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At a Glance...
Top Stories
Ford Vows to Lead in Fuel Economy Debate
Ex-EPA Official Says White House Pulled Rank
Uprising Against the Ethanol Mandate
Auto Execs' Hopes Dim for '09
Bill Gates Buys Stake in AutoNation
Nissan Says Electric Cars Will be Quickly Profitable
U.S. Will See Electric Minis in 2009
NADA Update
Auto Dealers Invited to SEMA Show to Learn about $38 Billion Market
NADA Director Receives Award from Minority Dealer Association
Lenovo Offers NADA Members Savings on ThinkPad Notebooks
STAR Answers Dealers' Questions About Dealership Data Security
Top Stories
Ford Vows to Lead in Fuel Economy Debate

Exec optimistic ahead of posting of quarterly results, more cuts
RICHMOND, Ind. -- Ford Motor Co.'s president of the Americas, Mark Fields, on Tuesday said Ford would be dedicated to making its future vehicles "meet or beat the competition in fuel economy" in the face of $4-a-gallon gasoline, weak consumer confidence and plunging auto sales. Fields noted that July auto sales have been no better than they were in June, when they plummeted 18 percent industrywide. The event was held just days before Ford is expected to post significant second-quarter losses and further restructuring of its unprofitable North American operations. Ford has said it will bring fuel-efficient models from Europe as it retools its North American lineup. The Associated Press reported that Ford will bring six small vehicles from overseas. Ford will move assembly of the Ford Expedition and Lincoln Navigator from the Michigan Truck Plant in Wayne to the Kentucky Truck Plant in Louisville, the Louisville Courier-Journal reported. Michigan Truck will be retooled to make the Focus compact car, according to the New York Times. Ford is cutting production of trucks in response to slumping sales. When asked when Ford thought the economy might bottom out or rebound, Fields did not have an answer. "We don't know," said Fields, who was at a centennial celebration for the Model T, which has attracted thousands of collectors and fans to a sprawling field in Wayne County, Ind. When asked about reports that Ford might be launching a new plan for Mercury, the company's long-ailing premium brand, which is positioned between the mainstream Ford and luxury Lincoln nameplates, Fields defended the brand for attracting customers who are not lured by the Ford name.
Source:  Detroit Free Press

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Ex-EPA Official Says White House Pulled Rank

Administration Ordered Calif. Emissions Plan Quashed, Former Deputy Testifies
A former Environmental Protection Agency official yesterday contradicted EPA administrator Stephen L. Johnson's congressional testimony on one of the administration's key global warming decisions, saying the White House ordered Johnson to block California's bid to regulate vehicles' tailpipe emissions. On Jan. 24, Johnson told the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee under oath that he had made the decision on his own after determining there was no compelling evidence to justify California's plans. "The responsibility for making the decision for California rests with me and solely with me," Johnson said at the time. "I made the decision. It was my decision. It was the right decision." Yesterday, however, former EPA deputy associate administrator Jason K. Burnett -- who resigned last month and has since divulged key details about how President Bush and his deputies have influenced the agency's decisions on climate policy -- testified before the committee that Johnson had concluded that California's request was legally justified -- until White House officials ordered him to reverse the decision. California had sought a waiver under the Clean Air Act to implement rules aimed at cutting greenhouse gas emissions from vehicles by 30 percent between 2009 and 2016. Johnson announced in late December that he would not grant the waiver, effectively blocking 17 other states that had either adopted or pledged to implement California's proposed rules.
Source:  The Washington Post

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Uprising Against the Ethanol Mandate

The ethanol industry, until recently a golden child that got favorable treatment from Washington, is facing a critical decision on its future. Gov. Rick Perry of Texas is asking the Environmental Protection Agency to temporarily waive regulations requiring the oil industry to blend ever-increasing amounts of ethanol into gasoline. A decision is expected in the next few weeks. Mr. Perry says the billions of bushels of corn being used to produce all that mandated ethanol would be better suited as livestock feed than as fuel. Feed prices have soared in the last two years as fuel has begun competing with food for cropland. “When you find yourself in a hole, you have to quit digging,” Mr. Perry said in an interview. “And we are in a hole.” His request for an emergency waiver cutting the ethanol mandate to 4.5 billion gallons, from the 9 billion gallons required this year and the 10.5 billion required in 2009, is backed by a coalition of food, livestock and environmental groups. The E.P.A. received 15,000 public comments on the Texas proposal, roughly split between those in favor and those against. An agency spokesman said the E.P.A. can approve the request, deny it or take a middle path. The deadline is Thursday, but the agency says it needs more time to review public comments and formulate a decision.
Source:  The New York Times

