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Tuesday, June 10, 2008 RSSSEND TO A FRIENDPRINT
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At a Glance...
Top Stories
Enroll Now for NADA's Executive Leadership Program
GM Boosts Cash Incentives on Large SUVs, Pickups
Fuel Prices Challenge Cars' Reign
NADAGuides.com: Consumer Interest in Minivans on Rise
Ford Says it Was 'Proactive' in Slashing U.S. Output, Costs
Nissan to Raise Altima Production, Scale Back SUVs
Toyota to Make Hybrids in Australia
Toyota Denies Tacoma is Defective
BMW Widens its Sales Lead Over Rivals
Opinion: Is the Gas Crisis Real or Just Temporary
NADA Update
Shop the NADA Expo Floor - Online
Ballots for New NADA Director from Georgia due June 13
STAR Answers Dealers' Questions About PC Equipment
Lenovo ThinkPad Notebooks Start at Just $459
Top Stories
Enroll Now for NADA's Executive Leadership Program

Ranked No. 1 for Entrepreneurial Education
Applications are now being accepted for NADA's Dealer Executive Education program at Babson College, which meets at Babson's Wellesley, Mass., campus from Sept. 21-26. Launched in March, the program offers a 6-part, 16-month curriculum designed to enhance the leadership skills of dealership employees. "Ideal candidates for the program are individuals who are in a position to effect change within the dealership," says Allan Jones, director of the NADA dealer academy. Instructors lead students through a series of interactive learning activities, including group activities, role-play and video. Students gain insight into leadership traits, decision-making processes, communication skills and "opportunity obsession" -- a term coined by Babson. "This is a lot more than just changing your dealership -- this is about making myself a better leader," said Jared Hamilton of Henry Day Ford in Sandy, Utah. "If I become a more effective leader, I can more clearly articulate our dealership's vision." The program teaches you how to "think like an entrepreneur and how to think beyond the four walls of the dealership," said Matthew Haiken of Prestige Volvo in East Hanover, N.J.  Babson College has been ranked No. 1 in entrepreneurship for 13 consecutive years by U.S. News & World Report. For more information on NADA's Executive Education, visit www.DealerExecEd.org.
Source:  NADA Newswire

Click here to watch a short video on the program.

GM Boosts Cash Incentives on Large SUVs, Pickups

General Motors Corp. has raised its cash incentive offerings to as much as $4,000 on seven models after sales of the large sport-utility vehicles and pickups dropped a combined 27 percent this year, Bloomberg News reported Monday. The incentives, begun June 7 and running to the end of the month, offer cash back for current GM owners on GMC models such as the Tahoe hybrid SUV and on Chevrolet vehicles including the Silverado pickup and the Cadillac Escalade SUV, GM said. "We wanted to build some opportunity with our loyal customers to get them to the showroom," said GM spokesman John McDonald in an interview with Bloomberg. Owners of GM models from the 1999 model year or newer are qualified for the cash offers, which are in addition to current existing incentives, said McDonald.
Source: The Detroit News

Fuel Prices Challenge Cars' Reign

$4 Gas Transforms Buying Habits, Affecting Everything From Vacations to Pizza Orders
Gasoline prices, which shattered the $4-a-gallon mark on average in the Washington area Friday, ranged as high as $4.39 a gallon for regular yesterday amid signs that cash-strapped Americans are changing vacation plans, consolidating errands, and turning to carpools and mass transit. The average price of a gallon of gasoline nationally is now almost a dollar higher than it was a year ago, according to the Energy Department. And with crude oil trading at more than $134 a barrel yesterday, more gasoline price increases are probably in the pipeline as refiners and retailers attempt to pass crude oil costs along to motorists, industry analysts warn. In a society nurtured on cheap gasoline, the high fuel prices are having disparate effects: the end of free pizza deliveries at major franchises, a plunge in the sales of sport-utility vehicles, a steep drop in the price of houses that are far from jobs or mass transit. Nationwide, about 8 percent of Americans say they have changed their commuting patterns and are taking public transportation, according to a survey conducted by NPD Group, a market research firm. The same share of respondents said they would vacation closer to home this summer because of rising gas prices. According to the Federal Highway Administration, estimated vehicle miles traveled on U.S. roads for March fell 4.3 percent, or 11 billion miles, compared with March 2007. It was the first time that March travel on public roads fell since 1979 and the biggest yearly drop for any month in history.
Source: The Washington Post

