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Stand-alone Mini store opens for business

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The Birchwood Auto Group's new stand-alone Mini showroom opened for business at the beginning of May.

The Minis had shared space with its sister BMW store at the the Pointe West AutoPark off Portage Ave. just past the Perimeter. With BMW having moved to its new building at the AutoPark, the showroom has been redesigned specifically for the Mini line.

The new Mini showroom was designed to be a "fun space". It's predominantly black -- the manufacturer's preferred colour -- with neon orange, green and yellow highlights.

Sales rep Steven Weber said the redesigned 2014 Mini is new to the showroom, with 13 more horsepower and 48 more lb.-ft. of torque than its predecessor.

"This is a completely different model than its predecessor -- it's taller, wider and longer," he said.

Fuel efficiency is 25-per-cent better, acceleration from 0 to 100 km/h is 2.5 seconds faster and traffic noise has been cut by 50 per cent, Weber noted. The centre dashboard has been replaced by a Media Connect system behind the steering wheel.

And the Cooper's base price has been lowered by $3,000 to $20,990 (plus freight and pdi).

"The new Cooper is selling like hot cakes," Weber said. "We sold three of our first four in just the first three days."

Newly-Arrived Hyundai Genesis has AWD

With its redesigned 2015 Genesis, Hyundai has included AWD as standard equipment for the first time.

"With AWD, Genesis is now on par with every other full-sized luxury model," said Gerald Boiteau, Winnipeg Hyundai's general manager. "For most of my career in auto sales, I sold luxury vehicles. It's nice to be able to offer a luxury model."

The new top-line Genesis, just arrived in dealer showrooms, boasts a 5L V8 engine with 8-speed automatic transmission. Boiteau also cited the car's new front end with Genesis logo, leather seating, analog clock on the dash, touch screen with satellite navigation, panoramic sunroof, Lexicon stereo system (same as in the Rolls Royce) and blind-spot monitoring.

"The car will automatically stop if you are too close to another car," Boiteau noted.

Although local dealer showrooms now have one example of each trim-level, Boiteau said Winnipeg Hyundai has already pre-sold Genesis models, adding the dealership will bhost an official Genesis launch at a golf course in July.

Also new to Winnipeg Hyundai are sales rep Nathanial Foster and general sales manager Jim Mann Baxter, who has been in auto sales for the past 15 years and in management for the last 10. He said it was the opportunity to work with Boiteau and dealer-principal Chris Daman that attracted him to the dealership.

"Hyundai also has a great line of products," he added.

Foster has been in auto sales for eight years and worked with Baxter at his previous store.

Internet sales, social media top MMDA agenda

How to increase your presence on social media and grow Internet sales were the twin focuses of the 2014 Manitoba Motor Dealers Association's annual conference, held May 8 and 9 this year at the Hilton Hotel in Winnipeg.

"We had a lot of tips from speakers to do with using social media," said MMDA president Kent Ledingham, of Ledingham GM in Steinbach. "That's what dealers are trying to wrap their heads around."

Among the speakers were Automotivators Internet sales process specialist Vic Kovacs; Shane Gibson, author of "Sociable! How Social Media is Turning Sales and Marketing Upside Down"; Joe Webb, founder of Dealer Knows Consulting; DrivingSales University's Ron Henson, on "Bridging the Gap Between Today's Customer and Traditional Dealership Marketing"; and Niel Hiscox, president of Universus Media Group, who stressed the growing impact of video in the auto business.

Ledingham also recognized auto industry executives Tim Reuss, the CEO and President of Mercedes-Benz Canada, and Al McCormick, Ford Canada's vice-president of sales, both of whom participated in a group discussion on opportunities and challenges facing the industry.

During the evening, the MMDA also recognized the Industrial Alliance Insurance Group as the Associate of the Year.

"It was a great conference," Ledingham said. "We had a lot of positive comments from people."


Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition May 30, 2014 F5

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