In the news release, Penske Automotive Group and Cox Automotive Debut Automated Platform for Retailing Used Vehicles, issued 22-Jul-2021 by Penske Automotive Group, Inc. over PR Newswire, in the first sentence of the second paragraph, Cox Automotive’s technology should be “Esntial Commerce” and not “Essential Commerce”, as originally issued inadvertantly by PR Newswire.
Penske Automotive Group and Cox Automotive Debut Automated Platform for Retailing Used Vehicles
Digital Platform Enables Consumers to Transact 100% Online
BLOOMFIELD HILLS, Mich. and ATLANTA, July 22, 2021 /PRNewswire/ — Penske Automotive Group, Inc., (NYSE:PAG) and Cox Automotive, Inc. (“CAI”), announced today they have jointly developed a transformational, fully automated technology platform to enable the online retail sale of used vehicles. The automated online buying platform, which is owned exclusively by Cox Automotive,allows consumers to select from high-quality, preowned vehicles through PAG’s U.S. CarShop used vehicle SuperCenters and franchised dealerships.
Cox Automotive’s patent-pending artificial intelligence retail technology, Esntial Commerce™, powers CarShop’s U.S. digital platform to provide consumers with an automated,100% online vehicle purchase. Features include personalized monthly payments across all inventories, trade-in capabilities, application, approval for financing, digital contracting, and digital signatures.
Esntial Commerce offers payment personalization based on the consumer’s risk profile, selected vehicle, and preferred deal structure using an AI/machine learning algorithm. Offering actual financing and the ability to immediately transact online allows consumers to move forward confidently, knowing their financing has been approved.
This industry-first scalable eCommerce platform and its artificial intelligence enable automation for retail operations so that consumers can:
Instantly compare up to four vehicles
Receive personalized payments for the consumer’s selected vehicles based on each consumer’s credit profile, including payments for taxes, titling, and other fees
Select their payment terms based on credit profile
Add aftermarket protection products
Determine trade-in value
Receive approval for financing
Complete and sign deal paperwork online
Make any required down payment
Arrange for delivery directly to the consumer’s preferred location, either at home or one of CarShop’s U.S. locations
CarShop is the first retailer in-market with Cox Automotive’s industry-leading solution. Penske Automotive Group Chair Roger Penske said, “Over the last year the PAG and CAI teams have collaborated on this unparalleled technology that delivers a completely digital solution to the marketplace. This new digital platform meets the digital-first demands of today’s customer while providing us with the opportunity to offer our customers 100% online functionality.”
“Penske’s CarShop powered by Cox Automotive Esntial Commerce delivers personalization, F&I automation, and a seamless closing of the transaction when buying a vehicle online,” said Steve Rowley, President, Cox Automotive. “No one has delivered an automotive eCommerce solution that can scale to support the industry’s transformation for retailers and for consumers – until now. As our solution matures, we expect it to drive both consumer satisfaction and profitability.”
PAG has launched this fully functioning digital platform in select markets through its CarShop used vehicle SuperCenters at www.carshop.com. Cox Automotive continues to focus on development to further enhance the user experience, operational efficiencies, market
In an industry first, by integrating the data, products, services and technology across its portfolio, the Group will connect car maker, financiers, dealer and consumer in the most efficient way possible. An essential component is connecting finance data, the core thread of new and used vehicle sales. Seamlessly integrating this will unlock the barriers to offering a complete ‘omnichannel’ customer experience – blending physical showrooms and the virtual world – from first sale, through aftersales and re-sale.
The commercial gains on offer are vast. Based on the 77 million new cars sold globally in 2020, with a value of $2.5 trillion**, a 1% shift in ecommerce sales would equate to $25 billion in revenue. And that’s without factoring in the potential of global used car sales – the forecast for Europe in 2025 alone is €357 billion*.
