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Buick, GMC Feeling Good About 2017

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Whether you were aware of it or not, few auto brands had a better 2016 than Buick did. In fact, according to Robert Morris III, chairman of the Buick-GMC National Dealer Council, the accolades that GMC is racking up, in addition to the new customers they are attracting, has completely changed the company from just a few years ago.

A few highlights from the previous year include Buick becoming the first Detroit 3 brand to rank in the top three on Consumer Reports‘ vehicle-reliability survey. Buick also ranked number one among mass-market brands on J.D. Power’s 2016 sales-satisfaction study.

Additionally, as the auto industry has experienced a push toward crossovers, SUVs, and pickups, Buick and GMC are taking full advantage of the shift. In fact, Buick alone has added three crossovers to their vehicle lineup, and GMC has overhauled the Acadia to be smaller, lighter, and more agile.

The Acadia isn’t the only vehicle model getting a makeover in 2017, though. Dealers can also expect momentum when it comes to the redesigns of the Buick Enclave and GMC Terrain.

When it comes to safety, GM has hit the ground running in 2017. Announcing their new rear seat reminder technology at the beginning of the year, GMC is determined to put an end to children accidentally being left in the backseat of vehicles, often resulting in their deaths.

By winning awards not easily won, and putting safety and new marketing programs into place, Morris believes that GMC has become the crown jewel of General Motors.

“GMC is almost the crown jewel, so to speak, of General Motors. It certainly has one of the highest brand values within General Motors. The brand equity in GMC just dominates the [hot crossover and SUV market] segment,” he said.

One of those marketing programs Morris is referring to is the Essential Brand Elements program. You may have noticed your local dealers undergoing massive renovations over the last few years to fall in line with the latest protocols from the company.

In fact, the Essential Brand Elements program has funneled more than $5 billion to dealers nationwide since 2009. In 2017, GM has no intention of getting rid of this program. This program has become essential to many dealers to help finance renovations and improve business techniques, all adding to customer satisfaction inside the dealership.

A few new elements for individuals to look out for at their local dealership include a business development center, as well as new signs for service lanes and reception areas.

If you aren’t already on the GMC train, it looks like 2017 will be the year they make believers out of everyone.

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Safety

Pushbutton Ignitions Not as Secure as They Seem

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These days, you’d be hard-pressed to find a new vehicle that doesn’t come with a pushbutton ignition. Gone are the days of digging through purses and briefcases to find car keys. With pushbutton ignitions, one simply needs to have their key fob on them to gain access to the vehicle, and start the engine.

As technology in the automotive industry continues to advance, cyber security has become a topic of significant concern. In late December, the pushbutton ignitions became the latest issue of security in our vehicles.

According to the National Insurance Crime Bureau (NICB), a “mystery device” (pictured above) has been discovered that is allowing criminals to steal vehicles with pushbutton ignitions.

The device works in two stages. First, it detects the signal from the vehicle’s key fob from a distance up to 10 feet. Then, the information is transferred to a “relay box” which allows the thief to open the doors and start the vehicle’s engine.

Having acquired the device from a third-party security expert overseas, NICB teamed up with CarMax and used the device on 35 makes and models of vehicles, successfully gaining entry into 19 of them. Of those 19, they were able to start the engine and drive away in 18 vehicles, and 12 of the vehicles were even able to be restarted once the ignition was turned off. For understandable reasons, NICB is not saying what vehicle makes and models are susceptible to the device.

This “mystery device” can get around engine immobilizers, alarms, and other security devices that may be on a vehicle, meaning a criminal can climb into your car and drive it like they own it.

Without the trace of broken glass, sound of the car alarm being triggered, or evidence of an ignition key being stolen, there is no way for the vehicle owner to know that their car has been taken. This also means that NICB does not know how many vehicles have been stolen using the mystery device.

NICB President and CEO Joe Wehrle said, “The scary part is that there’s no warning or explanation for the owner. Unless someone catches the crime on a security camera, there’s no way for the owner or the police to really know what happened. Many times, they think the vehicle has been towed.”

While this mystery device seems to only work on new generation pushbutton ignition cars, the NICB say there are numerous devices that operate similarly that are being marketed to thieves. They believe that different devices work on different ignition systems and likely use different technology, putting all pushbutton vehicles at risk.

So where does this leave us? NICB spokesman Roger Morris explained that auto manufacturers must be diligent in making sure they adapt their pushbutton technology to counter these devices. However, he also noted that thieves will do the same with their technology in response.

As for vehicle owners, Morris suggests they keep valuable items out of their vehicles, keep their key fob on them at all times, and park in secure or crowded areas as often as possible.

NICB COO Jim Schweitzer was quoted saying, “The manufacturers have made tremendous strides with their technology, but now they have to adapt and develop countermeasures as threats like this surface.” Let’s hope all manufacturers hear that message loud and clear.

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