An intriguing and somewhat shocking report comes to us by way of ABC News today about the sometimes misleading practices of everyone’s favorite scapegoat (and for good reason!) – used car salesmen. Reporters at ABC went undercover to a variety of dealerships in the New York area and tried to buy cars with current open recalls, most notably some of the General Motors models involved in a particularly deadly ignition switch recall that has put the company in some real hot water.
For today’s car buyer, having the latest and greatest redesigned vehicle is much less important than finding the car they want at a great price. According to a survey of thousands of car shoppers conducted by AutoTrader, 57% of shoppers do not feel it is important to have the latest redesign.
Tred is a promising new start-up that will soon make the car-buying experience even easier, allowing you to test drive the car (or cars) of your choice without ever having to pay a visit to the dealership.
Tred, which recently secured funding from a list of industry vets including former General Motors CEO Rick Wagoner, will open for business in the Seattle area this Spring, with a rapid expansion planned if things go well. Customers simply visit the company’s simple web portal and choose the vehicles they are most interested in test driving. A delivery person/concierge will then deliver the vehicles to your door for a no-pressure test drive, allowing instant comparison shopping without the hassles of the dealership experience.
To sustain its business, Tred will take a cut of any vehicle you purchase through using its system. Partner dealerships are on-board, the company says, seeing the service as a way to reach more potential buyers. While it remains to be seen whether the no-cost test drives will actually translate into sales, we commend Tred for its innovative business model.
A visit to the car dealership can be a pain, with lots of time spent and paperwork to sign. It’s even less fun when it’s time to return a leased vehicle. Nissan USA aims to take away the headaches and streamline the process with a new app, RPM Mobile, allowing the entire lease return process to be completed in a few minutes using nothing more than an iOS or Android device.
Here’s how it works:
Show up at the dealer when it’s time to return your leased Nissan or Infiniti.
A dealership representative will scan your car’s VIN number using an iPad, iPhone or Android device.
The RPM Mobile app reads the car’s VIN and matches it to your personal history with Nissan USA.
Confirm the data shown on the screen is correct, and sign off on the lease return right there on the touchscreen.
RPM Mobile can even handle transactions where you’d like to purchase the car at the end of your lease period. The process couldn’t be quicker or simpler, and you can bet other carmakers will start using it soon.
Since overtaking Lexus in 2011 in a quest for the title of the #1-selling luxury automaker in the U.S., BMW and Mercedes-Benz have been locked in a fierce sales battle ever since, but a new report from the Wall Street Journal suggests BMW may not be playing fair. BMW reported U.S. sales of 21,297 units in July, besting the 19,312 by Mercedes-Benz, but this figure has been called into question.
Industry insiders have learned that a significant portion, perhaps thousands, of those “sales” are still on dealer lots, with some even listed in advertising for sale as brand-new cars. BMW paid its dealerships bonuses of between $2,500 and $7,000 per car on July 31 to purchase scores of new vehicles as “demo units,” ostensibly to used for test drives and marketing. Fine, but nothing in the brand’s agreement with its dealers prevents these cars from being sold as “new” in the future, even though BMW counts a dealer-purchased demo model as a legitimate sale. And that’s exactly what is now happening.
Now that 21k+ sales figure, just edging out Mercedes-Benz with Lexus not far behind, is being called into question by industry analysts, not to mention stock traders. How many cars were “sold” to BMW’s own dealer network, seemingly in an expensive corporate effort to boost public perception about the brand’s health? We don’t know for sure, but you can be there’s more than a little grumbling going on at Lexus and Benz, with calls for greater transparency soon to follow.