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Top Stories
Ford, General Motors Improve in Quality Survey
Detroit Automakers Compete for a Vanishing Truck Market
When Buying A Gas Guzzler Makes Sense
Chrysler May be Next to Announce Production Cuts
Climate Bill Stalls in Senate After Dispute
Opinion: Mercury Deserves a Better Chance
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
Ford, General Motors Improve in Quality Survey

Ford Motor Co. and General Motors Corp. made impressive gains in J.D. Power and Associates' influential survey of initial vehicle quality, but Chrysler LLC continued to lag the rest of the industry. Ford's Mercury brand passed Honda Motor Co., the first time in recent memory an American marque has outperformed one of Japan's top brands. And GM's Chevy Malibu was singled out as one of the best new vehicles of the year. But all three Chrysler brands ranked below average, with Jeep finishing last in the annual study. "Ford has shown consistent improvement for the past five years, despite its restructuring," said David Letson, senior vice president of auto product quality at J.D. Power. "No other full-line manufacturer has done that." That includes Japan's quality stalwarts, Toyota Motor Corp. and Honda, Letson said, noting that Ford's quality gains have consistently outpaced the industry. The Ford brand rose from No. 10 last year to tie Jaguar for the No. 8 slot in this year's survey, which measures the number of mechanical problems and design-related issues experienced by consumers during their first 90 days of vehicle ownership. David Sargent, vice president of automotive research at J.D. Power ... said that industrywide quality improved by 6 percent, with the number of problems per 100 vehicles falling to 118 from last year's average of 125. J.D. Power also ranks individual models by segment. GM, Ford, Honda and Toyota each took home three segment awards for individual models. The survey looked at 2008 model year cars and trucks purchased or leased between November 2007 and January 2008. This year's results were based on responses from some 81,500 owners and leasees.
Source: The Detroit News

Detroit Automakers Compete for a Vanishing Truck Market

DETROIT — Ford Motor and Chrysler expected to find themselves in a hard-fought showdown when they rolled out bigger, brasher pickup trucks this fall, hoping to enlarge their shares of a segment that has brought them huge profits. Instead, Ford, Chrysler and General Motors have discovered $4-a-gallon gasoline and a housing slump to be more formidable foes. This year’s battle will be for pieces of a much smaller pie than they ever imagined. This winter, when Chrysler paraded 120 Texas longhorns outside the Detroit auto show to promote its 2009 Dodge Ram, and Ford brought in the country superstar Toby Keith to unveil its new F-series truck, full-size pickups accounted for 13 percent of the United States vehicle market. They were just 9 percent of the market in May, when for the first time since 1992 the country’s top-selling vehicle was a car — the Honda Civic compact sedan — rather than a truck. In fact, the top four sellers last month were all cars, pushing the current 2008 F-series down to a once-incomprehensible fifth place as its sales fell 33 percent. Sales plunged 38 percent for the 2008 Ram and 44 percent for the Chevrolet Silverado, which was redesigned two years ago and will have even more difficulty competing against two newer trucks this fall.
Source: The New York Times

When Buying A Gas Guzzler Makes Sense

In an Age of $4-a-Gallon Fuel, Some Drivers Could Benefit By Getting a Bargain SUV
The gasoline-price-induced collapse of the sport-utility-vehicle market presents a quandary for consumers. With gas at $4 a gallon, SUVs no longer make affordable commuter vehicles. But at the same time, they've never been cheaper. Manufacturers are offering between $2,000 and $5,000 in discounts on once strong-selling models like the Ford Explorer and Chevrolet Suburban, and dealers say there's plenty of negotiating room after that. Discounting is even heavier on used vehicles, with some selling at roughly one-third the price they would have fetched new four years ago. The bottom line is that, for people who don't drive much, today's deeply discounted SUVs may actually make financial sense. Today's SUV deals, which include cash-back offers and special financing terms, have gotten fatter over the past several months as sales have continued to slide. In April, auto makers offered an average of $5,786 in discounts on midsize SUVs, according to the most recent data from Autodata, up from $4,909 a year earlier. On large SUVs, manufacturers offered an average of $4,829, up from $3,070. Deals are even better for used vehicles. Average auction prices for used full-size SUVs in April plunged 17.5 percent from a year earlier to about $12,500 ...
Source: The Wall Street Journal (Subscription required.)

