Global performance improvement solutions provide GP Strategies Corporation announced their partnership with Whisbi, a global provider of mobile-first conversational sales and marketing solutions. This collaboration combines the power of Whisbi’s relationship-building platform with GP Strategies’ expertise in digital retail process design and virtual selling coaching.

The partnership with Whisbi will help automotive organizations accelerate the digitization of their business processes at both the dealer and national level. Original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) can now do product presentations through Whisbi’s One-to-Many Broadcast technology. These live, interactive product presentations from OEM websites are ideal for brand building and supporting the introduction of new products and technologies. Dealers will also have the ability to seamlessly and digitally interact with customers via voice, chat, video, and screen-sharing to facilitate the entire sales transaction virtually with Whisbi’s One-to-One solution for Assisted Selling.

GP Strategies provides expert consulting to aid dealers in the transition to future retailing and to optimize the integration of digital retail systems for faster, easier online shopping and purchase experiences. Services also include sustained process coaching for retail leaders and virtual selling skills training. Most recently, GP Strategies created a Virtual Sales Certification program for the automotive industry that is expected to launch globally with multiple OEMs and dealer groups in the fourth quarter. 

Mercedes-Benz and Chevrolet were ranked the best luxury and mass market websites, respectively, according to the J.D. Power 2020 Manufacturer Website Evaluation Study -- Summer.

The study showed that during the height of the coronavirus, 65 percent of automotive shoppers’ decisions to purchase a vehicle were affected by the pandemic and 40 percent of shoppers delayed making a new vehicle purchase. As a result, more buyers are now willing to purchase their vehicles online instead of a physical dealership.

Chevrolet's website gets top ratings
Chevrolet's website gets top ratings

This year’s study finds overall satisfaction of 835 (on a 1,000-point scale) in the segment for luxury manufacturer websites and 825 in the segment for mass market manufacturer websites. Mercedes-Benz ranks highest among luxury manufacturer websites with a score of 850, followed by Land Rover (847) and BMW (846). Chevrolet and Ram rank highest in a tie among mass market manufacturer websites with a score of 843, followed by Toyota (840).

“There is no mistaking that the pandemic has put a sizeable dent in the automotive market,” said Jon Sundberg, senior manager of digital solutions at J.D. Power. “As government regulations have affected the ability for people to go into a dealership on top of people becoming wary about venturing out to a dealership to purchase a car, it is more imperative now than ever that manufacturers better equip their online retailing presence to cater to this change.”

The Manufacturer Website Evaluation Study--Summer, first released in 1999, is based on responses from 13,451 vehicle shoppers (desktop and smartphone) who indicate they will be in the market for a new vehicle within the next 24 months. The study was fielded in April-May 2020.

 Penske Automotive Group Inc. expects to report earnings per share from continuing operations of $0.52 to $0.57 for the three months ended June 30, 2020.

“I am encouraged by the significant improvement in our operations during the month of June,” said Roger S. Penske, CEO. “Our performance in June is the result of a strong operational focus to control costs, manage vehicle inventory, and maximize gross profit.

 Founder and CEO Roger Penske
Founder and CEO Roger Penske           ( credit: wolkenjaeger)

“In the U.S., all retail automotive dealerships are open. New and used unit sales improved sequentially from May to June and our focus on maximizing vehicle gross profit and managing selling, general and administrative expenses drove the performance in the month,” he said. The U.S. and U.K. used vehicle supercenters also reopened in June. Sales of used units were strong with combined U.S. and U.K. operations generating profit from operations that more than doubled when compared to June of last year.

The company ended June 2020 with a strong liquidity position of nearly $1.2 billion of cash and availability under its credit facilities. The company will repay the $300 million in senior subordinated notes, maturing August 15, 2020, with availability under its U.S. credit agreement, which was undrawn at June 30, 2020. Further, assuming this $300 million were to remain outstanding under our credit agreement, the company would realize a benefit of approximately $6 million in annual interest expense savings. In May 2020, the company announced the suspension of its cash dividend. The suspension of the cash dividend will continue and be reevaluated in the future.

PureCars, a provider of digital marketing and advertising insights for automotive dealers, announced it has expanded its strategic OEM partnership with Toyota and is now certified to offer digital advertising resources for Fixed Ops through its Toyota Parts & Service Program.

Drive more service-to-sales leadsThe integrated, multi-channel digital advertising program through the PureCars Platform helps OEM partners design, develop and deploy unique and proven advertising campaigns for Fixed Ops. Custom advertising plans for the program include search, display, social media and video tailored to Toyota dealers’ specific parts and service needs.

The program comes at a critical time as dealers across the country continue to rebound from the COVID-19 pandemic. PureCars digital advertising data shows that dealership spending on Fixed Ops advertising has increased 67 percent between the middle of June and end of the month.

“Fixed Ops have proven to be a continually vital part of every dealer’s business, especially during the COVID-19 pandemic when keeping cars serviceable for transport is paramount,” said Jeremy Anspach, CEO of PureCars. “Dealers certainly see the value in promoting their Fixed Ops business, and they are leveraging a wide array of digital advertising channels in order to do so, knowing that drivers are on a multitude of digital screens either for work or leisure activities.”

Gasoline demand increased on the week to the highest level (8.7 million barrels per day) since March as stocks decreased, but the combination wasn’t enough to significantly impact gas price averages across the country. On the week, the national gas price average only increased one penny to land at $2.19. That is nine cents more than last month and nearly 60 cents less than a year ago.

“The Energy Information Administration’s (EIA) data shows gasoline demand and supply continue on a roller coaster ride,” said Jeanette Casselano, AAA spokesperson.

National gas price avg. remains at $2.19
The National gas price avg. remains around $2.19

“As motorists react to unfolding COVID-19 information, we are seeing driving behaviors related to filling-up ebb and flow.”

From May to early July in 2019, gasoline demand averaged 9.5 million barrels per day (barrels per day). For the same time period this year, demand is measuring at 8 million barrels per day while gasoline stocks sit, on average, at 24 million barrels. The low demand and high supply are keeping gas prices relatively cheap for the summertime.

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