Car Dealers Have Real Problem With Sexist, ‘Testosterone-Charged’ Culture

The National Automobile Dealers Association’s annual workforce study has yet to be released, but it reportedly has highlighted an alarming trend in the automotive industry.

The NADA has found that women are underrepresented, and fleeing the industry much quicker compared to male workers, and it is costing dealers a lot of money, according to Automotive News, which has seen the survey’s results. What’s more, ESI Trends, which conducted the NADA’s study, suggests that a lingering culture of sexism is to blame.

In 2016, dealers in the United States saw a turnover rate of 46 percent among all female employees, and 96 percent among female sales representatives — compared to 41 and 71 percent, respectively, among males. ESI Trends president Ted Kraybill, for perspective, claims turnover represent an $8 billion problem for the industry as a whole, and costs dealers an average of roughly $20,000 every time a sales position is vacated.

“There will be no real progress as long as the majority turn a blind eye and deaf ear to the macho, testosterone-charged sales culture that disrespects women customers and co-workers,” Kraybill told Automotive News.

A separate Automotive News survey revealed just how toxic the environment can be, with 65 percent of women at new-vehicle dealers reporting they have experienced unwanted sexual advances, and 45 percent claiming they have missed out on opportunities for advancement because of their gender.

To prevent that type of behavior from permeating their dealership, Jeff and John Morrill, owners of Planet Subaru in Hanover, Mass., have tried to hire an equal number of men and women. Although they admit their workforce isn’t an entirely even split, females make up 30.3 percent of their staff, and 35.5 percent of their sales consultants.

“This is an industry where men still occupy nearly all the positions of power,” Jeff Morrill said. “So until there are more women in those positions of power, it’s really incumbent on the men to bring more women into the business so those women can be part of the decision-making in the future.”

The Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT) said its figures suggested a “backlash” against diesel cars had resulted in an own goal for the environment.

It reported a drop of 5.7% in new car sales during 2017 – the biggest fall since 2009.

It said 2.54 million new cars were registered in 2017 compared with 2.69 million the previous year – with diesel sales providing the main drag. There was a 35% increase in electric vehicles leaving showrooms.

Simple counter-theft measures like parking your car in a safe and sensible place are still recommended by experts

Image:New car sales hit record levels in 2016

Demand for diesels fell by 31% last month and 17% over the year, the SMMT said, arguing it had dented progress in cutting tailpipe CO2 emissions.

Its figures measured the first annual increase since 1997.

It blamed a change in attitudes against cleaner diesel technology. It did not provide figures for NOx, or nitrogen oxide, emissions produced by diesel engines that are blamed by critics for thousands of deaths from respiratory conditions.

SMMT chief executive Mike Hawes said 2017 sales had proved “very, very volatile”, with “confusion” over the fate of diesels combining with Brexit-linked uncertainty to hit consumer and business confidence.

He said Government plans to ban the sale of new conventional petrol and diesel cars from 2040, along with a car tax hike on new diesel models in November’s Budget, had damaged demand.

Ford sells the most popular vehicle in the UK's new car market
Video: Talk of bans ‘undermines’ new car market

New car sales to private motorists were down 6.8%, fleet down 4.5% and business down 7.8%.

The SMMT admitted it was not all doom and gloom for the industry as 2017’s figures still represented the third best year for new car registrations in the past decade and market share for electric or hybrid vehicles continued to grow strongly.

But it said it was expecting a similar fall in volumes in the current year – of between 5-7% – with diesels likely to face further pain.

Mr Hawes said: “Keeping older vehicles on the road will not only mean higher running costs but will hold back progress towards our environmental goals.

“Consumers should be encouraged to buy the right car for their lifestyle and driving needs irrespective of fuel type – whether that be petrol, electric, hybrid or diesel as it could save them money.

“2017 has undoubtedly been a very volatile year and the lacklustre economic growth means that we expect a further weakening in the market for 2018. The upside for consumers, however, is some very, very competitive deals.”

The number of new cars sold in the UK fell for the first time since 2011 in the last year, hurting the battle to combat carbon dioxide emissions.

The consumer watchdog has reported a surge in the number of Australians complaining about being fobbed off by businesses that sold them faulty products.

The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) says 29,000 people contacted it in 2017 to complain about issues with consumer guarantees – a 39 per cent jump from 2016.

There was a surge in complaints about car dealerships.
There was a surge in complaints about car dealerships.  Photo: Luis Enrique Ascui

Acting ACCC chairman Michael Schaper said he was concerned by the dramatic rise in complaints, which had been driven by a spike in complaints about automotive dealers. 

