According to a New Cox Automotive Analysis, Ford and Mercedes are at the Top of the Class for Dealers

Ford and Mercedes-Benz scored the maximum grade in their class in a Cox Automotive analysis of the benefits brought to dealers by their brands.

According to the analysis, Ford tallied four A’s and two A-minuses and collected enough bonus points to outrank Toyota at the top of the non-luxury ranking. The only imperfection for Mercedes on the luxury report card was an A-minus as it scarcely topped Lexus. Cox’s Retail Brand Scorecards Study, compiled in conjunction with Automotive News, measures a brand’s performance primarily through surveys and online participation on Cox-branded websites.

Cox used a classroom-style evaluation in six categories to give each brand an overall grade-point average. Extra points were added and subtracted for “geographic consistency” in delivering share across market areas and the probability of dealers to report difficulties in dealing with their manufacturers. As with students in classrooms, brands may outshine in some subjects but not others. Tesla, for example, got one A-plus for the quality of its customers and another for their perception of the brand. Unfortunately, the electric vehicle maker drew an F for its product range and was also penalized because of its geographical limits. Overall, Tesla ranked just above Jaguar at the bottom of the luxury chart.

Yet Mitsubishi, came up to an A-minus for the newness of its products. But it finished at the bottom of the non-luxury class thanks to F’s in traffic, loyalty and product range.

As far as brands that were able to earn extra credit, Chevrolet garnered points for its market-share balance across the U.S. This distinction is a major plus to potential buyers of a dealership, Cox says. Conversely, Chevrolet also ranked as one of the industry’s worst performers when it comes to franchised dealers citing automaker mandates and restrictions that hold back business.

Audi and GMC were considered the most likely to have such complaint-inducing issues with factories, while Honda and VW were least likely. Those figures were assimilated into the Brand Scorecards from Cox’s quarterly Dealer Sentiment Index.

All luxury brands and many of the non-luxury brands earned A-level grades for drawing the best customers — those who frequently purchase new vehicles at the same dealership and obtain financing and service repairs in-house.

“The people who scored highest on best customers, quite literally much of their sales are to the people who do all those behaviors,” Cox says.