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Top Stories
Proposed Rule Could Protect Buyers from Previously Damaged Cars
GM Prepares New Cost Cuts as Directors Back Wagoner
Honda to Increase Small-car Production
Climate Two-Step: Markey Presents Tougher Emissions Plan
Despite Rising Gas Costs, Smaller, Fuel-efficient Cars Selling for Less
Porsche U.S. Chief Says Fuel-Economy Rules 'Not Fair'
Mulally to Meet Today on Salary Worker Layoffs
NADA Update
NADA Provides Guidance on Reaching Subprime Customers
Ballots for New NADA Director from Georgia due June 13
NADA's Consulting Tosses Dealers a Lifeline
STAR Answers Dealers' Questions on Safeguarding Customer Information
Lenovo ThinkPad Notebooks Start at Just $459
Top Stories
Proposed Rule Could Protect Buyers from Previously Damaged Cars

Consumers are a step closer to getting better protection against unknowingly buying flood or otherwise damaged cars. After more than decade, the Justice Department says it will soon issue a proposed rule that would require insurers and junkyard operators to file monthly reports about cars declared a total loss. Critical identifying data about the car would be entered into the National Motor Vehicle Title Information System. That database might eventually be available to consumers. Congress ordered creation of the national database in the 1990s, but no administration since then has issued the orders to compel participation. Because damaged cars can be dangerous, the database has information that could save people's lives, says Deepak Gupta, attorney for Public Citizen, which brought the lawsuit in U.S. District Court in San Francisco. Among the coalition of groups backing Public Citizen is the National Automobile Dealers Association (NADA), which wants quicker action to shore up the vehicle title database and make it available to consumers. "This is a program that has literally languished," says Bailey Wood, spokesman for the NADA.
Source:  USA Today

[Editor's Note:  NADA is pleased that the Justice Department is moving ahead on the National Motor Vehicle Title Information System (NMVTIS) database. It's a good first step in identifying wrecked, flooded or stolen vehicles. We'll press to get the rules finalized as soon as possible. The database, however, will not fully capture all vehicles that have been declared a total-loss by insurance companies. For that reason, NADA continues to support total-loss disclosure legislation to make this vital information available in a more complete and timely manner to all used-car buyers.]

GM Prepares New Cost Cuts as Directors Back Wagoner

General Motors Corp. is preparing to announce further restructuring measures aimed at reducing costs and conserving cash amid a deep downturn in U.S. truck sales, people familiar with the matter said. The moves have been discussed with the company's board and are currently being finalized by Chief Executive Rick Wagoner and his top lieutenants, these people said. They would follow rival Ford Motor Co.'s decision, reported Wednesday, to shave about 2,000 salaried jobs in North America in response to data indicating U.S. consumers are making a long-term shift to smaller vehicles. "Obviously these times dictate more actions and Rick and the team are about doing that," GM's lead independent director, George Fisher, said in an interview. "Rick and the team are looking at what things can be done and will be done." Mr. Wagoner will announce his new restructuring measures at the annual shareholder meeting on June 3. Despite GM's troubles, Mr. Fisher, a former Eastman Kodak Co. chairman, said the board supports Mr. Wagoner and believes GM has the "best management team to get us through these difficult times." He pointed to solid products and strong international growth as benchmarks of Mr. Wagoner's success.
Source:  The Wall Street Journal (Subscription required.)

Honda to Increase Small-car Production

TOKYO -- Honda Motor Co. plans to meet growing U.S. demand for small cars while maintaining North American jobs by moving production of two bigger models from Canada to Alabama, Chief Executive Takeo Fukui said Thursday. Honda's Pilot sport-utility vehicle and Ridgeline pickup, now rolling off its plant in Ontario, Canada, will be produced in Alabama, allowing the Canadian plant to increase production of the Civic sedan, he said. "Gas prices continue to rise, and the demand for cars with good mileage is growing," Mr. Fukui told reporters. "Efforts are under way to increase the local production of the Civic."
Source: Associated Press

