A week ago, we learned that AutoNation, the largest dealership group in North America, had signed a multi-year agreement with Waymo, the self-driving vehicle arm of Alphabet Inc., Google’s parent company. Under that agreement, AutoNation will provide service and maintenance to the autonomous Chrysler Pacifica minivans Waymo will have on public roads shortly. As Waymo adds more models and brands to its fleet, AutoNation will service those as well.
This gives AutoNation’s dealerships a toehold in the retail environment of the future. While few of us agree with Bob Lutz’s assessment that the dealership model as we know it will be gone in 20 years, we all know that it is already changing. In 20 years, there will still be individual buyers of retail vehicles, but far fewer of them.
AutoNation is getting ahead of the curve with its Waymo agreement. And where AutoNation has gone, I expect others will follow. The question is how many such arrangements the market of the future will sustain.
This week I profile a family-owned auto group that has already made changes in its business model to face another threat to the auto retail environment as we know it – employee turnover.
The Walser Auto Group abandoned the commission compensation model in favor of guaranteed income and other changes that made it more in line with Fortune 500 firms, the CEO Andrew Walser tells me. The group is poised for fast expansion. Read my profile to learn more.
When we hear buy sell agreement, we generally think of a transaction that is already underway. But buy sell agreements can be useful for multi-owner dealerships even if a change isn’t imminent. Read our column from Crowe Horwath to see why.
We also have, naturally, Transaction News.