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Discussion Starter #1 (Edited)
Some small dealerships are choosing "not to be Volt dealers" anymore.

I'm getting my oil changed at such a small dealership. GM requires dealerships to buy things like the battery lift and other tools. This year, they also have a new $10K tool every "Volt dealership" must buy. This dealership has sold 2 Volts so far.

This dealership has also done the "redesign of the showroom" for the big blue arch campaign which is partly paid for by GM but also enforced to be done by the dealership on part of their own dime. I heard a story about Stingray having to have done it as well for something like $1MM out of pocket to conform (this came from a lot-guy not anyone in management there).

Anyway - at this small dealership, they now cannot do warranty work on Volts due to "not being a Volt dealer" anymore. What else? They cannot *SELL* Volts either. How is GM going to move Volts when they are losing small dealerships left and right?

Idea from their service manager. Offer these special tools as "regional tools" and make the volume dealer hold and rent them out to small dealerships around the area. This allows shops to still do the warranty work on Volts and not individually buy each and every required tool.

This shop also has to buy tools and do training to be a Corvette dealership. When shops must maintain their "dealership level" to sell and service Volts at a $10K ANNUAL entry point and they make 500-1000 per unit when they sell them, the only reason to support Volts is for Warranty work. And small shops will not support the Volt due to this whole "money value thing". If they sold 15-20 per month, they'd be fine with the costs. The only way for a small dealership to sell that many would be a 8K-10K decrease in MSRP. That's not happening for years.

The Catch-22: can't decrease price until high-volume is reached - can't get high volume if you shut-out dealerships for not paying the tools/training costs. This also takes away dealerships from the Volt owner who must now find "who in my region actually can work on my Volt?" - the local shop that they bought the Volt at may not even be able to help them out when they actually need work done if they become a "non-Volt shop".

GM - and I wonder/hope that someone is listening - you have to fix the per-dealership requirement for tool purchasing otherwise, you will only be selling Volts at about 200 dealerships nationally. How will new Spark EV rollouts, new MPV5 rollouts and other new unique models go when dealerships only want to sell the ICE vehicles? I wonder how Ford is doing it for small rural dealerships who want to sell the new Focus EV and C-Max Energi. Just as high public charger costs could impact EV adoption - loss of small dealerships could impose a big delay in EV adoption.

My own idea - make EV-tools at dealerships "DoE supported". Let manufacturers get DoE grants for these tools and then give those tools for free to dealerships so that they can participate in this "North American Energy Independence by 2020" idea. (it'll be more like 2040, but we'll get there)

Pete Foss - do you have any channels to talk with the bean counters about this?

(you almost have to wonder if people like Tony P. and others leaving GM was partly due to this management of the dealerships issue?)

** This note above is Copyright "Bonaire, 2012" - Disclaimer for Fox News - you are not authorized to use the above material in any way.
 

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Do you want low volume dealers maintaining Volts? Tools aside, tech training and experience is very important. The reality is the Volt is not selling at high enough volumes to support all dealers. Much better to limit servicing to dealers with trained techs.
 

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Discussion Starter #3 (Edited)
Actually, the shop I was at does have trained techs and tools. They chose not to buy the "new tool this year" at $10K. Training costs are now "down the drain", so they say.

It also makes holding an extended warranty a little more complicated as not all Chevy service dealerships will be allowed to fix something under extended warranty as they're not "a Volt dealership". There are probably 40 chevy dealerships around Philadelphia but some of them are now dropping out of the Volt program. Salesmen at these shops will surely try to sway buyers away from Volts to whatever they have on the showroom instead of sending the customer over to a Volt dealership across town.

I want the Volt program to succeed and EVs to grow but this doesn't fertilize the soil very well to allow for a strong growing season.
 

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the aurora was one of oldsmobile's best cars and only 5 star dealers were allowed to sell it...... this is nothing new for any car manufacturer.
 

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Back in the 80's, I worked at a Honda motorcycle dealership and they were doing similar things back then. Seemed every new model needed a new specialized, high dollar tool available only from the factory along with training at regional centers. By the time I left, they were getting into the planning, development and actual layout of the sales floor.

IIRC during the bankruptcy dealings, GM wanted to close or consolidate more dealerships than the final agreement allowed.
 

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Opting out in servicing and selling Volts is silly. The Volt is a flagship product and if a dealer wants to attract business they need to sell and service flagship products.

Of course financially it makes sense short term to skip on low volume high complexity vehicles, but over time as those vehicles become mainstream the business will go elsewhere.

