Australian new car sales stalled on the grid in July - so let’s look at the soft targets with a view to you violating a car dealer in August
You might have seen this in the news:
“Holden posts worst result since July 1948 as new-car sales hit brakes in July.” - News.com.au
Which is literally untrue - Holden’s worst sales are down to closing the factory and the long-term betrayal of its customers and the Australian people more broadly. July was just another aggravating influence on Holden’s plunge to complete obscurity.
Read Uncle Rupey's report here >>
Now, apologies if you’re reading this report overseas - it's going to be somewhat parochially focussed on Shitsville, and aimed at showing you, the Shitsvillian new car buyer, exactly where the real bargains are this month.
Because, let’s face it, in the spirit of fairness, car dealers deserve to be violated, where possible, as a general guiding principle, just to balance the ledger, to recalibrate the moral compass of humanity - whatever. And it might as well be you doing the violating. Better to be the violator than the violatee.
THE CAR INDUSTRY & JUNE 30
The car industry in a nutshell: There’s typically a great deal of jizz in the boardrooms each June 30. The marketing managers reach for the tissues and pat themselves on the back - generally in that order - for dragging forward into June, all the sales that would have occurred more profitably anyway in July.
Well done. Nicely played.
Easiest job in the universe: Car company marketing director. Your job is: Spend $50 million. You give it all to the agency, go to meetings, follow the agency’s advice and fire them if sales plummet, repeat. If they offer you this job, take it. There’s no minimum IQ requirement.
THE JULY SLUMP - WORSE THAN EXPECTED
July is therefore something of a barren month, car-wise. And that certainly was the case this July - only this July just gone was worse. Almost eight per cent worse than last year. 7.8 per cent, to be precise. So that’s bad for them; good for you. Somewhat.
Passenger cars were the biggest losers, as a segment - down 20 per cent. And there, both medium and large cars were an abject disaster - no doubt exacerbated by the fall of the Holden Commodore to national ‘joke’ status.
The bargains I’ve identified are coming up, as well as showroom floor tactics that will allow you to turn the tables on a car salesman. But first - let’s talk about Holden, which drove the market down.
HOLDEN & THE 'BIG BUTTS' TURNAROUND
Big Butts (Dave Buttner), the new boss of Holden, ex-Toyota beancounter, started this month and gave a wide-ranging interview >> packed with platitudes about his plan for raising the Titanic we call ‘Holden’.
Read my report: Can Big Butts save Holden? >>
He allegedly told Uncle Rupey’s boys the following:
“I think market representation is really important for the brand.” - Holden boss Dave Buttner
Yes - quite - and I’m pretty sure breathing and a pulse is really important advice for life, too.
“We have to ensure people understand … the segments in which we have strong product.” - Holden boss Dave Buttner
That’s easy: None of them. Job done. Not once that I saw, in any report, did Big Butts address Holden’s real failures.
HOLDEN SALES, YEAR-TO-DATE JULY 2010 - JULY 2018
“We have to … work with our dealers to ensure the brand can get back to a level where it’s profitable.” - Holden boss Dave Buttner
Really? Make a profit? That’s the plan? Holden made a profit - allegedly - in 2015 >>. Paid no tax, though.
In fact, those friggin’ clowns Hoovered up billions from you and me, announced the factory closure, and then sent $150 million back to Detroit. Business as usual. That was reported in the Fin Review on January 29 last year. Check it out >> Details lodged with ASIC.
Dear ‘Strayan motoring journalist: You have to stop writing these car industry suck pieces and start asking senior executives actual tough questions. Because - I dunno - maybe that’s your friggin’ job. Anyhoo, I guess now this report is rated ‘S’ for ‘soapbox’...
Commodore sales fell almost a third compared with last July, which itself was a comparative disaster - so there’s no recovery in sight: It’s an irrelevant depreciation shitbox. Don’t waste your money - twice. (Buying it, and then losing it again when you trade it in.)
CARMAKER WINNERS & LOSERS: JULY
NEW VEHICLE SALES BY MONTH: 2018 Vs 2017
Is this a sign of increasing economic malaise? Maybe >>
Kia, Nissan and Volkswagen were the big winners in the top 10 in July - each up between about three and four per cent in a market that fell about eight. So I guess they’re feeling a bit bullish.
Here’s where it gets interesting: Toyota, Mazda, Hyundai and Mitsubishi are all down, compared with previous July, but by less than the market average. So they’re under pressure but - kinda - doing OK.
The biggest losers in the top 10 for July are Ford (down almost 13 per cent) followed by Subaru (down just over 21 per cent) and Holden (down more than 39 per cent - deservingly enough).
In my view, you simply should not buy a Ford or a Holden - just go back on your meds. Reliability: Disaster. Depreciation: Appalling. Customer support: Disgraceful. That’s both brands - Holden and Ford.
But Subaru is under pressure - so that’s good - and Subaru’s recent slump is not all just a trough awaiting the imminent launch of the new Forester. They’re having a Barry Crocker right now, and you can certainly capitalise on that. Because the last thing a dealer wants is to be overstocked.
Toyota, Hyundai, Mazda and Mitsubishi dealers are likely to be slightly overstocked as well - just not to the degree Subaru is, right now.
Among Ze Cherman luxury brands, the three-pointed swastika is down more than 15 per cent for July - and seven per cent overall this year. So there’s a chance their dark, customer-betraying hearts have already accommodated much of this slump. Overstocking is reasonably managed, in all likelihood, at your local Benz dealer.
