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  • Friday, March 05, 2021 6:02 PM | Anonymous
    Some of the nation’s biggest dealership groups expect service and parts business, especially body shop and collision repair, to recover in the second half of this year, as consumers begin to drive more.
    "The forecast for 2021 is definitely heavier weighted on the second half," said Jeff Dyke, president of Sonic Automotive. "As the vaccine gets out and people get more comfortable with traveling, we’re going to have people back on the road again."
    Mike Jackson, AutoNation chairman and CEO, has similar expectations for parts and service, which AutoNation calls the "customer care" department, according to a conference call to announce fourth-quarter earnings.
    "We estimate at the moment that miles driven are down about 10%. Our actual customer care business in the fourth quarter was down 4%, 5%, something like that. And so, we view it as a gradual recovery," Jackson said.
    AutoNation CFO Joe Lower said other pieces of the chain’s service and parts business, such as customer-pay and warranty, are almost back to year-ago levels, while collision repair is down nearly as much as miles-driven are down.
    "Again, I think as the miles recover, we’ll see that portion of the business in particular improve, and we are very optimistic about customer care as we go through 2021," he said.
    Analysts on the fourth-quarter earnings conference calls noted that starting in March and April, year-ago comparisons should get much easier for the dealership groups, percentage-wise, because dealership business really bottomed out in March and April 2020, due to business shutdowns related to the pandemic.
    That’s also true of Vehicle Miles Traveled, a closely watched statistic from the Federal Highway Administration.
    In November 2020, the latest month for which statistics are available, travel on all U.S. roads and streets was down 11.1% versus year-ago, to 231.6 billion miles. Year-to-date through November, U.S. travel was down 13.7%, to 2.6 trillion miles.
    Back in April 2020, it was down 39.8%, to 169.6 billion miles, the FHWA said. That was the biggest year-over-year percentage drop in 2020.
    "At the end of the day, the body shop business is really defunct, a lot less driving, a lot less accidents," said Dyke of Sonic Automotive, in an earnings conference call. "And so that’s been a big struggle for everybody in the industry in total.
    "We expect that to really change as we move into the back half of the year. "That’s going to make a big difference for us, and we expect the back half of the year to be much better from a fixed perspective than the first half."

  • Friday, March 05, 2021 6:01 PM | Anonymous
    Des Plaines police said a luxury car delivery driver was beaten badly by a group of four thieves early Feb. 25. The thieves stole three cars, and it was all caught on video.
    Police said officers responded to the Jidd Motors used-vehicle service center on Rand Road about 1 a.m. Feb 25. They found a man lying in a snow bank with injuries to his wrist and leg. The victim was taken to a local hospital with serious but not life-threatening injuries.
    Video captured the entire incident, from initial break-in to the quick and violent attack. Police said three of the attackers were Black and one was white. An investigation into the attack and thefts is ongoing.
    It began when four men broke into the nearby dealership showroom, stealing some laptops and office supplies, then moving to a huge warehouse. At the warehouse, they tried to steal several vehicles, but could not find ignition keys for any of them.
    About 20 minutes later, they moved down the road to the dealership’s service center at 855 Rand Rd., where the men encountered the delivery truck. They violently attacked the driver, leaving him badly injured. He limped away, eventually pleading for his life, as the thieves stole two BMWs and an Alfa Romero.
    "They’re really quick," said Adam Jidd, owner of Jidd Motors. "Professional. They’re all masked up. They have gloves on them. They know what they’re doing."
    No arrests have been made as of this newsletter deadline.
    Jidd said the driver underwent two surgeries that day and has a broken leg, adding there now will be armed security at both dealership locations.
    Jidd Motors also has set up a GoFundMe page to raise money to help pay the driver’s hospital bills.

  • Friday, March 05, 2021 6:01 PM | Anonymous
    Hinsdale police arrested a man at a Hinsdale dealership on Feb. 27 and charged him with burglary in connection with his attempt to purchase a vehicle using a fake ID. He remained in custody March 2.
    Hinsdale Police Detective Carter Sward described the man, whose actual name he declined to disclose, as "not the big guy" but instead someone who answered to a kingpin who offered the man a chance to make some money by taking delivery of vehicles.
    The man’s photo appeared on several driver’s licenses with different names, and he used them to obtain vehicles at several area new-vehicle dealerships in recent months, including at least three in February.
    Sward said the man was charged with burglary with intention to commit forgery, for signing falsified documents. Additional charges might be forthcoming, the detective said.
    Patrick McGowen, general manager at the Hinsdale dealership where the man was arrested, said, "This is my 40th year in the business, and I think we’ve had more issues of ID theft in the store than we’ve had in the last 35-40 years."
    McGowen said the man confessed to other crimes during his arrest.

