News / Economy

Dealers Say GM Customer Anxiety Rising, Sales May Take Hit

A group of Chevrolet Camaro cars for sale is pictured at a car dealership in Los Angeles, California, April 1, 2014.
A group of Chevrolet Camaro cars for sale is pictured at a car dealership in Los Angeles, California, April 1, 2014.
Reuters
An ignition switch defect linked to deadly crashes and mounting recalls are raising anxiety in General Motors Co. showrooms, according to dealers who increasingly are fielding calls from customers concerned about the safety of GM cars.
 
The Ancira Auto Group in San Antonio, Texas, expected a banner March after a strong February, but it came up 28 vehicles short of its goal of selling 200 cars and trucks, Vice President April Ancira said in an email.
 
GM Chief Executive Mary Barra on Wednesday endured a withering attack at a U.S. Senate hearing that opened with accusations that the company fostered “a culture of cover-up”, and Ancira said the bad news centered on the ignition switch issue contributed to her group's sales miss.
 
“It will take some time for the brand to gain back the customers it lost,” she said. “But I have got to believe that General Motors will use this opportunity to really focus on improving the safety of their product.”
 
Interviews with more than 20 U.S. GM dealerships this week revealed concerns that sales would be pressured, even in a recovering auto market. Dealers also made clear there's an escalating number of jittery current GM owners, and demands for repairs threaten to clog some repair facilities.
 
“They are calling for information. People are a little confused about what they need to do. There are a lot of these cars out there,” said Al Belford, fixed operations director at Ed Bozarth Chevrolet in Las Vegas, which has been getting about 50 customer calls a day for the last three weeks.
 
Jacqueline Aguilar, service coordinator at Brickell Buick GMC in Miami, said the dealership handles was getting up to 40 calls a day between 2 p.m. and 6 p.m.
 
Holland, Michigan's DeNooyer Chevrolet has been getting 10-15 calls per day, sales manager Dominique DeNooyer told local television, adding that the dealership was finding the “influx” of people challenging.
 
Since February, GM has recalled 2.6 million vehicles due to concerns about ignition switches that unexpectedly turn off engines during operation and leave airbags, power steering and power brakes inoperable. And so far this year, GM has recalled a total of nearly seven million vehicles, or about the same number recalled in the previous four years combined.

Toyota's recall of 2010
 
In January 2010, Toyota Motor Corp recalled nearly 2.6 million vehicles in the United States and Canada to fix sticky accelerator pedals. The recall and the controversy leading up to the decision punished sales.
 
Less than two weeks after the recall, Toyota reported a 16 percent drop in January 2010 U.S. sales. Sales fell again in February before rebounding in March. Still, the automaker's U.S. market share hasn't regained its peak of 17 percent, set in 2009.
 
In contrast, GM's numbers improved in March, the month after the first stages of the recall were announced. Dealers delivered 256,047 vehicles in the United States in March, fueling a 4 percent increase in total sales from year-ago levels. Retail sales were up 7 percent and GM said it gained retail market share.
 
Overall, the auto market is in recovery mode, and a lot of dealership executives, are staying optimistic, including Brad Sowers, owner of Jim Butler Chevrolet in the St. Louis suburb of Fenton.
 
“I'm still in the mode that it's going to be a good year for us and the marketplace has cars that are 11 or 12 years old and rates are really low,” Sowers said.
 
“Our sales have been average,” said James Mardenli, general sales manager at Cerrone Chevrolet Buick & GMC Truck dealership in South Attleboro, Massachusetts. “April should be a good month in terms of sales because April, May, and June are usually the months where the most cars are bought.”
 
But Morgan Stanley analyst Adam Jonas wrote in a research note that his uncle, a car dealer in Canton, Ohio, was concerned.
 
“I think April's gonna hit rock bottom for us. We know we'll get through this, but are just hoping this issue passes as soon as possible,” Jonas quoted his uncle as saying. Jonas didn't name his uncle or respond immediately to a call about the discussion.
 
At GM dealerships near the major U.S. cities of Boston, Cleveland, Los Angeles, Miami, and San Antonio, managers agreed they were spending a lot more time allaying customer concerns.
 
They reported offering more rental cars, agreeing to more trade-ins and telling customers to lighten their key chains.
 
Several dealership executives conceded the bad news is distracting their teams from making their sales pitch in the showroom.
 
Some customers, however, don't want to wait weeks for their cars to be repaired. GM has offered some incentives for trade-ins and dealers say the offer is being taken up.
 
