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Wednesday, April 16, 2008 RSSSEND TO A FRIENDPRINT
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At a Glance...
Top Stories
Bush to Call for Greenhouse-Gas Curbs
Opinion: Parts and Systems Fine-tuned; Firms Will go Green Gradually
Auto Dealership Consolidation Leaves its Mark on the Region
Hard-sell Tactics Plague Dealers, Customers
Ford Focus is a Driving Force
Blog: Chrysler Linking With the Japanese and Italians in the Same Week?
NADA Update
Openings Remain for May Dealer Academy Classes
Lenovo Offers NADA Members Discount on Thinkpad Notebooks
STAR Answers Dealers' Questions About DMS Vendors
Top Stories
Bush to Call for Greenhouse-Gas Curbs

Pressured for Years, President Warms To Broad Regulation
WASHINGTON -- In a significant shift on global warming, President Bush will propose stopping growth in U.S. greenhouse-gas emissions by 2025 and signal that he is open to lawmakers reining in pollution from power companies. The stance, set to be unveiled [today] at a White House speech, indicates Mr. Bush's willingness to grapple with the growing legislative debate over global warming. But like an increasing number of utilities and manufacturers, he is aiming to join the discussions in hopes of shaping the debate and creating a system that won't be too costly to industry or consumers. The White House fears a regulatory train wreck that could create a bewildering and costly set of rules affecting not just major emitters but office buildings and schools. In the most specific part of his speech, Mr. Bush will carve out a more ambitious goal for power generators, source of about 40 percent of U.S. emissions. Mr. Bush is expected to say the administration has made progress on several fronts, such as improving vehicle efficiency standards.
Source: The Wall Street Journal (Subscription required.)

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Opinion: Parts and Systems Fine-tuned; Firms Will go Green Gradually
by Scott Burgess

The engineers, designers and pitchmen at this year's SAE International World Congress are going green piece by piece. There is no magical vehicle on display at Cobo Center that can run 100 miles on wishful thinking. No, the hundreds of companies and 35,000 people attending the trade show answer their green questions one part at a time. LeVern Hoover, general manager of ... Methode Electronics Inc., showed off his company's magnetized steering system, which he says is lighter and performs as well as any electric power steering system carmakers now install in vehicles. A big deal? Absolutely. Using less energy becomes essential for electric vehicles and hybrids that need to be voltage frugal. The less power needed to operate all of the vehicle's internal components, the farther it can go down the road. Additionally, PPG developed a Sungate IRR coating that filters out UV rays to reduce heat from entering the car -- this means the air conditioning doesn't have to work as hard to keep the driver cool. Recent federal testing showed a car could increase its fuel efficiency by 4 percent with a windshield with the Sungate coating. Lear Corp. showcased its soy foam seats used in the 2008 Ford Mustang. The foam, made from soybeans, gives the environment a break because it takes less energy to produce ...
Source: The Detroit News

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Auto Dealership Consolidation Leaves its Mark on the Region

QUINCY — John Hassan opens the door to the service garage of his auto dealership and gestures at a 60-year-old delivery truck ... “This is a personal project,” said Hassan, owner of Hassan Automotive ... The Hassan family had sold new Jeep vehicles ... since before that old truck was new. Hassan is one of a growing number of ... dealers that are evolving into used-car sales or going out of business in the wake of concerted efforts ... to consolidate their dealer networks. Those efforts, which experts say are vital to the continued solvency of the Big Three ... have nonetheless offended some smaller dealers who feel they are being pushed out. Communities throughout Massachusetts have felt the effects of these reductions. According to ... the Massachusetts State Automobile Dealers Association, there were 532 ... dealerships at the beginning of 2006. At the beginning of February this year, that number was 481 ... In fact, [Hassan] is one of several local dealers who say they’re actually better off since selling their franchises or consolidating with other dealerships.  “I think of the neighborhood dealer, the guy around the corner, the guy who puts the ads in the high school magazines,” Hassan said. “It’s a consistency you’re losing, that personal touch.”
Source: The MetroWest Daily News

