout April, where winners will receive $500 by submitting photos of how they are creatively practicing social distancing or how they are contributing to the community.

“While social distancing is a very important part of Michigan’s recovery, when you’re used to spending your days working it can be a struggle staying at home and having so much time on your hands,” said Han Lee, marketing manager of Car City.

“We decided to help pause the monotony, have a little fun and help where we can. So, we’re asking people to post photos on our Facebook page of how they’re practicing social distancing or helping against this fight. Each Friday in April we’ll choose the photo we like best and give $500 to that person.”

Earlier this month, Car City partnered with other local businesses to help the Grand Rapids community by supporting the Garage Bar and Grill’s CARES program, where the local eatery has been providing up to 100 free meals every day for 30 days.

Georgia used-car dealer Tammy Woodard is taking time between slowing sales to support healthcare workers in her community by making much-needed face masks.

Woodard said she was at her sewing machine on Wednesday April 1 in the former bank building which serves as her dealership in Hoboken, Ga.

“I’m just sitting here sewing some face masks,” she said. “My sewing machine and my serger are down here. I’m just doing this to help my community.”

Woodard, owner of Woodard’s Auto Sales in Hoboken, Ga., has had her dealer’s license almost 11 years.

As business slowed and she saw the need, she began making masks.

“I’m giving them away to anybody who works in healthcare,” she said. “I’m been sewing these, putting them up on Facebook and I just can’t sew them fast enough.”

Woodard provides them free for people working in nursing homes, pharmacies – “basically, anyone that asks for them.”

She had made about 250 in the first week, even while running the car dealership.

Tammy Woodard is sewing facemasks for frist responders

 

For those not in healthcare, Woodard is offering them for sale.

“I’m selling them to all my car dealer buddies,” she said. “I’m shipping these all over to Pennsylvania and my buddies up in New York. Now they’re buying them six or 12 at a time.”

At press time, Woodard said her small rural town had no infections, but everyone is still trying to be safe.

“I’m just a small dealer,” she said.

Her daughter Emily, one of triplets, is home from college, helping with title work – and some sewing. Emily is working on masks for babies and kids.

Typically, the dealership will carry 28 to 30 vehicles. Woodard traditionally has a strong turn in her sales each month.

“Before all this mess happened, we were turning 28, 29,” she said. “Last month, we didn’t sell but 12. That’s a big drop.”

The average price on the lot is about $12,500, she said.

“It’s all domestics,” Woodard said. “I mean, I’ve now got a BMW out there, but it’s the first time in 10 years I’ve had something like that.”

“I focus on subprime and prime,” she said. “I work indirect (financing) with a bunch of credit unions here locally. But, yeah, I do subprime. Actually, we won the January (best dealer in the market) for Credit Acceptance Corp.”

Woodard’s dealership was open by-appointment-only at press time.

“I actually bought an old bank which was in our little city of 227 people and it has a drive-through,” she said. “I delivered a truck (recently). “

She left the paperwork in the truck for the customer, who then filled it out and left it in the drop box at the side of the building.

Woodard praises Tecobi, the software CRM she uses for managing her customers and leads,. Keeping in touch with customers is critical now.

“I’ve always loved it before, but it’s been a blessing during this,” Woodard said. “That’s kind of our lifeline.”

She’s glad to make masks in the downtime of the dealership. While she knows her way around a sewing machine, Woodard said the masks offer somewhat of a challenge.

“I make clothes,” she said. “But I’m not used to working with cottons like this. I’m used to working with knits. But it’s all good.

“I found me a little simple pattern and got them going on.”

Although Woodard’s city and county allowed dealers to operate at the time of this interview, Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp issued a shelter-in-place order shortly after it. The Georgia Independent Automobile Dealers Association reported it was trying to get clarification about dealers.

 

Autotrader recently named the 10 Best Car Interiors Under $50,000 for 2020.

The top 10 list, in alphabetical order, includes: Genesis G70, Hyundai Sonata, Jeep Gladiator, Kia Telluride, Lincoln Corsair, Mazda CX-5, Mercedes GLB, RAM 1500, Toyota RAV4 and the Volvo V60.

“While you could shell out big money and get an interior that fits the price tag, a little research can reveal many new cars that cost less and give you more when it comes to cabin fit and finish,” said Tara Trompeter, Autotrader managing editor. “We placed the price cap for this list at $50,000, with many of the selected vehicles coming in well below that figure.”

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