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Top Stories
Supply of Hybrids Runs Out of Gas as Demand Soars
GM, Ford Urge Congress to Extend R&D Tax Credit
Ford to Retool Truck Plants to Build Cars
Chrysler May Cut Output Again as Truck Sales Drop
Honda's Fuel-efficiency Strategy Pays Off
Chrysler Joins, Cuts Dealerships
Toyota Promises Plug-in Vehicle by 2010
Fields Touts MKS as Next Lincoln Mercury Flagship
Stockholders Offer 1.3 Billion Ford Shares to Kerkorian
Opinion: Unloading a Gas Guzzler
NADA Update
Enroll Now for NADA's Executive Leadership Program
Need Free Auto Tech Help?
NADA Insurance Announces Gains in its Hole-in-One Insurance Program
Ballots for New NADA Director from Georgia due June 13
Shop the NADA Expo Floor - Online
STAR Answers Dealers' Questions About PC Equipment
Lenovo ThinkPad Notebooks Start at Just $459
Top Stories
Supply of Hybrids Runs Out of Gas as Demand Soars

While sales of conventional small cars soared last month, sales of the most popular gas-electric hybrids were flat or down because dealers had fewer left. There was plenty of demand, but hybrid assembly plants are running as fast as they can, and some are short of components, particularly batteries. "Not only are they out of cars and out of inventory, but the capacity they have for the hybrid components was locked in a year ago," before $4-a-gallon gas, says George Peterson, president of consultants AutoPacific. Every little bit of supply will be needed with hybrids becoming hot sellers, Power Information Network says. The sales time for three hybrid models — Civic, Toyota Highlander and Mercury Mariner — fell by roughly half this spring compared with a year ago. The Saturn Vue hybrid that took 60 days to sell last year was snapped up in an average 16 days.
Source:  USA Today

GM, Ford Urge Congress to Extend R&D Tax Credit

WASHINGTON -- General Motors Corp. and Ford Motor Co. joined 300 major companies in urging the U.S. Senate to renew the tax credit for research and development. In a letter to Sen. Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) and all 100 senators released Tuesday, the companies urged quick action, since the tax credit expired at the end of 2007. "Failure by Congress to move quickly to extend these important provisions will bring investment in renewable energy and energy efficiency projects to a standstill, make it more difficult for U.S. companies to invest in critical R&D projects in this country, reduce private sector investment in business and economic development projects in distressed areas, and force many U.S.-based financial institutions to suffer a massive tax increase at a time when they can least afford it," the letter said.
Source:  The Detroit News

Ford to Retool Truck Plants to Build Cars

Costly move is prompted by consumer demand for more fuel-efficient vehicles
Ford Motor Co., long dependent on profits from pickups and sport utility vehicles, is assembling a plan to shift entire truck plants to car production in a bid to keep up with changing consumer demand in the United States, according to sources familiar with the company's plans. Plant managers and local union leaders from around the country have been summoned to Ford's Dearborn headquarters Friday. They'll discuss the challenges facing the automaker and the broader U.S. automobile industry as the price of gasoline continues to set record highs and consumers flee pickups and big SUVs for smaller, more fuel-efficient vehicles. In what would be one of the most dramatic manufacturing transformations in Detroit's history, Ford would retool some of its North American plants to produce vehicles being built in Europe, where it is a leader in the small-car segment. Ford also is conducting a thorough review of its entire product pipeline in North America, hoping to accelerate the introduction of new, more fuel-efficient cars and to build more vehicles on fewer platforms. When complete, Ford expects to build more models on fewer platforms than any other automaker -- including Toyota Motor Corp., which has made such simplicity a recipe for success.
Source:  The Detroit News

Chrysler May Cut Output Again as Truck Sales Drop

NEW YORK -- Chrysler LLC may have to cut production further in response to the deep drop in truck sales, Chief Executive Robert Nardelli said. Speaking at a conference sponsored by The Wall Street Journal, Mr. Nardelli also said "it is hard to say" if Cerberus Capital Management LP would have bought the auto maker if it had known how tough the business would become. He added that neither Cerberus nor its backers are "second-guessing" the deal last summer that gave the private-equity firm an 80.1 percent stake in Chrysler. "They're not looking back," he said. In light of the decline in truck sales, Chrysler "may have to go back and resize" production again, Mr. Nardelli said in an interview on the sidelines of the Journal's "Deals & DealMakers" conference. The company reduced production capacity last fall, taking out shifts at several plants and lowering its output by about one million vehicles.
Source:  The Wall Street Journal (Subscription required.)