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Auto Execs' Hopes Dim for '09

Renault boss joins chorus forecasting long sales slump
FRANKLIN, Tenn. -- As tough as this year has been for the auto industry, next year doesn't look any better. Carlos Ghosn, head of the Renault-Nissan auto-making alliance, joined a growing list of top executives who now expect a severe downturn in U.S. auto sales to persist into 2009 and possibly beyond. "I think we're going to have a challenging couple of years ahead of us," Ghosn, CEO of Renault SA and Nissan Motor Co said Tuesday at the grand opening of Nissan's North American headquarters. He said he expected U.S. auto sales to fall to 14.3 million cars and light trucks this year, down from a previous forecast of more than 15 million, and he said he doesn't see the market recovering in 2009. Last week, General Motors Corp. also issued a gloomy forecast, assuming sales of 14 million cars and trucks for 2009. Industry forecasting firm J.D. Power and Associates is planning to announce a cut in its auto sales forecast today. "There were at least two fundamental changes in May: the reduction of overall demand, and the extreme shift to smaller, more fuel-efficient vehicles," said Tom Libby, senior director of industry analysis at J.D. Power. The firm will lower its 2008 forecast for a second time, to between 14 million and 14.5 million vehicles from its last forecast of 14.95 million. Ghosn stoked speculation recently when he said industry difficulties would likely lead to more consolidation. Two years ago, he tried to bring GM into the Renault-Nissan alliance but was rebuffed. Ghosn has said he still thinks it makes sense to add a North American partner to the alliance.
Source:  The Detroit News

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Bill Gates Buys Stake in AutoNation

Microsoft Corp. Chairman Bill Gates has a 5 and a half percent stake in dealership chain AutoNation Inc., according to a disclosure filed Monday, July 21, with the Securities and Exchange Commission. In betting on auto dealerships, Gates joins fellow technology pioneer Michael Dell. Dell announced plans in May to team with former Sonic Automotive President Jeffrey Rachor to start a joint dealership venture. Dell is the founder and CEO of personal computer giant Dell Inc. The stake makes Gates AutoNation’s third-largest shareholder, according to Bloomberg. But he’s far behind the largest shareholder: Hedge fund manager Edward Lampert. As of its latest SEC filing on May 28, Lampert’s firm owned 39.9 percent of AutoNation. Lampert is best known for acquiring troubled retailer Kmart out of bankruptcy and merging it with Sears Holdings Corp. AutoNation, of Fort Lauderdale, Fla., has 321 vehicle franchises in 15 states with a range of U.S., Asian and European automobile brands. AutoNation ranks No. 1 on the Automotive News list of the top 100 dealership groups in the United States with retail sales of 328,963 new vehicles in 2007.
Source:  Automotive News (Subscription required.)

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Nissan Says Electric Cars Will be Quickly Profitable

FRANKLIN, Tenn. — The electric cars that Nissan Motor plans to start selling by 2010 will have varying capabilities depending on a given country’s driving patterns, but all will be priced competitively and will generate profits, company executives said Tuesday. Nissan’s chief executive, Carlos Ghosn, said that any electric car the company sold in the United States would need a range of at least 100 miles between charges to be practical, but that European drivers could make do with about half that range. Tolerance for the time it takes to recharge such a car may vary widely as well, he said. “I want a pure electric car. I don’t want a range extender. I don’t want another hybrid,” Mr. Ghosn told reporters after a ceremony to dedicate Nissan’s new North American headquarters in Franklin... “It’s not going to be zero emissions in certain conditions. It’s going to be zero emissions.” In May, Mr. Ghosn asserted that Nissan would, within two years, become the first automaker to sell a mass-market, zero-emission vehicle in the United States. The company plans to sell such cars globally by 2012. To help in its development of electric cars, Nissan said Tuesday that it would work with the state of Tennessee and its largest electric utility, the Tennessee Valley Authority, to study and perhaps install infrastructure like charging stations. The automaker has begun similar efforts in Denmark, Israel and Portugal, but the United States presents a far greater opportunity for Nissan to market electric cars.
Source:  The New York Times

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U.S. Will See Electric Minis in 2009

Other models could follow soon
The U.S. car market may be moving toward Mini's kind of small, fashionable and fuel-efficient vehicles, and the British brand will be ready as it prepares to launch its first electric vehicles in the United States in 2009 and a small crossover utility vehicle not long after. Mini would also like to offer a diesel engine if it can develop one that gets at least 50 m.p.g. on the highway in EPA tests and meets strict emissions standards in California and northeast states, said Jim McDowell, vice president of Mini USA. "The world is moving in our direction," McDowell said Tuesday in Birmingham. "The overall market is down 10 percent, but small-car sales are up 11 percent. People are trading in Ford F-150s and Hummers for Minis." Mini will add 2,000 to 3,000 vehicles to the allotment its U.S. dealers get this year, he said. Sales for the brand, which BMW owns, soared 33.9 percent, to 26,400 cars for the first half of 2008 in the United States. Minis have been selling in a mere four days on the lot, and the company is virtually out of inventory in the United States, McDowell said.
Source:  Detroit Free Press

