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Top Stories
Automaker Sales Plunge, Drag Market Down in May
Asian Brands Outsell Big 3 in May
The Hummer's Dead End?
Ford Offers Incentives on Pickup Trucks in June
Prius Sees Surprise Drop
Forum to Debate U.S. Role in Plug-in Hybrids
Opinion: Learning the Business at the Store
NADA Update
Shop the NADA Expo Floor - Online
Ballots for New NADA Director from Georgia due June 13
STAR Answers Dealers' Questions on Safeguarding Customer Information
Lenovo ThinkPad Notebooks Start at Just $459
Top Stories
Automaker Sales Plunge, Drag Market Down in May

DETROIT -- U.S. auto sales tumbled in May as consumers spurned pickup trucks and SUVs in the face of record gasoline prices, driving General Motors Corp, Ford Motor Co and Chrysler LLC to double-digit declines. Japan's Honda Motor Co Ltd outsold Chrysler for the first time to emerge as the new No. 4 U.S. automaker, while Toyota Motor Corp closed the gap with GM as the leading player in the U.S. market, despite reporting lower sales than a year before. Honda's Civic and Accord and Toyota's Camry and Corolla sedans outsold Ford's F-Series pickup truck. It was the first time a sedan outsold the perennial Ford bestseller since 1991. Honda and Nissan were the two major automakers to buck the declining trend, posting sales increases of 11 percent and 4 percent, respectively. GM sales plunged 30 percent, Ford sales fell 19 percent and Toyota's fell 8 percent. Overall, U.S. sales fell to 14.25 million on an annualized basis in May, down from 14.4 million in April and 15.2 million on average in the first quarter. Car sales, which had accounted for less than half of industry volume in 2007, surged to 57 percent in May.
Source:  Reuters

Asian Brands Outsell Big 3 in May

U.S. auto sales tumble 11 percent as pickup and SUV market falls off sharply
Asian automakers outsold Detroit's Big Three for the first time in May as the industry continued its dramatic shift toward more fuel-efficient cars. Helped by a reputation for fuel-sipping models, Asian brands captured 47.8 percent of the U.S. market, while American automakers held just 45.4 percent of their home turf last month. Exemplifying the landslide toward cars, the Honda Civic supplanted the Ford F-Series pickup as the nation's best-selling vehicle. Toyota Motor Corp., Honda Motor Co. and Nissan Motor Co. all gained market share in May, while the Big Three all lost ground. In times of high gas prices and economic uncertainty, consumers are choosing brands with a reputation for fuel economy and reliability, said Joe Barker, senior manager for global vehicle sales at Northville-based CSM Worldwide. "The Japanese have built a longstanding reputation for delivering fuel-efficient vehicles, and that's paying dividends for them now," he said. Barker added that higher resale values for brands such as Toyota and Honda allow their customers to get a good trade-in, while buyers of traditional American vehicles may find they owe more on their car than it's worth, causing them to put off buying a new model.
Source:  The Detroit News

The Hummer's Dead End?

As Gas Hits $4 and Sales Tank, GM Considers Selling Brand
Reacting to growing consumer sentiment, General Motors chief executive G. Richard Wagoner Jr. said yesterday that the world's biggest automaker will consider revamping or selling off some of the world's biggest passenger vehicles -- the Hummer line. Before GM's annual meeting yesterday in Wilmington, Del., Wagoner said the automaker is "undertaking a strategic review of the Hummer brand, to determine its fit with GM's evolving product portfolio." High fuel costs are hurting sales of GM's high-profit trucks and sport-utility vehicles. Wagoner said yesterday that GM will close four production plants and start making more small vehicles, which the Hummer decidedly is not. "At this point," Wagoner said, "we are considering all options for the Hummer brand ... everything from a complete revamp of the product lineup to partial or complete sale of the brand."
Source: The Washington Post (Subscription required.)

Ford Offers Incentives on Pickup Trucks in June

DETROIT -- Ford Motor Co will offer an incentive plan in June on its F-Series pickup trucks to reduce inventories as the automaker prepares for a launch of redesigned models later this year. Ford, like other major U.S. automakers, has tried to restrain incentives but has been forced to respond to sharp declines in demand for pickup trucks, including the F-Series, which have ranked as the most popular vehicles in the U.S. market for three decades. Ford's "employee pricing" incentive plan will allow customers to buy an F-150, F-250 or F-350 vehicle for the same price as the automaker's employees from June 3 to June 30, Ford marketing chief Jim Farley said on a monthly auto sales conference call.
Source:  Reuters