Honda's Fuel-efficiency Strategy Pays Off

In recent years, while many automakers were building bigger and brawnier trucks and SUVs, Honda Motor Co. stuck to its core business of making fuel-efficient vehicles. That strategy is now paying off. This year Honda has clocked the best performance of any major player in the U.S. market. Its sales are up 4.8 percent in a market that contracted 8.4 percent in the first five months of 2008. In May, the Civic became the top-selling vehicle in the United States, displacing the longtime champion, Ford Motor Co.'s F-Series trucks, as consumers traded in gas guzzlers for more frugal models. "They have an array of products that is in tune with today's economic climate," said Jim Hossack, a consultant at AutoPacific Inc. in Tustin, Calif. "They don't have a Suburban, they don't have a Super Duty, but they have small, fuel-efficient vehicles. They're in good shape." Honda could sell even more vehicles in the United States if the Japanese automaker shipped more small cars to its American Honda Motor subsidiary. Fit subcompacts are sold within five days of reaching showrooms, said John Mendel, executive vice president at American Honda. But Honda is also scrambling to meet demand in Japan, where the Fit is the best-selling vehicle.
Source:  The Detroit News

Chrysler Joins, Cuts Dealerships

Automaker slashed 196 dealers nationwide, added 70 'Genesis' stores that combine 3 brands
Chrysler LLC trimmed 196 dealers from its ranks nationwide in the past 12 months, while at the same time adding 70 "Genesis" stores, which sell all three of the automaker's brands. Those numbers show the Auburn Hills automaker is making progress toward its goals of cutting the number of dealerships and selling all of its vehicles through a single channel. Most of the three-brand stores came from combining Chrysler-Jeep and Dodge dealerships. In the past five months, 37 Genesis stores have opened across the country. Falling vehicle sales and Chrysler's shrinking product lineup is sparking further consolidation, said Steven Landry, Chrysler executive vice president for North American sales. Slimmer profit margins are causing some dealers to exit the business, while others are looking to add brands so they can maintain or increase their volumes. Chrysler had 3,488 dealers at the end of May; 58 percent were Genesis shops -- that's up from 52 percent a year ago. Chrysler launched Project Genesis in February to expand dealer consolidation plans and eliminate overlapping vehicles in its lineup. In the future, Chrysler will eliminate some of that overlap and require dealers to sell all three brands if they want to offer customers a full-line of cars, trucks and SUVs. "The number of dealers that are interested in this program is growing every week," Landry said this week. "... dealers are now talking about their long-term strategy."
Source:  The Detroit News

Toyota Promises Plug-in Vehicle by 2010

TOKYO -- Toyota is introducing a plug-in hybrid with next-generation lithium-ion batteries in Japan, the U.S. and Europe by 2010, under a widespread strategy to be green outlined Wednesday. The ecological gas-electric vehicles, which can be recharged from a home electrical outlet, will target leasing customers, Toyota Motor Corp. said. Such plug-in hybrids can run longer as an electric vehicle than regular hybrids, and are cleaner. Lithium-ion batteries, now common in laptops, produce more power and are smaller than nickel-metal hydride batteries used in hybrids now. The joint venture that Toyota set up with Matsushita Electric Industrial Co., which makes Panasonic products, will begin producing lithium-ion batteries in 2009 and move into full-scale production in 2010, Toyota said. Toyota also said it's setting up a battery research department later this month to develop an innovative battery that can outperform even that lithium-ion battery.
Source:  The Associated Press

Fields Touts MKS as Next Lincoln Mercury Flagship

The 2009 Lincoln MKS sedan is about to become the next flagship of Lincoln Mercury, according to Mark Fields, Ford Motor Co.’s president of the Americas. Fields spoke briefly Monday night at Metropolitan Lincoln Mercury in Garden City, one of the nation’s top Lincoln Mercury dealers, to a crowd of several hundred VIP’s who gathered to see the unveiling of the car. While Lincoln sales have declined this year along with industry sales of many other luxury brands, Fields said he is confident that Lincoln has a bright future. “I’m very bullish on Lincoln Mercury because it has a very clear identity in the marketplace,” Fields said while speaking to a group of reporters prior to the event. “It’s a very important part of our stable of brands.” Sales of Lincoln have declined by 22.5 percent over the first five months of this year, according to Autodata Corp. Ford is counting on the MKS to draw customers away from the Cadillac STS and the Lexus GS and, based on dealer feedback, should be able to sell about 2,500 vehicles per month, said Brett Wheatley, general marketing manager for Lincoln Mercury.
Source:  Detroit Free Press

Stockholders Offer 1.3 Billion Ford Shares to Kerkorian

DETROIT — Ford Motor investors know a good deal when they see one. Shareholders tendered more than 1.3 billion shares to investor Kirk Kerkorian, who offered to buy 20 million of the ailing automaker's outstanding shares for $8.50 each. The offer was a small premium over Ford's share price of around $8.20 a share last month when Kerkorian made the tender offer, but as the market for Ford's big pickups and SUVs deteriorated since then, so has the share price. On Tuesday, shares closed at $6.12. Kerkorian, through his investment group Tracinda, first made moves to acquire Ford shares in April, when he accumulated 100 million shares — a 4.7 percent stake in the automaker — on the open market at an average price of $6.91. Later in April, the automaker announced it had earned $100 million in the first quarter. On May 9, Kerkorian made his tender offer for 20 million additional shares, which would raise his stake to about 5.5 percent. The deadline was Monday.
Source:  USA Today

