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Friday, July 11, 2008 RSSSEND TO A FRIENDPRINT
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Top Stories
GM CEO Says it Has No Intention of Seeking Bankruptcy Protection
Chrysler: Bankruptcy Speculation Has No Merit
Toyota Will Start Making Hybrid Prius in US
Automakers Tout Clean Diesel as New Savior
EPA: Smog Could Get Worse With Global Warming
Energy Official Frowns on Cutting Back Ethanol
New Technologies to Boost Fuel Economy
Blog: Selling a Car? Speak to the Missus
NADA Update
NADA Hole-in-One Insurance Boosts Dealership Visibility at Low Cost
Applications for NADA's Executive Education Program due July 16
Nomination Ballots for NADA Director from Kansas due July 18
Lenovo Offers NADA Members Savings on ThinkPad Notebooks
Top Stories
GM CEO Says it Has No Intention of Seeking Bankruptcy Protection

DALLAS — The chief executive of General Motors dismissed speculation that the largest U.S. automaker might soon seek bankruptcy protection. Comments in the past week about a potential bankruptcy are "not at all constructive or accurate," Rick Wagoner said Thursday. GM has $24 billion in cash and $7 billion in unused credit facilities, he said. Last week, a Merrill Lynch analyst cut his rating on GM stock and said "bankruptcy is not impossible" if the auto market continues to weaken. "Under any scenario we can imagine ... our cash position will remain robust through this year" and the company has options for raising cash beyond that, Wagoner said at a lunch meeting of Dallas business leaders. The bankruptcy speculation has increased and GM stock has been hammered over the past two months, losing more than half its value. Dealers are worried that the negative chatter will hurt sales, and Wagoner conceded that consumers wouldn't want to buy cars from a bankrupt company. "That kind of news isn't helpful, but as long as we can get the dealers the right information ... I think we can address it," he said.
Source:  Associated Press

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Chrysler: Bankruptcy Speculation Has No Merit

DETROIT -- Chrysler LLC again sought to reassure dealers on Wednesday that reports of its financial distress are unfounded. “Speculation has surfaced recently in media coverage of analyst reports suggesting Chrysler might have liquidity issues down the road if the U.S. market does not pick up,” the company said in a July 9 letter signed by Jim Press, Chrysler co-president, and Steven Landry, executive vice president of North American sales. “Chrysler has communicated to the media that the suggestion of a possible bankruptcy situation is without merit.” Press and Landry’s note quoted a presentation made to the national dealer council June 27 by Lenard Tessler, managing director of Cerberus Capital Management LP. At that presentation Tessler told dealers that a $2 billion loan drawn down by Chrysler from Daimler AG and Cerberus Capital Management LP was something agreed to in the original transaction when Cerberus bought 80.1 percent of Chrysler from Daimler last August. “The company has exceeded all of its financial targets it set for itself from the day we closed the transaction on Aug. 3."
Source: Automotive News (Subscription required.)

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Toyota Will Start Making Hybrid Prius in US

DETROIT -- Toyota Motor Corp., the seemingly unstoppable juggernaut that saw its U.S. sales double in the last decade, has come back down to earth. Stung by rare double-digit sales declines and burdened by a growing inventory of slow-selling pickups, Toyota said Thursday it will start producing the Prius hybrid in the U.S. and will shut down truck and SUV production to meet changing consumer demands. Toyota was the latest automaker to announce major production changes in response to lagging U.S. auto sales. Industrywide, sales have dropped 10 percent in the first six months of this year and are moving at their slowest pace in more than a decade. High gas prices have accelerated the drop in pickup and sport utility vehicle sales faster than automakers had predicted, and they're scrambling to keep up with demand for smaller, more fuel-efficient cars. Toyota said it will start producing the Prius in late 2010 at a plant it is building in Blue Springs, Miss., just northwest of Tupelo. Toyota already builds a hybrid version of the Camry sedan in Kentucky, but this will be the first time the Prius, which has been on sale for more than a decade, will be built outside of Japan and China. Prius sales fell 34 percent in June as Toyota failed to keep up with demand for the car, which gets 46 miles to the gallon. Toyota has 13 North American plants and two under construction in Mississippi and Ontario. The automaker has more than 43,000 workers in North America.
Source: Associated Press

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Automakers Tout Clean Diesel as New Savior

