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NADA-TV Report: Auto Dealers Show Their Commitment to New Orleans
White House Role Cited in EPA Reversal on Emissions
Chrysler Extends $2.99 Gas Deal
GM Studies the Future of Full-sized Trucks
Ford Plans to Debut Small, Light Pickups
Opinion: A Secret Cheer for Gas Prices
Car Makers' Boom Years Now Look Like a Bubble
68 Percent of Young Drivers Killed at Night Unbuckled
NADA Update
Director Nominations Mailed to NADA Members
Save on HP Desktops and Printers
Top Stories
NADA-TV Report: Auto Dealers Show Their Commitment to New Orleans

NEW ORLEANS -- The National Automobile Dealers Charitable Foundation donated $400,000 for new athletic fields at New Orleans largest high school. "Commitment to Community" is the theme of the next NADA convention set for New Orleans in January. And while the convention itself will provide a huge economic stimulus to the city, the charitable foundation donation targets a specific need by restoring a "field of dreams."

Click here for the video report. (4 minutes)

White House Role Cited in EPA Reversal on Emissions

Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Stephen L. Johnson favored giving California some authority to regulate greenhouse gas emissions from cars and trucks last year before he consulted with the White House and reversed course, congressional investigators said yesterday. The five-month probe by the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee drew upon more than 27,000 pages of internal EPA documents and interviews with eight key agency officials, and it provides the most detailed look yet at the administration's mid-December decision. California sought permission to implement rules aimed at cutting its vehicles' greenhouse gas emissions by 30 percent between 2009 and 2016. A total of 18 states -- representing 45 percent of the nation's auto market -- have either adopted or pledged to implement California's proposed tailpipe emissions rules, but the administration's refusal to grant a waiver under the Clean Air Act has blocked the rules from taking effect. [EPA Associate Deputy Administrator Jason Burnett] told the panel he thought Johnson had told White House officials that he supported a partial waiver and said there was "White House input into the rationale" for the Dec. 19 letter announcing EPA's complete denial of the waiver. But EPA spokesman Jonathan Shradar said the committee's report is "nothing new," because Johnson has consistently maintained that he considered various opinions when deciding how to rule. "At the end of the day it was the Administrator's decision alone, and he stands by the decision."
Source:  The Washington Post

Chrysler Extends $2.99 Gas Deal

DETROIT — Automaker Chrysler said Monday it will extend a sales incentive that allows U.S. car buyers to lock in fuel purchases at $2.99 a gallon, saying the offer had succeeded in driving customers to visit its dealerships and consider making a purchase. The automaker, whose sales have fallen almost 18 percent this year, said it will extend its "Let's Refuel America" sales program through the July 4th holiday weekend, typically a busy time for industry sales. The Chrysler incentive, introduced two weeks ago, gives new vehicle buyers the option of taking a prepaid card that can be used to cap fuel prices at $2.99 a gallon for three years. With gas prices above $4 a gallon in some U.S. cities, Chrysler said the incentive has proved popular with its 3,500 dealers as a way to attract customers in a market dominated by concern about rising gas prices and slumping home values. Chrysler's retail sales for May are tracking 15 percent higher than April, largely because of the incentive, said Chrysler Vice Chairman and President Jim Press. "The dealers are ... very happy that we have taken a step out of the normal for incentives and have tried something different while we're in a market that is completely out of the normal," Steve Landry, Chrysler's head of North American sales, told reporters.
Source:  Reuters

GM Studies the Future of Full-sized Trucks

DETROIT — General Motors might be closer to becoming more of a car company and less of a truck company. The automaker is conducting a major study on full-sized trucks and SUVs. The internal study looks four years ahead to determine market conditions and how much GM should change its lineup, possibly by offering fewer trucks and SUVs. GM has asked its researchers to "give us a view as to what the long-term truck and full-size SUV demand might be and why you think it is that way," Troy Clarke, GM's president of North America, said in an interview with Automotive News. He said GM needs to understand whether the current shift in sales mix from big pickup trucks and SUVs to more fuel-efficient vehicles represents a long-term change —what Clarke calls a "structural impact."
Source:  Automotive News (Subscription required.)

Ford Plans to Debut Small, Light Pickups

Automaker will revise its lineup with more fuel-efficient trucks to meet consumer demand.
Ford Motor Co. is planning a major revamping of its truck lineup in the United States in response to rising fuel prices and a consumer shift toward more fuel-efficient vehicles. The Dearborn automaker is developing a smaller, lighter version of its bread-and-butter F-150 pickup. The company also is designing a new global compact pickup in Australia that it plans to manufacture in South Africa and Thailand that could be imported to the United States. Ford would not comment on either program, but sources told The Detroit News that the vehicles are part of a sweeping revision of the company's product plan that is aimed at chasing consumers who are abandoning full-sized pickups in favor of smaller, more efficient models. "They're shooting for real good fuel economy numbers," said auto industry analyst Erich Merkle of IRN Inc. in Grand Rapids. "Those are going to be critical."
Source:  The Detroit News