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Hard-sell Tactics Plague Dealers, Customers

Paul Broome, a Cadillac dealer in Independence, Mo., hears from about 10 customers a month who complain about his dealership's high-pressure sales of service contracts. But Broome has nothing to do with the disputed contracts or their marketing. Instead, some peddlers of third-party contracts tap vehicle registration data to reach customers of dealerships such as Broome's by telephone, e-mail and direct mail. Their sales pitch includes the claim — often false — that the customers' factory warranties have expired or are about to do so. They assert or imply — also falsely — that they represent a dealership or automaker. And in some cases, vendors allegedly charged consumers' credit cards for thousands of dollars without authorization. Missouri Attorney General Jay Nixon is suing six independent service contract vendors, alleging deceptive sales tactics. The Missouri Automobile Dealers Association lobbied for tougher regulation that took effect in 2007, says Sam Barbee, the association's executive vice president. Missouri now requires service contract vendors to register annually with the state's department of insurance. They must show that they have enough insurance to pay claims, place a reserve fund in trust with the department, document net worth of at least $100 million or prove that a parent company has agreed to cover claims. 
Source: Automotive News (Subscription required.)


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Ford Focus is a Driving Force

Demand Keeps Plant Rolling
A year ago, Ford Motor Co.'s sprawling assembly plant in Wayne, which builds the Focus compact car, was on the chopping block as part of the automaker's restructuring plan, putting the lives of its 3,000 workers in flux. But today -- as the struggling U.S. economy has consumers on the hunt for affordable, fuel-efficient cars -- the 56-year-old plant and its workers are running a full-out effort: two 9-hour shifts on weekdays, plus some Saturdays to keep up with increasing demand on the redesigned Focus. Focus sales are up 23 percent overall through March -- and are now exceeding even Ford's expectations. In March, retail sales of the Focus, which exclude discounted fleet sales to rental-car companies and other bulk deliveries, were up 35 percent. Now the new Focus, which is Ford's only small car for sale in the United States, is the third best-selling small car in America, behind the No. 1 Honda Civic and No. 2 Toyota Corolla. The Focus pulled ahead of the Chevrolet Cobalt last month for that position. The Cobalt is still within 1,000 sales of the Focus this year, but Cobalt sales have been increasing at about half the pace of the Focus. Through March, the Cobalt was up 14.5 percent.
Source: Detroit Free Press

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Blog: Chrysler Linking With the Japanese and Italians in the Same Week?
by David Kiley

First we find out that Chrysler is going to build pickup trucks for Nissan in Mexico and that Nissan is going to build a small car for Chrysler. Then, we learn that Chrysler is in advanced talks with Italian carmaker Fiat, a deal that could result in Chrysler building cars for Alfa-Romeo in North America. The next call Chrysler LLC CEO Bob Nardelli is going to have to make to owner Cerberus Capital is to allocate more money for foreign language training for its engineers and product planners. They never did do a good job of learning German. Maybe they’ll do better with Japanese and Italian. Germans. Italians. Japanese. Hmmmm. What does this make me think of? Seriously, these deals that are shaping up for Chrysler look smart, at least on paper. Chrysler has way too much manufacturing capacity for its own sagging market share.
Source: BusinessWeek

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NADA Update
Openings Remain for May Dealer Academy Classes

A few seats remain open for the Dealer Candidate Academy (DCA) for successors and the General Dealership Management (GDM) classes, which are scheduled to start next month at the NADA 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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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
 
"Many independent dealers do enormous amounts of things for their communities and towns. They support all sorts of charities, ball teams. The question is: Will that go away when they go away?"

    -- Nancy Phillips, an Exeter, N.H. business broker who specializes in auto dealerships, The MetroWest Daily News, April 14

The boiler-room promotions are "giving the industry a black eye."   

    -- Paul Broome, chairman of the Missouri Automobile Dealers Association, referring to third party, independent service contract vendors alleged to be using deceptive sales tactics, Automotive News, April 14
Video Reports
 
Students Learn About Automotive Careers at the DC Auto Show. 

 Students learn about automotive careers. 

 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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