  • Friday, March 05, 2021 6:01 PM | Anonymous
    Illinois lawmakers in February introduced legislation to eliminate the trade-in allowance cap that took effect in 2020, plus a bill that addresses the compensation manufacturers grant dealers for warranty repair work.
    Senate Bill 58, filed Feb. 9 by Sen. Antonio Munoz (D-Chicago), would restore the full sales tax credit on traded-in vehicles. The bill passed out of the Senate Revenue Committee March 3 on an 11-0 vote. Dealers and others who back it are encouraged to contact their state senators to support SB 58, which could be heard for passage by the full Senate March 9-11. Senators in early January voted unanimously to pass them same argument, but then the 101st session of the General Assembly expired before the House could act on it.
    The trade-in cap first emerged in the final days of the legislature’s 2019 session, as Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker and lawmakers sought funding for the governor’s $45 billion capital infrastructure plan. The CATA and other groups back an alternate path for raising state revenue: increasing the tax on private party vehicle sales.
    House Bill 3940, introduced Feb. 22 by state Rep. Lawrence Walsh Jr. (D-Joliet), changes the manner in which dealers are reimbursed by manufacturers for labor work, mandating that it be no less than the amount the customer pays for the same services.
    Under HB 3940, "Adequate and fair compensation requires the manufacturer to pay each dealer no less than the amount the retail customer pays for the same services with regard to rate and time. Any time guide previously agreed to by the manufacturer and the dealer for extended warranty repairs may be used in lieu of actual time expended. In the event that a time guide has not been agreed to for warranty repairs, or said time guide does not define time for an applicable warranty repair, the manufacturer’s time guide shall be used, multiplied by 1.5."
    Mechanics Local 701, the union representing area technicians at dealerships, is joining the CATA in its support of the legislation.

  • Friday, March 05, 2021 6:01 PM | Anonymous
    A bipartisan group of eight governors from U.S. auto states have urged President Joe Biden to do more to press semiconductor firms to address a global shortage of automotive chips that has cut some vehicle production.
    The governors of Michigan, Indiana, Ohio, Kentucky, Kansas, South Carolina, Alabama and Missouri asked Biden in a Feb. 26 letter to join foreign governments in urging semiconductor and wafer companies to expand production and "temporarily reallocate a modest portion of their current production to auto-grade wafer production."
    Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, who led the effort to get other governors to sign, said she was urging Biden "to do everything in his power and to leave no stone unturned to protect auto jobs throughout the supply chain at risk because of this shortage."
    The White House did not immediately comment, but auto executives met with White House officials on Feb. 24 and discussed the issue. Lawmakers have also urged the White House to pressure chip manufacturers to boost auto chip supply.
    Biden said he would seek $37 billion in funding for legislation to supercharge U.S. chip manufacturing and he signed an executive order aimed at addressing the global semiconductor chip shortage.
    Automakers hit by the shortage include General Motors, Ford, Volkswagen, Toyota, Nissan, Stellantis and Subaru.
    Ford said a lack of chips could cut production by up to 20% in the first quarter and lower the company’s adjusted earnings by $1 billion to $2.5 billion.
    GM said the shortage could shave up to $2 billion from 2021 profit as it has been forced to cut output at factories in the U.S., Canada, Brazil and Mexico.
    A shortage of auto semiconductor chips could impact nearly 1 million units of global light vehicle production in the first quarter, data firm IHS Markit reported.

  • Friday, February 19, 2021 6:05 PM | Anonymous
    Twenty-eight area dealerships are winners of DealerRater’s 2021 Dealer of the Year Award, for providing outstanding customer experiences: Arlington Heights Buick-GMC, Audi Naperville, Berman Nissan of Chicago, BMW of Schererville (Ind.), City Volkswagen of Chicago, D’Arcy Hyundai (Joliet), Fox Lincoln (Chicago), Gerald Subaru of Naperville, Hawk Mazda (Joliet), Heritage Cadillac (Lombard), Infiniti of Naperville, Bill Jacobs BMW-Mini (Naperville), Jaguar Schaumburg, Gary Lang Kia-Mitsubishi (McHenry), Mercedes-Benz of Chicago, Muller’s Woodfield Acura (Hoffman Estates), Napleton Aston Martin (Downers Grove), Napleton Autowerks of Indiana (Schererville), Phillips Chevrolet of Frankfort, Porsche Orland Park, Joe Rizza Alfa Romeo-Maserati (Orland Park), Taylor Chrysler-Dodge-Jeep-Ram, Bourbonnais, Taylor Ford of Manteno, Toyota of Naperville, Valley Honda (Aurora), and Volvo Cars Lisle. Phillips Chevrolet is the award’s national winner among Chevrolet dealerships. 

