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Top Stories
National Auto Dealers' Foundation Donates $400,000 to Restore Athletic Fields in New Orleans
Chrysler Beating Cash, Operating Goals, Nardelli Says
Buy a New Car, Get the Gas for Free
Obama Pledges Help for the Auto Industry
Toyota Prius Sales Top One Million
SBRB: Dealers Hopeful Yet Prudent About Year Ahead
Toyota Exec: Maybe It's Time to Raise a Prius Hybrid Family
Fed: Average APR Declines at Auto Finance Companies
NADA Update
Director Nominations Mailed to NADA Members
Looking for a Competitive Edge? Check Out NADA's Used-Vehicle Seminar
Top Stories
National Auto Dealers' Foundation Donates $400,000 to Restore Athletic Fields in New Orleans

NEW ORLEANS -- After sustaining substantial damage from Hurricane Katrina in 2005, the athletic fields at Lusher Charter High School were unusable and in need of funds for restoration. Thinking of ways the National Automobile Dealers Association could show its commitment to helping rebuild New Orleans -- the site of the 2009 NADA Convention & Exposition January 24-27 -- the convention theme "Commitment to Community" was born. Putting the theme into action, the National Automobile Dealers Charitable Foundation has contributed $400,000 to the Brees Dream Foundation -- founded by New Orleans’ Saints quarterback Drew Brees and his wife Brittany -- to complete the renovation of the Fortin Campus athletic fields at Lusher High School, the largest public high school in New Orleans. "This contribution demonstrates NADA’s commitment to the recovery of New Orleans. Our commitment is long term," said Annette Sykora, NADA chairman. "New Orleans has been one of NADA’s convention cities for more than 30 years. And we are pleased we will be returning here next January for our 92nd annual convention." "Quite appropriately, the theme will be "Commitment to Community" -- something new car and truck dealers across America live every day," Sykora added. "The future of any city starts with its children. And the Lusher school plays a key role in building tomorrow’s leaders." Acres of grass fields will be re-sodded, and bleachers, a scoreboard and lighting for nighttime use will be added. The fields will be able to support football, soccer and softball. "Lusher school is the heart of that community. By turning the lights back on at the athletic fields, area children will have a place to go at night for healthy competition and fun," said Robert Mallon, chairman of the NADA Foundation. "Area residents will regain an important gathering place, and we’re hopeful that this project will be a catalyst for more community improvements in the future."
Source: NADA Newswire

Chrysler Beating Cash, Operating Goals, Nardelli Says

Chrysler LLC ... is ahead of its 2008 goals for generating cash and running the business, and will post a "significantly lower" loss than in 2007, Chief Executive Officer Robert Nardelli said. "We're not out looking for more money," Nardelli, 59, said in a Bloomberg Television interview [yesterday.] "We're not going to run out of cash." He said he isn't considering bankruptcy or selling the Jeep brand. "We're generating cash very favorably, and adding to that stockpile going forward," Nardelli said. This year's loss will be "significantly lower" than 2007's $1.6 billion deficit, he added, without giving a figure. Chrysler will continue to adapt to a weak U.S. auto market, Co-President Tom LaSorda, 53, said in the interview. He said the company is "right-sized" for industrywide sales of about 15.3 million cars and trucks this year, which would mark a decline from last year's 16.1 million vehicles. Industrywide sales tumbled 7.7 percent this year through April. Chrysler's U.S. market share through April was 12.5 percent, down from 14 percent a year earlier, in part because of the model cuts and reduced sales to rental car companies.
Source:  Bloomberg

Buy a New Car, Get the Gas for Free

Local dealers getting creative
As gas prices creep toward $4 per gallon, some local car dealerships are hoping to turn consumers' dismay into profits. A few dealers are offering discounted gas as an incentive for consumers to buy vehicles. Marshall Bros. Lincoln Mercury in Metairie, La. just ended a promotion offering a one-year supply of gas at $1.99 per gallon to buyers of select Lincoln models. Marshall Bros. sold five cars with the special and now has launched a new deal offering a $1,000 gas card with the purchase of certain models through the end of the month. The deal will come at a significant expense to Marshall Bros., but General Manager Scott Preston said the cost has already paid off by drawing customers into the store. "There's no question that gasoline prices have an impact on consumer spending," he said. "We just want to keep our sales steady."  Bob Israel, president of the Louisiana Automobile Dealers Association, said he would not be surprised if more carmakers and dealerships release similar specials in the months ahead. "They're definitely selling more gasoline-efficient cars," Israel said of Louisiana dealerships. "I think a lot of consumers felt like we've seen these spikes (in gas prices) before, but I think consumers are starting to believe that this going to last a little longer than a month or two."
Source:  The New Orleans Times Picayune