Opinion: A Secret Cheer for Gas Prices
by Warren Brown

Largely thanks to government mandates and rising fuel prices, the green revolution is revving up in the global automobile industry. Although few automobile executives will say so publicly, most of them, especially in the United States, are praying that gasoline prices remain high to help protect their multibillion-dollar investments in new vehicle propulsion technologies. That is because government-mandated investments to improve automobile fuel efficiency and emissions controls in the United States historically have been accompanied by ineffective government action to get consumers to buy the results. By comparison, in Europe and Asia, government demands for tougher controls on carbon dioxide emissions and for vehicles that have better fuel efficiency often have been wedded to levies designed to affect consumer behavior, including higher taxes on gasoline and horsepower. There is a race to get many of these [new, fuel-efficient] technologies to market as early as 2010, most certainly by 2015. It is the hidden blessing behind the fuel inflation curse. The company that gets there first with the most reliable, useful and attractive products will own the future of the worldwide car business.
Source:  The Washington Post

Car Makers' Boom Years Now Look Like a Bubble

DETROIT -- This decade has already seen burst bubbles in tech stocks, homes and credit. Now, it seems, another segment has fallen victim to irrational exuberance: the U.S. auto market. Like investors who sent dot-com stocks or house prices to unsustainable levels, auto manufacturers in the U.S. have pushed their sales volumes to new peaks over the past decade. They invited customers to buy cars at employee prices, extended no-interest loans for up to six years and sold unprecedented numbers of vehicles to rental fleets -- all strategies that some analysts say drove U.S. auto sales to artificial highs. Sales peaked at 17.4 million in 2000 and remained near 17 million for another five years. Heads of General Motors Corp. and Toyota said the U.S. was entering a golden age of the automobile. They were wrong. Sales started falling in 2006 and this year are expected to be right back where they were in the 1990s, at just over 15 million. A bubble occurs when market participants push prices of assets -- stocks, homes, tulips -- higher than their intrinsic values would appear to merit. While the auto-industry doesn't fit the classic formula of an asset bubble, a similar degree of mania was apparently at work: Makers believed they could sell vehicles in much greater numbers than the market would ultimately bear.
Source:  The Wall Street Journal (Subscription required.)

68 Percent of Young Drivers Killed at Night Unbuckled

WASHINGTON -- More than two-thirds of young drivers and passengers killed in nighttime car crashes aren't wearing seat belts - deadly proof of what can happen when young people don't heed parents' pleas and authorities' threats to "click it." Though seat belt use actually is rising slightly nationwide, fatality figures published Monday offered a somber contrast as law enforcement launched its annual pre-Memorial Day drive to persuade Americans to buckle up. Sixty-eight percent of drivers and passengers between the ages of 16 and 20 who were killed in car crashes at night in 2006 were unbuckled, said the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. During daytime, 57 percent of the young motorists and passengers who were killed were not wearing seat belts. The percentage of unbuckled drivers and passengers who died at night is well up in the 60s through the age of 44. It declines to 52 percent for people 55-64 and 41 percent for those older than that. Safety officials say they are emphasizing seat belt use by young people between 16 and 20 during this year's "Click It or Ticket" publicity campaign through June 1. Police say they will be issuing tickets to motorists who fail to wear their seat belts, a message that will be supported by a $7.5 million advertising campaign. Said NHTSA administrator Nicole Nason: Teenagers frequently bring a "combination of inexperience and fearlessness" when they fail to buckle up in their cars. "It's a deadly combination."
Source: Associated Press

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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.

Save on HP Desktops and Printers

HP is offering NADA members a free 17-inch diagonal wide screen flat panel monitor with select PC desktops. Members can save $200 instantly on HP Color LaserJet CP4005n and Color LaserJet CP4005dn. This special ends May 31, 2008. To take advantage of these savings, go to www.nada.org/ProductsServices/Technology, click on "PC Purchase Program," then click www.hp.com/go/promos/nad1 (member login required).

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Quotable
 
"[EPA] Administrator [Stephen] Johnson was presented with and reviewed a wide range of options and made his decision based on the facts and the law. At the end of the day it was the Administrator's decision alone, and he stands by the decision."

   
-- EPA spokesman Jonathan Shradar referring to Johnson's decision to deny California's request for a waiver under the Clean Air Act. Shrader said the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee's report is "nothing new," because Johnson has consistently maintained that he considered various opinions when deciding how to rule, The Washington Post, May 20


"The dealers are ... very happy that we have taken a step out of the normal for incentives and have tried something different while we're in a market that is completely out of the normal." 

   
-- Steve Landry, Chrysler's head of North American sales, referring to "Let's Refuel America," the automaker's successful gas incentive program that was extended through the July 4th holiday weekend, Reuters, May 19


"There is a race to get many of these technologies to market as early as 2010, most certainly by 2015. It is the hidden blessing behind the fuel inflation curse. The company that gets there first with the most reliable, useful and attractive products will own the future of the worldwide car business."

    -- Warren Brown, a syndicated columnist, says government mandates and rising fuel prices are revving up a green revolution in the global auto industry, The Washington Post, (Opinion) May 18
Video Reports
 
Field of Dreams:  Auto Dealers Show Their Commitment to New Orleans

 NADA Foundation Donates $400,000 to Lusher School 

 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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