Could car companies still eke out a sales record in 2017?

The short answer: Probably not.

It would take an all-time record of more than 1.9 million vehicles in December. And no industry analyst has suggested that is even a faint possibility.

The current monthly record, set more than a decade ago in July 2005, was 1.8 million vehicles.

Pickup trucks continue to help drive sales results.

Pickup trucks continue to help drive sales results.

While November sales of light vehicles exceeded November 2016, outpacing most analysts’ estimates, the margin was only 23,400 vehicles, or 1.393 million across all manufacturers.

And “solid but not spectacular” results won’t get it done in a year when most months had lower sales.

In fact, even if December matches sales in December of 2016, results would fall around 17.24 million, just under a quarter-million vehicles short of the 17.5 million record. This year’s results also would fall just short of 2015, when 17.4 million vehicles were sold.

A decline in sales would mark the first time that happens since the end of the Great Recession, and, unfortunately, some analysts suggest it’s the start of a longer slide in sales.

The National Automobile Dealers Association has predicted sales of 16.7 million next year, while AutoTrader.com and Kelley Blue Book anticipate sales of 16.6 million. Either way, that would represent a slide of about 800,000 vehicles from last year’s high-water mark.

“Stronger-than-forecast November vehicle sales are due to a healthy economy, a confident consumer who is ready to buy, and targeted incentives that help close the deals,” said Michelle Krebs, AutoTrader.com senior analyst on Benzinga.com. “The industry should enjoy the party now and through year end, because we believe there will be a hangover in January.”

Still, that leaves December, typically one of the strongest sales months of the year thanks to the Christmas holiday and week leading up to New Year’s Day.

And 1.9 million in sales has a nice ring to it.

No matter what color, this car is the greenest, says Green Car Journal

An event at the Los Angeles Auto Show brought Clarity to the 2018 Green Car of the Year competition, sponsored by Green Car Journal.

Specifically, the Honda Clarity, which rose above four other finalists for the win.

Green Car Journal, which awards the prize annually, presented the Clarity series of car the top honor for its appealing design and sophisticated, well-equipped, spacious interior, and because it was the only model to offer plug-in hybrid, electric and hydrogen fuel cell power.

The 2018 Honda Clarity – winner of Green Car of the Year award

The 2018 Honda Clarity – winner of Green Car of the Year award

“To its credit, Honda has now accomplished what no other automaker has – offering all three of these ‘green’ powertrains in a single model, with the capability of readily shifting production from one to another to meet future demand,” said Ron Cogan, editor and publisher of Green Car Journal and GreenCarJournal.com.

Other finalists for the prize were the 2018 Toyota Camry, Nissan LEAF, Hyundai Ioniq and Honda Accord.

The magazine and website had called the five vehicles “models offering consumers varying ways to drive ‘green’ that fit their unique needs and sensibilities, and are readily available to the mass market.”

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“The Green Car of the Year award is further validation of Honda’s approach to electrification with the Clarity family of vehicles,” said Steven Center, a vice president at American Honda. “It is a nod in the right direction to receive the award.”

The Clarity trio “offer the power of choice to consumers who want to step into the electrification game without being compromised,” said Center. “We are proud to deliver on that promise to offer these three advanced powertrains you can only find from Honda.”

“This year’s Green Car of the Year finalists reflect the continuing evolution of the automobile and the drive toward ever-greater environmental compatibility,” Cogan said previously.

During its selection process, the Green Car Journal jury and editors looked at all vehicles, fuels and technologies before narrowing the field of potential candidates to a final five “for their achievements in raising the bar in environmental performance.” Criteria included efficiency, performance characteristics, “newness,” affordability, availability to the mass market, and overall environmental achievement.

15 ways to light up more deals in December and beyond

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These two words have the power to remake your business

Dealer Extranet.

They are two powerful words in making deals with Santander Consumer USA (SC).