NADAGuides.com: Consumer Interest in Minivans on Rise

COSTA MESA, Calif. — Minivan sales may have taken a significant hit in the last year, but consumer interest in the segment has climbed at a higher rate than crossover utility vehicles, a recent NADAguides.com study suggested. Officials noted that minivans have increased 74.3 percent in popularity on the NADAguides.com Web site, while CUVs experienced a 73.5-percent hike. More specifically, interest in minivans jumped 1.6 percent in consumer interest from April to May. In the same time period, CUV interest fell 5.3 percent. Experts have pointed to good gas mileage, safety ratings and family-friendly features in minivans as major reasons for the increase in their popularity. "We believe this is another indicator the tide has shifted and the minivan market will stabilize this year," said Tara Baukus Mello, senior writer and lead market analyst at NADAguides.com. According to analysts, minivans peaked in sales during 2000 at 1.37 million units, a time when CUVs were just beginning to surface.
Source:  Auto Remarketing

Ford Says it Was 'Proactive' in Slashing U.S. Output, Costs

Ford Motor Co., the second-biggest U.S.-based automaker, was "proactive" in slashing North American production and reducing costs to adjust to falling truck sales, the company's Americas chief said. "We decided to be proactive -- it was important to act swiftly and deal with a change in circumstances," Executive Vice President Mark Fields told reporters last night at a Lincoln-Mercury dealership in Garden City, Michigan. Ford is scrambling to adjust as gasoline prices above $4 a gallon slam sales of large pickup trucks and sport-utility vehicles... "The assumptions we made were very reasonable" in establishing the 2009 profit target, Fields said. This year's rise in gasoline prices was "unprecedented," he said. Asked whether fuel prices will affect Ford's plans for the new F-150, Fields said large pickups still comprise "one of the biggest segments in the industry. We've said it's never a bad time to launch a new product."
Source:  Bloomberg

Nissan to Raise Altima Production, Scale Back SUVs

Nissan Motor Co. will increase production of its Altima by cutting output of its sport-utility vehicles as consumers clamor for more fuel-efficient vehicles in light of $4-a-gallon gasoline. One shift of workers in Nissan's Canton, Miss., plant will be moved to Altima production starting on June 23, with full output targeted for early September, the auto maker said. The additional shift is expected to increase production by 2,000 vehicles to about 17,000 monthly. "With flexibility built into our systems, we're able to quickly adapt to the changing landscape of the marketplace," said Bill Krueger, Nissan's senior vice president of manufacturing, purchasing and supply-chain management. Nissan's North America unit reported record May sales of 34,428 units for the Altima sedan, hybrid and coupe, up 38.3 percent from the same period a year earlier. Separately, Nissan said it plans to launch its first clean-diesel vehicle in Japan this fall and will send a prototype to next month's Group of Eight leaders' summit, where climate change tops the agenda.
Source:  The Wall Street Journal (Subscription required.)

Toyota to Make Hybrids in Australia

TOKYO -- Toyota will start making the Camry gas-electric hybrid in Australia from early 2010, as part of the Japanese automaker's efforts to step up production of such green cars around the world, the company said Tuesday. Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd said his government will provide Toyota 35 million Australian dollars ($33 million) from a fund for ecological cars to cover costs such as those for expanding facilities and technological development. "Australians are keenly aware of environmental issues including global warming, and we are confident that the Camry hybrid will be well received," Toyota President Katsuaki Watanabe told reporters. Toyota has said it hopes to sell 1 million or more hybrid vehicles a year sometime after 2010. That would require boosting production of hybrids around the world, as it has taken about a decade for Toyota to reach cumulative global sales of a million Prius vehicles. Toyota -- which is close to overtaking General Motors Corp. of the U.S. as the world's No. 1 automaker -- said it is planning the best global hybrid production for making the technology widespread.
Source:  The Associated Press

Toyota Denies Tacoma is Defective

Media inspired acceleration claims, it says
WASHINGTON -- Some 431 customers from around the country have reported unintended or sudden acceleration in their Toyota Tacoma pickups, resulting in 51 crashes and 12 injuries, but the automaker said there are no flaws in the trucks and that many reports were "inspired by publicity." Federal regulators are still weighing whether to upgrade the investigation launched in February, which has broadened to include 775,000 Tacomas sold between the 2004 and 2008 model years. A deeper investigation could force Toyota to recall the trucks if officials find a defect, and raise questions about sudden-acceleration claims that safety regulators and automakers have blamed on driver error for years. Toyota told the NHTSA last month that most of the claims to itself and the agency dealt with minor engine speed changes that have no relation to safety, and that its own investigation last October of 12 trucks reported to have sudden acceleration problems found no defects. "Toyota believes that it is likely that many of the consumer complaints about the general issue of unwanted acceleration ... as well as many of the complaints about this subject that have been received by Toyota, were inspired by publicity," Toyota said in a letter to the NHTSA released Thursday.
Source:  Detroit Free Press