The Automotive Transformation Group is also looking to help its customers to improve their profitability. By leveraging its products and services to cut transaction times and reduce sales process costs, the industry could generate an additional £2.2 billion per year in global profitability based on an extra £142 per new vehicle sale.***
The new Group already handles one transaction every 3.5 minutes ($4.25 billion annually) and has an unrivalled experience and operational scale in the industry. The company serves more than 20 car manufacturers in over 10,000 locations across 96 countries.
Commenting on the launch of the Automotive Transformation Group, Chairman David Riemenschneider said: “The digitalisation of the sales process is advancing at an unrelenting pace. The Automotive market, which is one of the largest in the world, has lagged other sectors in terms of the speed of transition to online sales, but that is changing rapidly. Until now, the cost and complexity of integrating each element of an online and offline experience into a brand consistent omnichannel one, has prevented it being delivered at scale. The Automotive Transformation Group aims to change that. By joining up the dots we will enable car manufacturers, financiers and retailers to unlock the huge potential and efficiencies in today’s sales process and overall value chain. And now is the time to act.”
CEO Christian Erlandson added, “Since we announced the merger between Autofutura and GForces, we have been engaged in strategic discussions with some of the biggest players in the industry. This demonstrates just how dynamic the automotive industry is and how fast it is shifting towards digitalisation. We offer something truly unique. By connecting vehicles and consumers, serving the right offer, at the right time, to the right customer and then facilitating the seamless transition from one vehicle to another, we are streamlining the customer journey, right from the first transaction. We believe the companies which we support will not just have happier, longer standing customers, they will also be even more successful as a result of the substantial efficiencies they have achieved.”
*, **Car sales and forecast data (Frost & Sullivan, May 2021)
***Calculations based on Automotive Transformation Group proprietary UK
U.S. fleet sales were up by 5% for January – June, compared to the same period last year, but were 40.5% lower than for the same period in 2019, according to Cox Automotive.
New light vehicle inventory fell from an estimated 2.7 million vehicles nationwide in January to 1.4 million in June.
IHS Markit estimates that semiconductor capacity will begin to have the ability to adequately meet demand and fill missing backlog starting in the first quarter of 2022.
Ford will cut production at eight North American plants over various weeks in July and August as a result of the chip shortage; the automaker has lost production of over 350,000 vehicles this year, according to estimates from LMC Automotive.
Toyota’s second quarter sales volume surpassed GM’s for the first time in the U.S. The achievement is described as a short-term event attributed to Toyota’s decision to build a four-month supply of key components such as semiconductors.
A COVID-19 Task Force comprised of the UAW, Ford, General Motors and Stellantis announcedmask requirements ended July 12 for fully vaccinated union-represented workers in the U.S.
A new report from cybersecurity ratings provider Black Kite found that nearly half of 100 automakers and over 17% of suppliers surveyed are at high risk for ransomware attack. Key areas of vulnerability include patch management, with 71% of surveyed companies having “F” or “poor” ratings.
Electric vehicles and low emissions technology:
Stellantiswill investover 30 billion euros through 2025 in electrification and software, and low emissions vehicles are intended to represent over 70% of sales in Europe and 40% of sales in the U.S. by the end of the decade.
According to estimates from the Department of Energy, the U.S. will need 600,000 Level 2 public chargers by 2030 to meet demand, up from the 41,000 available currently. Tesla, EVgo, Chargepoint and Electrify America are among the companies offering Level 3, or DC Fast Charging.
As part of its new Alliance Strategic Partner framework, Nissanwill compensate a portion of its suppliers’ costs if a jointly developed EV part is not adopted; the decision is intended to strengthen collaborative relationships and share cost burdens.
Market Trends and Regulatory
U.S. new light vehicle sales in June reached 1.3 million units, for a seasonally adjusted annualized rate of sales of 15.4 million units. June’s results fell short of expectations for a SAAR of 15.8 million to 16.4 million units. Total sales in June were up
Widespread inflation has led to the highest raw material cost per U.S. vehicle since 2011, a new Bank of America (BAC) Global Research report found.
