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Dealers Happiest with Hyundai, Subaru and Lexus

Happy dealers can deliver better sales.

by on Jan.30, 2012

Dealers converge on Las Vegas, this week, for the annual NADA convention.

As many as 10,000 U.S. car dealers will descend on Las Vegas later this week for the National Automobile Dealers Association convention, an annual binge of partying and, in many cases, griping about the problems they have with their manufacturers.

It’s not unusual to hear some angry words emerge from the closed door sessions that make up much of the more serious work at the yearly gathering.  But other “make meetings,” as they’re known in the trade, can be veritable love fests.  Indeed, a new study by the NADA released ahead of the 2012 convention reveals which brands have the best relationship with their retailers.


Hyundai , yet again, tops the list in the Dealer Attitude Survey, the third year in a row for the fast-growing Korean carmaker.  It’s followed by Subaru, which set its own sales record in 2011, Lexus, Kia and Mercedes-Benz, in that order.

While the industry trade group didn’t offer any specific comments on the results, NADA officials have often suggested that happy dealers are effective dealers.  They’re more likely to deliver good sales results – and they’re also more likely to invest in their stores.

That’s not an insignificant issue.  In today’s competitive market manufacturers are pressing hard to get their retailers to upgrade stores and adopt more customer-friendly services.  Hyundai, for example, hopes to expand the program it developed for the launch of the Equus premium-luxury sedan, allowing buyers to take delivery at home without ever visiting a showroom.

Lincoln, which lagged well behind the industry leaders, is looking to adopt a similar approach – while also getting retailers to invest millions in more modern and luxurious showrooms. That process is decidedly more difficult for a brand with less than satisfied dealers wondering whether it is worth the investment.

Rounding out the Top 10 in the NADA Dealer Attitude Survey are fifth-ranked Toyota and sixth-ranked Volkswagen, followed by Porsche and Audi, with Cadillac and Honda tying in the tenth spot.

The annual survey tallied results collected from questionnaires filled out by 14,700 new car retailers across the country – about 54% of the U.S. total.

The survey measured “happiness” in three areas:

  • Franchise value;
  • Automaker decisions impacting retailers; and
  • How well a manufacturer’s field staff works with the dealer.

The NADA convention begins on Friday, with Chrysler CEO Sergio Marchionne delivering the keynote address.

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