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Company/Industry dynamics

Ford, Mercedes at top of the class for dealers, Cox says

Word:[Big][Middle][Small] QR Code 2019/1/25     Viewed:    
 11 MINUTES FROM NOW

JACKIE CHARNIGA


Ford and Mercedes-Benz scored the highest in their class in a Cox Automotive 

MAKING THE GRADES

To score each brand, Cox combined ratings in 6 core subjects with bonus and penalty adjustments in 2 areas.

Core subjects

  • Best customers: Ability to capture ideal customers
  • Range of offerings: Diversity of vehicle lineup
  • Age of offerings: Newness of vehicle lineup
  • Attitudinal: Consumers’ perceptions of the brand
  • Traffic: Consumer interest, as measured by new-car shopping activity
  • Loyalty: Shopper loyalty, as observed by pricing requests on kbb.com

Bonus/penalty points

  • Geography: Consistency in delivering share across market areas
  • OEM: Frequency of dealers citing automakers’ mandates and restrictions

Source: Cox Automotive Retail Brand Scorecards Study


analysis of the benefits brought to dealers by their brands.


Ford tallied four A's and two A-minuses and collected enough bonus points to outrank Toyota at the top of the nonluxury ranking. The only blemish for Mercedes on the luxury report card was an A-minus as it narrowly topped Lexus.

Cox's Retail Brand Scorecards Study, compiled in conjunction with Automotive News, measures a brand's performance primarily through surveys and online engagement on Cox-branded websites.

Cox used a classroom-style assessment in six categories to give each brand an overall grade-point average. Additional points were added and subtracted for "geographic consistency" in delivering share across market areas and the likelihood of dealers to report challenges in dealing with their manufacturers. As with students in classrooms, brands may excel in some subjects but not others. Tesla, for example, got one A-plus for the quality of its customers and another for their perception of the brand. The electric vehicle maker drew an F, however, for its product range. It also was marked down because of its geographical limits. It ranked just above Jaguar at the bottom of the luxury chart.

Mitsubishi, meanwhile, chalked up an A-minus for the newness of its products. But it finished at the bottom of the nonluxury class thanks to F's in traffic, loyalty and product range.

 

Luxury class adjusted GPA

LUXURY CLASS OF 2018
Make Best Customers Range Age Traffic Loyalty Attitudinal
Mercedes-Benz A A- A A A A
Lexus A B+ A A A A
BMW A A A A A A
Acura A C A A A A
Audi A B+ A A A A
Cadillac A B- A A B A-
Volvo A C A A B+ A
Porsche A F A A+ A A
Land Rover A F A- A A B+
Lincoln A- C+ A C+ B B+
Infiniti A- C+ A A C+ A
Genesis A F A+ C- A+ A
Tesla A+ F C+ A A A+
Jaguar A F A B C B+
Above the crowd

What sets top-scoring brands apart? They're better positioned in a changing market, Cox Chief Economist Jonathan Smoke said. "You're going to have a range of offerings, fresh product that's going to keep pulling people in and an OEM generating traffic, delivering eyeballs to the website that convert to physical traffic to you," Smoke said.

"If you excelled in all these things, and you were top of the class, that should mean that a retail store representative of that brand would outperform one across the street that isn't," Smoke told Automotive News.

Nonluxury class adjusted GPA

NON-LUXURY CLASS OF 2018
Make Best Customers Range Age Traffic Loyalty Attitudinal
Ford A A- A- A A A
Toyota A A A A A A
Honda A C A A A A
Chevrolet A- A A A A A
Subaru A F A A A A
RAM B+ F C+ A A A
Hyundai A C A C A A
Jeep A F B+ A+ A A
GMC A F B+ A A- A
Nissan B A B+ C A A
Kia B- D+ A+ F A A
Dodge C+ F A A F A-
Volkswagen A F A- F A A
Chrysler A F A A D+ A
Mazda A D+ A C- A A
Buick A F A F C A
Mini A+ F A F C C+
Fiat A F B+ F B+ F
Smart A F B F C+ F
Mitsubishi D F A- F F B-
BEST IN CLASS
Top-scoring brands by category
  Nonluxury Luxury
Best customers Mini Tesla
Digital traffic Jeep Porsche
Range of offerings Nissan BMW
Age of offerings Kia Genesis
Customer loyalty Ram Genesis
Attitudinal Honda Tesla
Bonus: Geography Chevrolet Not graded
Bonus: OEM Honda, VW Acura
Overall Ford Mercedes
Source: Cox Automotive Retail Brand Scorecards Study

In the areas where brands earned extra credit, Chevrolet garnered points for its market-share balance across the U.S. Such a distinction is a plus to potential buyers of a dealership, Cox says. At the same time, Chevrolet ranked as one of the industry's worst performers when it comes to franchised dealers citing automaker mandates and restrictions that hold back business.

Audi and GMC were deemed the most likely to have such complaint-inducing issues with factories, while Honda and VW were least likely. Those figures were incorporated into the Brand Scorecards from Cox's quarterly Dealer Sentiment Index.

All luxury brands and a majority of the nonluxury brands earned A-level grades for drawing the best customers — those who frequently purchase new vehicles at the same dealership and obtain financing and service repairs in-house.

"The people who scored highest on best customers, quite literally the majority of their sales are to the people who do all those behaviors," Smoke said.

Tight victories

Ford's overall victory in the nonluxury category was narrow. Toyota actually outscored Ford in the six main categories combined but came up short overall because of Ford's strength in the geographic-consistency bonus measure.

Performance overall was higher for brands in the luxury segment, while competition for "valedictorian" status was also tight. Mercedes bested runner-up Lexus in only one category — range of offerings.

Said Smoke: "One additional vehicle in the Lexus lineup would have put [them] on top of Mercedes."


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