Cliff Banks - The Banks Report

NADA’s Dealer Attitude Survey – Stating the Obvious

August 24, 2015 — The National Automobile Dealers Association surveys its members twice a year on their perception of their manufacturers. The folks at NADA would prefer the results of its Dealer Attitude Survey not make its way into the media, but the enterprising reporters at Automotive News (way to go Lindsay Chappell) got their hands on a copy of the summary of the most recent survey.

The results of the survey are no surprise. Volkswagen finished at the bottom (privately, every VW dealer we’ve talked to the last two years is ticked off at the brand). While most other automakers have experienced strong growth in the U.S. market the last three years, VW’s sales can’t get any traction. The brand is missing out on the exploding crossover market and dealers will have to wait till 2017 for a competitive product to sell in that segment. Meanwhile, we continue to hear stories of VW stores whose value is at or below $0.

Other brands faring poorly in the survey include Infiniti, Mini, Smart and Fiat. Historically, the profitability of brands relying on small cars is not sustainable. So the dissatisfaction of the last three is no surprise.

At the top of the list, Lexus reigns with its sister brand Toyota coming in a close second. Rounding out the top 10 on the survey are: Subaru; Audi; Ford; Honda; Mercedes Benz; Porsche; Jeep and Mazda. . Meanwhile, Mazda quietly is becoming an intriguing brand dealers are looking at adding to their portfolios. As we talk to dealers, it’s one of the brands we are asked most often about. There is potential — or at least, perceived potential, that the brand has the capability to become the next Subaru.

The leadership appears to be strong and dealer friendly and we like the product. The challenge is resources. It’s essentially a stand-alone automaker and that could be an obstacle in expanding the brand.

Subaru, due to its torrid sales pace the last few years, has become one of the more sought after brands for dealers the last two years. It’s proven the success isn’t a fluke, but the question has to be long term sustainability. The fact that it will have 100% control of the plant in Indiana in 2017 once Toyota moves out means it will have additional manufacturing capacity.

Ram and Kia are the only other two brands coming in above the industry average.


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