From the Rehash Tool, which provides the quickest possible turnaround time on new deal structures, to a customized dashboard that offers daily stats, notifications and reports on your deals with SC, the Dealer Extranet is a competitive tool that should be part of your everyday routine.
110917 IL First the holidays, and then what Santander Consumer has the answer

Those aren’t the only reasons, though, as our fall dealer email series, Tools to Power Sales, has shown.

“One of our greatest assets is our Dealer Extranet, especially for high-volume dealers,” said Stephen Rivelli, an area sales manager in New York.

“The ease of use and the multi-functionality of it, from rehashing an application to funding, allows my dealers a fast, user-friendly experience from application to funded. I stress the importance and use of the Extranet with all my dealers … [and] they usually see the light.”

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In fact, thousands of dealership sales associates already have recognized the value of the Extranet and use it to maximize their results with SC and to manage their businesses better.

You can make the site an integral part of your dealership’s routine by asking your ASM or an inside sales manager (ISM) to set up a new user login – or logins for multiple users at your store. Your ASM/ISM also can help you discover the many features the Extranet provides your activated account. Your ASM/ISM also is available to answer any questions that might arise or to reset your password.

When you’re set up on the Dealer Extranet, you can log in here and use it whenever you want. And put the power of the Dealer Extranet in your competitive arsenal.

And, in case you missed the 10 tips, here they are:

10 tips

for using

the Extranet

1

Make logging onto the Extranet part of your routine to enhance your deal-making capability with real-time access to information and systems that gets deals done.

2

Use your dealership’s customized dashboard to get daily stats and notifications on your deals, as well as reports and charts to give you a snapshot of your business with us.

3

Submit and manage all your Santander Consumer USA applications and view your decisions and call details in a single location.

4

Log in to the Dealer Extranet from your smart phone or tablet, giving you access to work your deals anytime or anyplace.

5

Use the Rehash Tool if you need to update the numbers or revise the type of vehicle being purchased by plugging in your new info and receiving a new structure in real time.

6

Uploading stips is a lot faster and easier with the Dealer Extranet – bypassing the hassle of faxing – and the stips go directly to the funder’s queue.

7

The Extranet will allow you to check the status of your deals in Funding and see if you need any additional documentation to complete your deals.

8

Print a purchase letter with the total funded amount for your deal and showing all applicable fees, participation and discounts.

9

Access the Dealer Resources section, a one-stop area for important documents a dealer needs to do business with Santander Consumer USA can be found there.

10

Ask your Area Sales Manager if you have questions on how to use or how to make the most of the Dealer Extranet and fund more deals.

 

New video shows how to make revamped RoadLoans work for you

New and improved.

The revamped RoadLoans Lead Exchange Program is rolling out now to provide incremental sales by putting dealers in control of their lead volume.

But it doesn’t matter if it’s better if you don’t know how to use it, right?

Well, that’s where our new video comes into play.

 

While it all starts with your Santander Consumer USA (SC) area sales manager, who must set up your user profile, learning to use the program is as easy as one, two, three:

  1. going to the Dealer Extranet
  2. following the step-by-step instructions in the video
  3. entering your settings – bid amount, max leads per day and mile radius from which you wish to receive leads

“We know time is money, so we made sure to create a user friendly Web portal,” explained Meredith Grossfeld, RoadLoans product marketing manager. “The video [below] shows that it only takes a few clicks on the computer to get started.”

Take the power of incremental sales in your hands, including improved quality leads, no subscriptions and a pay-as-you-go approach.

If you have questions after watching the video, please contact your area sales manager or email information@roadloans.com.

For more details on the program itself, see our infographic, Take Control, and “stack the deck” in your favor.

Three ‘remarkable’ vehicles – and the setup for car of the year

Three of a kind.

Truck of the year, performance car of the year and commercial car of the year, winners of Green Car Journal’s 2018 awards, were announced at the San Antonio (TX) Auto and Truck Show.

But manufacturers and dealers of a dozen other vehicles still have something to crow about.

Chosen from among five finalists in each category are:

Commercial Vehicle of the Year

The arresting Responder now available as hybrid.

The arresting Responder now available as hybrid.

