GM's Contempt For Its Dealers Is Obvious

Illustration for article titled GM's Contempt For Its Dealers Is Obvious
Photo: GM
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GM says pricing on the Hummer EV will be no-haggle, Renault’s unions are upset, and the US’s second-biggest dealership group says it just had its most profitable quarter ever. All that and more in The Morning Shift for October 22, 2020.


(Irregular FYI: Some of the links below are to paywalled stories. Pay for the journalism you value!)

1st Gear: GM Says Pricing On The Hummer EV Will Be No-Haggle

I am kind of meh overall on the Hummer EV, which I suspect will rise and fall very quickly. It’s been the same story with the Jeep Gladiator, which was a big deal for a while until it wasn’t. (I expect the Tesla Cybertruck to fare the same.) But all of that said, I am interested in one aspect of the Hummer EV, in that GM insists it will offer it at one price and one price only, apparently an attempt to tamp down on dealer shenanigans.

From Automotive News:

GMC plans to use no-haggle pricing on the Hummer electric pickup when it goes on sale late next year.

The price customers see on GMC’s website will be the price they pay, Duncan Aldred, vice president of global Buick and GMC, said Wednesday.

“There will be no incentives. There will be no trickery,” Aldred said on a call with investors. “We are trying to construct a dealer margin in such a fashion that it really is a no-haggle price.”

About half of GMC’s dealers have elected to sell the Hummer so far. The “Edition 1” model is due in fall 2021 and will sell for $112,595. Dealers won’t be able to discount it or mark it up, Aldred said.

GMC will “deliver a one-price experience for the customer from the brand, from the website, right through to the dealer level,” he said.

It’s easy to say that GM is just copying the Tesla model of not really dealing with usual dealer tactics, but that’s not fair to the company that gave us Saturn. Or maybe they both ripped off Porsche.

2nd Gear: Continental’s Offices Searched Because Dieselgate

It’s amazing how Dieselgate really will just never end. Reuters says that authorities in Germany have been snooping at Continental, because we need to investigate this forever. For the record, I am generally in favor of investigating things forever.


From Reuters:

Auto supplier Continental said Thursday that its premises in the German cities of Hanover and Regensburg were searched by prosecutors Sept. 22 as part of an ongoing probe into emissions cheating devices.

Continental said it is cooperating with authorities.

In July prosecutors in Hanover searched Continental, investigating its role in supplying engine components for a 1.6-liter VW diesel engine which had breached emissions limits and masked excessive pollution using illegal software.


3rd Gear: Penske Is Doing Just Fine

Penske Automotive Group is America’s second-biggest dealership group, and it said today that it just had its best quarter ever. This does not appear to be pandemic related, as third-quarter sales actually fell year-over-year.


From Automotive News:

Penske Automotive Group Inc. reported Thursday that its third quarter was the most profitable quarter in company history, driven by big per-vehicle profit gains, higher finance-and-insurance income and lower costs.

Penske, the second-largest new-vehicle retailer in the U.S., said third-quarter net income more than doubled to $247.6 million. Revenue fell 0.1 percent to $5.97 billion.

Adjusted net income from continuing operations rose 99 percent to $231.1 million. That figure excluded a $15.4 million tax benefit related to changes in tax legislation in the U.S. and abroad.

Penske’s third-quarter gains “were primarily driven by same-store retail automotive revenue and margin expansion, coupled with expense reductions,” CEO Roger Penske said in a statement.


Congrats Roger Penske.

4th Gear: Cruise

GM is still serious about Cruise, it’s (attempted) self-driving arm, and Reuters says that it now wants approval to test its Cruise Origin. The Origin is the planned autonomous car that will be built at GM’s Factory ZERO, known, in simpler times, as the Detroit-Hamtramck Assembly Center.


Via Reuters:

Self-driving car maker Cruise said on Wednesday it and majority shareholder General Motors would seek U.S. regulatory approval in coming months to deploy a limited number of Cruise Origin vehicles without steering wheels or pedals.

At the same time, it will withdraw an exemption petition filed with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration in January 2018 seeking approval to deploy a limited number of autonomous vehicles without pedals or a steering wheel, based on the Chevrolet Bolt platform.

NHTSA did not immediately comment.


Robert Grant, Cruise’s vice president of global government affairs, made the announcement after Cruise received a permit from California’s Department of Motor Vehicles last week to be the first to test cars without any riders on San Francisco streets. Four other companies have permits to drive empty in Silicon Valley cities that are easier to navigate.


As a reminder, that self-driving Bolt concept was extremely phoned in.

5th Gear: Renault’s Unions Are Mad

The new all-electric Dacia Spring Electric will be made in China and exported to other places, and Renault’s unions aren’t thrilled with that.


From Bloomberg:

Labor groups are assailing Renault for exporting the Dacia Spring — a small crossover the automaker bills as Europe’s cheapest electric vehicle — to Europe from a plant in central China’s Hubei province. Workers have been on edge about a jobs-cutting plan the company announced just before it secured a state-backed loan in June.

“We are fundamentally opposed to making the Spring in China,” said Frank Daoust, a spokesman for the CFDT union. “This isn’t in keeping with government support for the car industry and jobs in France.”


Renault’s plan is particularly tricky for political reasons. The company has drawn a small portion from the 5 billion-euro ($5.9 billion) loan that France backed earlier this year, and President Emmanuel Macron only made government funds available after the carmaker agreed to consult with unions on plans for two underutilized factories at home.



Reverse: Highway Beautification Act

Business groups, polluters and advertisers, on the other hand, were not so thrilled.


I would like to meet someone who self-identifies as a “polluter.”

Neutral: How Are You?

I have big plans to wash my car this weekend. They consist of me taking my car to a car wash on Northern Boulevard and tipping big, even though car washes are bad. Not that exercised about it.

News Editor at Jalopnik. 2008 Honda Fit Sport.


Cory Stansbury

GM’s experience with the Volt and Bolt and their dealer network likely informed their malcontent. Many who left the GM family after very good experiences with those two cars did so due to their atrocious dealer network.