Automotive dealers were the biggest single focus of complaints, responsible for a quarter of all issues lodged with the ACCC, followed by electronics and whitegoods, which were responsible for another quarter.

“A new car is a big purchase for people – it’s typically the second biggest for most people after a house,” Dr Schaper said.

The watchdog had identified numerous cases of consumers buying new cars only to find them full of minor faults that resulted in them returning it for repairs multiple times.

“If you put them all together you look at it and go, ‘I probably never would have bought this car if I’d known this was going to happen to me’,” Dr Schaper said.

In August, Holden agreed to undertake a series of court-enforceable measures after admitting it mislead customers who bought faulty vehicles about their rights.

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The auto industy’s reputation was also battered by the faulty Takata airbags installed in millions of Australian cars, with the federal government issuing a proposed compulsory recall notice for all vehicles with the airbags in September.

Under Australian law, consumers automatically have the right to a guarantee regardless of what kind of warranty the retailer or manufacturer offers.

Consumers can choose to have their purchase refunded, replaced or repaired if it has a “major fault” – meaning it has a problem that would have stopped the customer buying it if they were aware of it, is significantly different from a sample or description, or is unsafe. 

A business can choose which option to offer if a product has a “minor” fault.

Dr Schaper said another concerning trend was Australians thinking they had fewer protections when shopping online.

“People still believe that in the online context you have less rights than you do in a bricks and mortar store, and that is simply not the case,” he said.

Even retailers based offshore but marketing and selling to Australians were bound by local consumer laws.

The Federal Court last month upheld a $3 million fine against American video game maker Valve for misleading Australian customers about their guarantee rights.

Mr Schaper said shoppers should remember that under consumer law they could have faulty products fixed, replaced or refunded even after the manufacturer’s warranty expired, and that retailers could not palm customers off to manufacturers. 

“They must provide you with a remedy and cannot direct you to the manufacturer instead,” he said.

Over 400 fewer new cars have hit the roads in Clare compared to this time last year.

New figures from the Society of the Irish Motor Industry show a downward trend in car sales nationally between January and September, with 10 percent less vehicles being sold.

Clare has bucked the trend however, with an almost 14% drop in the number of new cars sold so far this year – almost 2,700 have been bought since January, compared with 3,100 in the same period last year.

Jason Cummins of Cummins Car Centre in Ennis isn’t concerned – he says people are being more cautious ahead of the budget.

Ride-hailing companies like Uber Technologies Inc. will see demand boom between now and 2040, hobbling global auto sales growth, according to a new study from IHS Markit.

As a growing number of consumers turn to ride-hailing in shared cars that rack up more miles than personal ones, new light-vehicle sales growth will slow to a crawl. The mobility-as-a-service industry will itself buy more than 10 million cars in 2040 in the four markets examined in the study — China, Europe, India and the U.S. — compared to about 300,000 in 2017, but it won’t be enough to prevent new car sales growth from slowing “substantially,” IHS Markit said.

“A great ‘automotive paradox’— where more travel via car than ever, but fewer cars will be needed by individuals — will be a defining quality of the new automotive future,” said Daniel Yergin, IHS Markit vice chairman. “The shift is just beginning.”

Electric Demand

As would-be-drivers hail more shared rides between now and 2040, the cars they call will be changing as well. About 30 percent of new autos sold in the four key markets will be fully electric or plug-in hybrids, up from about 1 percent last year, the study found.

Consumers will take a bigger interest in electric cars as their costs drop, driven by cheaper battery packs. Right now, battery packs costs about $200 per kilowatt hour, said Tom De Vleesschauwer, transport and mobility practice leader at IHS Markit. Carmakers need to get costs down to about $100 per kilowatt hour to be competitive with a gasoline-powered car, IHS Markit said, forecasting price parity in the 2030s.

But just because electrification is on the rise doesn’t mean oil’s going away. Although oil will no longer have a “monopoly” as a transportation fuel, cars powered by gasoline or diesel will still make up about 62 percent of new car sales in 2040 in the study’s four key markets, down from 98 percent last year.

Cars with an internal combustion engine will still comprise a majority of new car sales in 2040, especially as hybrids gain in popularity, IHS Markit said.

“The automotive future will be defined by transformation unlike anything we’ve seen since the dawn of the automotive age,” De Vleesschauwer said. “Still our analysis shows that there will be much that looks familiar, even in 2040.”

This article was written by Joe Ryan and David Welch from Bloomberg and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network. Please direct all licensing questions to .

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Photo Credit: An image from Uberpool. growth in ridehailing companies will reportedly hit global car sales. Uber