  • Ford Police Responder Hybrid, the first pursuit-rated hybrid police car with performance attributes “important if you’re chasing the bad guys,” was selected the top light commercial vehicle in a Ford-dominated category, ahead of the company’s F-250 Super Duty and Transit Connect, as well as Mercedes-Benz Metris and Ram ProMaster City.

Truck of the Year

Earlier model of the truck of the year.

Earlier model of the truck of the year.

  • Chevrolet Colorado, a midsize pickup that offers “nearly the same capacity, functionality and features as this automaker’s full-size pickup,” landed this prize by beating the Ford F-150, GMC Canyon, Honda Ridgeline and Toyota Tacoma, trucks “which have not lost their sense of purpose” while competing in one of the industry’s hottest sales categories.

Performance Car of the Year

The MX-5 Miata boldly goes …

The MX-5 Miata boldly goes …

  • Mazda MX-5 Miata, the extensively redesigned, fourth-generation, two-seat sports car introduced in 1990 – called “affordable, efficient and remarkable” – was named Green Car Journal’s first-ever performance car winner in a field that also comprised the Acura NSX, Chevrolet Camaro, Ford Mustang and Honda Civic Type R.

Green Car of the Year

The San Antonio announcements tee up Green Car Journal’s 2018 Green Car of the Year award at AutoMobility LA on Nov. 30 in Los Angeles, just prior to the Los Angeles Auto Show.

The magazine and website calls the five finalists – the Honda Accord and Clarity, Hyundai Ioniq, Nissan LEAF and Toyota Camry – “models offering consumers varying ways to drive ‘green’ that fit their unique needs and sensibilities, and are readily available to the mass market.”

During its vetting process, the Green Car Journal jury and editors looked at all vehicles, fuels and technologies before narrowing the field of potential candidates to a final five “for their achievements in raising the bar in environmental performance.” Criteria include efficiency, performance characteristics, “newness,” affordability, availability to the mass market and overall environmental achievement.

So you think used electrics, hybrids sell fast? It’s not your imagination

Here today, gone tomorrow.

If you sell used electric and hybrid vehicles that might apply to your inventory.

Six of the 10 vehicles that spend the least amount of time on your lot are electrics and hybrids, according to a study by the shopping website iSeeCars.com.

“These [electric and hybrid] cars are in great demand now,” said Phong Ly, iSeeCars.com’s CEO. Although you might imagine that this sort of demand would mean higher prices for used hybrid and electric vehicles, the website found that isn’t true.

Fiat 500e is the fastest-selling used car, study shows.

Fiat 500e is the fastest-selling used car, study shows.

While the average used vehicle takes almost five weeks (33.4 days) to sell, based on the website’s analysis of more than two million one- to three-year-old cars sold in the first eight months of the year, the average Fiat 500e is gone in about three weeks (22.2 days) and is the fastest-selling used vehicle.

The BMW i3 plug-in hybrid, second-fastest selling, takes only slightly longer (23.2 days), followed by No. 4 Toyota Prius plug-in hybrid (24.7 days), No. 6 Nissan LEAF electric (25 days), and No. 9 Ford Fusion Energi plug-in hybrid and No. 10 Tesla Model S electric (both 26.1 days).

“Consumers’ worries about alternative-fuel vehicles’ range, battery life, safety and performance seem to be balanced by falling prices, leading to quick sales of these cars,” reported the website. Four of the six alternative-fuel vehicles – 500e, i3, LEAF and Energi – have experienced double-digit price drops, while the Prius dropped just 1.1 percent and the Model S price actually increased 3.5 percent.

Other quick sellers, all gasoline powered, are No. 3 Lexus IS 200t (24.5 days), No. 5 Hyundai Veloster Turbo (24.9), No. 7 Scion FR-S (25.1) and No. 8 Mercedes-Benz GLC (25.7).

But fast-selling doesn’t necessarily mean most popular.

None of the vehicles on iSeeCar’s fastest-selling list are near the top of the most-popular list, although the Top 10 most popular vehicles still sell faster than the average used vehicle.

