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At a Glance...
Top Stories
U.S. Plug-in Push is Urged
Pricier Gasoline Makes Hybrids a Better Deal
Hybrid Sales Plunge as Demand Keeps Rising
Toyota Exec Tries to Cool Plug-in Fever
GM Working on New Hydrogen Station
The Fading Truck
Europeans Go to U.S. Dealers To Buy Cars From Home
GM's Woes Spread to Europe in Threat to Revamp
NADA Update
Enroll Now for NADA's Executive Leadership Program
Dealers Urged to Apply for the 2008 ENERGY STAR for Small Business Award
Need Free Auto Tech Help?
NADA Insurance Announces Gains in its Hole-in-One Insurance Program
Ballots for New NADA Director from Georgia due Friday
Shop the NADA Expo Floor - Online
STAR Answers Dealers' Questions About PC Equipment
Lenovo ThinkPad Notebooks Start at Just $459
Top Stories
U.S. Plug-in Push is Urged

WASHINGTON -- The U.S. government will need to drastically increase spending on research into plug-in hybrid vehicles, as well as provide incentives to buyers, for them to become viable, Ford Motor Co.'s North American chief said Wednesday. "It seems clear that a business case will not evolve, in the near term, without support from Washington," Ford North American President Mark Fields said at a plug-in hybrid conference in Washington. Ford has pledged to build a demonstration fleet of 20 plug-in hybrid Escape SUVs and handed over a flex-fuel-capable version to the U.S. Department of Energy for testing Wednesday. Ford said the first vehicles were achieving 120 m.p.g. when driven fully charged in urban areas. But Fields said that the costs of such technologies, along with some technical and logistical challenges, would require government aid and policy changes. The battery packs alone in Ford's Escape hybrid plug-ins likely cost about $6,000 each at today's prices -- more than double the typical cost of a traditional hybrid system. "We are doing our part to transform the industry and invest in new technologies," Fields said, noting that two-thirds of Ford's $7-billion annual development budget goes toward boosting fuel economy. "However, in a global environment, a substantial government partnership is required."
Source:  Detroit Free Press

Pricier Gasoline Makes Hybrids a Better Deal

The Toyota Prius, the country's top-selling hybrid car, sells for an average $22,939, compared to $19,231 charged for its gas-powered cousin, the Camry. But the Prius also drinks less gasoline -- which now tops the $4-a-gallon mark. Herein lies the consumer conundrum. Which is the better deal: The more expensive car that is cheaper to operate, or the less-expensive car that drinks more gasoline? It's the Toyota Prius -- but only if the buyer keeps the car for longer than three years, according to ... a Web site with resources for car buyers. In the Prius vs. Camry example, it takes three years for the hybrid's fuel savings to pay back the premium paid to buy the Prius instead of a comparable gas-powered car. In addition to the Prius, analysts found that the Nissan Altima, [GMC] Yukon, Toyota Camry and the Mercury Mariner were among hybrid vehicles that offered relatively quick paybacks. Of course, many consumers seek hybrids for environmental reasons that, to them, outweigh the sticker price. But strictly from a cost standpoint, the hybrid isn't always the best bet. Some models still have such big price premiums or modest mileage improvements that buyers ought to think carefully before buying. These include the hybrid versions of the Toyota Highlander, Chevrolet Malibu, Saturn Aura and the ultra-luxury Lexus LS600H.
Source:  The Wall Street Journal (Subscription required.)

