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Melissa Burden

Retail reporter
Address: 1155 Gratiot Ave.
48207-2997 Detroit, Mich.
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Phone: 313-446-1637
E-Mail: mburden@crain.com
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Recent authored articles

How America's auto retail giants transformed and navigated the recession

In two tumultuous days in September 2008, Lehman Brothers and mega-insurer AIG collapsed, and Bank of America acquired Merrill Lynch, which was on the verge of sinking. The Wall Street panic and credit crunch that ensued devastated the U.S. auto industry. Apocalypse loomed. The publicly traded titans of American auto retailing were gravely exposed. One question stood above all: Could they avoid b

When a 'likable' salesman goes 'rogue'

The nation's highest-volume Porsche dealership is trying to extricate itself from a scandal involving a former employee who is accused of pocketing over $2.5 million in customer deposits on nonexistent vehicles before he disappeared last month.

Hyundai Capital moves to foreclose on stores owned by ex-NFL players

Hyundai Capital America has launched foreclosure proceedings against the owners -- auto industry veteran Michael Saporito and ex-NFL linebackers Jessie Armstead and Antonio Pierce -- of Hyundai and Kia dealerships in Pennsylvania accused of failing to repay loans.

Porsche store sues ex-salesman for taking $2.5M in deposits for nonexistent cars

UPDATED: 9/17/18 2:06 pm ET - adds copy of suit

The largest Porsche dealership in the U.S. has sued a former employee for allegedly defrauding customers of more than $2.5 million in deposits on special-order 911 GT3 and GT2 RS models that did not exist.

Pa. Hyundai, Kia dealerships seek dismissal of captive suit, arbitration

A trio of dealers accused by two automakers' captive finance arms of failing to repay floorplan loans asked a court to dismiss a lawsuit filed by Hyundai Capital America and order arbitration.

Dealerships owned by ex-NFL stars face collapse, litigation

Described as a "house of cards" in court records, a once rapidly expanding dealership group with stores in Michigan, Pennsylvania and New Jersey is now facing lawsuits from Nissan and Hyundai's captive finance arms as the survival of its stores is in question.

Michigan dealer survived by selling vehicles that GM wouldn't supply

When GM gave him 18 months to close, Karl Zimmermann bought hundreds of new cars from other dealers and continued to pay his sales staff typical commissions.

When vetting vendors, ask the right questions

With a growing number of vendors pitching products in the F&I space, experts say vetting vendors is more important than ever. And in an age when protecting personal information and cybersecurity are top concerns, doing your own homework and asking questions is key.

Digital retooling boosts F&I profits for RFJ Auto

RFJ Auto Partners uses Darwin and Darwin Online software in complete digital retooling.

California bill a limited victory for dealers

After battling with automakers since February over sweeping proposed changes to dealer franchise law, California retailers won a limited victory in the state Legislature last week -- in part by setting aside their most contentious proposals.

California Legislature passes pro-dealer bill over automaker objections

A wide-ranging bill that the California New Car Dealers Association says will strengthen laws for franchised dealers has passed the California Assembly and is headed to Gov. Jerry Brown's desk.

Sonic to pilot online financing tool

Sonic late next month will pilot an online car-buying tool that will allow customers to prequalify for financing on specific vehicles. The tool, being developed in partnership with Capital One, will start with one or two lenders and add more.

Sonic tweaks its strategy on EchoPark rooftops

Sonic Automotive Inc. is evolving its EchoPark stand-alone used-vehicle brand strategy, including the number of rooftops needed.

Auto subscriptions' next hurdle: State laws

A subscription ban in Indiana and a California proposal to make automaker subscription programs go through dealers are the first steps taken in what could be a wave of scrutiny over subscription programs in state houses across the country.

Can Mark Wahlberg Chevrolet harness its star power?

Actor Mark Wahlberg and partner Jay Feldman are adding staff and bolstering promotional tactics at their new Chevy store in Ohio as they seek to ramp up sales.

Used-vehicle prices stronger than expected

Increasing demand for used vehicles, concern over potential tariffs and tightening supplies are causing used-vehicle prices to strengthen instead of taking their normal summer dip.

New dealer Mark Wahlberg greets customers, meets staff

Actor Mark Wahlberg made his first pit stop into his namesake Chevrolet dealership in Columbus, Ohio, Monday, going on a test drive with a customer, autographing another customer's vehicle and posing for lots of selfies with staff.

Dealer throughput seen falling for third year, Urban Science reports

U.S. dealership new-vehicle throughput -- or the average number of vehicles a dealer sells per store per year -- is expected to fall for the third straight year in 2018, Urban Science said.

AutoNation, others feel Honda, BMW profit pinch

Four of the six public dealership group peers are feeling a new-vehicle profit margin squeeze driven by BMW and Honda.

Sonic opts to sell stores rather than revamp them

Sonic Automotive executives have been critical of pricey automaker dealership demands. The retailer's latest divestitures show what Sonic is doing about it.

NISSAN: 'Challenging' July as cars, trucks slide

Nissan North America's sales fell 15 percent in July to 108,792 as both car and truck deliveries slid by double-digit percentages from a year ago.

FORD: Plunge in car sales drags total down 3.3%

Ford's U.S. sales slipped 3.3 percent to 194,026 in July as car demand fell sharply and SUV and crossover sales dropped slightly from a year ago.

Canadian retailer HGreg.com expands in U.S.

A Canadian auto retailer is growing its network of used-vehicle stores in Florida, and expansion into other states could be on the horizon eventually.

Canadian retailer HGreg.com expands in U.S.

A Canadian auto retailer is growing its network of used-vehicle stores in Florida, and expansion into other states could be on the horizon eventually.

Sonic's record Q2 revenue, gross profit come with caveat

Margin pressures at BMW and Honda stores contributed to lower-than-expected second-quarter results at Sonic Automotive, though the retailer set quarterly revenue and gross-profit records.

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