Whats Happened to These New Car Brands?

Whats Happened to These New Car Brands?

Hi, Bob Aldons, The Car Guy, with some scurrilous information about some of the new car brands that I had in a previous life.

From 1978 to 2015, I was as a salesman, sales manager, general manager and the owner of new car dealerships including Ford, Toyota, Mitsubishi, Suzuki, Chrysler, Jeep, Dodge, Renault, Citroen, Isuzu Ute, Chery, Volkswagen, Alfa Romeo, Fiat, Fiat Professional and Mahindra. All of these new car brands exist today of course excluding Dodge and Chery.

Some have risen to the highs and some have fallen through the floor. Every now and again I check VFacts to see how the brands I had have gone year on year.

Here are the numbers at the end of July.

Brand                            2017                           2018                 Change (%)

Ford                              46,451                        41,924               -10.2%

Toyota                         126,966                      128,769              +1.4%

Mitsubishi                   45,348                        49,779               +8.9%

Suzuki                          10,745                          11,261                -4.8%

Chrysler                            159                                157                -1.3%

Jeep                                4650                            5041                 -8.4%

Dodge                      No longer available in Australia*

Renault                          6130                            6,351                 -3.6%

Citroen                             288                                314                 -9.1%

Isuzu Ute                     15,552                          13,810                +11.2%

Volkswagen                 33,450                         32,915                +1.6%

Alfa Romeo                       756                              548                 +27.5%

Fiat                                      723                            1029                 -42.3%

Fiat Professional               691                             670                    3.1%

Mahindra               No VFacts data available

Chery                      No longer available in Australia.

N.B. * Dodge sold its last model, Journey, in 2017. Dodge is represented in the marketplace by the fully imported and Australian converted Ram pick up, but it’s not covered under the VFActs reporting system.

In the numbers shown above, of the brands that I represented, Toyota, Mitsubishi, Volkswagen, Isuzu Ute, Alfa Romeo and Fiat Professional have grown year on year. The rest have fallen and some dramatically. The worst are Ford (-10.2%) and Fiat (-42.3%) are the worst.

I once had a passion for the Chrysler Jeep Dodge brands. Unfortunately, I blame the demise of the Northstar Motor Group solely at the feet of Fiat Chrysler. And I know that many other former dealers do the same. If you ever want to know the facts about the rise and fall of Fiat Chrysler, give me a call. So saying that about Fiat Chrysler, in 2013 the combined group sold nearly 44,000 units.

Don’t worry about doing the sums, because the combined result year to date for the Fiat Chrysler brands now amounts to a drop of 6.3% from 2017 to 2018. On an annualized basis, Fiat Chrysler will sell around 12,000 units in 2018 – a massive fall of around 73% from the stellar year of 2013.

And why is this so? The major ingredient in the fall comes down to quality control and customer satisfaction. In 2014, customers came to realize that their cars were causing them troubles, but the major issue was lack of commitment from Fiat Chrysler Australia. They just didn’t care.

And this customer satisfaction issue or lack of it has affected other companies as well. Holden and Ford have seen their market share and volume plummet. Volkswagen seems to have come back from the edge of the cliff after the notorious diesel-gate scandal.

That’s still got a lot to play out, as has the Ford ‘Powershift’ class action.




3 thoughts on “Whats Happened to These New Car Brands?”

  1. I’m a bit of a Jeep fan, I bought a Grand Cherokee in 2014 and it has been very good, I also follow the Jeep forums and facebook page, you get a mixture of feedback on these pages about ownership experience and FCA support.

    In my view the 44k sales in 2013 were just a windfall for Jeep, they weren’t expecting it, and it wasn’t ever sustainable. Jeep were selling 4000 cars a year in 2009, they went up to 6000 a year in 2010, by 2013 they were selling 22,000 Jeeps and then up to 30,000 in 2014.

    The problems were that the FCA merge was only just completing in 2014, and FCA was being run by the likes of Clyde Campbell and Veronica Johns, probably not the people they needed to manage the boom in sales.

    On top of the poorly managed customer relations and lack of parts supply, Jeep had a bunch of competitors enter the market around the same time, the Everest arrived in 2015, MUX in 2014, and Pajero Sport, even the Amarok V6 is an option for those wanting the power and offroad ability. Really Jeep were never going to retain those numbers of sales no matter how well they supported owners. In my view Jeep are really only good for sales around 1000-1200 a month, they have a niche product, it’s just not realistic to think they should be outselling Merc or Subaru. Land Rover is the only other brand that is similar, but they are veering towards luxury whereas Jeep is remaining offroad.

    1. Ben
      I was a Jeep dealer from 2003 until 2015. Whilst I agree with some of your comments, my greatest difficulty as a dealer was the lack of knowledgeable people in their technical assistance centre. Now, it’s the attitude of the customer relations department. I’ve had a couple of customers initially denied warranty when they had major failures with their Jeeps. Thankfully I was able to keep on their case and get the claims approved.
      The 44k sales in 2013 were for all their brands – Jeep, Chrysler, Dodge, Fiat and Alfa Romeo. And with respect, Campbell and Johns did an excellent job of getting the enquiry, but they didn’t have the back up in technical and customer service.
      Their (FCA’s) reputation was tarnished by the like of the Destroy My Jeep campaign, even though that particular issue was easily solvable. I sincerely hope that Steve Zanlunghi is true to his word. I for one would be ecstatic to see Jeep return to the heady days of 2011-2014

  2. I think we pretty much agree here, I’ve heard all the same stories about owners getting warranty claims knocked back and a lack of response from customer assistance. When I say Campbell and Johns weren’t the people they needed, they needed someone who responded to the boom in sales by building the expertise, the local parts supply and improving customer assistance, they just didn’t do it.

    About 18 months ago Ashton Wood (Destroy my Jeep) met with Steve and discussed the issues customers are having with warranty claims, etc. Steve said he was fixing it and to send any unhappy customers details through to him. It was hilarious, owners were complaining in the forums about issues not getting fixed, then they would get their details to Ashton who would forward through to Steve, and then the work would get approved, or the part that was going to take 3 months to arrive suddenly appeared or the loan car suddenly got approved. He got so busy forwarding details to FCA he set up a website to do it automatically, how broken were FCA’s internal communications that an anti Jeep activist was handling their customer relations for them, free of charge…..

    It seems Ashton hasn’t been so busy lately and there are less complaints on the forums about this kind of thing, so it looks like Steve has finally made some progress. In any case these issues around warranty aren’t limited to Jeep/FCA, Ford and VW have had public widespread complaints about transmissions not getting fixed in the past, even toyota owners have their issues, seems the mud doesn’t stick so much there.

    FCA seem to have limited their product development to Alfa, Jeep and RAMs. Oz has the new Wranglers and dual cab ute coming (engine options are a bit average), and the WL GC is coming (possibly a 3 row option) along with the Grand Wagoneer in a few years, so some good new product on the way. Still I can’t see them selling those volumes again with the other competition in the segment now. The best they could hope for is getting up to Isuzu levels.

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