Andy Sweis, general manager at Jennings Chevrolet in the north Chicago suburb of Glenview, Illinois, said the dealership has taken in about a half a dozen Chevy Cobalts for trade-in since the recall

You May Like

Photogallery Pistorius Sentenced, Taken to Prison

Pistorius, convicted of culpable homicide in shooting death of girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp, will likely serve about 10 months of five-year sentence, before completing it under house arrest More

UN to Aid Central Africa in Polio Vaccinations

Synchronized vaccinations will be conducted after Cameroon reports a fifth case of the wild polio virus in its territory More

WHO: Ebola Vaccine Could Be in Use by January

Assistant director says that clinical trials of Ebola vaccines are underway or planned in Europe, United States, Africa More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
After Decades of Pressure, Luxembourg Drops Bank Secrecy Rulesi
X
October 21, 2014 12:20 AM
European Union finance ministers have reached a breakthrough agreement that will make it more difficult for tax cheats to hide their money. The new legislation, which had been blocked for years by countries with a reputation as tax havens, was approved last week after Luxembourg and Austria agreed to lift their vetoes. But as Mil Arcega reports, it doesn’t mean tax cheats have run out of places to keep their money hidden.
Video

Video After Decades of Pressure, Luxembourg Drops Bank Secrecy Rules

European Union finance ministers have reached a breakthrough agreement that will make it more difficult for tax cheats to hide their money. The new legislation, which had been blocked for years by countries with a reputation as tax havens, was approved last week after Luxembourg and Austria agreed to lift their vetoes. But as Mil Arcega reports, it doesn’t mean tax cheats have run out of places to keep their money hidden.
Video

Video Kobani Refugees Welcome, Turkey Criticizes, US Airdrop

Residents of Kobani in northern Syria have welcomed the airdrop of weapons, ammunition and medicine to Kurdish militia who are resisting the seizure of their city by Islamic State militants. The Turkish government, however, has criticized the operation. VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from southeastern Turkey, across the border from Kobani.
Video

Video China Political Meeting Seeks to Improve Rule of Law

China’s communist leaders will host a top level political meeting this week, called the Fourth Plenum, and for the first time in the party’s history, rule of law will be a key item on the agenda. Analysts and Chinese media reports say the meetings could see the approval of long-awaited measures aimed at giving courts more independence and include steps to enhance an already aggressive and high-reaching anti-corruption drive. VOA’s Bill Ide has more from Beijing.
Video

Video US ‘Death Cafes’ Put Focus on the Finale

In contemporary America, death usually is a topic to be avoided. But the growing “death café” movement encourages people to discuss their fears and desires about their final moments. VOA’s Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Ebola Orphanage Opens in Sierra Leone

Sierra Leone's first Ebola orphanage has opened in the Kailahun district. Hundreds of children orphaned since the beginning of the Ebola outbreak face stigma and rejection with nobody to care for them. Adam Bailes reports for VOA about a new interim care center that's aimed at helping the growing number of children affected by Ebola.
Video

Video Young Nairobi Tech Innovator on 'Track' in Security Business

A 24-year-old technology innovator in Nairobi has invented a tracking device that monitors and secures cars. He has also come up with what he claims is the most robust audio-visual surveillance system yet. As Lenny Ruvaga reports from the Kenyan capital, his innovations are offering alternative security solutions.
Video

Video Latinas Converting to Islam for Identity, Structure

Latinos are one of the fastest growing groups in the Muslim religion. According to the Pew Research Center, about 6 percent of American Muslims are Latino. And a little more than half of new converts are female. VOA’s Carolyn Presutti travelled to Miami, Florida -- where two out of every three residents is Hispanic -- to learn more.
Video

Video Exclusive: American Joins Kurds' Anti-IS Fight

The United States and other Western nations have expressed alarm about their citizens joining Islamic State forces in Syria and Iraq. In a rare counterpoint to the phenomenon, an American has taken up arms with the militants' Syrian Kurdish opponents. Elizabeth Arrott has more in this exclusive profile by VOA Kurdish reporter Zana Omer in Ras al Ayn, Syria.
Video

Video South Korea Confronts Violence Within Military Ranks

Every able-bodied South Korean male between 18 and 35 must serve for 21 to 36 months in the country’s armed forces, depending upon the specific branch. For many, service is a rite of passage to manhood. But there are growing concerns that bullying and violence come along with the tradition. Reporter Jason Strother has more from Seoul.
Video

Video North Carolina Emerges as Key Election Battleground

U.S. congressional midterm elections will be held on November 4th and most political analysts give Republicans an excellent chance to win a majority in the U.S. Senate, which Democrats now control. So what are the issues driving voters in this congressional election year? VOA National Correspondent Jim Malone traveled to North Carolina, one of the most politically competitive states in the country, to find out.
Video

Video Comanche People Maintain Pride in Their Heritage

The Comanche (Indian nation) once were called the “Lords of the Plains,” with an empire that included half the land area of current day Texas, large parts of Oklahoma, New Mexico, Kansas and Colorado.The fierceness and battle prowess of these warriors on horseback delayed the settlement of most of West Texas for four decades. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Lawton, Oklahoma, that while their warrior days are over, the 15,000 members of the Comanche Nation remain a proud people.
Video

Video Turkey Campus Attacks Raise Islamic Radicalization Fears

Concerns are growing in Turkey of Islamic radicalization at some universities, after clashes between supporters of the jihadist group Islamic State (IS) or ISIS, and those opposed to the extremists. Pro-jihadist literature is on sale openly on the streets of Istanbul. Critics accuse the government of turning a blind eye to radicalism at home, while Kurds accuse the president of supporting IS - a charge strongly denied. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.

All About America

AppleAndroid

World Currencies

EUR
USD
0.7798
JPY
USD
106.41
GBP
USD
0.6203
CAD
USD
1.1242
INR
USD
61.430

Rates may not be current.