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Tuesday, April 22, 2008 RSSSEND TO A FRIENDPRINT
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At a Glance...
Top Stories
Proposed Fuel Economy Rules to be Released
Running on Empty
Drivers Cut Back as Gas Prices Hit All-time High
Cars.com, Experian Study Highlights Best CPO Practices
Chrysler: Chery Exports Not Ready for US
Gas-thirsty Vehicles Are a Hit in China
A Star at Toyota, a Believer at Ford
Ghosn: More OEM Deals, U.S. Economy Adjusting
Venture Capital Firms Back Electric Cars
NADA Update
NADA Joins with AutoTrader.com for Seminar Series
NADA to Members: Beware of Subpoena Email Scam
NADA Headed to New Orleans
Lenovo Offers NADA Members Discount on Thinkpad Notebooks
STAR Answers Dealers' Questions About DMS Vendors
Top Stories
Proposed Fuel Economy Rules to be Released

WASHINGTON — The government on Tuesday plans to release a proposal to raise fuel efficiency standards for new cars and trucks, putting the nation's fleet on track to reach 35 miles per gallon by 2020. Transportation Department Secretary Mary Peters was making the Earth Day announcement in Washington, responding to a new energy law pushed by Congress last year and signed by President Bush. Congress sought tougher standards requiring the nation's fleet of new vehicles to increase its efficiency by 10 mpg from its current average of 25 mpg, or a 40 percent increase. The new law represented the first major changes to the auto mileage rules in three decades. The proposal will set fuel economy standards from 2011 to 2015 and are expected to be finalized before the end of the Bush administration. The fleet of new passenger cars is currently required to meet a 27.5 mpg average, while sport-utility vehicles, pickups and vans need to hit a target of 22.5 mpg. Democrats have said the fuel economy requirements will save motorists $700 to $1,000 a year in fuel costs... Automakers ... supported a compromise version of the legislation amid rising gasoline prices and concerns about global warming. The new law is expected to push the auto industry to build more gas-electric hybrid cars, trucks and SUVs running on diesel and advances such as plug-in hybrids and electric vehicles.
Source:  The Associated Press

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Running on Empty

Delinquent Auto Loans Are on the Rise as More Borrowers Drown in Debt
Delinquencies on indirect auto loans, which are made through a third party and constitute roughly 90 percent of car loans, reached more than 3 percent in the fourth quarter of last year, the highest rate in at least 17 years, according to the American Bankers Association. Delinquencies are defined as payments that are more than 30 days past due. Some are the result of homeowners with ballooning mortgages making tough decisions about which bills they can afford to pay. Other car owners succumbed to repayment plans of as long as seven years, compared with the traditional maximum of five years. The worst thing to do if you find yourself in trouble is to ignore it, according to lenders and financial advisers. Lenders suggest that you call them as soon as your bills start making you nervous. Americans Well-Informed on Automobile Retailing Economics (AWARE), an industry trade group that includes the American Financial Services Association and the National Automobile Dealers Association, said warning signs include avoiding looking at bills and difficulty saving money.
Source: The Washington Post

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Drivers Cut Back as Gas Prices Hit All-time High

The average price for regular gasoline across the USA was a record $3.508 a gallon Monday, eclipsing the inflation-adjusted peak of $3.413 set in March 1981 — $1.417 back then — according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration. Drivers are cutting back. Gasoline sales have fallen 2 to 11 percent a month since December ... "People aren't getting used to these prices," [said Jay Ricker, president of Ricker Oil, which runs 30 Marathon and BP stations in Indiana. "I'm hearing more comments, people saying, 'I need to get a more fuel-efficient car next time.'" Expect no relief. EIA predicts regional averages as high as $4 in the next few months. The prices also have made big SUVs hard to sell — both for automakers and for owners who want to trade down. Average prices for full-size SUVs in March tumbled 15.4 percent from a year earlier at wholesale auctions where dealers buy and sell vehicles, and large pickups were down 12.6 percent, after adjustments for miles and other factors, according to Thomas Webb, chief economist for Manheim Consulting, a unit of the company that operates many big auctions. Vehicle auction prices overall were down 5.6 percent in the same period, he says.
Source:  USA Today

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Cars.com, Experian Study Highlights Best CPO Practices