The report examines the recent bout of US inflation and examines its consequences for the automotive industry.
One key takeaway from the report is that the cost of raw materials has risen sharply since mid-2020. “In the past year, the raw material cost in an average U.S. vehicle has been steadily rising, increasing ~87% from a low point of approximately $2,200/unit in Apr ’20 to now roughly $4,125/unit in May ’21,” the report found. “During this raw material cost inflation, average transaction prices seem to have stalled, although [they] still remain elevated at record high levels.”
The compressing spread between rising raw material prices and stagnating average transaction prices is expected to increase pressure on automakers and suppliers’ respective financial bottom lines.
The average vehicle is composed of 39% steel and 11% aluminum. The increase in raw materials cost has been concentrated heavily in high steel prices; the Bank of America report estimated that the average cost per pound for steel used in automotive manufacturing has increased 106% year over year as of last month. This is “relatively alarming,” according to the report, given the high makeup of steel in the average vehicle.
Suppliers and original equipment managers (OEMs) are expected to bear the brunt of rising material costs, with the latter facing even greater exposure to indirect costs from the former.
Rising inflation costs, plus pre-existing damage to supply chains caused by the pandemic present problems for both groups. “The automotive value chain is already facing significant headwinds from supply chain disruptions and production stoppages,” the report noted, “which continue to pressure margins in addition to rising raw material costs.”
The costs of raw materials have risen so greatly that they now make up a significantly larger percentage of the price of a vehicle. “The cost of raw materials in an average vehicle as a % of the average transaction price (ATP) in the U.S. reached historical lows around 6% (5.9% in April ’20) at the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, driven by historically low raw material costs and all-time high average transaction prices,” the report found. “However, this cost ratio has since increased, now reaching ~11%, as commodity prices have bounced materially off of lows and ATPs have remained near peak levels.”
By the end of spring, raw material costs had approached post-2000 historical levels, while average transaction prices remained essentially unchanged, posing “significant headwind for companies at the front end of the value chain,” according to the report.
Parker is a mother, too, and sees the chance to create change for her two daughters and other women coming up through the professional world.
“I think the Petersen is visionary in what they’re doing and driving toward reaching parity in the automotive industry,” Parker says. “There are a lot of women out there who are creative, innovative, smart, and scrappy and have everything they need to make huge contributions except for financial backing. Only two percent of all venture capital goes to women-owned businesses, so there is a gap. It was nudging up slightly, and in 2020 it dropped and started heading the wrong direction, partly because women took the brunt of the home-based challenges.”
The committee is accepting applications until July 31, and includes not just the financial backing and mentorship but an office inside the Petersen and access to all the contacts and resources the Petersen has to offer. Applicants can own a business that touches automotive in wide ways, like aftermarket vehicle accessories, driving-related apparel, transport and delivery. Potential mentees must be a southern California-based company for 2021, although Lassek says they hope to grow the program nationwide.
“Having access to those who have paved the path and are further along is really remarkably valuable,” Parker says. “This is a game changer.”
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CENTRE COUNTY, Pa. (WTAJ) — Stuckey Automotive has acquired Joel Confer Ford of Bellefonte, according to an announcement by President Matt Stuckey Wednesday.
Joel Confer Ford of Bellefonte will be known as Stuckey Ford of Bellefonte as of July 1 and will open July 8. The business was owned and operated by the Confer family since 2004. This will mark the fifth dealership under Stuckey Automotive, including two locations in Hollidaysburg, one in Altoona and one in State College.
According to Stuckey Automotive, the agreement came to be after the businessmen were introduced by a mutual colleague and friend.
“This introduction is one for which I’ll always be grateful,” Matt Stuckey said. “We were gifted an opportunity to grow our brand in Centre County. It’s humbling when a man like Joel trusts that you’ll care for his business and customers as you would your own. We should all be so lucky to meet a Joel Confer in life.”