This is why some dealers grow and become large while others go out of business.
 

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A regional rental of infrequently used high priced tools seems like an interesting idea. If GM can't run it, maybe a "master dealer" could. Or a national tool rental chain. Rental shops can make a lot of money. The tools have a quick ROI. But they also get beaten up when it's not yours.
 

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..... this is nothing new for any car manufacturer.
Nothing new for almost any other car manufacturer.
That said, I agree it is a shame. But with the dealer model GM has, it may simply turn out that the Volt can't support all the dealers GM has.
Some dealers are getting the traffic they need, some have deep enough pockets so they can afford to invest in the future, as I truly believe the Volt is said future, and some won't be able to.
 

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The Stair Step pricing programs applied to cars like the Volt, within GM's line. They benefitted volume to the point where, small dealer sales must have been disproportionately low. They didn't have the extra $2,500 to offer, etc. One would have to call this as part of what is at play.
 

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My dealer is a pretty small Chevy dealer and so far the service has been very good. Maybe they can afford it because they are a part of the Colonial Group with about 7-8 other dealerships, only 1 other is Chevy I think. I also feel the small dealer plays an important role. They tend to have a very loyal customer base because they personally know their customers. I hope GM finds a way to let the small guy exist in their dealer network.
 

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While I am supportive of the small chevy dealership, and their tremendous impacts in small towns, I don't think we need to have every existing dealership to be a Volt servicing dealership. I think we all would like a fully trained and equipped service shop within 100 miles. I actually prefer the prospect of an experienced Volt specialist, with equipment, to be available by appointment at a nearby dealer rather than a dealer employee that tries to stay up to date with a product they may never see in their shop.
 

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My dealership is about as small as you can get. They don't even have a showroom, but they are Volt certified.

 

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It's easy to say that not all Dealerships should support the volt when you live in a major city or urban area. I live in a pretty small town with very few dealerships nearby. If my local dealer wouldn't service the volt I dont think i would want to own it as it would mean hours of driving any time i need anything done.
 

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Discussion Starter #14
Maybe my note was a little over-reacting but talk to your small dealerships' service managers and feel them out. They may say they are supporting the Volt now but if sales are low for now, they may always opt out if other Voltec models are not offered to supplement the Volt. With Volt competition now arising at Ford and others - the Volt sales drop in November coincides with the uptick in C-Max sales at Ford. The main worry I have is what impact this has on GM's future Voltec offerings and projects not yet announced and whether the small shops will get back into the electric-arena until prices drop enough to attract their small-town buyers.

The shop I wrote about above is on the farther outskirts of Philadelphia. There are longer-distance commuters living in the area there. Maybe the message of "Volt is good for 40-mile round trip commuters" is a turn off for those who drive 50 or 60 and don't get a positive spin at the time of sale? This and many rural dealerships also sell a lot of trucks. Tahoes, Suburbans, etc. Many of these families haul a lot of stuff and have numerous kids.

I'm going to call around to the small dealerships in my area to see if I can figure out if others are opting out of the Volt program lately. I have noticed a drop in units available on cars.com for the small dealers out in these far-out suburbs (40-miles west) of Philadelphia.
 

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There are longer-distance commuters living in the area there. Maybe the message of "Volt is good for 40-mile round trip commuters" is a turn off for those who drive 50 or 60 and don't get a positive spin at the time of sale?
GM needs to address this common misconception. My Volt used less gasoline than my Prius for a 180 mile trip from Austin to Houston. I found this out when my daughter drove the Prius alongside me in the Volt earlier this fall.
 

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Discussion Starter #16 (Edited)
Yes - I wrote about my experience here: http://gm-volt.com/forum/showthread.php?19272-Volt-small-dealerships-message-for-GM&highlight=Tools

She wouldn’t say how many dealers had quit the program, only that they account for less than one percent of the Volt’s total sales.
Yes - but the number of actual dealers has to be well higher than 1 percent of dealerships. If we account for rural shops - who could possibly guess? Imagine if the actual number of dealerships opting out would be published. Fox News debacle all over again. Especiallly with the new competition from Ford coming.

I also contacted someone "higher up" I know at GM to see if they can alert the product managers to consider placing those tools into a regionial GM shop rather than making each and every single Chevy dealership who wants to sell/service Volts buy the tools. If they only sell 2-3-5 Volts per year, why invest in such tools? Then again, they also have to attend $10K in training and other expenses. Not to make a few hundred bucks a year on very limited service and very few recalls.
 