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NADA Update
Auto Dealers Invited to SEMA Show to Learn about $38 Billion Market

DIAMOND BAR, Calif. -- While the nation’s new-car and -truck dealers continue to make major investments in their dealerships to improve sales and customer satisfaction, one area of potential new business has remained relatively untapped—the $38 billion accessory market. That’s why Phil Brady, president of the National Automobile Dealers Association (NADA), and Chris Kersting, president and CEO of the Specialty Equipment Market Association (SEMA), have announced a first-of-its-kind, comprehensive “Dealer Day” program designed exclusively for NADA members at the 2008 SEMA Show. “Dealer Day” is designed to give dealer principals several ideas, tools and resources on how to integrate a strong and successful accessory program at their dealerships. The half-day program is scheduled for Wednesday, Nov. 5 at the Las Vegas Convention Center. It’s the first time the SEMA Show will dedicate an exclusive program just for NADA members. There is no cost to attend “Dealer Day.”  “At a time when many dealers are looking for new ways to generate additional revenue and sales, this program will provide dealers with new ideas and strategies to help improve their bottom-line performance by creating profitable accessory programs,” says Brady. “Through a series of activities and presentations, dealers will learn about what’s happening in the specialty industry and discover how profitable an accessory program can be, and they will learn how to successfully incorporate such a program at their dealerships,” Kersting says. As an added feature, participating dealers will have an opportunity to meet directly with proven experts who will share real-world case studies. To register or receive more information about the program, e-mail dealerlink@sema.org.
Source:  NADA Newswire

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NADA Director Receives Award from Minority Dealer Association

LA JOLLA, Calif. -- Dale Early was the recipient of the Jesse Jones Visionary Award presented by the National Association of Minority Automobile Dealers. Early is a director at-large of the National Automobile Dealers Association.

The award, which recognizes an individual’s vision, vigilance and work initiatives that have increased opportunities for ethic minorities, was presented to Early at the 2008 NAMAD Annual Membership Conference held July 9-12 in La Jolla, Calif.

"I am honored to receive this award because Jesse Jones was my first dealer role model," said Early, owner of Deerbrook Forest Chrysler Jeep in Kingwood, Texas, and chairman of NADA's public affairs committee. "To be honored with an award that bears his name as well as the principles he stood for is extremely special."

NAMAD also recognized three longtime members with Lifetime Achievement Awards. The winners were Nathan Conyers, Mel Farr and William Shack. The award recognizes individuals for a lifetime of significant contributions to the automotive industry and to the spirit of diversity and inclusion.

"These three pioneers—who founded NAMAD—together have created opportunities for all minority dealers," said Damon Lester, NAMAD president. "Today, we are the beneficiaries of their achievements and foresight."

"They committed their resources to building an institution dedicated to creating opportunities for minorities especially in the automobile industry but not limited to this industry," Lester added.

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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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STAR Answers Dealers' Questions About Dealership Data Security

Standards for Technology in Automotive Retail (STAR) has developed new guidelines to help dealers evaluate their data security. Visit STAR's Dealer Infrastructure Guidelines (DIG) publication for more information. Also, to learn what features to look for in a good backup and recovery system, click here.

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NADA and "SeeMore's Playhouse" Team Up to Promote Child Passenger Safety

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Quotable
 
Ford [will] be dedicated to making its future vehicles "meet or beat the competition in fuel economy."

   
-- Ford Motor Co.'s president of the Americas, Mark Fields, Detroit Free Press, July 22


"I want a pure electric car. I don't want a range extender. I don't want another hybrid. It's going to be zero emissions."

   
-- Nissan’s chief executive, Carlos Ghosn, outlining the automaker's plans to sell electric cars in 2010, The New York Times, July 22


"When you find yourself in a hole, you have to quit digging. And we are in a hole."

   
-- Texas Gov. Rick Perry, requesting an EPA waiver of the ethanol mandate, arguing that billions of bushels of corn being used to produce ethanol would be better suited as livestock feed than as fuel, The New York Times, July 23


"The world is moving in our direction. People are trading in Ford F-150s and Hummers for Minis."

   
-- Jim McDowell, vice president of Mini USA, Detroit Free Press, July 22
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