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Wednesday, April 2, 2008 RSSSEND TO A FRIENDPRINT
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At a Glance...
Top Stories
US Auto Sales Fall in March
Lenders Ease the Throttle on Car Loans
Pumping Up Hydrogen Cars
Jump Start
Nissan to Focus on Low-Emission Cars, Challenging Toyota, Honda
Chrysler to Continue Zero Percent Financing
Ford Reshuffles Global Exec Ranks
Video Report: NADA Convention Returns to the Birthplace of Jazz
NADA Update
2009 Convention Workshop Proposals Now Being Accepted
Dealer Executive Education Students Complete First Week
Inflation-Adjusted Penalties for Violations of Odometer Laws Now in Effect
NHTSA Publishes 2008 Insurance Cost Information Booklet for Car Dealers
Lenovo Offers NADA Members Discount on Thinkpad Notebooks
Top Stories
US Auto Sales Fall in March

DETROIT -- Sales dropped by double digits in March, even for usual stalwarts like Toyota. And with fragile consumer confidence, falling home values, tightening credit and high energy prices, it may be some time before auto sales recover. General Motors and Chrysler both reported a 19 percent drop in U.S. sales on Tuesday. Ford's sales fell 14 percent and Toyota was down 10 percent compared with last March. Nissan fell 4 percent and Honda reported a 3 percent drop. GM remained upbeat, saying demand is building up and the federal economic stimulus package could help boost sales in the second half of the year.
Source: 
The Associated Press

Lenders Ease the Throttle on Car Loans

Even Buyers With Good Credit Face Some Tougher Terms...
The credit crunch, having knocked around the American home, is now rolling into the garage. Even as the Federal Reserve slashes interest rates, it's getting tough for many consumers to find attractive terms on auto loans. Many lenders are making fewer loans and instituting stricter standards on loans they do approve, often requiring higher credit scores, making smaller loans and demanding bigger down payments. GMAC Financial Services tightened lending standards three times last year, and firms like AmeriCredit Corp. and Sovereign Bancorp Inc. have recently raised the minimum credit score required for borrowers to avoid an automatic rejection of their car-loan application. Where you live can make a difference. Some lenders are applying especially tough standards for borrowers in states hard-hit by the housing crisis, such as California and Nevada.
Source: 
The Wall Street Journal(Subscription required.)

Pumping Up Hydrogen Cars

GM Exec to Push for More Filling Stations
General Motors Corp.'s leading proponent of hydrogen fuel-cell vehicles will challenge the energy industry and governments to commit to developing a public hydrogen fueling infrastructure when he addresses the National Hydrogen Association's annual conference in Sacramento, Calif., today. In his keynote address to the conference aimed at ramping up commercialization of hydrogen, GM Vice President of Research & Development and Strategic Planning Larry Burns is expected to urge cooperation from government and the energy industry and to outline GM's proposed plan for establishing hydrogen fueling stations first in small numbers in and around a few major cities and over time connecting cities to one another along main arteries. "The automobile industry has reached a critical juncture in our journey to realize the full potential of hydrogen fuel cell-electric vehicles," Burns is expected to say as part of his prepared remarks. "We have now reached a point where the energy industry and governments must pick up their pace so we can continue to advance in a timely manner."
Source:  The Detroit Free Press

Jump Start

GM may yet beat Toyota in plug-in cars, but its breakneck development pace is fraught with risk
At a General Motors research laboratory in Warren, Mich. engineers are simulating real-life wear and tear on a pair of prototype batteries that lie at the heart of GM's riskiest technological gamble ever. GM is working feverishly to prove that one or both of these lithium-ion batteries will be capable of powering a hybrid car for up to 40 miles without burning any gasoline, that they're safe and that they can last ten years and 150,000 miles. Today's hybrids use a wimpy battery by comparison, and they can't be plugged in for recharging. By spring GM aims to road test the batteries in prototype versions of its forthcoming plug-in, the Chevrolet Volt. GM is sprinting to get the Volt to market by 2010 to claim first bragging rights in what it sees as a critical industry shift: the electrification of the automobile.
Source:  Forbes.com

Nissan to Focus on Low-Emission Cars, Challenging Toyota, Honda

Nissan Motor Co., Japan's third-largest automaker, will focus on developing low-emissions vehicles over the next five years to challenge rivals Toyota Motor Co. and Honda Motor Co. The company's new mid-term business plan, which started yesterday, also includes an emphasis on emerging markets, spokesman Sadayuki Hamaguchi said by phone today. Nissan ... plans to introduce the lower-emission cars in the U.S. and Japan in 2010. The company is also competing in China, Russia and India where economic growth is spurring demand for automobiles.
Source:  Bloomberg News

Chrysler to Continue Zero Percent Financing

Chrysler LLC said on Tuesday it would continue to offer customers zero percent financing in April and cut production if necessary as the embattled No. 3 U.S. automaker struggles with sluggish consumer demand. Chrysler, the most aggressive of the major automakers in discounting at its dealerships, said it would offer zero percent financing for up to five years for 2008 models and six years for remaining 2007 models. It also said it would reach out to less credit-worthy borrowers. "It's not business as usual for customers. It requires something extra for consumers to go out of their way to consider a major purchase like a vehicle," Michael Manley, executive vice president of international sales and marketing, said on a conference call.
Source:  Reuters