Prius Sees Surprise Drop

Toyota Motor Corp.’s May sales were not immune to the shifting buying patterns of U.S. consumers as the world’s No. 2 automaker reported a sales decline of 4.3 percent to 257,404 vehicles. And then there was this surprise for Toyota: Sales of the Prius, its highest volume hybrid vehicle, fell 27.5 percent to 15,011 vehicles. “We just didn’t have the supply, May of this year versus May of last year,” said Bob Carter, group vice president and general manager of the Toyota division. Carter said Toyota is working with its suppliers, especially those that make hybrid batteries, to find ways to increase production to meet demand for the Prius as well as for all of its hybrid vehicles. Carter said Toyota’s total 2008 U.S. sales could be flat or lower than the record set last year of 2.6 million cars and trucks. “What we are indicating now is we might be slightly off of last year’s record” sales, Carter said. “I am very confident that we are going to outperform the industry, but we may not get to 2007 volume.”
Source:  Detroit Free Press

Forum to Debate U.S. Role in Plug-in Hybrids

WASHINGTON -- Top auto executives will sit down next week with energy company CEOs, venture capitalists, environmentalists, pundits and government officials to debate the role of Washington in making plug-in hybrid vehicles a reality. The two-day conference, sponsored by Google.org, the search engine giant's charitable arm, and The Brookings Institution, a think tank, is aimed at reaching a consensus over how much Washington should pony up to help bring plug-in electric hybrids to the mass market. Automakers have signaled support for plug-ins, though serious hurdles remain, especially on whether batteries are durable enough to make them work over extended periods. Another major factor is batteries expense and whether tax breaks will be necessary to make them commercially viable. "We're still in the research phase," Ford spokesman Alan Hall said, noting the company is interested in the impact of plug-ins on the electrical grid and how consumers will plug in their vehicles. GM noted earlier this year that depending on the source of electricity -- for example, in West Virginia, where most electricity comes from coal -- plug-ins could have higher greenhouse gas emissions than a conventional gasoline engine.
Source:  The Detroit News

Opinion: Learning the Business at the Store
by Ed Lapham

Usually, industry honchos don't really get to know the inner workings of an auto dealership. For some reason, the industry's traditional career path for high-potential individuals doesn't run from a dealership to the factory. There are exceptions. Johan de Nysschen, executive vice president of Audi of America, started his automotive career at a dealership in his native South Africa. And de Nysschen thinks the experience has served him well -- so well that he recommends it. "Running a retail dealership should be almost mandatory training for industry executives," he says. De Nysschen says building a profitable brand means dealers first must be profitable. "You fill a bucket from the bottom," he reasons.  De Nysschen isn't the only proponent of the profitable-dealers-are-good-for-the-factory philosophy, which is behind the heightened levels of franchise swapping and dealership consolidation activity, especially for Detroit 3 dealers. But reciting a mantra about wanting profitable dealers to strengthen the brand isn't the same as working to make it happen. Still, it makes sense that an exec who has worked at a dealership would understand what it takes. The only better basic training for a top auto exec might be to have invested in a dealership. After all, you always take the competition more seriously if you have skin in the game.
Source:  Automotive News (Subscription required.)

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NADA Update
Shop the NADA Expo Floor - Online

The 2008 NADA Convention & Expo is over, but the virtual exhibit floor is open 24/7 with our new online exhibit directory. Browse more than 700 exhibitors and search by company name or category of interest. Click here for direct access to the 2008 NADA Exhibit Directory.

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.

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.

Lenovo ThinkPad Notebooks Start at Just $459

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Visit www.nada.org/ProductsServices/Technology and click on "PC Purchase Program" (member log-in required), click www.lenovo.com/shop/deals/nada or call 800-426-7235, Option 1, Ext. 4838 to take advantage of these savings. Enter eCoupon USXDADSGRADS at checkout. Free ground shipping is available on all Web orders. This offer ends June 16, 2008. Visit the Web site often for special limited-time eCoupons.

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Quotable
 
"At this point, we are considering all options for the Hummer brand ... everything from a complete revamp of the product lineup to partial or complete sale of the brand."

   
-- General Motors chief executive G. Richard Wagoner Jr. said the Hummer brand is under review to determine its fit with GM's evolving product portfolio, The Washington Post, June 4


"The dramatic increase in car sales appears to be one of the most profound shifts in automotive buying patterns in more than a decade." 

    -- Dick Colliver, executive vice president of Honda’s American sales unit, Detroit Free Press, June 4


"GM has for a long time shown it can lead in truck designs. Now it needs to show it can do the same with car designs." 

    -- Carol Moreno, an analyst with TCW Group Inc., The Wall Street Journal, June 4


"I am very confident that we are going to outperform the industry, but we may not get to 2007 volume."

   
-- Bob Carter, group vice president and general manager of the Toyota division, referring to the company's total 2008 U.S. sales, Detroit Free Press, June 4


"Running a retail dealership should be almost mandatory training for industry executives." 

    -- Johan de Nysschen, executive vice president of Audi of America, Automotive News, June 4
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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