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Business Observer Friday, Nov. 15, 2019 3 weeks ago

Economic Forecast 2020: Auto Sales 

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Steve Bierwirth, president of Bob Boast Volkswagen 
by: Grier Ferguson Sarasota-Manatee Editor

Auto Sales

Steve Bierwirth

President

Bob Boast Volkswagen, Bradenton

Company:

Bob Boast Volkswagen in Bradenton sells new, used and certified pre-owned Volkswagens. (Pre-owned is a different price point and category than used.) “So far 2019 has been a positive year for us,” says President Steve Bierwirth. “We’ve seen some growth.” The dealership has seen a year-over-year uptick in all three categories of cars it sells. Typically, Bierwirth says, when it sells more new cars, used cars follow that trend because new car sales provide a venue to acquire more used cars through trade-ins.

Opportunities:

The biggest opportunities ahead for Bob Boast Volkswagen are new models rolling out in 2020, Bierwirth says. If everything goes as planned, he anticipates four new models. “There’s nothing more fun than a great new car rollout,” he says. “When you debut a new vehicle, it creates a lot of enthusiasm, fun and excitement.” Bierwirth expects a new electric vehicle to be introduced in the third or fourth quarter of 2020. “It’s a brand new venue for us — certainly one that’s growing in popularity,” he says. “We’re also going to be bringing in two different SUVs next year as well.” Bob Boast Volkswagen has a service and parts business, too, another area where Bierwirth sees big growth potential. As the Volkswagen brand continues to grow in popularity, he says, “There’s a huge opportunity there.” 

Threats:

A core challenge for Bob Boast Volkswagen is hiring qualified technicians — an industry and nationwide issue, says Bierwirth. “It’s something we’re all in the hunt for,” he says. “We're in a typically constant mode of reviewing applications for technicians.” Bierwirth doesn’t consider companies such as Carvana, with its buzzed-about car vending machines, a threat. “Particularly because they thrive strictly on used cars,” he says. One potential threat comes from outside the auto industry altogether — in 2020, the nation’s attention will be focused on the race for the White House. “Obviously we always concern ourselves with the election year,” he says. For one, marketing gets more costly. “You’re trying to compete with all of the political parties,” he says. “Whether it’s radio time, television time, whatever it might be, even pay-per-clicks online, it all gets a little more expensive.” Despite the election, Bierwirth expects another growth year ahead. He says, “We’re very optimistic.”

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