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April 3, 2008 RSSSEND TO A FRIENDPRINT
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At a Glance...
Top Stories
Carmakers Fight Fuel Rules State by State
EPA is Sued for Answers on Emissions
Smaller, Fuel-Efficient Vehicles Driving Sales
March Auto Drop Paced by Lighter Showroom Traffic
Toyota, Japanese Carmakers Cut Recalls to Least in Five Years
Japan Says Toyota Got No Money for Prius
Ford Revamps Engineering Centers to Speed Up Product Development
GM Has Final Volt Design; Battery Still a Challenge
Opinion: It's Not Easy Being Green
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
Carmakers Fight Fuel Rules State by State

Industry hopes to convince them not to adopt Calif.'s tougher emissions regulations
The Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers  ... is trying to convince states not to adopt California's emissions rules, which are stricter than federal regulations and would require a 30 percent reduction in tailpipe emissions by 2016. That would force automakers to build cars that average 43.7 miles per gallon and light trucks that average 27 mpg. At least 20 states have already adopted California's standards or are considering doing so. Since the beginning of the year, Dave McCurdy, CEO of the auto alliance and a former Democratic congressman from Oklahoma, has met with the governors of Utah, Wyoming, Minnesota, New Hampshire and Montana, as well as numerous state legislators. "We've anted up. The wedding band is there, the car keys are there, the house mortgage," McCurdy said, noting the billions automakers are spending to meet the new standards. "We're all in." But automakers contend that allowing states to impose their own standards would lead to a patchwork of regulations, requiring state-by-state compliance. They say such an approach could force them to stop selling some vehicles in some states.
Source:  The Detroit News

EPA is Sued for Answers on Emissions

Officials from 18 states and several environmental groups sued the Environmental Protection Agency yesterday in an effort to force the administration to determine whether greenhouse-gas emissions are endangering public health. The plaintiffs said the agency is ignoring a year-old Supreme Court ruling that the federal government has legal authority under the Clean Air Act to control carbon dioxide emissions from vehicles. They asked the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia to compel the EPA to act within 60 days. "What we have is an environmental agency acting completely contrary to its essential mission and duty," said California Attorney General Edmund G. "Jerry" Brown Jr. (D) in a telephone news conference.
Source:  The Washington Post

Smaller, Fuel-Efficient Vehicles Driving Sales

With vehicle sales down, new car buyers seem to be gravitating toward smaller, fuel-efficient, environmentally friendly vehicles. High gasoline prices, coupled with escalated home energy costs, are taking some of the purchasing power out of household budgets, according to National Automobile Dealers Association chief Economist Paul Taylor. “Because the economy’s slower and energy costs of all types are taking money out of the budget, we are losing a few sales,” Taylor said. “We expect sales to drop about three percent this year, compared to last year.” Of all makes and models combined, 16.1 million new vehicles were sold last year. Despite less disposable household income, certain vehicles continue to sell well, according to Taylor. Statistics show hybrids, cross-over utility vehicles and lower small-size models remain popular. Sales of the environmentally friendly hybrids are up about 39 percent from 2006 to 2007.
Source:  The Williamsport SunGazette

March Auto Drop Paced by Lighter Showroom Traffic

U.S. auto sales fell more than analysts expected in March as shoppers deserted dealer showrooms in the second half and fewer who looked at vehicles bought them, an automotive research firm said. Customer traffic at U.S. dealerships plummeted 30 percent in the last two weeks of the month, while completed sales dropped almost 20 percent, CNW Marketing Research Inc. said today in a report. Buyers aged 45 to 55, considered the "backbone of new-vehicle acquisitions" because they usually make up 65 percent of shoppers at dealerships, accounted for only 41 percent of showroom traffic in March, the company said. Sales of cars outpaced light trucks for the first time since May 2002, according to industry analysis firm Autodata Corp. in Woodcliff Lake, N.J.
Source:  Bloomberg News

Toyota, Japanese Carmakers Cut Recalls to Least in Five Years

Toyota Motor Corp. ... and other Japanese automakers cut domestic recalls to the lowest level in five years as they stepped up efforts to improve quality. Japan's auto and motorcycle recalls for the year ended March 31 fell 39 percent to 4.27 million from 6.97 million the previous year, the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism said in a statement today. Toyota, which sells four out of every 10 vehicles in Japan, cut its recalls by 37 percent and Nissan Motor Co. slashed its recalls by 56 percent. Japan's automakers strengthened quality controls after recalls surged in the prior three years.
Source:  Bloomberg News

