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Friday, April 25, 2008 RSSSEND TO A FRIENDPRINT
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At a Glance...
Top Stories
Chrysler Lowers Car Loan Rate
Unrest Hurts GM Hot-sellers
Ford Chief Mulally May Do for Automaker What He Did at Boeing
Oil Prices Hurt GM More Than Strikes
Natural-gas Vehicles Hot in Utah, Where the Fuel is Cheap
Environment Groups Target Senate Races on Climate
Opinion: Can Big, Fast Cars Be Eco-Friendly?
Texas Moves up in Hybrid Auto Sales
NADA Update
Girl Scouts Promote Automotive Careers
Survey of NADA Members Shows Commitment to Community
NADA Joins with AutoTrader.com for Seminar Series
NADA to Members: Beware of Subpoena Email Scam
Dell Deals Available to NADA Members for Limited Time
Top Stories
Chrysler Lowers Car Loan Rate

6.9 percent is meant to help more qualify
As the economy worsens and automakers struggle to sell new vehicles in the United States, Chrysler LLC is working to get people with less than stellar credit in new cars and trucks. Earlier this month, the Auburn Hills automaker introduced a special 6.9 percent financing rate for people with B-tier credit. A year ago, people with such credit would get financing at about 12 percent or higher, executives said. Chrysler's U.S. sales are down 15.5 percent so far this year compared with last year. The move to help middle-level credit shoppers comes as Chrysler dealers have noticed a tightening of credit at lending institutions within the past year. Chrysler Financial declined to discuss what a person's credit history would look like to rank in the B-tier. A spokeswoman noted that it is more than just a credit score.
Source: Detroit Free Press 

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Unrest Hurts GM Hot-sellers

As stock in showrooms dwindles, so too may buyer enthusiasm for firm's Enclave, Malibu, analysts say.
General Motors Corp. dealers have waited years for the automaker to turn out the kind of must-have vehicles that draw throngs of shoppers into showrooms and sell without deep price cuts. GM delivered with the Chevrolet Malibu sedan and Buick Enclave crossover: Both models are flying out of showrooms almost as quickly as the automaker can ship them from the factory -- with minimal or no incentives. But dealers around the country are now struggling to keep the vehicles in stock as labor disputes with the United Auto Workers imperil production of both vehicles. Two key GM factories are among the half-dozen plants ensnared in labor disputes between the union and automaker. The Delta Township factory near Lansing that makes the Enclave has been on strike since last week and a Kansas City, Kan., plant that makes the Malibu is threatening to walk out today. GM has about five weeks' supply of both vehicles and about eight weeks' worth of the GMC Acadia, another popular crossover made at the Delta Township plant. Dealers must have some vehicles to keep on display as well as to sell. And customers are more likely to buy when they have a variety to choose from. Even if GM has several weeks' worth of a vehicle, the actual supply may be much smaller when it comes to vehicles with a certain trim level or a particular mix of features.
Source: The Detroit News

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Ford Chief Mulally May Do for Automaker What He Did at Boeing

Ford Motor Co. Chief Executive Officer Alan Mulally may be pulling a repeat: Turning around the No. 2 U.S. automaker in the same way that he helped revive Boeing Co., the world's second-largest aircraft maker. Ford yesterday reported a $100 million first-quarter profit after analysts had forecast a loss. Ford shares gained the most since November 2002 as Mulally maintained his pledge to restore the Dearborn, Michigan-based automaker to profit in 2009. The profit was the second for Ford since the career-long aircraft executive took over 20 months ago, recruited by Chairman William Clay Ford Jr. to tackle the automaker's third restructuring in five years. "The confidence in our plan is really increasing,'' said Mulally, 62, in a Bloomberg Television interview yesterday. "We said we had to aggressively restructure to meet the real demand.'' At Boeing, Mulally slashed employment as head of the commercial airplane division by more than half, to about 50,000 in eight years. He sped production of a more fuel-efficient jetliner, the 787, and helped lay the groundwork for record orders. Boeing reported a 38 percent gain in first-quarter profit two days ago ...
Source: Bloomberg.com