  • Friday, February 19, 2021 6:05 PM | Anonymous
    MotorWeek, television’s longest-running automotive series, on Feb. 10 named the new Ford Mustang Mach-E the best vehicle of the year, in its 2021 Drivers’ Choice Awards.
    The awards, presented in 12 categories, traditionally are announced during the Media Preview segment of the Chicago Auto Show. This year, the winners were revealed in a YouTube video.
    MotorWeek host John Davis said the Mach-E brings a host of firsts to the Mustang: first battery-electric powertrain, first with all-wheel-drive, and, of course, the first SUV to ever wear the Mustang badge.
    Other 2021 Drivers’ Choice category winners:
    Best Small Car: Mazda3
    Best Family Sedan: Kia K5
    Best Luxury Sedan: Acura TLX
    Best Sport Sedan: Mercedes-AMG CLA 35
    Best Sports Coupe: Toyota GR Supra
    Best Performance Car: Porsche 718
    Best Eco-Friendly: Ford Mustang Mach-E
    Best Small Utility: Ford Bronco Sport
    Best Midsize Utility: Land Rover Defender
    Best Large Utility: Chevrolet Tahoe/Suburban
    Best Luxury Utility: Mercedes-Benz GLE
    Best Midsize Pickup: Honda Ridgeline
    Best Full-size Pickup: Ford F-150

  • Friday, February 19, 2021 6:05 PM | Anonymous
    Kentucky dealer Steve Gates on Feb. 17 assumed the chairmanship of the American International Automobile Dealers Association for 2021.
    "Becoming chairman of the AIADA is by far the biggest honor I’ve ever received," said Gates, who represents the third generation of dealers in the Gates Auto Family. "I can promise you that day in and day out I will do everything I can for this industry and the AIADA. I’m excited and ready to go." 
    The Gates Auto Family operates Audi, Ford/Lincoln, Honda, Hyundai, Kia, Lexus, Nissan, and Toyota dealerships with more than 500 employees. Gates has served on the AIADA’s board of directors since 2014 and in 2018 testified during a U.S. Senate Finance Committee hearing on behalf of dealers on the disastrous impact of 232 proposed tariffs on vehicles. 
    His industry leadership also includes representing dealers on Toyota’s National Dealer Council for six terms, Toyota’s National Product Advisory Council, and the state of Kentucky’s Motor Vehicle Commission. Gates also is a former Kentucky Automobile Dealers Association board member.

  • Friday, February 19, 2021 6:04 PM | Anonymous
    In his final remarks to dealers as outgoing NADA chairman, Rhett Ricart — who led the organization through one of the most tumultuous years in recent memory — had a simple message during Feb. 9 remarks at NADA Show: "Never forget what we went through, because it shaped who we are today."
    Ricart took over as NADA chairman at the previous NADA Show in mid-February 2020. Less than a month into his tenure, the coronavirus pandemic upended everything in the auto industry, including the priorities of the organization Ricart was tapped by his fellow dealers to lead in 2020.
    Even though "no playbook was ever written for the challenges we faced in 2020," Ricart said, the NADA rallied immediately and refocused on the single goal of steering America’s franchised auto dealers through the pandemic.
    "This association has never fought harder, worked faster, or given so much of itself so that business owners, like you and me, had a franchise that remained valuable and protected," Ricart said at the opening session of NADA’s first-ever virtual Show.
    From advocating for dealerships to be deemed essential businesses, to helping dealers navigate coronavirus-related regulations, to maintaining dealership workforces, Ricart reminded auto dealers nationwide of the importance of the NADA’s efforts on behalf of, and hand-in-hand with, franchised dealers.
    "We’ve lived through a year we’ve never witnessed before, but the NADA rose to the occasion," Ricart said. "It is a forcefield that covers every dealer. I am in awe of the NADA staff, our state and metro associations, and their leadership. Everything they did, they did on our behalf."
    And Ricart, president and CEO of Ricart Automotive Group in Columbus, Ohio, credited his fellow dealers for their perseverance, determination and flexibility in the face of a constantly changing and ever-challenging business environment.
    "Despite the darkest days, we kept people on the payroll, we reformulated our business model, we prioritized the health of customers, employees and our families, and we continued to sell and service cars," Ricart said. "Through the chaos, I saw the strength of auto dealers like I never have before. Dealers became life preservers, contortionists and survivors."
    Ricart urged dealers to stay vigilant and remain confident in their ability to thrive in the face of adversity. And he reiterated his belief that the challenges dealers survived in 2020 will leave them better positioned to succeed well beyond 2021.
    "After the year we’ve been through, I know one thing for sure: We are a bulletproof band of brothers and sisters who are stronger, tougher and wiser," Ricart said.

  • Friday, February 19, 2021 6:04 PM | Anonymous
    The NADA’s annual Dealership Workforce Study is now open. Dealers are encouraged to participate in the study, which provides valuable compensation and retention data on more than 60 dealership positions. 
    Participants receive a custom report that compares and ranks their dealership against a peer group of participating dealerships; a national and regional analysis report; and access for one year to NADA’s Database Search Tool. 
    The study closes April 15. Enroll at For questions, contact

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18W200 Butterfield Rd.
Oakbrook Terrace, IL 60181 
(630) 495-2282


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