DEARBORN, Mich. — A new study by Cars.com and Experian Automotive has indicated that even though customers are increasingly aware of certified pre-owned vehicles when they're shopping for a car, they remain confused between OEM and dealer certification programs. Additionally, it found that there are unique marketing opportunities for the manufacturers to highlight their unique program benefits. At the same time, the study concluded that franchised dealers should work more closely with their captive finance companies to explore how they can get more customers from lower credit tiers into CPO vehicles because they tend to show a higher level of corporate and brand loyalty over the long haul. Presently, only 20 percent of current CPO owners are from the lower credit tiers, [Andy Jacobson, director of national sales for Cars.com, and Dave Nemtuda, vice president of Experian Automotive reported,] and this offers a marketing and sales opportunity for dealers, they added, even with possible financial risks involved.
Source:  Auto Remarketing

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Chrysler: Chery Exports Not Ready for US

BEIJING -- Chrysler LLC's talks on a possible joint venture with China's Chery Automobile Co. are progressing, but a China-made car being produced by the alliance is not ready for the U.S. market, Chrysler executives said Sunday. "Safety is a huge challenge because of the size of the car," Phil Murtaugh, chief executive of Chrysler's Asia operations, said at the China auto show in Beijing. "There are some challenges. They are not huge changes but they are technical challenges in certain parts of the car." Murtaugh said the vehicle's body structure needed work. "I don't think we're too far away, but neither one of us are ready to say 'Let's go' yet," he added. The low-cost car will be sold under Chrysler's Dodge brand in the U.S. and other markets.
Source:  The Associated Press

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Gas-thirsty Vehicles Are a Hit in China

BEIJING -- High, wide and fuel-hungry, the gleaming black Cadillac Escalade on display at the Beijing auto show is an unlikely car for an era of record oil prices. But while sport utility vehicle sales in the U.S. are tumbling, automakers are finding that for China’s newly prosperous car buyers, bigger is still better. So General Motors Corp. has made the Escalade a star of its auto-show display and is eager to get it on the market here. “If you look at the fastest-growing market segments in China, there are two — SUVs and luxury cars,” said Joseph Y.H. Liu, GM China’s vice president for sales and marketing. Auto sales in China are booming, with analysts and automakers forecasting growth at 15-20 percent this year. But demand for the biggest vehicles is even stronger, with sales of luxury cars and SUVs expected to surge by 40-45 percent.
Source:  The Associated Press

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A Star at Toyota, a Believer at Ford

LAS VEGAS -- At a dinner here at the Bellagio hotel about two weeks ago, the ballroom buzzed with 1,400 car dealers fired up for a turnaround at the Ford Motor Company. With fresh products coming and a new ad campaign in place, they were ready to celebrate an attempted comeback by the struggling Detroit automaker. But James D. Farley was hardly in a festive mood. The dinner capped a four-day summit of Ford’s dealers and top executives, and it should have been Mr. Farley’s time to shine, to feed off the enthusiasm of dealers eager for good news at Ford. Yet as he sat in an empty conference room before his keynote speech, Mr. Farley was introspective. “How am I doing? You know, I can’t answer that question, how am I doing,” he said. “It’s too complicated.” The challenges ahead were too profound for simple answers, he said. The survival of Ford was at stake, and he wasn’t about to carry his share of that burden lightly. “I’m not someone who is going to be smiling a lot,” he said softly. “There’s just too much to do.” As the lights dimmed, Mr. Farley didn’t lead cheers or shout slogans. Instead, he spoke from the heart, revealing a depth of passion for Ford that turned the room dead silent. He talked about his grandfather, who had gone to work for Henry Ford at the celebrated Rouge plant in 1914; about his first car, a vintage 1966 Mustang; and about the dealers and their families and their livelihoods. “I believe, in many ways, the future of Ford is the future of our country,” he said. “The work here is simply more important than the work I was doing at Toyota.” When he finished, the dealers rose for a standing ovation that left Mr. Farley momentarily stunned. After the applause died down, he savored the reaction. “These people,” he said, “want to believe.”
Source:  The New York Times (Registration required.)

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Ghosn: More OEM Deals, U.S. Economy Adjusting

BEIJING -- Nissan Motor Co. will see more product sharing deals with Chrysler, but the company isn’t on track to be Nissan’s long-sought North American alliance partner, says Carlos Ghosn. The Nissan CEO is also standing by his 15.5 million unit forecast for total U.S. sales this year, despite analyst predictions that have plunged below the 15 million vehicle mark. “I don’t believe the below-the-15 million cars scenario,” Ghosn said Sunday at the Beijing motor show. “The U.S. economy is adjusting very quickly.” Ghosn said to expect more tie ups like this month’s agreement to make a small car for Chrysler LLC in exchange for a pickup built by Chrysler. But that doesn’t mean Nissan is courting the company as a possible third partner in its alliance with Renault SA. “We will continue to make deals like this, not only with Chrysler but with many car manufacturers,” Ghosn said.
Source:  Automotive News (Subscription required.)