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Oil Prices Hurt GM More Than Strikes

Axle work stoppage nicks sales, executive says
The UAW strike against American Axle & Manufacturing Holdings Inc. cost General Motors Corp. only a few thousand sales in the first three months of the year, a GM executive said Wednesday. As GM copes with lost production because of a lack of parts, its more pressing concern is high oil prices holding down global demand for new vehicles. The average price of a gallon of regular gas hit $3.53 Wednesday, up 67 cents from a year ago, according to AAA. Oil closed at $118.30 on the New York Mercantile Exchange for light sweet crude, up from $100 a barrel just a few weeks ago. [Mike] DiGiovanni, [GM's executive director of global markets and industry analysis], said total auto sales for the industry were higher during the first quarter than GM expected. But he is worried that gas prices could have a broader economic impact ...  during the second quarter, and could even stall a national economic recovery. "Once it affects the economy, it will take the industry down," DiGiovanni said. The bright spot for GM was its sales overseas. Although GM's sales fell 10.2 percent in North America ... Sales in GM's Asia Pacific region rose 5.8 percent to 410,935, sales in Latin America rose 19.6 percent to 323,376 and sales in Europe rose 3.3 percent to 572,137.
Source: Detroit Free Press

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Natural-gas Vehicles Hot in Utah, Where the Fuel is Cheap

SALT LAKE CITY -- Troy Anderson was at the gas pump and couldn't have been happier, filling up at a rate of $5 per tank. Anderson was paying 63.8 cents per gallon equivalent for compressed natural gas, making Utah a hot market for vehicles that run on the fuel. It's the country's cheapest rate for compressed gas, according to the Natural Gas Vehicle Coalition, and far less than the $3.56 national average price for a gallon of gasoline. "I'm totally celebrating," crowed Anderson, a 44-year-old social worker, who picked up a used Honda Civic GX two months ago. "This is the greatest thing. I can't believe more people aren't talking about it. This is practically free." Personal ownership of natural gas-fueled vehicles in Utah soared from practically nothing a few years ago to an estimated 5,000 vehicles today, overwhelming a growing refueling network, where compressors sometimes can't maintain enough pressure to fill tanks completely for every customer.
Source: Associated Press

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Environment Groups Target Senate Races on Climate

WASHINGTON -- U.S. environmental groups joined forces on Thursday to target Senate candidates in Colorado, New Hampshire and New Mexico, aiming to elect a 60-vote majority to deal with global warming. Environmental measures have failed to clear Congress by "a handful of votes in the Senate" in recent years, the groups' leaders said, noting the legislation to fight climate change is set for debate by the full Senate this year. The bill headed for debate is the first that proposes mandatory limits on emissions of the greenhouse gas carbon dioxide, which is produced by petroleum-fueled vehicles and coal-fired power plants among other sources. The groups are seeking 60 seats because that is the number needed to overcome a procedural hurdle that can block Senate action on bills.
Source: Reuters

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Opinion: Can Big, Fast Cars Be Eco-Friendly?
by Joseph White

American culture is fickle. Fashion fads come and go. But Americans have consistently celebrated the freedom to jump behind the wheel of a powerful automobile and ride the open road. What does that have to do with the latest round of the debate between Washington and Detroit over fuel-efficiency standards? Everything. The Bush administration's 417-page fuel economy plan lands at a turning point in America's relationship with cars. Its assumption is that technology will enable Americans to conserve huge amounts of oil without substantial discomfort or dislocation. History suggests that is a leap of faith, indeed, and that ending what Mr. Bush called our "addiction to oil" will require a more-fundamental transformation of the American lifestyle. Here's a rough idea of what the plan means: Instead of the average car achieving the mileage of Ford's V-6 Taurus, it would have to be as fuel efficient as today's Ford Focus subcompact. The problem is that mandating higher fuel economy hasn't stopped Americans from burning more petroleum on the highways. Starting in 1975, after the first of the oil shocks that made life miserable in that decade, car makers have roughly doubled the average mileage of new cars. However, the number of miles driven more than doubled from 1975 through 2006. Total gasoline consumption rose by 61 percent during the same period and 17 percent on a per-capita basis. The rise of the sport utility vehicle in the 1990s was a mutual show of disrespect by auto makers and consumers for the government's rules, which curtailed supplies of powerful sedans but opened a loophole for SUVs.
Source: The Wall Street Journal (Subscription required.)