Climate Two-Step: Markey Presents Tougher Emissions Plan

Climate change isn’t just a potentially divisive issue for Republicans. The battle is spreading to the other side of the aisle, as well. Massachusetts representative Edward Markey is braving a listing U.S. economy, $4 gasoline, and higher electricity bills to introduce climate-change legislation that’s even tougher than the Senate’s current darling. Rep. Markey’s bill would cut emissions of greenhouse gases 85 percent below 2000 levels by 2050—a loftier goal than the 70 percent cuts envisioned in the Lieberman-Warner bill, up for a vote next week. And Rep. Markey, chairman of the House Select Committee on Energy Independence and Global Warming, wants the government to sell virtually all the emissions permits from day one. The Lieberman-Warner bill would give most of the permits away to industry and power companies, initially at least. But the big question remains: How much economic pain are Americans willing to endure to save the planet? Not too much, if a new survey from the conservative National Center for Public Policy Research is any measure. The group found that more than two-thirds of likely voters don’t want to pay a penny more for gasoline or electricity — two things that would almost certainly cost more if the government passes climate-change legislation.
Source:  The Wall Street Journal (Subscription required.)

Despite Rising Gas Costs, Smaller, Fuel-efficient Cars Selling for Less

Fuel-efficient cars have been selling for lower prices than a year ago, even though gasoline prices are setting daily records, while prices of big, fuel-thirsty SUVs are higher — a situation that defies common sense and has experts scratching their heads. Subcompacts — such as Honda Fit and Chevrolet Aveo — are selling for an average $14,217. That's 1.4 percent less than a year ago, according to an analysis for USA TODAY by the Power Information Network (PIN), a unit of consultant J.D. Power and Associates. By contrast, transaction prices for big SUVs are up an average 4.8 percent. "The data's OK," says a surprised Tom Libby at PIN, after verifying the startling results. He says subcompacts are "doing very, very well in sales," but buyers apparently are choosing lower-price versions. The first four months this year, sales of the smallest cars are up 33.2 percent from a year ago, according to Autodata. The used car market is the reverse: Small fuel sippers command premiums, and SUVs are heavily discounted, as you'd expect at a time of high fuel prices. "It's perplexing. It's amazing," says George Loewenstein, professor of economics and psychology at Carnegie Mellon University. Perhaps, he says, buyers don't bargain as hard on SUVs because they assume prices have been deeply cut already. Or perhaps Americans are ever-so-slightly accepting high fuel prices and don't feel compelled to avoid big SUVs.
Source:  USA Today

Porsche U.S. Chief Says Fuel-Economy Rules 'Not Fair'

Porsche may not be able to meet new U.S. fuel-economy rules, which are "not fair" to makers of performance-oriented autos, the company's U.S. chief said. The German automaker's cars would have to average 41.3 miles per gallon by 2015 models, under preliminary regulations released by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. Porsche's average was 26 mpg last year, and it paid $4.6 million in fines for falling short of current federal standards. "The year 2015 in the car market is like tomorrow morning," Detlev von Platen, chief executive officer of Atlanta-based Porsche Cars North America, told reporters today in New York. "We have to find a compromise, these rules are not fair." Porsche is working to improve its average fuel economy as regulators push for higher mileage and lower emissions of pollutants, and as U.S. average gasoline prices rise to record highs of almost $4 a gallon. The new U.S. standards may almost double fines for not complying.
Source: Bloomberg

Mulally to Meet Today on Salary Worker Layoffs

Ford Motor Co. Chief Executive Officer Alan Mulally and his top managers today will take the next steps toward deciding how many salaried workers the company must involuntarily lay off as it continues downsizing in the face of a brutal U.S. economy. A final decision -- which could slash more than 10 percent of the company's 24,300 white-collar jobs in North America -- is expected in the next few weeks, as the automaker aims to swiftly wrap up all the personnel reductions by Aug. 1 and preserve cash it might need for the tough months ahead. Workers will be offered Ford's standard severance packages, which are based on years of service and other factors, Ford spokeswoman Marcey Evans said.
Source: Detroit Free Press

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NADA Update
NADA Provides Guidance on Reaching Subprime Customers

Damaged credit can happen to anyone. As many as three out of five auto consumers suffer from damaged credit. Dealers could be leaving a great deal of money on the table—perhaps hundreds of thousands of dollars a year in additional gross profit—if they ignore the subprime market.
 
