Stellantis boss on late dealer bonus payments, cars stuck at ports and agency sales delay

  • Exclusive video interview with Stellantis boss Maria Grazia Davino (above)
  • She speaks out about late payment of bonuses to dealers
  • Boss insists she is tackling problems getting cars out of ports

Time 6:15 am, July 4, 2024

Stellantis will delay agency sales to at least 2027, said UK group MD Maria Grazia Davino, as she labelled problems paying out bonuses to her dealers as one of the most ‘complicated of her whole career’.

In an exclusive video interview with Car Dealer – which you can watch above – she gave an update on agency sales, tackled the issue of late payment of bonuses to her dealers and the on-going problem of cars stuck in ports.

The outspoken Italian boss also doubled down on her threat to stop producing cars and vans in the UK if the incoming UK government did not do more to help the car industry.

Stellantis dealers have complained that they have been waiting ‘months and months’ for bonuses to be paid out by the manufacturing group with little news on when the problem will be fixed.

Davino said: ‘This has been the most complicated project of my whole career. I am not where I want to be. More than 50% of the problem has been resolved but my target is 100%.

‘We’re tackling this continually and this is on my desk, not on the desk of someone else.

‘It’s a really complicated matter. It’s a mixture of procedures, processes, different legacies, changes and, in general, timing. Systems play a role and you don’t only have to solve the past but avoid it regenerating.

‘In such a big transformation you are not completely on your own but we have been very vocal as the UK as it is not only a UK problem.

‘Stellantis is ranking this problem very high and I am tackling it. I have escalated it at the highest level of the company and I am personally involved in it.’

Davino said she was frustrated by the payment delays and that she was continually working on fixing it.

‘I am very confident that I will sort it out – I will sort this out,’ she said.

Agency sales

Stellantis rowed back on its plans to introduce agency sales when Davino took over and implemented a panel of dealers and independent experts to advise on a way forward.

Davino said that has resulted in her plans changing and agency sales will not come in until ‘the start of 2027’ and when it does it will be for ‘all brands’.

‘We are still looking at it with the dealer working groups – we have already met twice and will have another meeting at the end of July – and I think we are having productive conversations,’ she said.

‘It is helping us understand what is the best set up in this country. At the moment the milestone is 2027. I realised that we needed more time to prepare.

‘Will it happen the way we have designed it one and half years ago? No, because we are learning from other’s experience and our own experience.’

Davino said the problem of customer cars being stuck in ports is something that she has been tackling personally too and she insists it has got better.

Stellantis dealers spoke privately to Car Dealer before this interview of cars still stuck in ports for months with customers forced to fork out finance payments for vehicles they haven’t even seen.

‘I am chasing single cases and I want [dealers] to tell me about them because by doing so we detect process issues,’ she said.

‘I can state clearly to you because I can demonstrate what I am saying: All the KPIs show big improvements and we are massively stabilising all the operations at the compound. Despite these negative experiences, we have massively improved.’

Directly addressing her dealers at the end of the interview, Davino also stressed the importance of working as a team.

She added: ‘First of all, thank you. Thank you for the job that you have done so far. Work hard, play hard and work hard. 

‘We need speed. I know that you expect speed from me as much as I expect speed from you.

‘The more I observe and I experience the way we can grow in business, it’s all about team performance. 

‘At all levels, all games without the team playing together fast, listening, watching after the next move, and the next score – that is always the most important one – it’s all about team performance.’

You can watch the video interview in full at the top of this post.

James Baggott's avatar

James is the founder and editor-in-chief of Car Dealer Magazine, and CEO of parent company Baize Group. James has been a motoring journalist for more than 20 years writing about cars and the car industry.

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