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Venture Capital Firms Back Electric Cars

Silicon Valley venture capital firm Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers is joining with another clean-technology-focused venture capital firm and a Norwegian company to bring electric cars to the USA. The joint venture's first product will be Think City, an emissions-free, 95 percent recyclable car with a maximum speed of 65 miles an hour. Plans call for a U.S. launch in 2009. The cars will be priced below $25,000. Kleiner Perkins is teaming with Boston-based RockPort Capital Partners and electric-carmaker Think Global to create a company called Think North America. Now made in Norway, the Think City — about the size of a Toyota Yaris or Honda Fit — runs on sodium or lithium batteries and can travel up to 110 miles on one charge, making it viable for the average American, who commutes 30 miles a day. "This is not a toy, this is a serious car that is able to be mass-produced and sold," said RockPort managing partner Wilber James.
Source:  Reuters

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NADA Update
NADA Joins with AutoTrader.com for Seminar Series

New in May, NADA is joining with AutoTrader.com to offer a special 8-week virtual seminar series, Automotive Internet Marketing: A Traditional Approach to Non-Traditional Media. The series covers a variety of relevant Web-related topics, including building a Web site, advertising online and tracking Web traffic.

Each workshop is designed to provide new information about the changing online marketplace and presents a specific step to developing an Internet marketing plan.

The following virtual seminars are included in this series:

  • The 21st-Century Dealership
    –David Kain, Kain Automotive; May 21
  • Maximizing Your Web site’s Potential
    –Dean Evans, Dealer.com; May 28
  • Search Engine Optimization and Search Engine Marketing
    –Adrian Madland, Google; June 4
  • Online Advertising
    –Jaime Lomas, AdReady, Inc.; June 11
  • Direct/Targeted Advertising
    –Bruce O’Brien, @utoRevenue; June 18
  • Lead Management
    –Jennifer Suzuki, e-Dealer Solutions, Inc.; June 25
  • Tracking and Measurement for Success
    –Howard Polirer, AutoTrader.com; July 2
  • Evolving with the Marketplace
    –Chip Perry, AutoTrader.com and Kevin Fossett, NADA; July 9

Participants can access the archives for every seminar, including any seminars missed, for up to six months. To learn more about this series, visit www.nada.org/InternetMarketing or call 1-888-667-0482.

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NADA to Members: Beware of Subpoena Email Scam

NADA is warning its members to be aware of a recent e-mail "phishing" scam that involves an email with an official-looking subpoena sent from subpoena@uscourts.com requesting your appearance in front of a grand jury. This is not a legitimate message and should not be opened. Once opened, it asks the recipient to click a link and download the case history and associated information. DO NOT CLICK ON SUCH LINKS. If you do, you will have downloaded "malware" which may crash your computer and do untold amounts of damage to your system both now and potentially in the future. Be advised that federal courts do not effect service of subpoenas via e-mail. If you have any doubts about a subpoena, call the clerk of court or an attorney.

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NADA Headed to New Orleans

New Orleans is now the eighth fastest growing metropolitan area in the United States, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. To show support for the rebirth of New Orleans, the NADA Convention & Exposition is headed back to the Big Easy for its 92nd annual event which runs Jan. 24-27, 2009.

"The theme for our New Orleans convention is 'Voice of the Dealer® ... Committed to Community.' What better way to show that commitment than for us to be there in full strength at one of NADA's favorite convention cities," said Annette Sykora, 2008 NADA Chairman. NADA has held its convention in New Orleans every few years for the past 30 years.

Registration and exhibit sales for the 2009 NADA Convention will open this summer. In the meantime, check out what the city has to offer or watch a video report about NADA's return to the Big Easy.

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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
 
"This is not a toy, this is a serious car that is able to be mass-produced and sold."

    --  RockPort managing partner Wilber James, referring to the new Think City, an emissions-free, 95 percent recyclable car with a maximum speed of 65 miles an hour, Reuters, April 21

“I believe, in many ways, the future of Ford is the future of our country. The work here is simply more important than the work I was doing at Toyota.”

    -- Ford Chief Marketing Officer Jim Farley, The New York Times, April 20

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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