Japan Says Toyota Got No Money for Prius

TOKYO -- Toyota says it got no Japanese government money to develop the Prius gas-electric hybrid vehicle. Chrysler says it did -- or at least got a lot of support. The trans-Pacific controversy started with a March 24 Business Week report that quoted Jim Press, vice chairman and president of Chrysler LLC and a former board member at Toyota, as saying, "The Japanese government paid for 100 percent of the development of the battery and hybrid system that went into the Toyota Prius." Toyota denied the report -- and the Japanese government backs Toyota's account. Toyota got a bit of a perk from a government rebate for Prius buyers, who each got 250,000 yen ($2,400) in cash, according to the ministry. The subsidy program started in 1998, dropped gradually to 100,000 yen ($970) per buyer in 2006, and ended last year. The Prius first went on sale in 1997. Chrysler overnight defended Press, who worked for 37 years at Toyota before leaving for Chrysler last September. In a statement on Chrysler's media blog, it said Press "was not speaking negatively of Toyota" but "referenced the close cooperation between the Japanese government and Japanese industry."
Source:  The Associated Press

Ford Revamps Engineering Centers to Speed Up Product Development

DETROIT -- Ford Motor Co. is reorganizing its design and engineering centers in a move to make the company more global while speeding vehicle development. The engineering centers, located in different regions throughout the world, will be responsible for development of such components as engines and chassis... Ford will also assemble joint product-development and purchasing teams around the world with responsibility for the company's core engineering and purchasing functions. The expansion of the engineering centers mirrors an effort being undertaken by Chrysler LLC and underscores how the automakers, which generate the bulk of their sales in the U.S., are pushing for a more global view throughout the organizations. Under the plan, North America teams will be responsible for electrical and body engineering for vehicles world-wide, as well as select powertrains such as V-6 and V-8 engines, hybrids and automatic transmissions. European teams will be responsible for chassis engineering, and certain powertrains, including four-cylinder gasoline and diesel engines, and manual transmissions. Asia Pacific and Africa engineering and purchasing resources will be integrated into Ford's global core engineering and purchasing groups in Europe and the Americas.
Source:  The Wall Street Journal (Subscription required.)

GM Has Final Volt Design; Battery Still a Challenge

SACRAMENTO -- General Motors Corp. has settled on a final design for the much-anticipated Chevrolet Volt, a GM executive said on Wednesday. Larry Burns, GM's vice president for research and development, said that aspect of the vehicle's development is officially complete. Designing the Volt was especially tricky because GM needed to fit a battery pack "the size of a linebacker" into a car essentially the size of a Chevrolet Cobalt, with enough room for four passengers to fit comfortably inside, Burns said. Burns said GM has achieved its goals in terms of creating batteries that are safe and have adequate energy density. Testing is under way on long-term durability. "Doing one battery isn't an issue," he said. "The issue is doing thousands and thousands of batteries that last years and years."
Source:  The Detroit News

Opinion: It's Not Easy Being Green
by Kenneth P. Green, the American Enterprise Institute

How much do the [presidential] candidates want to reduce greenhouse gases? On this question, the Clinton and Obama platforms are virtually identical, calling for measures to reduce greenhouse gas emissions 80 percent below 1990 levels by the year 2050. McCain, by contrast, favors a less stringent goal of reducing greenhouse gases 30 percent below the level of 2004 by the year 2050. All three candidates are wedded to achieving this through an emission-trading scheme colloquially called cap-and-trade, in which total greenhouse gas emission levels are capped by governmental fiat, permits are distributed to emitters, and some trading regime is put in place to, at least in theory, allow emitters to find the least expensive way to achieve emission reductions. On the question of vehicle fuel economy, the Clinton/Obama campaign calls for an increase to 40 mpg by 2020 (Clinton would ratchet that up to 50 mpg by 2030), while McCain has previously voted to raise standards to 36 mpg by 2016. These differences in stringency are significant, and the democrats are likely to attack McCain's positions as environmentally weak, while McCain will likely argue that the Democratic position is not economically sound. The eternal tension of environment vs. economy has been largely pooh-poohed by environmentalists in recent years of high-flying economic performance, but it will not be as easily waved away with the U.S. standing at the threshold of a recession and with the U.S. automotive sector in serious competitive trouble.
Source:  The Washington Post

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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
 
"We've anted up. The wedding band is there, the car keys are there, the house mortgage. We're all in."
    -- Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers' President Dave McCurdy, referring to the billions automakers are spending to meet new federal fuel economy standards, The Detroit News, April 3


Despite less disposable household income, certain vehicles continue to sell well. Sales of the environmentally friendly hybrids are up about 39 percent from 2006 to 2007.
    -- NADA Chief Economist Paul Taylor, The Williamsport SunGazette, April 3 
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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