ALL OF Europe's full-line carmakers are over-hauling their dealer networks to make them more efficient and profitable.
Lean distribution is the last great competitive frontier. The volume automaker that gets there first will reap huge rewards.
Volkswagen has just finished downsizing its European network. Now it is asking dealers to invest heavily to raise the quality of outlets. Ford is pushing its UK retail reorganization into other countries. The other volume carmakers are in various stages of upgrading their dealer bodies.
There have been surprisingly few complaints from the dealers themselves about the retail revolution across Europe. They understand. After all, their profitability is appalling. The industry growth that has been on hold since 1992 will not happen until that fact changes.