The Confer family will still operate their Toyota and BMW locations in State College. All employees at Joel Confer of Bellefonte have been recruited to join the Stuckey organization, according to the announcement.
“I have to applaud Matt and his team,” Joel Confer said. “As exciting as it is to watch their company grow, it appeases me even more to know they’ll do right by our employees and our community. I just can’t wait to see what they’ll do next – and where!”
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LaFontaine Automotive Group on Thursday announced it has acquired Livonia-based Ralph Thayer Automotive, just the latest example of an accelerating consolidation trend among auto dealerships navigating a rapidly-changing industry.
LaFontaine itself has been on something of an acquisition spree. The group — which includes 44 retail franchises, six collision centers and 25 Michigan retail locations — bought Shuman Chrysler Dodge Jeep Ram of Walled Lake and Delehanty Ford in Flushing in October, according to a news release.
As The Detroit News previously reported, smaller dealership operations — often aging family businesses — see an opportunity to cash out amid a historic transformation of the automotive industry, even as larger enterprises look to build scale so they can invest in new technologies.
“On behalf of my family and our passionate LaFontaine team, we are excited to welcome the employees and customers of Ralph Thayer Automotive into our LaFontaine family,” Ryan LaFontaine, CEO of the group, said in a statement. “This strategic acquisition further strengthens our ability to serve customers in the greater Metro Detroit area — for sales, service, body shop and parts.”
Terms of the deal were not disclosed.
Ralph Thayer Automotive —a family-owned and operated dealership that has served customers in southeast Michigan since 1971 — includes Hyundai, Mazda and Volkswagen franchises
LaFontaine was founded in 1980. Today it employs more than 1,800 people, and says it now has locations within a 25-minute drive of any city in Metro Detroit.
According to a news release, the group sold more than 36,200 vehicles in 2020 and is ranked among the top 50 dealer groups in the U.S. It represents the Buick, Cadillac, Chevrolet, Chrysler, Dodge, Ford, Fiat, Genesis, Honda, Hyundai, Jeep, KIA, Mazda, RAM, Subaru, Toyota, Volvo and Volkswagen brands.
The dealerships that are part of the transaction will be renamed LaFontaine Hyundai of Livonia, LaFontaine Mazda of Livonia and LaFontaine Volkswagen of Livonia.
Android Automotive is Android Auto’s bigger and more complex sibling, as it comes pre-loaded on the head unit and provides more advanced functionality. That includes access to climate controls and EV information, such as battery level and mileage.
While the number of cars getting Android Automotive is growing, the adoption of this fully featured operating system is still in the early phases. Google is working together with carmakers across the world to bring it to more models.
The Mountain View-based search giant lets companies put their own skins on top of Android Automotive, creating a fully personalized experience that looks different from the one on other brands. But the core OS is the same, and Google hopes this approach will help increase the adoption in the long term.
In the meantime, however, Android Automotive is also getting more love in the dev community. Most recently, someone has managed to port the operating system to a tablet and therefore run it outside of the car.
Developer Tom Pratt claims everything is running properly, though Android Automotive’s tablet port lacks Google services, meaning that apps like Google Maps wouldn’t be available.
On the other hand, Android Automotive can still be an Android Auto replacement, as you can install other navigation and media apps. That’s pretty much because the port does recognize the tablet’s LTE connection, the GPS sensor, and even the microphones for voice input.
In its current implementation, Android Automotive barely brings any value to someone who wants Android in their cars. Still, with the right improvements, such as a launcher and more apps, this port could easily become a full Android Auto replacement that no longer requires a phone to power the whole thing.
Of course, pretty much the same thing can be obtained by simply running full Android on a tablet and customizing it with a car launcher, so it’ll certainly be interesting to keep an eye on this project and see how it improves over time.
WICHITA, Kan. (KSNW) — Like nearly every other industry, car dealerships and repair shops are seeing long wait times because of supply chain problems due to COVID-19, but they’re also seeing a major shortage in auto technicians.