The lineup of the 10 most-popular used vehicles is dominated by Honda, Toyota and Nissan with three models each, according to the website’s study. It comprises the Honda Civic (26.8 days); Nissan Sentra (29.5); Toyota Corolla (29.7); Honda CR-V (29.8) and Accord (30.2); Hyundai Elantra (30.2); Toyota Camry and RAV4 (both 30.9), and Nissan Altima (31.3) and Rogue (32.1).

And the popular vehicles that require longer than average to sell?

Dominated by Chevrolet and Ford, the list comprises Chevrolet Silverado 1500 (33.7 days), Ford Explorer (34.4), Jeep Grand Cherokee (34.5), Chevrolet Equinox (35.1), Ford F-150 and Escape (both 35.5), GMC Sierra 1500 (35.7), Ford Fusion (35.9), Chevrolet Malibu (36) and Ram 1500 pickup (37).

“In contrast to the fastest-selling cars, the nation’s most popular cars all sell about as fast as the overall average … [although] interestingly, despite their popularity as segments, SUVs and trucks are largely slower to sell than average,” the website reported.

That, said Ly, illustrates “the effect of price on moving cars off of dealers’ lots.”

First the holidays, and then what? Santander Consumer has the answer

But it’s only November.

The holidays haven’t even come and gone, and December has been a top-three sales month the last two years and six years in the past decade.

And yet it’s a good time to at least start thinking about what comes afterward – tax season 2018.

Despite the anxiety most people feel about filing returns, many start shopping for (and some buying) new vehicles as early as December in anticipation of refunds, making tax season a good time to sell cars.

“Sure, it’s early to be thinking about tax time, with the holidays ahead,” said Nancy Bloom, a Santander Consumer USA (SC) regional sales manager. “But it’s not too early. Tax season will be here before we know it, and the dealers that plan ahead of time will have an edge.”

110917 IL First the holidays, and then what Santander Consumer has the answerThere is no other time many shoppers have an extra $3,000 or so to put down on a new or used vehicle. The numbers appear to bear that out, though it’s a narrower window than some might imagine.

Although the surrounding months of January, February and April typically are not among the best, March has been one of the top three sales months of the year eight times in the past decade, including 2016 and 2017. That means you have an opportunity to get ahead of the year’s sales curve.

Besides getting your sales team prepped and aligning your advertising, marketing and inventory, it’s important to have a relationship with a lender that can help seize that opportunity.

In addition to being a full-spectrum lender, Santander Consumer USA provides two programs your dealership should consider to build tax season traffic, whether that’s strengthening sales in January and February or building up for a strong finish in March and April.

PREAPPROVED DIRECT MAIL

Your dealership can reach up to 12,000 prospects, whose buying interest is hitting a seasonal peak, by planning ahead for a tax-season mailer in which 20 percent of leads buy a car within 90 days. The Deadline to sign up for the monthly mailer typically is early the month before – December for January, for example, or January for February, February for March, etc. You can contact your area sales manager for more details or call program headquarters at 844.596.5575.

ROADLOANS LEAD EXCHANGE

This updated program puts the power of incremental sales in your hands by enabling your dealership to bid online for approved customer leads in a specific geographic area – and it requires no subscription. Active SC dealers can contact their area sales manager for details on how to sign up online.

“We’re really excited to give dealer’s more control in when and how they receive leads,” said Meredith Grossfeld, RoadLoans product marketing manager, “to decide how many leads they want and when they want them.”

And then there are tools like the Dealer Extranet and powerful Rehash Tool to help maximize results whether it’s holiday season, tax season or any other season.

Sure, it’s only November, but it’ll be tax season before you know it.

Personal touch important, even though car shoppers want digital options

Are you giving your customers the experience they want?

Probably not if a healthy portion of digital is missing from the retailing mix, according to Cox Automotive.

“Most consumers want the ability to do a number of automotive shopping/buying activities online, viewing digital retailing as convenient and saving them time,” said Cox’s 2017 Digital Retailing Study.