Hybrid Sales Plunge as Demand Keeps Rising

Throughout metro Detroit and the nation, auto dealers can't get their hands on enough hybrids to meet soaring customer interest. "We've got about a four- to five-month wait on Prius Hybrid and about a three-month wait on Camry Hybrid," said Chad Ratliff, general sales manager for Mike Fox Toyota in Rochester Hills. "As a dealer body, we are all screaming." With customer demand for hybrids surging, several automakers -- including Toyota Motor Corp., General Motors Corp. and Ford Motor Co. -- are struggling to produce enough hybrid cars to meet the need, causing sales of many hybrid models to drop in May. "I think what happened in May was basically an availability problem," said Tom Libby, senior director of industry analysis for J.D. Power and Associates. But no vehicle experienced a volume drop on par with hybrid market leader Prius. Toyota said last week that sales of the Prius declined 37.5 percent, to 15,011, compared with 24,009 in May 2007. Also, sales of its Camry Hybrid sank 12.5 percent, to 5,999. That's in stark contrast to April, when Prius sales increased 61 percent and Camry Hybrid sales rose 51 percent. Toyota said Prius sales slumped in comparison to a surge in May '07 because of a promotion designed to clear out inventory. But perhaps the biggest factor is that Toyota and its suppliers were unable to make enough batteries and other hybrid component systems to meet rising global demand.
Source:  The Detroit Free Press

Toyota Exec Tries to Cool Plug-in Fever

WASHINGTON -- A top Toyota technology expert today urged people to temper expectations for what plug-in hybrid vehicles can accomplish. Bill Reinert said that the demands of real-world driving, such as rapid acceleration on freeway entrances, could dramatically reduce the all-electric range of plug-ins, whenever they hit the market. “When we see the (claims of) 100 mile-per-gallon stuff, not everybody’s going to get 100 miles per gallon,” Reinert said. He is national manager of the advanced technology group for Toyota Motor Sales U.S.A. Inc. A plug-in hybrid would have a more robust battery pack than a traditional gasoline-electric hybrid. In theory, with recharging from electrical outlets, it could operate much longer on electric-only power than other hybrids. Proponents contend that an all-electric range of 40 miles would satisfy the daily needs of most drivers, giving them the equivalent of 100 mpg or more and dramatically cutting petroleum demands. But just as some consumers have been disappointed by the real-world mileage of regular hybrids, plug-ins may not live up to those high hopes, Reinert said.
Source:  Automotive News (Subscription required.)

GM Working on New Hydrogen Station

LOS ANGELES -- General Motors Corp said on Wednesday it was partnering with Clean Energy Fuels Corp on a new hydrogen refueling station in Los Angeles that the companies hope will be the first of many. GM is one of a handful of car companies developing fuel cell-powered vehicles, which run on hydrogen and emit only water vapor. Fuel cell vehicles are being touted as a way to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and reduce the United States' dependency on pricey crude oil. In a statement, the two companies said they are discussing opportunities to expand the first station, which will be located near Los Angeles International Airport, into a network of hydrogen stations used to refuel fuel cell vehicles. The new fueling station will be used by drivers taking part in GM's Los Angeles-area test of its Chevy Equinox fuel-cell-powered car, the company said. GM said in April it aims to have 1,000 hydrogen fuel cell vehicles in California between 2012 and 2014 to comply with the state's goal to put thousands of cleaner cars on its roads. A problem with fuel cells, however, is the lack of an infrastructure for refueling. California currently has only a handful of refueling stations.
Source:  Reuters

The Fading Truck

And how automakers plan for its future as gas prices drive SUVs out of fashion
For now, Tylene Henry's 2004 Buick Rainier is the right vehicle for her. But at $76 per fill-up, the Rainier won't be right for long. "I probably will go to a car next, especially if things stay the way they are now," said Henry... While concerns such as Henry's are among the factors in a steep decline in truck and SUV sales, what remains of the market when it bottoms out will be critically important for Detroit's automakers. "Someone who has to haul the big trailer or the big boat is going to need some kind of a work vehicle," said Joseph Phillippi of AutoTrends Consulting Inc. "There are always going to be people who need something like that." So as the Detroit Three restructure again -- retooling and closing plants and laying off workers -- they must protect their truck leadership and profits... "This is an important question because it has much to do with your manufacturing plants," said George Pipas, chief sales analyst for Ford Motor Co. "How many plants, how many shifts of production does the industry want to put behind the large truck and SUV categories?"
Source:  Detroit Free Press