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Texas Moves up in Hybrid Auto Sales

Though dwarfed by the number of green drivers in California, Texas and New York are virtually tied for third place in registrations of new hybrid vehicles, a national study shows. California remained the top state for hybrid registrations in 2007, with 26 percent of the market share, followed by Florida (5.5 percent), New York (5 percent) and Texas (4.9 percent). Texas added 37 percent more hybrid vehicles compared to 2006, according to the data collected by R.L. Polk & Co. Los Angeles, San Francisco and New York City were the top three metro markets for hybrid cars last year. 
Source: Houston Business Journal

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NADA Update
Girl Scouts Promote Automotive Careers

Fast-Track to Automotive Careers: A Girl’s Guide is a 12-page booklet about automotive careers produced by the Girl Scouts of the USA with funding from the Department of Labor. In it, AskPatty.com founder Jody Devere says, “Dealerships want to hire more women, but they just aren’t applying for the jobs. Go visit a dealer! They hire a lot of young people and many jobs don’t require a four-year degree.” Consider inviting local Girl Scouts to your next career event, visit a troop meeting to make a career presentation or give a copy of an NADA career video, Take the Ride of Your Life or From Trucks to Bucks to a local troop.

For more information about Girl Scouts of the USA’s automotive programming, e-mail Lesley Williams at lwilliams@girlscouts.org. To order NADA’s career videos, visit www.nada.org/mecatalog.

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Survey of NADA Members Shows Commitment to Community

Even as U.S. auto sales continue to drop, dealers across the country are still highly supportive of charitable events in their local communities. A March 2008 survey of NADA dealers indicated that 82 percent of the 479 respondents sponsor charitable golf tournaments by offering hole-in-one prizes, most often a new vehicle.

NADA’s hole-in-one insurance program, ACECO, scored well on the survey. It was cited as being one of the least expensive and most convenient programs available. NADA's hole-in-one insurance program is available only to NADA members. As spring arrives, there is no better time to generate greater community awareness and new sales. Go to www.acecoinsurance.com to obtain a free quote.

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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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Dell Deals Available to NADA Members for Limited Time
Dell is offering NADA members discounts from 17 percent to 40 percent on select desktops, laptops and printers, and most include free shipping. These discounts will be available for a limited time only. Call 1-888-506-3355 or go to www.nada.org/ProductsServices/PC+Purchase+Program (member login required) and click on the Dell link to take advantage of this offer. NOTE: To receive the NADA discount you MUST call 1-888-506-3355.
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Quotable
 
"Our credit-challenged customers are always trying to find a car ... they're on the doorstep every day wanting to buy a vehicle and trying like heck. So we're trying like heck to get them bought."  

    -- Steven Landry, Chrysler executive vice president for North American sales, referring to Chrysler's introduction of a special 6.9 percent financing rate for consumers with B-tier credit, Detroit Free Press, April 25


"It's frustrating, you finally have a car that's competitive. If a customer comes in and asks for a car I don't have, I don't know what to tell them with everything that's going on."
   

    -- John McEleney, owner of Chevy and Buick dealerships in Iowa, referring to dealers struggling to keep hot-selling vehicles in stock as labor disputes with the United Auto Workers imperil vehicle production, The Detroit News, April 25


During the first quarter high gas prices caused American consumers to buy smaller and midsize cars. But if oil prices continue to escalate, more consumers might stop buying, rather than just shifting their purchases.
   

    -- Mike DiGiovanni, GM's executive director of global markets and industry analysis, Detroit Free Press, April 24


"Converting to CNG gives us an opportunity to promote energy security and support a clean-burning alternative. Plus, who can beat running a Suburban on 63 cents a gallon?"


    -- Utah Gov. Jon Huntsman, paid $12,000 of his own money to modify a state-owned Chevrolet Suburban last June, Associated Press, April 25
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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