BMW Widens its Sales Lead Over Rivals

FRANKFURT -- BMW AG extended its sales lead over rivals Audi AG and Mercedes-Benz in May, but competition in the lucrative premium segment is set to heat up as new models arrive. Deliveries for BMW, the world's best-selling premium brand, rose 2 percent to 110,704 cars from 108,515 in May of last year, benefiting from strong demand for its compact 1 Series. In the first five months of this year, 515,989 cars were sold, up 4.4 percent from 494,417 cars in the year-earlier period. Daimler AG's Mercedez-Benz ... delivered 98,100 cars in May, down 5.1 percent from 103,400 in the same month last year. A spokesman said the decline was mainly because of the model changeover of the compact A-Class and B-Class models. But strong demand for the Mercedez-Benz C-Class model helped push sales in the first five months to 493,200 cars, up 5.3 percent from the year before and a record for the Mercedez-Benz brand. Audi ... saw sales in May edge up 0.8 percent from a year earlier to 88,200 cars. In the January-to-May period, Audi's car sales were up 1.5 percent from the year-earlier period at more than 426,200 vehicles, fueled by strong demand in Eastern Europe and the Asia-Pacific region.
Source:  The Wall Street Journal (Subscription required.)

Opinion: Is the Gas Crisis Real or Just Temporary
by Keith Crain

The question to the Detroit 3 is simple: Will consumers adjust to higher fuel prices as they always have in the past, or is $4 a gallon the make/break point where there will be permanent consumer shifts away from pickups, SUVs and large cars? I know consumers will come back to pickups and SUVs — not as many as before, but they will return. Americans will start to move to more fuel-efficient, but not necessarily smaller, vehicles. North America is a unique automobile market in the world, and Americans will figure out how to adjust their lifestyles for higher energy costs, just as people have been doing in Europe for decades. Americans will still go on long-distance vacations in their cars and buy and tow trailers, and soccer moms will continue to shuttle around car/van loads of kids. Americans will continue to live a long way from work in large, fuel-inefficient homes. They will continue to spend their money at fast-food restaurants. They have and will have different lifestyles from Europeans and Asians. It will take awhile to readjust, and during the readjustment period, there will be a lot of hand-wringing, and long-range decisions are going to be made incorrectly in a moment of panic. The Detroit 3 are going to do some soul searching. They will have to learn flexible manufacturing or die. After some time, Americans will adjust to higher energy prices as they have over the past 35 years. Until the next oil shock. They may want smaller, more fuel-efficient engines and diesels, without the tax penalty, but they want vehicles sized for America — and not necessarily American vehicles. It's too important a time to panic. Let's hope there are some long-range thinkers in Detroit.
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 About PC Equipment

 

Standards for Technology in Automotive Retail (STAR) has developed new guidelines to help dealers evaluate their PC Equipment.  Visit STAR's Dealer Infrastructure Guidelines (DIG) publication for more information. To learn "What is Key When Selecting Client Hardware?"  click here.
Lenovo ThinkPad Notebooks Start at Just $459

Here's how you save:

  • Instant savings with discounted Web pricing
  • Save even more with your NADA discount
  • Enter eCoupon USXDADSGRADS at checkout

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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Featured Video
 

NADA's Executive Education Program at Babson College Teaches Leadership Skills. 

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Quotable
 
"These soaring gas prices shouldn't sour our love affair with our vehicles. It's going to take a lot for Americans to give up that freedom of mobility that they cherish."

   
-- Rich White, executive director of the Car Care Council, The Washington Post, June 10

"North America is a unique automobile market in the world, and Americans will figure out how to adjust their lifestyles for higher energy costs, just as people have been doing in Europe for decades."

    -- Keith Crain, Automotive News columnist and senior editor, referring to the North American market's response to high energy prices, Automotive News, June 9

"We've said it's never a bad time to launch a new product."

    -- Ford's Executive Vice President Mark Fields, referring to Ford's plans for the new F-150 pickup, Bloomberg, June 10


"For 30 years, we've operated under the assumption that there are going to be more cars on the road. So we've developed drive-through windows, quick lube stations. We've done everything we can do service this on-the-go consumer."

  -- David Portalatin, automotive analyst at NPD Group, The Washington Post, June 10

Video Highlights
 
   

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 NADA's New Orleans Project
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