CBT automotive newscast: September 15, 2020

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Today’s Featured Interview:

Sonic Automotive’s EchoPark brand continues to grow despite industry setbacks – Jeff Dyke
Sonic Automotive opened its newest preowned EchoPark brand store in Houston, Texas on Sept. 8, 2020, making it the eleventh retail store for the brand since launching in 2014. On today’s show, we are talking to Jeff Dyke, President of Sonic Automotive, about this latest expansion and what it means for Sonic Automotive as a whole. Watch the full segment here.

Top Headlines:

While the auto industry continues its climb back to pre-pandemic levels, auto manufacturers continue to lag behind due to a labor shortage. Carmakers struggle with employee absenteeism due to COVID-19. Emily Lauder, vice president of administration at the Toyota Mississippi plant, told NPR that Toyota has hired over 200 additional team members to support the loss of employees due to quarantine absenteeism. In late August, the plant confirmed nearly one hundred positive cases of the virus among employees working at the plant. Based on data collected by Orbital Insight, activity at U.S. auto plants continues to stall with only 9.4% of weekly foot traffic as of August 16.

While carmakers struggle with a labor shortage, dealers are also struggling with a shortage of auto technicians for their service departments. The lack of technicians is creating longer wait times for customers as service departments operate understaffed. Mike Anderson, owner of Anderson Auto Group in Nebraska, is one of the many dealers struggling with this. In trying to make sense of the shortage, he told the local ABC News affiliate out of Lincoln, “I think it’s because we are seeing less and less interest from kids starting off at a young age to want to be a technician.”

General Motors is at odds with an Iowa dealership group over Chevys and Cadillacs being sold in the same showroom as Jeeps and Rams. KAR Auto Group of Decorah recently combined its Chevy-Cadillac dealership with its Chrysler-Dodge-Jeep-Ram dealership into one facility to reduce overhead. GM stated their displeasure with the dual showroom by requesting a preliminary injunction from a federal judge. However, that request was denied as KAR Auto claimed a 2010 Iowa state law that allowed dealers to make the decision of the dueling franchises instead of leaving the decision to the automakers.

Ford Motor Company is hoping that the new Ford Ranger Tremor will help the company dominate the growing midsize truck market. The Ford Ranger is undergoing a complete revitalization as it returned to the market last year. The all-new 2021 Ranger Tremor off-road package is hoped to enhance the look and feel of the truck to help position itself to compete directly with the Toyota Tacoma, the GMC Canyon, and the Chevy Colorado.

News Stories & Opinion:

dealerAs dealer sentiment improves, inventory woes deepen
On Sept. 8, Cox Automotive released the Q3 2020 Cox Automotive Dealer Sentiment Index (CADSI). Information collected from dealers surveyed in late July through mid-August was used to determine how they view the conditions in the auto market – strong, neutral, or weak. The Dealer Sentiment Index has reached a record high this quarter, mainly on the back of a steep upward curve in the pandemic recovery. Read More

charitiesDealerships team up with charitable organizations
Charities have been especially hard-hit by COVID-19. Many previous donors might be in financial straits themselves, and limits on gatherings and events further challenge fundraising efforts. At the same time, needs have grown, with more people than ever relying on charitable services. Charities are looking for alternate ways to connect with funds so they can continue to do their essential work. Read More


Did you enjoy today’s automotive newscast? Please share your thoughts, comments, or questions regarding this topic with host Jim Fitzpatrick at jfitzpatrick@cbtnews.com.

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