Car Culture

Car Culture


Cable news and economic updates look grim in this era of COVID-19.

But don’t tell Chad Bailey. The president of Akron Auto Auction, known for his energy and enthusiasm, is bringing those traits to defy the pessimism permeating the business world now.

His sale is moving forward while his staff is fashioned in Ohio-sports-themed face masks made by a family member.

It’s been a quick turnaround since the coronavirus outbreak slammed the country, causing Bailey to hit the brakes.

“We just took a deep breath in the first week of April,” he said. “We went home, took a step back and took the week off. We let everybody get their sanity back.

“Then we started to put together a game plan.”

Since then, Bailey’s continued to tweak and modify the game plan so the auction could go from crawling to walking to running again. At the same time, the business continues to focus on safety.

Akron Auto Auction is using all the Center for Disease Control guidelines to protect its workers, Bailey said.

“Obviously, everyone is socially distancing and in the office we have Plexiglass up everywhere,” Bailey said. “We have digital gun thermometers so we can make sure people who come in the building (don’t have a fever).”

Bailey also uses a product called PermaSafe, a vehicle disinfectant, that’s another layer of safety for dealers.

Bailey, board chairman of the National Auto Auction Association, is also implementing a checklist system for when it becomes safe for dealers to come into the lanes. It will allow dealers to fill out online forms in advance to state they don’t have symptoms and follow all the CDC guidelines. It’s one less step they’ll have to do when they come in the building.

“It’s like a pre-screening,” he said. “It allows us to keep a paper trail. We’ve been pro-active.”

The auction had a visit from the Health Department when someone complained they had too many people in the building.

“I’m glad they came,” Bailey said. “They saw how we had everything set up and everything labeled. It’s the best PR I could get. I’m not worried at all. We’ve got nothing to hide. I’ve got deputy sheriffs who work here on sale day. If I wasn’t allowed to be open, they wouldn’t be allowed to be here.”

As result of Bailey’s methodical planning, the auction is gaining momentum.

“We are doing online, all digital, at the moment,”
Bailey said. “We’re using Auction Edge, which is Edge ASI  and Pipeline. We use Velocicast for (simulcast).”

Akron has gone an extra step in allowing dealers to come, check out the cars and test-drive them on Friday and Monday, before Tuesday’s sale.

“We ran every other week, pretty much, for April, because of the uncertainty and trying to get stuff organized.,” he said. “(April 21) we ran 1,130 cars and sold 650.

“It was awesome.”

Going forward, Bailey was planning to hold a sale every week.

“I’ll have probably an 800-car sale on (April 28) without any repos,” Bailey said.

Unlike other states, Ohio didn’t prohibit car sales when the state shut down.

“The governor wouldn’t commit to sales being essential or not,” said Wendy Rinehart, executive director of the Ohio Independent Automobile Dealers Association. “He let the business owners decide for themselves and follow CDC guidelines.”

To protect its drivers – who are typically older retirees – Akron Auto Auction has used-car haulers and repo haulers to pick up cars.

Bailey said since lenders are being discouraged from repossessions, the repo haulers have fewer vehicles to pick up – i.e. less work. Akron hires them to pick the vehicles up that its own drivers would have done in the past.

The game plan seemed to be working at a recent sale.

“My big new-car dealers – between the three of them    consigned about 450 cars and were over an 80 percent (conversion rate),” Bailey said.

There weren’t just dumping cars in the lanes, Bailey said.

“They were selling over 80 percent because what they wanted, they got, and even more,” he said.

The values still took a hit in the current market.

The average selling price was $4,550 on April 21, lower than his typical $6,500 block price.

Bailey also has his own floorplan company, which is considered an essential business, allowing him to provide dealers with another service.

He has added some Ohio flair to his safety protocols.

Bailey said two family members –related to his uncle, a former owner of the auction – are connected to a sewing shop.

When the whole issue of face masks came up, Bailey had an idea.

“We have a Jo-Ann Fabrics by us, so I think I ordered enough fabric to cover a football field,” Bailey said. “I got Cleveland Browns, Cavs and Indians (designs) along with patriotic stuff. I shipped them all to (the sewing shop).”

The masks have the elastic bands as well as the metal tabs to form around the nose for safety, he said. They also have the filters that can be replaced in the mask.

“So now everybody is wearing them,” Bailey said. “There are really good things going on at Akron.”

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.


Research from found that while many dealerships are experiencing historically low foot traffic and many have closed showrooms completely, tens of millions of people are still actively engaged in car purchases online.

