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Friday, April 11, 2008 RSSSEND TO A FRIENDPRINT
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At a Glance...
Top Stories
Auto Industry's Challenges Examined
Quality Gain Has Hitch for Ford Dealers
Ford Announces Expansion to Certified Program
Toyota Boosts Stake in Subaru Maker
Midsize Cars Show Improvement in Crash Tests
GM Reflects on a Century
NADA Update
Openings Remain for May Dealer Academy Classes
New Poster Required to Recognize Changes to Family and Medical Leave Act
Lenovo Offers NADA Members Discount on Thinkpad Notebooks
STAR Answers Dealers' Questions About DMS Vendors
Top Stories
Auto Industry's Challenges Examined

DETROIT — DuPont and the Society of the Automotive Industry recently conducted a survey that examined the top challenges facing the auto industry and found that environmental issues were the most paramount. More than half (53 percent) of the respondents indicated that environmental issues were their top concern, citing such factors as fuel economy and emissions or clean-air regulations. The study was conducted among auto designers and engineers in anticipation on the SAE World Congress in Detroit. Consumer Insights conducted the survey, officials indicated. The analysis also found that 32 percent of study participants claimed costs were their greatest concern. According to the survey, this was the first time environmental issues were ahead of cost reduction in 14 years.
Source:  Auto Remarketing

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Quality Gain Has Hitch for Ford Dealers

With less warranty work, automaker develops programs to raise parts sales, service
Ford Motor Co. is improving the quality of its cars and trucks but, in an ironic twist, the gains come at a price for dealers who have come to depend on regular warranty work to keep their stores in the black. Dealers know that having better vehicles will help them in the long run, but they are looking to the automaker for help developing other parts of their business to offset the loss in warranty business. This week, Ford delivered with several new programs. "We are working on giving them the tools to improve their retail parts and service business," Ford Americas President Mark Fields told the News. "We need our dealer partners to be successful. But the real benefit to the dealers is that, as we continue to improve our quality, we're going to get more people into the showrooms and we're going to sell more cars." Paul Taylor, chief economist for the National Automobile Dealers Association, said dealers lose an average of $30 on each new car and truck they sell and make it up in other parts of their business, such as financing and service. ...warranty work generated just under $7.7 billion for U.S. dealers last year, Taylor said, a 2 percent decline over 2006. Ford, which has had the strongest quality gains of any of the domestic automakers, saw its warranty business decline by 12 percent nationwide during the same period, after a similar drop between 2005 and 2006.
Source:  The Detroit News

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Ford Announces Expansion to Certified Program

DEARBORN, Mich. — Ford has significantly upgraded its certified pre-owned program for the first time since its inception in late 2000, a move that executives said will enable its dealers to remain competitive against other automaker CPO programs, in addition to providing significant benefits for customers. ...all Ford and Mercury CPO units now come with a six-year, 100,000-mile limited powertrain warranty and, for the first time, a three-month, 3,000 comprehensive warranty from the time of sale. The new powertrain warranty is an upgrade from six years or 75,000 miles. Meanwhile, certified Lincoln vehicles will also be covered, as the company has upgraded this program to a six-year, 100,000-mile comprehensive warranty. To increase the number of vehicles eligible for certification, the automaker also said that dealers can now certify Ford, Lincoln or Mercury units that are up to six years old or have up to 80,000 miles.
Source:  Auto Remarketing

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Toyota Boosts Stake in Subaru Maker

TOKYO -- Toyota Motor Corp. will raise to 16.5 percent its stake in Fuji Heavy Industries, the maker of Subaru cars, and the two Japanese automakers said Thursday they will develop a sportscar together. Fuji and Toyota will develop a compact, rear-wheel-drive sportscar, set to go on sale by the end of 2011, they said. Toyota, which makes the Prius gas-electric hybrids and Camry sedans, will handle the basic design, while Fuji will develop the engine, they said without giving further details. Fuji already makes the Camry at its U.S. plant. Toyota President Katsuaki Watanabe said the success so far of the partnership with Fuji, including how well the companies' engineers worked together, "naturally" led to the decision to raise Toyota's stake in Fuji in an effort to solidify the tie-up. "The alliance with Fuji Heavy is a win-win situation," he told reporters at a Tokyo hotel. "We can count on Fuji's superb engineering."
Source:  The Associated Press