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GM is requiring Chevy dealers to buy certain tools or not sell Volts in 2013

http://carscoop.blogspot.com/2012/12/is-it-revolt-some-chevy-dealers-stop.html?m=1


Some are opting out. Probably will help owners avoid iffy service.
This has ALWAYS been the case. FYI Not all Chevy dealers are Volt dealers. The "new" tool is a $5000 depowering tool that permits the battery to be drawn down prior to internal cell section service. Sure some dealers will complain, and some smaller dealers that only sell a handful of cars may opt out but the vast majority will keep their Volt status.
Cadillac dealers are also being informed of their $$ commitments to sell/service the ELR.
But these are not unsual costs. A complete set of transmission tools for servicing the latest generation of 6-speeds is close to $4000.

Unfortuately certain websites and journalists are going to jump all over this as an opportiunity to EV bash...
WOT
 

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Discussion Starter #18
Why not route the big advertising budgets to these dealerships to keep them in the game? This seems almost anti-growth.
Or, like the battery replacement part cost - subsidize the tools to a point where they don't cost $5K for a depowering tool which will collect dust.
 

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There was an earlier thread on this that suggested GM allow tool co-ops for their smaller dealers. How often do you need a $5k Volt battery de-powering tool?

On the other hand, perhaps these dealers are too small to be a dealer and are self-marginalizing themselves.
 

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Here's the complete Automotive News article that correctly depicts the facts and generated all the various "interpretations" of its implication
(ie there's no $10,000 tool, it is however $4735)

This is not an unanticipated development, but its far too soon to extrapolate the net outcome, but GM does not expect this to have any significant impact on the number of Volt dealers or the ease in which Volt owners will be able to access authorized Volt service.
The fact that some small dealer chose to go public (for whatever motives) is the only reason this is in any way newsworthy.
The sky isnt falling... lol
WOT

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DETROIT -- Some Chevrolet dealers have stopped carrying the Volt after deciding that their sales didn't justify an additional $5,100 for tools to service the plug-in hybrid.

Last month, General Motors notified Chevrolet dealers of the added cost for tools, among other requirements, to keep selling and servicing the Volt.

The math didn't work for Allyn Barnard, owner of Jim Barnard Chevrolet in Churchville, N.Y., near Rochester. Barnard, who has sold five Volts since the car's launch two years ago, decided to quit the Volt authorized dealer program.

Barnard figures his sales and service revenue from those five sales have enabled him to break even on the nearly $5,000 he spent nearly two years ago on Volt tools, training and charging stations.

"Going forward, the profitability would be really hard for us to justify the expense of the repair tools," Barnard says.

Some dealers believe that GM is raising the requirements to be a certified Volt dealer because it wants a smaller network that would steer more Volts to bigger-volume dealers and regions. GM spokeswoman Michelle Malcho says that's untrue.

"It's pretty standard" to require dealers to buy tools to service certain nameplates, Malcho said. Last year, Volt dealers spent $1,800 to $2,800 on tools.

She would not say how many Chevrolet dealerships have quit the Volt program since dealers were informed of the extra cost, but said they account for less than 1 percent of the Volt's sales.

This year, 2,614 Chevrolet stores were certified to sell the Volt. She said 70 percent of Volt sales are generated by the 300 highest-volume dealerships. On Jan. 1, 2012, Chevrolet had 3,079 dealerships, according to the Automotive News Data Center.

Through November, Volt sales more than tripled from the year-earlier period, to 20,828.

As of January, GM wants Chevrolet service technicians to remove and ship sections of the Volt's 435-pound battery pack to GM for repair, rather than shipping the entire pack. To do that, they need a $4,735 battery depowering tool to drain the battery before removing a section. The device accounts for the bulk of dealers' additional costs.

John Holt, owner of John Holt Chevrolet-Cadillac in Chickasha, Okla., near Oklahoma City, says he also has sold five Volts since he began carrying the car, in 2011. But he decided to buy the tools and remain a certified dealer, partly because he wants to sell the Cadillac ELR plug-in hybrid, due out by summer. The ELR's powertrain will be based on that of the Volt.

"I've heard that a lot of the nonmetro dealers have opted out" of the certified Volt program, Holt says. "But with the new Cadillac coming, I figured I'd be foolish not to buy the damn $5,100 tool."

You can reach Mike Colias at [email protected].



Read more: http://www.autonews.com/article/20121231/RETAIL07/312319969#ixzz2Gl7IMnmu
 
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