Europeans Go to U.S. Dealers To Buy Cars From Home

The weak dollar is drawing a new group of Europeans to shop in the U.S. -- for European cars. More Europeans are turning to the U.S. to buy luxury cars, from Porsche 911s to Volvo 4x4s, and then shipping them back home. The cheap dollar and competitive pricing in the slow U.S. market can yield savings of as much as 30 percent of the cost of similar models in Europe, even after costs of transporting the cars and complying with different emissions standards. Because cash-strapped Americans are shunning car showrooms, new clients should be good news for U.S. dealers. But the car makers, anxious to protect European margins that are often much fatter than those in the U.S., are fighting the trend, enforcing nonexport agreements in place for decades. Reimports of used cars have surged the most. It is still hard to bring a new European car back to Europe. Approved U.S. dealers for most European brands that are caught selling new cars to be shipped back can face penalties or fines by the auto makers. And many European customers are reluctant to buy new cars from the U.S. because modifications needed to meet European road-safety and emissions requirements invalidate the U.S. warranties. The fact that cars were first registered overseas can also affect resale values in Europe, the companies say. But reimports of "nearly new" cars are booming, hurting some dealers in Europe. U.S. dealers aren't fined for selling such cars for export, and many secondhand sales still are made by independent dealers, not franchise dealers, making it more difficult for auto makers to control the market.
Source:  The Wall Street Journal (Subscription required.)

GM's Woes Spread to Europe in Threat to Revamp

General Motors Corp.'s head of its European operations indicated that the well-documented weakness in GM's North American market is seeping into Western Europe as that unit's production costs soar and the sales rate threatens to sink to multidecade lows. GM Europe President Carl-Peter Forster, in a blog post published on GM's Web site Tuesday, said "the rise in oil is having a profound and permanent impact on the fundamentals of our business -- and not just in North America." The executive said that "while energy costs are draining the consumer side of our financial equation, the impact of skyrocketing commodity prices and the huge disparity between the euro and most other currencies are seriously dragging down the production side of things here in Europe." Like GM's U.S. business, costs are rising and sales are falling in Western Europe, threatening to unhinge a restructuring executed there earlier this decade.
Source:  The Wall Street Journal (Subscription required.)

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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 six-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 ... 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.

Dealers Urged to Apply for the 2008 ENERGY STAR for Small Business Award

The 2008 ENERGY STAR Small Business and Congregations Awards are open to any small business, congregation, or non-profit which has increased the energy efficiency of its facility through upgrades or energy-management improvements during the last two years. It can be a large project or small improvement in energy efficiency, a retrofit or new construction. In 2007, EPA’s ENERGY STAR program honored three dealerships: Pat Lobb Toyota of McKinney, Texas; Planet Subaru, Hanover, Mass.; and Sendell Motors, Inc., Greensburg, Pa. Each received an ENERGY STAR for Small Business Award, which recognized these dealerships as “examples of financial and environmental stewardship” for achieving greater energy efficiency at their facilities. To download an application, click here.

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. "Taking in an AYES student also supports local schools and the community, and can increase 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 Friday

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:

  • 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
 

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

More Video Highlights
Quotable
 
"We are doing our part to transform the industry and invest in new technologies. However, in a global environment, a substantial government partnership is required."

   
-- Ford North American President Mark Fields said at a plug-in hybrid conference in Washington, Detroit Free Press, June 12


"We've got about a four to five month wait on Prius Hybrid and about a three-month wait on Camry Hybrid. As a dealer body, we are all screaming."

   
-- Chad Ratliff, general sales manager for Mike Fox Toyota in Rochester Hills, Mich., Detroit Free Press, June 12


"Someone who has to haul the big trailer or the big boat is going to need some kind of a work vehicle." 

   
-- Joseph Phillippi of AutoTrends Consulting Inc., referring to the need of some consumers for larger work vehicles despite the price of gas, Detroit Free Press, June 12
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.