Ford Reshuffles Global Exec Ranks

Automaker aims to save cash, speed development in revamp described as the final step to 'One Ford'
Ford Motor Co. is reorganizing the top ranks of its product development and purchasing groups worldwide to cut costs, improve quality and accelerate the introduction of new cars and trucks. The Dearborn automaker is also designating new engineering centers that will be responsible for the global development of key components, including engines and chassis. Ford is expected to announce the moves today, but details were outlined in internal documents obtained by The Detroit News. The restructuring is part of CEO Alan Mulally's effort to forge one global Ford from the company's disparate regional structures. "This is all about 'One Ford.' This is the final step in that process," said Derrick Kuzak, Ford's global product development chief. "The aim is to improve the simplicity of our organization, which allows us to drive better efficiency, better costs and better quality for our customers."
Source:  The Detroit News

Video Report: NADA Convention Returns to the Birthplace of Jazz

Continuing a long-standing NADA tradition, the convention returns to New Orleans in 2009. "People who haven't been back to New Orleans in a while will really be in for a treat," said Kelly Schulz of the New Orleans Convention and Visitors Bureau. More than $400 million has gone into hotel renovations, and the convention center itself has undergone more than $60 million in renovations. There are a ton of new restaurants and the convention center looks better than it did when it first opened, Schulz said. Tourism and conventions lead the local economy and NADA's return to the "birthplace of jazz" will lend a critical boost to the city's rebuilding efforts. New Orleans first hosted the NADA convention in 1975.
 Click here to view a NADA-TV report on New Orleans.

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NADA Update
2009 Convention Workshop Proposals Now Being Accepted

Proposals are now being accepted for speakers who are interested in presenting a workshop at the 2009 NADA Convention & Exposition in New Orleans January 24-27. To download the proposal, go to www.nada.org/workshops. Please read through the entire application before submitting. Completed proposals should be postmarked by midnight, April 25, 2008.  For more information, contact NADA Management Education at (703) 821-7227 or workshops@nada.org.

Dealer Executive Education Students Complete First Week

The first 25 students enrolled in NADA's new Executive Education program at Babson College have completed their initial week of classes. Among the 25 students who make up the program's charter class, NADA Dealer Candidate Academy graduates account for 17 students, five are Canadians and three are truck dealers. Students met from March 16-21 at Babson's executive education campus in Wellesley, Mass., for instruction on "Leading in a Dynamic Environment." The week's lessons laid the groundwork for further discussions on leadership, management and entrepreneurship, says Dealer Academy Director Allan Jones. The same 25 students will return to Babson College's campus for a second session June 16-20 to focus on "Developing Strategies for Innovation and Growth."

The second group of Executive Education students will begin classes on Sept. 21. For more information on NADA's Executive Education program at Babson College or to download an application, visit www.DealerExecEd.org.

Inflation-Adjusted Penalties for Violations of Odometer Laws Now in Effect

NHTSA’s inflation adjustment to certain maximum penalties for violations of the odometer laws went into effect on March 26, 2008. The maximum penalty for a single violation of the odometer tampering and disclosure requirements has increased from $2,200 to $3,200. For detailed information on odometer law responsibilities, download NADA's Dealer Guide to Federal Odometer Law.

NHTSA Publishes 2008 Insurance Cost Information Booklet for Car Dealers

The 2008 insurance cost information booklet that all car dealers must make available to prospective purchasers is now available.

Pursuant to 49 CFR 582.4, all car dealers must make available to prospective purchasers booklets that include comparative information regarding differences in vehicle collision loss experience that could affect auto insurance costs. Each year the National Highway Traffic and Safety Administration (NHTSA) produces a new version of this booklet.

According to the Federal Register, NHTSA is mailing a copy of the 2008 booklet to each dealer that the Department of Energy uses to distribute the “Gas Mileage Guide.” Dealers who do not receive a copy of the booklet by April 1 should contact NHTSA’s Office of International Policy, Fuel Economy, and Consumer Programs at (202) 366-0846 to receive a copy of the booklet.

Dealers may also obtain a copy of the booklet through the NHTSA web site at http://www.nhtsa.gov/.   NADA suggests a copy of the guide be kept readily available and that it be reproduced for customers upon request.

Lenovo Offers NADA Members Discount on Thinkpad Notebooks

NADA members can save three ways during the month of April:

  • Instant savings with discounted Web pricing
  • Save even more with your NADA discount
  • Extra savings with eCoupon USXSAVE4SPRING at checkout

To take advantage of these savings, visit www.nada.org/ProductsServices/Technology, click on "PC Purchase Program" (member log-in required), then click on Lenovo, or call 800-426-7235. Enter eCoupon USXSAVE4SPRING at checkout for your cumulative discount. Free ground shipping is offered on all Web orders! Visit the Web site often for special limited-time eCoupons.

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Quotable
 
"The automobile industry has reached a critical juncture in our journey to realize the full potential of hydrogen fuel cell-electric vehicles. We have now reached a point where the energy industry and governments must pick up their pace so we can continue to advance in a timely manner."
    -- GM Vice President of Research & Development and Strategic Planning Larry Burns said in a written statement,
The Detroit Free Press, April 2

"It's not business as usual for customers. It requires something extra for consumers to go out of their way to consider a major purchase like a
vehicle."
    -- Michael Manley, Chrysler LLC executive vice president of international sales and marketing, said of the sluggish automobile market,
Reuters, April 2
Video Reports
 
April is Automotive Career Month. Learn About Careers in the Auto Industry

 Learn about careers in the auto industry. 

 NADA/USA Today Innovation Award Goes to "Green" Dealership in Vermont.
 NADA Convention Heads to New Orleans in 2009.
 NADA Foundation Contributes to Canine Companions for Independence.
 2008 Convention Highlights

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