Chrysler May be Next to Announce Production Cuts

DETROIT -- With truck and sport utility vehicle sales tumbling and its U.S.-based competitors either closing factories or cutting production, Chrysler LLC may be the next automaker to announce further cuts. While workers are anxious and industry analysts say additional measures are inevitable, Chrysler says that moves announced late last year are sufficient for now to deal with the declining U.S. auto market. "We read the headlines just like everyone else," said Melvin Thompson, president of a United Auto Workers local at a pickup truck factory in Warren. "We're just in a holding pattern. The best thing we can do is just build a high-quality truck." Chrysler's sales were down 25 percent in May, a month in which the whole market dropped 11 percent compared with May of last year. Through the first five months of 2008, Chrysler's sales were off 19 percent, with huge drops in larger vehicles that make up most of its lineup. Chrysler so far has kept its inventories at a reasonable level, with the exception of the Ram, said Burnham Securities analyst David Healy. "I think they've basically already done what GM and Ford have done," Healy said, adding that Chrysler has made a huge cut in production of the slow-selling Durango SUV. GM announced Tuesday that it would close four pickup truck and SUV factories and shift more of its efforts to smaller, more fuel-efficient cars. Ford announced last month that it was cutting North American production for the rest of this year and no longer expects to return to profitability by 2009 due to the rapidly deteriorating U.S. market. The company said it would release more details about its cost-cutting efforts in July.
Source: Associated Press

Climate Bill Stalls in Senate After Dispute

WASHINGTON -- A Senate debate over global warming legislation turned into late-night drama Wednesday marked by an eight-hour reading of the 492-page bill and a call for senators to return - some of them from their homes - to cast a procedural vote not long before midnight. An angry Majority Leader Harry Reid demanded senators return to the Capitol for the late-night vote after Republicans blocked his attempt to limit amendments on the bill, arguing there were not enough senators in the chamber for Reid to proceed. So Reid asked for a vote on whether the sergeant at arms should summon senators to the Capitol. The motion - in a vote lasting one hour, five minutes - was defeated 28-27, but now Reid has his quorum anyway to proceed. The bill, the most ambitious legislation on global warming ever taken up in Congress, would cut carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gas emissions by 71 percent by mid-century from power plants, refineries, factories and transportation. Its sponsors said the mandatory reductions are essential to put the United States in a leadership role in global attempts to head off dangerous climate change. But Republican critics said it would result in higher energy costs and economic turmoil. The climate bill's supporters include most Democrats and a handful of Republicans. Along with Boxer, the leading sponsors are Sens. Joe Lieberman, a Connecticut independent, and John Warner, R-Va. It has been the subject of Senate floor debate since Monday, but senators have done little more than talk so far.
Source: Associated Press

Opinion: Mercury Deserves a Better Chance
by Keith Crain

Mercury has been part of Ford Motor Co. since the 1939 model year. During those 70 years, Mercury has seen some ups and downs, and now it looks as if it's fighting for its life. Mercury needs a leader. That's one of the problems with modern car companies. Frequently, there is no one person who is the rallying point for a make. All too often, it languishes by the side of the road. If there is any doubt that Mercury should stay with Lincoln, the folks at Ford should take a hard look at what happened when General Motors killed Oldsmobile. It was not pretty, and it cost GM millions of dollars to dig itself out of that mess. GM discovered that in addition to the tough state franchise laws across the nation, many Oldsmobile dealers were dualed with Cadillac. Even if they weren't selling a lot of Oldsmobiles, they were keeping the back shop busy with service work that was bound to disappear when the franchise was killed. Keeping or killing a brand is a huge decision, and there always are many good reasons to do one or the other. Mercury has a strong customer base with a loyal dealer body. Its dealers need product. Give them some product, and then give them some time before you pull the plug.
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
 
"Ford has shown consistent improvement for the past five years, despite its restructuring. No other full-line manufacturer has done that."

   
-- David Letson, senior vice president of auto product quality at J.D. Power, referring to results of the J.D. Power and Associates' survey of initial vehicle quality, The Detroit News, June 5


"The Chevy Malibu is the perfect example that we can build a great car and we expect our future cars to do as well."

     -- James Hresko, GM North America vice president of quality, referring the new Malibu, which won the hotly contested midsize car segment in J.D. Power and Associates' survey of initial vehicle quality, The Detroit News, June 5


"The bottom line is you plan these new vehicles years and years in advance. The best we can do is offer the best Ram we can make, and hope to make the best of a tough situation." 

     -- Chrysler spokesman Rick Deneau says the company plans to proceed with its introduction of the Ram as scheduled despite a rapid decline in U.S. truck sales, The New York Times, June 5


"You aren't going to have the guys who get them as a macho thing anymore."

    -- John Hutchinson, a salesman at Northpoint Ford in Milwaukee, says the only people still buying trucks in large numbers are those who need them for work, like building contractors, The New York Times, June 5


"It is the ultimate buyer's market."

    -- John Casesa, managing partner at Casesa Shapiro Group LLC, referring to today's SUV deals, The Wall Street Journal, June 5
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