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Midsize Cars Show Improvement in Crash Tests

WASHINGTON -- Crash test results released Thursday by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety gave top scores in front-end and side-impact crashes to the 2008 Chevrolet Malibu, Saturn Aura, Dodge Avenger, Nissan Altima, Infiniti G35 and Mitsubishi Galant. The 2008 Kia Optima received the highest score in front-end tests and the second-highest score in the side test. David Zuby, the Institute's senior vice president, said 10 similar vehicles tested in 2004 without side airbags received the lowest rating of "poor" in the side tests. Only past generations of the Honda Accord, Toyota Camry and Chevrolet Malibu received the top score in 2004 when they were tested with side airbags. "The side impact results represent a huge change from just four years ago," Mr. Zuby said.
Source:  The Associated Press

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GM Reflects on a Century

Buick Motor Co. owner Billy Durant founded General Motors Corp. in 1908 with the vision of consolidating some of the early U.S. auto brands into one controlling company, just as he had in the carriage industry. Now, as GM prepares to celebrate its centennial on Sept. 16, the automaker markets more than a dozen brands and GM remains the world's largest automaker. Under Durant's leadership, GM grew from the Buick brand to add Oldsmobile, Cadillac, AC Spark Plug, the Oakland Motor Car Co. (which later became Pontiac), the Rapid Motor Vehicle Co. (now known as GMC) and Chevrolet. Durant also gets credit for hiring Alfred Sloan, the business genius who would run the company from 1923, shortly after Durant's ouster, until 1956. Sloan is credited with setting up each brand to operate autonomously and arranged them to encourage consumers to move up in stair-step fashion from Chevrolet to Pontiac to Oldsmobile to Buick to Cadillac. This gave form to his concept of "a car for every purse and purpose."
Source:  The Detroit Free Press

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NADA Update
Openings Remain for May Dealer Academy Classes

A few seats remain for the DCA (successors) and GDM (general managers) classes that are scheduled to start next month in NADA's Dealer Academy.

The DCA class begins on May 5, and the GDM class begins on May 19. All classes will take place at NADA headquarters in McLean, Va.

The Dealer Academy program comprises six one-week class sessions - one week every other month - with each session focusing on a different area of dealership operations. The initial session focuses on financial management, the next two on fixed operations (parts and service), the following two on variable operations (new and used), and the final session on overall dealership management.

For more information or to enroll, call (800) 252-6232, #5, or (703) 821-7216 (in Canada).

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New Poster Required to Recognize Changes to Family and Medical Leave Act

In late January, President Bush signed into law the National Defense Authorization Act for FY 2008 which amended the Family and Medical Leave Act of 1993 (FMLA).

Effective immediately, the amendment permits an eligible employee:

  1. Who is the “spouse, son, daughter, parent, or next of kin of a covered service member” to take up to 26 work weeks of leave to care for a “member of the Armed Forces, including a member of the National Guard or Reserves, who is undergoing medical treatment, recuperation, or therapy, is otherwise in outpatient status, or is otherwise on the temporary disability retired list, for a serious injury or illness.”
  2. To take FMLA leave because of “any qualifying exigency (as the Secretary shall, by regulation, determine) arising out of the fact that the spouse, or a son, daughter, or parent of the employee is on active duty (or has been notified of an impending call or order to active duty) in the Armed Forces in support of a contingency operation.”

Important:  Dealerships should put on display next to the FMLA poster a new Department of Labor poster informing employees of these changes. The FMLA Poster Insert for Military Family Leave Amendments is available free at http://www.dol.gov/esa/regs/compliance/posters/fmla.htm.

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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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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
 
"We need our dealer partners to be successful. But the real benefit to the dealers is that, as we continue to improve our quality, we're going to get more people into the showrooms and we're going to sell more cars."

    -- Ford Americas President Mark Fields, The Detroit News, April 11

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

On the Lighter Side
 
 

ASHES TO ASHES

"My Rendezvous has an ashtray, but I use it to store toothpicks."

    -- Buick owner Barb Labadie on the overall absence of ashtrays as a standard item in new vehicles.

Source:  NADA's AutoExec magazine

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