In any case, you should not inflict a Mercedes upon yourself unless you’re spending $250k or you’re a masochist, or both. Not as well finished as an Audi, doesn’t drive as well as a BMW, and worst customer support in the luxury car business: All that to look forward to. Yesss!
Audi’s down a staggering 36 per cent - but the four-ringed monkey-spankers know they’re having a sales shocker - they’ve issued all the bullshit statements talking it up.
Gassing the monkeys was a bad idea. Having a CEO imprisoned, accused of being a kingpin in the ‘profit first; human health last’ Dieselgate scandal was a worse idea. Boxhead geniuses.
BMW is interesting though - down almost 22 per cent in July, but less than three per cent down, year-on-year. So in all probability this BMW slump has caught the Bavarian Money Wasters with their lederhausen around their ankles.
Dealers there are likely to be groaning under the strain of unshifted stock. Good for our team - and of the big three, BMW is, in my experience, the only one with a functioning moral compass when it comes to customer support - and ethics generally - so there’s that.
VEHICLES TO TARGET
If you want some specific vehicle recommendations, these decent vehicles that I routinely recommend are currently down more than double the July slump: In small cars: Subaru Impreza and Hyundai Elantra.
Medium cars - a dying segment - are almost all screwed: Hyundai Sonata and Mazda6 - both down more than 20 per cent. (But the new-model Mazda6 might be yet to factor into that equation - so take caution there.)
And if you want a wagon, Subaru Levorg - 77 per cent down in July but 13 per cent down, year-on-year. This is an awesome car - WRX wagon with an absurd name (the word ‘grovel’, backwards, please). 77 per cent. Please. Do you think there just might be a few parked out the back at dealerships, currently?
Sports cars under $80k are essentially all down - that segment is off the pace a massive 43 per cent. Shitbox Mustang (don’t crash; it’s a death trap, but cool) almost 41 per cent down, Mazda MX-5: almost 56 per cent off the pace, and Toyota 86 down almost 36 per cent.
For small SUVs, Subaru XV is down over 29 per cent. CX-3 is down more than 13 per cent. No real opportunities in medium SUVs - Tucson and Forester are both down, but they’re in run-out mode, virtually.
In large SUVs, CX-9 is a standout opportunity. 24 per cent down in July, nine per cent down, year on year. There’s likely overstocking there. Everything else in large SUVs is either a shitheap selling badly (Everest, Trailblazer, Fortuner) or selling quite well, and on the up (Santa Fe, Pajero Sport, Kluger).
HOW TO BEAT A CAR SALESMAN
Having detained you here sufficiently - before I let you go, remember this: A desperate dealer will not run out onto the showroom floor, reach for his sword and gut himself for your financial benefit.
You have to gut him. Remember: Balance of probabilities: He’s a scheming, lying bastard who will misrepresent his underlying desperation to you if he thinks he can get away with it.
Often, this is quite successful.
A cocky, swaggering, pushy bastard on the outside. A seething mass of desperation inside. Successfully schizophrenic.
To get at the truth here, you could commission a Spanish inquisition, or, alternatively, just ask if they have the car you want in stock, ready to go. If they answer ‘yes’ - you know the dealer has paid for the car already. On credit.
Holding that stock is therefore burning a hole in his underpants. Just like your ex-wife holding a magnifying glass, with you staked out at midday, over an ants nest in the desert. Good times.
Then, all you must do, with steely resolve, is make an atrociously low offer, and walk away if that sales executive does not go for it. It takes significant strength for many people to make the offer and walk - but it’s one of the strongest moves you can make.
Perversely, for many people, the desire to be liked, to appear co-operative, usurps the desire to operate in your own commercial best interest.
My advice here: Harden the hell up. Look at yourself in the mirror. You can do this. It’s a commercial transaction. It’s just money and a product. You don’t have to like each other - in fact, it’s better if you don’t. If he gets you to want him to like you, that’s just leverage.
Make a lowball offer and walk if he does not go for it. You don’t have to be an arsehole about it - just thank him for his time, express regret that you couldn’t get together on the price. Tell him how much you like the car.
Give him your number. Tell him the offer is good for the rest of the week - if you don’t buy something else first. That’s a great way to put him under pressure to transact - I’ve done this, wearing a hidden camera, on prime-time national TV, back when TV was still a thing. It works.
You can do this. It’s the second week of August now. If you’re in the market for a new car, use the next couple of weeks for research - test drives, whatever.
If you test drive, remember that going to a car dealership is stepping into the danger zone. You just want a taste test. He wants to stitch you up - to gut you on the spot. He’s an ambush predator in a suit. Do not sign a contract of pay a deposit.
Have a game plan - wear your ballistic armour, front and back - do not get shot in the chest on the showroom floor. Your mission is: Don’t get stitched up. The golden rules: You’ve got the gold - make the rules. Be in charge.
If his lips are moving and air is emerging, it’s not a good deal for you. It’s just bullshit o’clock. Again. Still. Don’t sign; don’t pay. ‘Mate - I’m just here doing research today. I’ll come back later if I want the car.’ Pile the pressure back on him.
Don’t feel bad about doing this. Next to hyper-critical YouTube trolls and Trump voters, car salesmen are a sub-human species. It’s OK to enjoy this. It’s a sport. Live a little.
Quick shout out to all you car salesman: Thanks for reading all the way to the end. I’ll count the dislikes, to keep track of you. Feel free to have a vent in the comments feed below. I kinda like that.