Despite the shutdowns caused by COVID-19, data demonstrates that nearly 80 percent of visitors are searching and viewing inventory with high intent to purchases. The research revealed three key trends impacting the automotive sector driven by the COVID-19 outbreak:

  1. Car shoppers are looking to connect digitally. Shoppers are also interested in handling price negotiations (48 percent) and financing (42 percent) online.
  2. Cleanliness concerns are swaying nearly one in five consumers toward car purchases and it is also affecting ride-sharing. The coronavirus pandemic has pushed 17 percent of survey respondents to now consider purchasing a car. The main reasons for increased urgency include a desire to stop riding public transportation (43 percent) and distrust in the cleanliness of others’ cars (28 percent). Furthermore, of the consumers who plan to buy a car, 1 in 3 have decided to speed up their timeline due to the outbreak.
  3. Auto dealers are ramping up digital and home-delivery capabilities. As consumers look to connect digitally with dealers across the country, there is an increased desire for more digital services and home delivery options. Among dealer survey respondents, most are ramping up their digital retailing capabilities such as online financing (57 percent) and online estimates for trade-ins (40 percent), while others are focused on online chat options (36 percent) and offering local home delivery of vehicles (49 percent)..

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.”

More than half of car buyers and 60 percent of auto service customers said social media and review sites were more helpful than a dealer website in selecting a dealership.

That was one of the findings from Digital Air Strike’s 8th Annual Automotive Digital Retailing Consumer Trends Study revealed at this year's National Automobile Dealers Association (NADA) Show in Las Vegas.

"As the car buying process becomes increasingly digital, consumers continue to do more research online before they even contact a dealership," said Alexi Venneri, co-founder and CEO of Digital Air Strike.

The study surveyed 7,000 vehicle purchasers and servicers that had either purchased or serviced a vehicle with a franchised dealership in the prior six months

The findings also showed 62 percent of sales customers (up from 47 percent in prior year) chose a dealership solely based on online search and reviews. It also showed that 62 percent of sales customers and 51 percent of service customers ranked Google as the top site for reading reviews about dealerships

Sixty-seven percent of sales customers and 62 percent of service customers use Facebook to read dealership reviews. Consumers want automated tools that make it easy to contact a dealership, including intelligent messaging. Ninety percent of customers said they would book an appointment using chat technology. The study also showed 61 percent of car buyers said the dealership's speed of response impacted their decision to choose one dealership over another.


Watch: Social Media strategist Starr Hall offers ideas and insight on how local businesses can use social media to impact their brand. Drawing from her experience working with companies like Sprint, UPS and Samsung, Starr generates and applies new strategies and ideas for business big and small.


Kelley Blue Book named Subaru the 2020 model-year brand of its ninth annual 5-Year Cost to Own Awards. This is Subaru’s second consecutive year at the top of the list.

The awards recognize new vehicles with the lowest projected ownership costs over the initial five-year ownership period.

“Subaru claims the top brand position for the second year in a row, right on the heels of winning a Kelley Blue Book award for Best Resale Value Brand of 2020,” said Eric Ibara, director of 5-Year Cost to Own for Kelley Blue Book. “In addition, Acura claims the top luxury brand prize with several key models in its lineup performing well above the segment average in many vehicle ownership cost categories.”

Information is developed using Kelley Blue Book residual values to calculate depreciation costs. Kelley Blue Book calculates total ownership costs for new vehicles by applying a sophisticated valuation methodology along with critical financial data from third-party providers. 

U.S. News & World Report unveiled the 2020 Best Cars for the Money awards. For the first time, U.S. News will present the awards at the Washington, D.C., Auto Show.

Covering 11 automotive categories, the awards highlight the cars, SUVs and minivans that give drivers the best combination of quality and value in their respective classes. Kia won the most awards with four, Toyota won three, Honda won two and Chevrolet and Hyundai each won one.


2020 Hyundai Santa Fe Best 2-Row SUV for the Money
2020 Kia Sorento Best 3-Row SUV for the Money
2020 Kia Forte Best Compact Car for the Money
2020 Honda CR-V Best Compact SUV for the Money
2020 Toyota Corolla Hybrid Best Hybrid and Electric Car for the Money
2020 Toyota RAV4 Hybrid Best Hybrid and Electric SUV for the Money
2020 Chevrolet Impala Best Large Car for the Money
2020 Toyota Camry Best Midsize Car for the Money
2020 Kia Sedona Best Minivan for the Money
2020 Honda Fit Best Subcompact Car for the Money
2020 Kia Soul Best Subcompact SUV for the Money


The 2020 Chevrolet Corvette Stingray winner of #NACTOY's car of the year is back in the news.

Though production of the car is still ramping up after GM's worker strike last year delayed the C8's launch—someone(s) has already managed to steal a set of tires off a C8 that was street parked.

Car and Driver say they received a photo on Jan 23rd that shows the Stingray resting on cinderblocks on Coe Ave in Detroit's West Village. The location is about 4 miles from GM's downtown headquarters.

It isn't clear who owns the car, more than likely it belongs to GM, according to the Detroit Free Press the car is part of the test fleet driven by employees.

Car and Diver jokingly point out that anyone looking for a set of C8 wheels and tires at a cheap discount might want to check Craigslist in Detroit.

With the 2020 C8 retailing for around $55,000,  a full set of new tires will set you back well over a $1,000 and a factory-fresh set of wheels could cost double that. If your planning on buying one we suggest investing in Chevy's wheel lock option- Cost: 90$!


We've got some of the first video of the 2020 Stingray up on blocks filmed by a Detroit Youtuber that goes by the handle Syncere . Watch below