Mopar Aims at Bigger Piece of Dealer Service Action

A strategic tie-up with Italy’s Magneti Marelli and Shell Lubricants will allow Mopar to provide service parts for competitively branded vehicles.

David E. Zoia

April 13, 2011

3 Min Read
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CENTER LINE, MI – Chrysler Group’s 2,311 U.S. dealers service some 2.6 million vehicles from other brands each year, and the auto maker’s Mopar parts arm wants in on the business.

Announcing a new strategic alliance with parent Fiat’s Magneti Marelli components group and Shell Lubricants, Mopar says it will begin offering replacement parts and service for all General Motors, Ford, Toyota, Honda, Nissan, Hyundai and Kia vehicles through Chrysler, Dodge, Jeep and Fiat dealers.

Coupled with Chrysler’s own brands, the tie-up gives Mopar the ability to service 85% of the vehicles on U.S. roads, says Mopar President and CEO Pietro Gorlier.

As part of its assault on the aftermarket business, Chrysler is pushing more of its dealers to offer service on Saturday and is beginning to lobby for Sunday hours, as well, Gorlier says.

Currently, about 72% of dealers are open on Saturday, up from 60% in 2009, and Chrysler’s goal is to reach 80% by year’s end, the Mopar chief says, a penetration he believes is optimum.

“And we’re starting to address Sunday,” Gorlier adds. “I don’t see any reason not to have Sunday service hours. Ninety percent of (independent) quick-oil-change facilities are open on Sunday, so our customers want that.”

Leading the charge to Sunday service, Mopar’s customer call center that provides technical support to vehicle owners will be open seven days a week beginning this weekend.

The tie-up with Magneti Marelli adds 3,000 new parts into the Mopar portfolio to service competitive-branded vehicles. Shell Lubricants will supply Penzoil and Shell Rotella motor oils for distribution through Mopar to dealers who sign up for the program.

“I don’t see any reason not to have Sunday service hours.”

Gorlier declines to forecast how much revenue might be added to the Mopar coffers by servicing other brands. But the scheme represents entirely new business for the parts arm.

“Our dealers service 2.6 million of these vehicles and we don’t sell a single dime to that,” he says. “We just need to get dealers to switch to Mopar parts (for this business). We think it has nice potential.”

Because dealers already are servicing many of the non-Chrysler makes, they won’t need to do anything special to switch to the Mopar parts stream, though Gorlier says Mopar is prepared to offer additional technician training if needed.

Mopar also is continuing to roll out its Express Lane 15-minute oil change service to its sales network. Some 600 dealers, or about 25% of its total retailers, are offering that now, “and we are going to build on that,” Gorlier says.

The target is for 80% of dealers to house Express Lane operations, as well, he adds, but notes that probably is not achievable before 2014 because some facility investment is required. “That’s not as easy as just being open on Saturday.”

Dealers who add Express Lane average a 50% increase in their retail service business within the first six months and double their oil-change business in the first year, the auto maker says.

Chrysler also is beginning talks with some dealers about setting up satellite service operations in strategic areas away from showrooms, the Mopar executive says, though he doesn’t put a timetable on when the first of those facilities could break ground.

“We’re asking our dealers to do a lot right now,” he notes.

All the new aftermarket initiatives represent a big opportunity for Chrysler’s dealers to retain customers and bolster revenues, Gorlier says.

“There are 37 independent repair shops for every Chrysler (Group) dealer,” he says. “Every dealer is surrounded by people eating their lunch. We want to be the 1-stop shop for all brands.”

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