That’s where a special finance operation comes in. Call it subprime, non-prime, secondary or special finance—this large and growing segment of the market needs dealers who are prepared to sell credit-challenged customers the vehicles they need at prices they can afford.

NADA Management Education’s new DVD, Creating a Special Finance Operation: Doing it Right, shows dealers how to be prepared. The four-segment training video, plus an information-packed study guide, is available for $169. Go to www.nada.org/specialfinance to see a preview, log in and order.

Ballots for New NADA Director from Georgia due June 13

Ballots for nominating dealers to serve as the NADA director from Georgia have been mailed to members in that state. Nomination ballots must be returned postmarked by Friday, June 13. If two or more nominees receive at least 10 percent of the votes and agree to seek election, ballots will be mailed Friday, July 11 to be returned postmarked by Friday, August 1. The candidate elected will take office immediately to serve the remaining term which expires February 2010.

NADA's Consulting Tosses Dealers a Lifeline

NADA’s Lifeline Dealership Consulting provides dealers with an objective evaluation and advice on operations and performance. NADA 20 Group and NADA Dealer Academy consultants work with dealership management personnel to achieve specific goals determined by a telephone interview or a site visit.

On site, a NADA consultant would meet with department managers to develop remedial action plans. The consultant also provides managers with various tools to assist performance measurement and tracking, and develops a written report with recommendations for improvement.

"We consider NADA’s Lifeline Dealership Consulting an investment in our dealership," said Frankie Korschun, general manager of Frema Motors Inc. in Goldsboro, N.C. "I would highly recommend the program to anyone who needs an outside point of view." For more information, call NADA's Lifeline Dealership Consulting at 1-800-248-6232, ext. 4745.

STAR Answers Dealers' Questions on Safeguarding Customer Information

 

Standards for Technology in Automotive Retail (STAR) has developed new guidelines to help dealers with Safeguarding Customer Information. Visit STAR's Dealer Infrastructure Guidelines (DIG) publication for more information. To learn what is recommended for Safeguarding Customer Information, click here.

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Quotable
 
Despite GM's troubles, the board supports Mr. Wagoner and believes GM has the "best management team to get us through these difficult times."

   
-- George Fisher, GM's lead independent director, referring to the company's plans to announce further restructuring measures June 3 aimed at reducing costs and conserving cash amid a deep downturn in U.S. truck sales, The Wall Street Journal, May 29


"Gas prices continue to rise, and the demand for cars with good mileage is growing."

   
-- Honda Motor Co. Chief Executive Takeo Fukui said the company will maintain North American jobs by moving production of the Pilot SUV and Ridgeline pickup from Ontario, Canada to Alabama, allowing the Canadian plant to increase production of the Civic sedan, The Wall Street Journal, May 29


"The year 2015 in the car market is like tomorrow morning. We have to find a compromise, these rules are not fair."

    -- Detlev von Platen, chief executive officer of Atlanta-based Porsche Cars North America, referring to new U.S. fuel economy rules, Bloomberg, May 29


Perhaps ... buyers don't bargain as hard on SUVs because they assume prices have been deeply cut already. Or perhaps Americans are ever-so-slightly accepting high fuel prices and don't feel compelled to avoid big SUVs. 

    -- George Loewenstein, professor of economics and psychology at Carnegie Mellon University, USA Today, May 29
Video Reports
 
NADA's Annual Industry Relations' Symposium Brings Dealers and Automakers Together
NADA's 2008 Industry Relations Symposium.
Field of Dreams: Auto dealers show their commitment to New Orleans.  NADA Chief Economist Paul Taylor delivers '08 sales forecast. 

NADA returns to New Orleans for its 92nd annual convention.  

Click here for more NADA TV video reports.
 
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NADA For more information on NADA, visit www.nada.org or contact NADA, 8400 Westpark Drive, McLean, VA 22102. This email may contain an advertisement of NADA products and services. Any opinions or statements contained herein do not necessarily reflect the views of NADA. Factual errors are the responsibility of the listed publication. If you are a franchised new-car or -truck dealer and would like to become a member of NADA, please visit the Join NADA section of www.nada.org. Questions or comments concerning NADA Headlines content may be directed to media@nada.org.