Obama Pledges Help for the Auto Industry

Edwards endorses candidate at Grand Rapids rally
GRAND RAPIDS -- Sen. Barack Obama's first visit to Michigan in nearly a year included a high-profile endorsement from John Edwards and a pledge to fight for a rebound in Michigan's battered auto industry. "We are taking steps in the right direction, and American automakers are on the move," Obama told a friendly crowd in Warren, where he unveiled a manufacturing agenda that includes billions of dollars in potential aid for the Detroit car companies. Wednesday's daylong campaign swing came 10 months after Obama's last visit to Michigan, and a year after a May 2007 speech to the Detroit Economic Club in which Obama hammered Detroit's Big 3 automakers for failing to embrace fuel efficiency. But at the Warren forum, Obama praised Ford Motor Co., Chrysler LLC and General Motors Corp. for making major progress, and in an interview afterward, told The Detroit News that his remarks a year ago had been misinterpreted. "It has gotten a bad rap in some cases, because I think people noticed me calling on the automakers to get out in front of change; but what they didn't notice was how committed I was to investing in the U.S. auto industry," Obama said. Since his address, he said, the carmakers have made many of the moves he advocated.
Source:  The Detroit News

Toyota Prius Sales Top One Million

TOKYO -- Toyota's Prius started out a decade ago as a risky experiment in green technology. Today, it's the world's first mass-produced gas-electric hybrid vehicle to hit the one million mark in sales. The Prius, which went on sale in Japan in 1997, has been a big hit with drivers around the world and is now sold in 40 countries and regions. And its popularity is going strong amid surging gas prices and growing concerns about the environment. A cumulative 1.028 million Prius vehicles have been sold globally as of the end of April, Toyota Motor Corp. said Thursday. Of the more than one million Prius sales worldwide, nearly 592,000 were sold in North America and 315,000 in Japan, Toyota said.
Source:  The Associated Press

SBRB: Dealers Hopeful Yet Prudent About Year Ahead

BUFFALO GROVE, Ill. — According to the results of the latest Small Business Research Board Study, owners and managers of small dealerships remain cautiously optimistic about the upcoming year, as many expect to increase profits but also anticipate a stagnant or slumping economy. SBRB's first-quarter study indicated that almost half (48 percent) of respondents expect their revenues will increase over the next 12 months. However, 68 percent anticipate the struggling U.S. economy will either stay as is or just get worse into the next year. Meanwhile, 43 percent of participants said they plan on keeping employee head count the same, whereas 21 percent look to hire more. Moving on, the study also discussed various issues impacting small dealerships. Thirty percent claimed that taxes are the most import issue they face, while interest rates were close behind at 28 percent.
Source:  Auto Remarketing

Toyota Exec: Maybe It's Time to Raise a Prius Hybrid Family

LOS ANGELES — A family of hybrid vehicles carrying the Prius badge could be the best way for Toyota to leverage its alternative-fuel technology, Toyota's top U.S. executive said. Toyota has tried to promote its Hybrid Synergy Drive technology as a kind of brand — for example, making it the subject of advertising campaigns. All Toyota and Lexus hybrids carry the badge prominently. But turning Hybrid Synergy Drive into a brand hasn't worked so well, says Jim Lentz, president of Toyota Motor Sales U.S.A. Inc. “Try as we might to ingrain Hybrid Synergy Drive with consumers, what really stuck was Prius,” Lentz said in an interview. “So rather than spend millions more driving Hybrid Synergy Drive on Highlander or Camry, I think the consumer is telling us they like the idea of Prius.” Marketing similar vehicles under the same brand name also brings efficiencies, Lentz said. He said Scion ads have been most effective when about the brand, rather than individual vehicles. The same could work with a Prius-badged family of products that could be added to the current five-door hatchback, Lentz said. For example, the addition of a two-door coupe, a wagon or a commuter car.
Source:  Automotive News (Subscription required.)