Seizing on sky-high gasoline prices, automakers and industry trade groups are boosting their promotion of clean diesel vehicles to Congress. Volkswagen Group, Chrysler and Bosch, a global automotive technology supplier, are among a handful of auto groups working to morph diesel’s image as a foul-smelling, smog-forming fuel into a quick antidote for global warming. Clean diesel vehicles run on ultralow sulfur diesel that was mandated in 2000 by the Clinton administration and that debuted in 2006. The fuel contains 97 percent less sulfur than traditional diesel and is being phased in at service stations nationwide by 2010. Even though diesel fuel prices soar well above regular gasoline, supporters of clean diesel say its fuel economy savings and incentives would offset the high fuel costs. Most clean diesel vehicles sell for only about $1,000 more than their gasoline-fueled counterparts.
Source:  Politico

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EPA: Smog Could Get Worse With Global Warming

WASHINGTON -- Global warming could worsen smog and stretch what typically is a summer pollution problem into the spring and fall, government scientists predicted Thursday. Smog is most likely to get worse in the Northeast, lower Midwest, and mid-Atlantic regions of the country, where numerous counties and cities are already struggling to clean up the air, according to a draft analysis by the Environmental Protection Agency. But in Texas and Southern California, already among the smoggiest areas in the country, the science is unclear, even conflicting. Smog there could get slightly better or become more severe, the analysis said. Nonetheless, researchers said state officials should be factoring in the impact of global warming as they make plans to try to reduce smog, calling it a "climate penalty."
Source:  Associated Press

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Energy Official Frowns on Cutting Back Ethanol

WASHINGTON -- The Energy Department frowned on relaxing federal requirements to boost the use of ethanol in gasoline. Any reduction in the renewable fuel standard would sap investment in biofuel technology and undermine efforts to wean the nation off oil and reduce greenhouse gases, Deputy Assistant Energy Secretary Steven Chalk said Thursday. "Keeping that in place is very important to us," Chalk told the Senate Environment clean air subcommittee. Chalk made the comments as the Bush administration is considering a request by Texas Gov. Rick Perry to halve the ethanol requirement this year, from nine billion gallons to 4.5 billion gallons, because of high corn prices. The renewable fuel standard was expanded in last year's energy bill to require 36 billion gallons of biofuels to be blended into gasoline by 2022. In April, Perry, a Republican, asked EPA for a waiver, saying the ethanol requirements were having an "unnecessarily negative impact" on Texas' livestock industry, which relies on corn and soybeans to feed its cattle. The Clean Air Task Force, the Environmental Working Group and Friends of the Earth ... said the ethanol mandate should be suspended...
Source:  Associated Press

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New Technologies to Boost Fuel Economy

Novel approaches to improving gas mileage will enable engines to get the fuel efficiency of a hybrid but at a fraction of the cost
There is one small side benefit to gasoline selling above $4 a gallon and oil prices setting new records almost daily. From lonely inventors to small research firms to big carmakers, everyone is scrambling to find new ways to improve fuel economy. They're not just working on the hybrid-electric vehicles and electric cars that make big headlines. Engineers across the globe are also working on ways to improve the good old gasoline engines that power today's cars. Take MCE-5 Development. This researcher based in Lyon, France, is the latest company to try to make a gasoline engine that will give cars the efficiency of hybrid-electric vehicles and clean diesels for a fraction of the cost. MCE-5 says it can get a 35 percent fuel economy boost from its 1.5-liter, four-cylinder engine. In a test lab, the company has gotten 220 hp and about 45 mpg, and all for less than $1,000 a vehicle.
Source:  Business Week

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Blog: Selling a Car? Speak to the Missus

For many women, the thought of buying or fixing a car comes with the anticipation of an inevitable rip-off. But the automotive industry is changing, thanks in part to a handful of women working on the inside. Car dealerships can now choose to be “certified female friendly.” The designation is given to dealers who complete a training program that is supposed to make their showrooms and service centers more female-friendly. So far, 220 dealerships in cities from Los Angeles to Denver, New York and Orlando have attained “female-friendly” status. Jody DeVere, the program’s creator and founder of AskPatty.com an auto-advice Web site aimed at women, hopes to do away with the “calendars of naked women hanging over the desks of dealership employees,” for example. She points out the Road & Travel Magazine statistic that women now buy 65 percent of all new cars and 53 percent of all used cars. Another secret: Women aren’t uniquely ignorant. Men these days know less and less about cars. “Those skills are absolutely excess to people’s needs in most cities,” explains Mary Jackson, an automotive industry consultant who put herself through graduate school by working at an auto-body repair shop. Ms. Jackson says it’s important for everyone — not just women — to gain some basic understanding of how a car works. Ms. DeVere hopes more women will choose to work in the automotive industry, another change that could help neutralize the environment. ... this year NADA boasts a female chairman: Annette Sykora.
Source: The Wall Street Journal