Opinion: Unloading a Gas Guzzler
by Chris Pummer

Tips for selling a large vehicle -- and reasons to hold off
SAN FRANCISCO -- The market for large sport-utility vehicles and trucks is in a sudden free fall as owners confronting potential $100 fill-ups are rushing to unload their petrol pigs to spare themselves squeals of pain at the pump. The values of many used models have dropped as much as $4,000 below recent "book" prices. Many dealers are offering even less on trade-ins on the least-popular vehicles -- if they'll even take them at all. The same mass anxiety that gripped Americans driving large, eight-cylinder sedans by the early 1980s and spurred rapid replacement with four-cylinder gas misers is resurfacing with a vengeance. The question many distraught owners need to ask themselves is whether dumping their SUV or minivan is a smart financial move in the long term. "People need to put pencil to paper to see what it will really cost them, because there are other ways to save on gas costs," says Dale Early, owner of Deerbrook Forest Chrysler Jeep in Kingwood, Texas, and a National Automobile Dealers Association board member. Before selling off a gas glutton, owners should consider ... [t]he cost of a replacement vehicle, [l]imiting usage, [s]ell off your other vehicle, [and] [w]eather the storm. If gas prices fall or even just level off in the next few months, dealers say the large-vehicle values will likely recover by $1,500 to $2,000 with an easing in our collective anxiety level. "There's been so much emotion and panic, people aren't really paying attention to the practical options and solutions," Early says.
Source: MarketWatch.com 

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NADA Update
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.

Click here to see why NADA's executive leadership program is No. 1 for executive education.

Need Free Auto Tech Help?

There are more than 2,000 qualified students in the Automotive Youth Educational Systems (AYES) program awaiting summer internships with a dealership mentor. The National Automobile Dealers Association supports AYES and encourages all dealers to consider working with apprentice technicians. "As a school to career partnership, it's a tremendous way to grow your own workforce and see how a new employee fits in at your dealership," says Annette Sykora, NADA chairman. "It also supports local schools, and increases the productivity and efficiency of your dealership's service department." Call (888) 339-AYES, email info@ayes.org or visit www.ayes.org to find out how AYES can help you find, train and keep talented technicians.

NADA Insurance Announces Gains in its Hole-in-One Insurance Program

NADA Insurance announced that its hole-in-one insurance program, ACECO, earned 36 percent more in premiums in May 2008 compared to the same month a year ago. The number of policies written increased as well, jumping 23 percent. The reason for the impressive gains, despite the recent downturn in the auto industry, is because of several factors, says Lin Peacock, NADA Insurance vice president.  "We've made a number of positive changes to the program last quarter," Peacock said. "We surveyed our members to determine their needs; we created new services to meet those needs; and we revamped our Web site to make it easier to use. It all adds up to satisfied customers." NADA's hole-in-one insurance will provide a no-obligation quote to any NADA dealer. Just call (888) 828-8540 or visit www.NADAinsurance.com and click on "Hole-in-One."

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.

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.

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:

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  • 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
 

Click Here to see why NADA's executive leadership program is No. 1 for executive education. 

More Video Highlights
Quotable
 
"Failure by Congress to move quickly to extend these important provisions will bring investment in renewable energy and energy efficiency projects to a standstill ..."

   
-- GM, Ford and 300 major companies wrote in a letter urging the U.S. Senate to renew the tax credit for research and development, The Detroit News, June 11


"People need to put pencil to paper to see what it will really cost them, because there are other ways to save on gas costs."

   
-- Dale Early, owner of Deerbrook Forest Chrysler Jeep in Kingwood, Texas, and a NADA board member, says consumers should consider several options before trading in their SUVs and trucks as a result of high gas prices, MarketWatch.com, June 10


"The number of dealers that are interested in this program is growing every week. ... dealers are now talking about their long-term strategy."

   
-- Steven Landry, Chrysler executive vice president for North American sales, referring to Project Genesis, The Detroit News, June 11


"I'm very bullish on Lincoln Mercury because it has a very clear identity in the marketplace. It's a very important part of our stable of brands." 

    -- Mark Fields, Ford Motor Co.’s president of the Americas, Detroit Free Press, June 11


"They have an array of products that is in tune with today's economic climate." 

   
-- Jim Hossack, a consultant at AutoPacific Inc., referring to Honda's product mix, The Detroit News, June 11
Video Highlights
 
   

New Orleans is Back!


 NADA's New Orleans Project
 NADA's Return to New Orleans 
 NADA Chief Economist Forecasts a Challenging '08
Click here for more NADA-TV 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.