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At a Glance...
Top Stories
U.S. Auto Sales to Recover in 2009, Forecaster Says
Smaller, Less-thirsty, Cheaper Cars Enjoy Big Sales Boom
Late Payments on Consumer Loans at 16-year High
GM Names Browning Head of Global Sales
GM Puts Electric-Car Testing on Fast Track to 2010
Smart Micro Car Gets 5, 4 and 3 Stars in Safety Tests
Hyundai Says No Plans to Hike Car Prices Despite Costs
NADA Update
IRS Issues Guidance on Dealership Cost Segregation Studies
2009 Convention Workshop Proposals Now Being Accepted
Dealer Executive Education Students Complete First Week
NHTSA Publishes 2008 Insurance Cost Information Booklet for Car Dealers
Lenovo Offers NADA Members Discount on Thinkpad Notebooks
STAR Answers Dealers' Questions About DMS Vendors
Top Stories
U.S. Auto Sales to Recover in 2009, Forecaster Says

U.S. auto sales will begin "a slow but steady recovery'' next year as the economy mends, rising to 17.7 million by 2014, forecasting firm CSM Worldwide said. Sales of cars and light trucks totaled 16.1 million in 2007, the lowest level in a decade, and automakers and analysts expect a further slide in 2008. Northville, Michigan-based CSM's projection was part of a report prepared for auto executives. Interest-rate cuts by the Federal Reserve and economic stimulus from U.S. tax rebates "will lay the groundwork for recovery" in the second half of the year, CSM said. Most of the increase between 2009 and 2014 will go to Toyota Motor Corp., Honda Motor Co., Nissan Motor Co. and Hyundai Motor Co., as sales shift to smaller vehicles, CSM said.
Source:  Bloomberg News

Smaller, Less-thirsty, Cheaper Cars Enjoy Big Sales Boom

The smallest, cheapest, cars are the biggest, brightest spot in the dreary auto market, reflecting continuing buyer flight to fuel economy and lower prices. Sales of all types of small cars in March were at year-ago levels, Autodata says — a big success in an industry that sold 12 percent fewer vehicles overall than in March 2007. The small-car segment was the only one not showing a loss. Within that group, the so-called lower small cars, the smallest and lowest-priced, boomed. Sales were up nearly 27 percent from last year. Standouts: Toyota Yaris (up 70 percent), Honda Fit (up 61 percent), Kia Spectra (up 41 percent). Their starting prices are $12,000 to $14,000. Their mileage ratings are low to mid-30s on the highway. "Yaris — I've never seen a model in that segment with sales that high, ever," [said Tom Libby, the Power Information Network.]
Source:  USA Today

Late Payments on Consumer Loans at 16-year High

More Americans have fallen behind on consumer loans than at any time in nearly 16 years, as credit problems once concentrated in mortgages spread into other forms of debt. In a quarterly study, the American Bankers Association said the percentage of loans at least 30 days past due rose to 2.65 percent in the fourth quarter from 2.44 percent in the third quarter, and from 2.23 percent a year earlier. The rate of delinquencies was the highest since a 2.75 percent rate in the first quarter of 1992. ABA Chief Economist James Chessen attributed the jump in the delinquency rate largely to auto loans. Late payments on "indirect" auto loans, which are made through dealerships, totaled 3.13 percent, the highest on record. Delinquencies on direct auto loans rose to 1.90 percent, a 2-1/2-year high. The ABA study covers more than 300 banks that extend a majority of outstanding consumer loans. Its study covers direct auto, indirect auto, home equity, home improvement, marine, mobile home, personal and recreational vehicle loans.
Source:  Reuters

GM Names Browning Head of Global Sales

General Motors today named Jonathan Browning vice president of global sales, service and marketing, effective June 1. Browning currently is GM's vice president of sales, marketing and aftersales in Europe. He succeeds John Middlebrook, 67, who will retire July 1 after 49 years with GM. Browning, 48, has been GM Europe's head of sales and marketing since 2001. An English native, he is also chairman of GM's UK brand Vauxhall. “Jonathan Browning brings a wealth of experience in automotive sales and marketing in the European market to this position,” [GM CEO Rick] Wagoner said in the statement. “He played a key role in making GM the fastest-growing major manufacturer in Europe, with a well-developed multibrand strategy."
Source:  Automotive News (Subscription required.)

GM Puts Electric-Car Testing on Fast Track to 2010

General Motors Corp. will road-test technology needed for its heavily promoted Chevrolet Volt electric car this month, but the company acknowledged it may not know for another two years whether its essential battery technology will be commercially viable. The vehicle is the "No. 1 priority project that we have at GM," said Frank Weber, the Volt program director. In late April, GM's Volt project will enter an important phase as the company fits massive lithium-ion battery packs into a fleet of three-year-old Chevrolet Malibus, and engineers begin driving the test vehicles on test tracks and in other environments. But even as the vehicles hit the road, GM is just beginning a two-year test of the critical battery system to see whether it will meet consumer demands. The auto maker is rushing to bring the Volt to the U.S. market by November 2010 in the hope that a significant advance in fuel-efficient technology will lift GM's standing with consumers.
Source:  The Wall Street Journal (Subscription required.)

Smart Micro Car Gets 5, 4 and 3 Stars in Safety Tests

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration gave the Smart two-door car its top score of five stars in side testing because of its protection against injuries. But when NHTSA conducted the side test, the driver door unlatched and opened. The government says that could lead to a driver or passenger being ejected from the vehicle. The vehicle received four out of five stars in the front-end crash on the driver's side. On the passenger side, it received a relatively low three out of five stars.
Source:  The Associated Press

Hyundai Says No Plans to Hike Car Prices Despite Costs

SEOUL -- Top South Korean car maker Hyundai Motor Co. has no current plan to raise car prices, even though rising raw material prices are lifting production costs, its chief executive said on Friday. "Because of raw material prices we are spending about 500,000 won ($512.8) more producing a car," Kim Dong-jin, CEO and vice chairman of the automaker, told reporters ahead of a meeting with other business leaders and prime minister Han Seung-soo. When asked if Hyundai could not help but raise car prices, Kim said: "No. That's not the case." But the CEO confessed to difficulties in coping with cost increases, saying that cost-cutting efforts might not be enough to absorb material cost increases.
Source:  Reuters

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NADA Update
IRS Issues Guidance on Dealership Cost Segregation Studies

The IRS has issued new technical guidance to its field examiners on dealership cost segregation studies, which many dealerships use to determine the appropriate depreciation period for different components of its facility. The new guidance and a Motor Vehicle Technical Advisor Automotive Alert explaining it are available at www.nada.org/regulations under “Recent Federal Agency Publications.”

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.

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.

STAR Answers Dealers' Questions About DMS Vendors
Standards for Technology in Automotive Retail (STAR) has developed new guidelines when dealers are evaluating Dealer Management Systems Dealer Management System vendors. Visit STAR's Dealer Infrastructure Guidelines (DIG) publication.  To learn what issues to consider when choosing a network provider, click here.
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Quotable
 
"Yaris — I've never seen a model in that segment with sales that high, ever." 

    -- Tom Libby at Power Information Network said of the Toyota Yaris and sales of all types of small cars, USA Today, April 4

 

The vehicle is the "No. 1 priority project that we have at GM."

    -- Frank Weber, Volt program director, referring to the Chevrolet Volt, The Wall Street Journal, April 4

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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