Fed: Average APR Declines at Auto Finance Companies

WASHINGTON — The Federal Reserve recently released its latest consumer credit statistics and found that the average interest rate on an vehicle loan at auto finance companies is down, dropping slightly to 4.19 percent in March from 5.37 percent in February. Additionally, the median term length was also down a bit to 62.3 months from 63.2 months. As for the average loan-to-value ratio, it came in at 94 in March, compared with 95 in February, according to the Fed. Meanwhile, the median amount financed for an auto loan inched up to $28,173, compared with $28,118. Overall, the Federal Reserve said, "Consumer credit increased at an annual rate of 5.5 percent in the first quarter of 2008. In that quarter, revolving credit increased at an annual rate of 6.75 percent and nonrevolving credit increased at an annual rate of 4.5 percent. "In March, consumer credit increased at an annual rate of 7.25 percent," officials concluded.
Source:  SubPrime Auto Finance News

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NADA Update
Director Nominations Mailed to NADA Members

Ballots for nominating members to serve as NADA directors have been mailed to members in Arizona, Northern California, Southern California, Colorado, Connecticut, Hawaii, Idaho, Illinois, Iowa, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Mississippi, Metropolitan New York, New York State, Ohio, Eastern Pennsylvania, South Carolina, South Dakota, Metropolitan Washington, DC and West Virginia. All ballots should be returned postmarked by May 30. If two or more nominees receive at least 10 percent of the votes and agree to seek election, ballots will be mailed June 27 to be returned postmarked by July 18. Directors elected will take office on Jan. 27, 2009 at the convention in New Orleans.

Looking for a Competitive Edge? Check Out NADA's Used-Vehicle Seminar

NADA 20 Group consultant Steve Emery will present "Used-Vehicle Department Profit Accelerator," held May 21–22 in St. Louis, Mo. The seminar will explain the crucial elements of running a profitable used-vehicle operation, such as purchasing and managing inventory, reconditioning, financing, marketing and advertising, maintaining a business plan and more.

The 1½-day seminar will be held at the Hilton Ballpark Hotel. For more information, including member and non-member fees, visit www.nada.org/seminars. Dealers, general managers, used-vehicle managers and sales managers are encouraged to attend.

Want to log on from your own dealership? Take a look at NADA's upcoming Web-based seminars:

  • How to Prepare and Interpret a Cash Flow Statement (Steve Lane, May 13)
  • How to Drive Traffic in a Tough Market (Ron Wheeler, May 22)
  • Using All the Tools in Your F&I Toolbox (Ron Reahard, June 3)
  • Totally Trucks: Best Practices in Cost and Expense Management and Reduction (ATD) (Keith Ely, June 11)
  • Increasing Collision Repair Sales (Robert Rick, June 12)
  • Managing Fixed Operations from the General Manager's Desk (Randy Brenckman, June 24)

The fee for each virtual seminar is $199 per computer connection. Additional attendees can participate from the same connection at no additional cost.

For more information on upcoming seminars, visit www.nada.org/seminars or call 1-800-248-6232, ext. 7061.

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Quotable
 
"This contribution demonstrates NADA's commitment to the recovery of New Orleans. Our commitment is long term. New Orleans has been one of NADA's convention cities for more than 30 years. And we are pleased we will be returning here next January for our 92nd annual convention."

   
-- Annette Sykora, NADA chairman, referring to the $400,000 gift from the National Automobile Dealers Charitable Foundation presented to the Brees Dream Foundation Thursday in New Orleans. The donation will allow for the complete renovation of the athletic fields at Lusher Charter High School. The theme of 2009 NADA Convention & Exposition January 24-27 is "Commitment to Community," NADA Newswire, May 15


"I think a lot of consumers felt like we've seen these spikes (in gas prices) before, but I think consumers are starting to believe that this going to last a little longer than a month or two."

    -- Bob Israel, president of the Louisiana Automobile Dealers Association, The New Orleans Times Picayune, May 15


"We're not going to run out of cash. We're generating cash very favorably, and adding to that stockpile going forward."

    -- Chrysler Chief Executive Officer Robert Nardelli said the company is ahead of its 2008 goals for generating cash and running the business, Bloomberg, May 15
Video Reports
 
NADA Chief Economist Paul Taylor's 2008 Sales Forecast.

 Paul Taylor delivers '08 sales forecast 

 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
 
 

WIDEN YOUR FOCUS

"People still have needs. You can't put everybody in a Ford Focus."

    -- Ford Senior Vice President Susan Cischke on how automakers must continue to produce seven-person SUVs and heavy-duty pickups despite new CAFE mandates, NADA's AutoExec magazine, May 2008

 
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