[Editor's Note: Front Lines examines news and trends concerning women and how women's increased influence in business and politics is altering male-female relationships. Francesca Donner is the editor. Send comments and suggestions to journalwomen@wsj.com.]

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NADA Update
NADA Hole-in-One Insurance Boosts Dealership Visibility at Low Cost

NADA Insurance announced that its hole-in-one insurance program, ACECO, continues to experience strong financial growth, despite the downturn in the automotive industry. The trend indicates that U.S. auto dealers are continuing to support charitable and invitational golf tournaments in their local communities. And, with the average hole-in-one insurance premium being just a few hundred dollars, golf tournament sponsorship is a very cost-effective way for a dealership to advertise.

"Many of our dealers are finding that golf sponsorship is a very effective advertising medium," said NADA Insurance Vice President Lin Peacock. "While wanting to scale back expenses, our dealers still want to continue to be a prominent part of their local business communities. ACECO hole-in-one insurance offers NADA dealers a way to sponsor highly visible golf tournaments — with zero risk and at very little cost."

To help dealers gain even more exposure, ACECO will provide any policyholder with a free press release template that can be filled out and sent to the local media to announce the dealership's support of the tournament. Visit www.nadainsurance.com today or call 888-828-8540 to obtain a quote for your next tournament sponsorship.

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Applications for NADA's Executive Education Program due July 16

NADA is now accepting applications for the new Dealer Executive Education class scheduled to begin in September at Babson College. Applications must be submitted by July 16.

Babson is the leading provider of entrepreneurial executive education training in the U.S. It has been ranked No. 1 in entrepreneurship for 13 consecutive years by U.S. News & World Report. The customized six-module program focuses on leadership, management and entrepreneurship for the retail side of the automotive and truck industry. All six week-long classes are being held on campus at the Babson Executive Education Center in Wellesley, Mass., over a 16-month period.

Click here to enroll and find out more about the program or contact Dealer Academy Director Allan Jones at (703) 821-7210 or ajones@nada.org.

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

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Nomination Ballots for NADA Director from Kansas due July 18

Ballots for nominating members to serve as the NADA director from Kansas have been mailed to members in that state. Current director Dale Willey will be leaving the board effective Jan. 26, 2009. Nomination ballots must be returned postmarked by Friday, July 18. The newly-elected director, who takes office Jan. 27, will be announced at the 2009 NADA Convention & Exposition in New Orleans.

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Lenovo Offers NADA Members Savings on ThinkPad Notebooks

 

NADA members can save up to $650 on ThinkPad notebooks by using the eCoupon USXSUMMERHEAT at checkout until July 29. To take advantage of the discount, visit NADA's PC Purchase Program Web site (member login required), then click on the link for Lenovo or call 1-800-426-7235, Option 1, Ext. 4838. Enter eCoupon USXSUMMERHEAT at checkout. Free ground shipping is available on all Web orders.

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Iowa Dealership Endures Extensive Flood Damage

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Quotable
 
"That kind of news isn't helpful, but as long as we can get the dealers the right information ... I think we can address it."

    -- GM CEO Rick Wagoner, refutting reports that the automaker may seek bankruptcy protection, Associated Press, July 11


"Toyota isn't immune to $4 gas and the recession in the housing market. It's almost as though Toyota always defies gravity, and in this case, they don't."

    -- Erich Merkle, an auto analyst with Crowe Chizek and Co., a Grand Rapids accounting and consulting company, Associated Press, July 10


"Chrysler has communicated to the media that the suggestion of a possible bankruptcy situation is without merit."

    -- Chrysler Co-president Jim Press and Executive Vice President of North American Sales Steven Landry said in a letter to dealers, Automotive News, July 10
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Click Here to see why NADA's executive leadership program is No. 1 for executive education.


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