This isn’t a salary problem, many in this industry make six figures annually.
“We are constantly in search for technicians for one of our stores and the applications are far and few between,” said Terry West, fixed operations director for Eddy’s Everything.
Part of the reason is because of the amount of training that has increased in the automotive field.
“What used to be the grease monkey and people just assume you’re a bunch of backyard mechanics and so forth, those guys are gone,” said West.
“We need people that are qualified on all makes and models as well, so that complicates our situation from needing not just a factory trained GM or Ford, technician,” said Conner Ward, service manager for Don Hattan Dealerships.
Dustin Banwart is the owner of Banter Automotive Group on West Central. He says this lack of employees slows everything down.
“We’re having issues just getting someone to hang out and vacuum out the cars so before we show them to a customer they look presentable, uphold that reputation.”
For WSU Tech, they’re training students to enter this workforce, but the number of graduates doesn’t match the level of demand from employers.
“We get people wanting to know if we have technicians for them to go out into the field,” said Roy Lawhead, instructor for WSU Tech’s Automotive services. “You could say it’s on a regular basis, weekly basis should I say.”
The relationship with AYRO is part of Karma Automotive’s ongoing business-to-business (B2B) initiatives, utilizing KICC and the company’s OEM expertise and capabilities, to provide manufacturing, engineering, design, and other services to customers in the mobility space.
By combining AYRO’s end-user, market intelligence and engineering expertise with KICC’s manufacturing capabilities and development experience, the companies aim to deliver light-duty trucks and electric delivery vehicles to businesses across the U.S. The Club Car Current is engineered for multiple bed options and accessories—van box, pickup truck with sides, flatbed configurations—for fleet versatility. It is also certified under California’s California Air Resource Board (CARB) Certification Program with “cleanest” scores for global warming and air quality of zero emission vehicles, making it an ideal solution for the local market. .
“Having the first of these vehicles roll off the line at our KICC facility is a great step forward in our relationship with AYRO and Club Car and will help us deliver on our Climate Pledge efforts to become net-zero by 2040,” said Dr. Lance Zhou, Karma’s Chief Executive Officer. “We look forward to growing our B2B business and delivering clean energy vehicles for other customers in the future.”
Karma Chief of Staff, Mikael Elley, said, “KICC’s strategic Southern California location near major supply routes, combined with our expertise and proximity to one of the largest electric vehicle markets, makes us an attractive partner. Our proven capabilities and quick turnaround times enable us to work with a wide range of customers—including startups and traditional automakers—to make their products succeed.”
“Karma is helping us meet strong demand from our fleet customers in delivering the initial run of vehicles from their Moreno Valley facility despite supply chain hurdles impacting production for the rest of the industry,” said AYRO CEO Rod Keller. “These purpose-built electric vehicles are fully customizable, affordable and available now, delivering on our brand promise to provide real-world solutions that meet the needs of businesses of all types.”
“Karma has done a fantastic job in meeting tight deadlines, and their plant exceeded our rigorous quality standards in assembling the new 2022 Club Car Current,” said Club Car Commercial Leader, Brant Mitchell. “The Current features new options for improved safety and comfort in the same compact, customizable design that universities, restaurants, governments, hospitals, hotel resorts, sports stadiums, and airports across the U.S. have come to love.”
ABOUT KICC Beginning operations in 2017 and re-named in 2019, the Karma Innovation and Customization Center (KICC) is California-based Karma Automotive’s production hub. The KICC facility in Moreno Valley, CA houses production of the company’s current model, the 2022 Karma GS-6 luxury electric vehicle. In addition to providing high quality craftsmanship and technology integration for Karma vehicles, KICC also provides contract manufacturing, engineering, and other services for various companies in the mobility space.
KICC sprawls over 556,000 square feet and is home to the company’s chassis and body shops, trim and final assembly, e-coat and paint shop, complete flash and end-of-line testing. The facility contains