General Motors will introduce 15 major new products in the next two years, says William Lovejoy, the corporation's group vice president of North American sales, service and marketing.
He also says GM needs to help its dealers cultivate alternative sources of income.
Meanwhile, Mr. Lovejoy speaks of overtaking Ford in truck sales for the first time in a while. Last year, Ford truck-based vehicles outsold GM's 2.46 million units to 2.38 million.
“We have the strongest truck line-up in the industry,” says Mr. Lovejoy at a media preview of GM's 2002 model lineup. “Escalade is selling like crazy and the 2002 Envoy, Bravada and Trailblazer are selling well with extended-length versions on the way.”
A souped-up SST Silverado is being “seriously considered for future product.”
Mr. Lovejoy also says the company should help dealers find new revenue sources as margins on new-vehicle sales continue to wane.
“Dealers have to find other sources of income and we have to help them find other sources of income,” he says.
To that point, Mr. Lovejoy suggests more aggressive accessories sales, OnStar for used vehicles and sales of a new XM Radio system.
“Dealers haven't done a good job with accessories, mostly because of the set up of the dealership,” he explains, adding, “The F&I guy can make more selling life and disability insurance.”
Mr. Lovejoy says that designated salesmen or a separate accessory department should work that part of the business rather than F&I staffers selling things like upscale floor mats and truck bed liners.
To assist dealers with accessory sales, GM is “focusing on better integration of accessories during the design phase” so that they can be covered by the manufacturer's warranty.
Mr. Lovejoy says there is a lot of money to be made by outfitting used vehicles for OnStar and selling subscriptions to the service.
XM Radio is a new service that is like the commercial-free music available on digital cable and satellite TV. It'll be available on Cadillacs in 2002 and on most GM vehicles by 2004. Dealers will be able to sell and retrofit the equipment to vehicles and sell subscriptions.
Mr. Lovejoy also foresees dealers streamlining their service departments to boost profits. He likes the idea of a preferred customer service section similar to car rental companies' express operations.
He envisions customers coming into a service department after sending e-mails describing the work they want. They'd show preferred customer cards, and drop off their vehicles without waiting. They'd get loaner cars, and head out.
“It's a tough thing to mandate, but we have some dealers working on parts of it,” Mr. Lovejoy says.