110717 IL Personal touch important, even though car shoppers want digital optionsAnd that, Cox said, means:

  • Providing a shopper the ability to take a 360-degree tour of a vehicle, reserve a vehicle for a test drive and negotiate vehicle price and financing online.
  • Accounting for consumer preference for a digital negotiation/financing process over the current in-person process, given the option, which would make shoppers more likely to return to a dealer, and more likely to shop for a vehicle farther from home.
  • Ensuring a “personal connection” with shoppers to help facilitate the digital process and overcome digital barriers, including concerns over sharing personal information online and uncertainty over how activities such as negotiating and test drives will work.

The desire of about 98 percent of consumers to do at least some part of car shopping/buying online, suggests dealers “should incorporate at least some aspect of digital retailing into their offerings.”

In fact, the Cox study found that 86 percent of vehicle shoppers – by far the largest percentage – want to be able to take 360-degree vehicle tours online. Other online preferences were: reserving a vehicle for a test drive (59 percent), negotiating online (57 percent), using a chat box to talk with a salesperson (55 percent), and learning about F&I products and applying for financing (52 percent each). Only two percent of shoppers “would not want to do anything digitally,” Cox reported.

Perceived shopping/negotiating/buying advantages and disadvantages provide insights that dealers may be able to use to their advantage in offering a digital experience.

Shoppers believe online options save time, are more convenient, allow for better research and produce less stress, according to the Cox study. Disadvantages include security concerns, misunderstandings, lack of physical inspection/test drive and the fact that it’s “just not that personal.”

As you might suspect in a business that long has relied on relationship-building and face-to-face transactions, the study concluded that “it is important that digital retailing solutions offered provide opportunities for personal connections between consumers and dealers, given that over two in five consumers say personal connections are important.”

In other words, giving vehicle shoppers what they want requires a lot more digital opportunities – without losing the personal touch.

How Santander sales team helped feed hungry families

Take action.

That’s what members of the sales team from Santander Consumer USA (SC) did at Action Ministries in Atlanta, GA.

“We wanted to be able to work with an organization that we knew would benefit the community,” said one SC associate who participated as part of the company’s volunteer paid time off (VPTO) program.

Action Ministries provides food boxes to hungry families in a state with the third-highest poverty rate in the nation and ranked sixth for food insecurity.

110217 IL How Santander sales team helped feed hungry families_IMAGE_1“We prepared boxes of food for local children in need so that they would have something to eat over the weekend and/or during breaks from school,” explained another SC associate who helped box a few of the 27,000 food packages that the Atlanta organization will provide to hungry families this year.

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“Many underprivileged kids don’t have decent meals outside of school, so these boxes contain enough food to feed a family of four for several days and gets them through the time when school lunches aren’t available,” the associate said.

“It’s hard to imagine a child going home from school on a Friday and not having enough to eat until they go back to school on Monday.”

It has been one year since the launch of SC’s volunteer program, with SC employees working more than 10,000 hours in the first nine months for charitable organizations across the country.

In fact, the response to the program from employees and charitable organizations has been so positive that the auto lender decided to add a second VPTO day for full-time employees beginning in October 2017.

Giving back more time to help people in need and enrich the lives of associates was a no brainer for SC, especially when employees bring back their experiences to share the positive impact they left on the community.

Even though the Action Ministries session was fairly short, it left a lasting impression as explained by one of the SC volunteers.

“We stood in front of the sign at Action Ministries that read ‘We are Life-Changers,’ and I really feel like for many children – and their families – that would be receiving those boxes of food, we absolutely were.”

SC volunteers at Action Ministries were Barbara Fortune, sales director; Jay Pusser, regional sales manager, and area sales managers Brian Corbett, Ashley Quick, Katrina Hensley and Darby Ross.

To see more SC associates using their volunteer time off, follow us on our social media pages, Facebook, Google+ and Twitter as #SCGivesBack.

Volunteer “Life Changers” at Action Ministries in Atlanta.

Volunteer “Life Changers” at Action Ministries in Atlanta.

 

-Candace Brand