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At a Glance...
Top Stories
U.S. Auto Sales Plunge Whopping 36 Percent in Dec.
Cars Outsell Trucks in Tough Year
Automakers Fear a New Normal of Low Sales
Treasury to Give GM Second Loan of $5.4 Billion Jan. 16
Chrysler Expands Credit Union Loan Program
GM, Ford Gain in Reliability
Toyota Orders 11-Day Output Halt as Sales Slump
Hyundai: Can't Make Car Payments: Just Return It
Nissan Dealers Won't Have Presence at Auto Show
NADA Used Car Guide: Larger Segments on Price Upswing
NADA Update
Convention to Host 21 Automaker Franchise Meetings at Critical Time for the Industry
NADA Convention Features Former U.S. Presidents and Industry Leaders
Carville and Matalin to Headline AFSA's Vehicle Finance Conference in New Orleans
NADA Convention to Focus on Future of the Industry
Understanding the TALF
NADA Offers Virtual Seminar to Help Dealers in 'Tough Times'
STAR Answers Dealers' Questions About Hardware Based Systems
Top Stories
U.S. Auto Sales Plunge Whopping 36 Percent in Dec.

DETROIT -- Huge rebates and zero-percent loans couldn't overcome economic uncertainty as U.S. auto sales plunged 36 percent in December, capping a dismal year that saw sales free-fall by 2.9 million vehicles from 2007. Every major manufacturer reported drops of more than 30 percent in December. Leading the largest year-over-year drop since the Arab oil embargo days of 1973-74 was struggling Chrysler LLC, which sold 53 percent fewer vehicles than last December and 30 percent fewer in 2008 than in 2007. General Motors Corp. sold 2.9 million vehicles last year, the lowest number in 49 years. U.S. auto sales tumbled to 13.2 million in 2008, down 18 percent from 16.1 million in 2007. Consulting firm IHS Global Insight predicts that U.S. sales will drop to 10.3 million this year as the economy continues to sputter. Automakers were reluctant to predict when a recovery might occur, but most were pessimistic about the first quarter. After that, some were hopeful that President-elect Barack Obama's stimulus package would kick in, coupled with a loosening of credit that could bring people back to the showrooms. Even Toyota Motor Corp. and Honda Motor Co., which earlier in the year had seen increases, saw declines in December that were larger than their U.S.-based competitors'. Toyota was down 37 percent and Honda 35 percent, compared with Ford Motor Co.'s 32 percent drop and GM's 31 percent slide. Nissan Motor Co. sales also dropped 31 percent. Ford's sales for 2008 fell 21 percent from a year earlier, keeping the Dearborn automaker in third place in the U.S. auto sales race behind GM and Toyota for the second straight year. Jim Lentz, president of Toyota Motor Sales USA, said Toyota is in the midst of the most difficult market it has ever faced, and the situation will be tough until at least the second half of the year. Consumer confidence remains the biggest obstacle, Lentz said. "We have no illusions about the coming year," he said. "We're in the midst of the most challenging and volatile markets we've ever faced and it may get worse before it gets better."
Source:  Associated Press

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Cars Outsell Trucks in Tough Year

DETROIT — The final numbers are in, and it's official: 2008 was a crummy year to sell cars. Not only did sales fall off a cliff, but consumer preferences changed faster than automakers could predict or react to. The sales year "was like two different years, and it really was driven by … an extreme shift in the price of gasoline, causing an extreme shift in buyer preferences," says Jim Lentz, Toyota's U.S. sales president. Cars outsold trucks and SUVs in 2008 for the first time since 2000. That shocked many in the industry, who thought the thirst for SUVs and trucks would never wane. But in April, after gas prices topped $3 a gallon, the truck market came to a halt.
Source:  USA TODAY

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Automakers Fear a New Normal of Low Sales

DETROIT — The historic collapse of the new-car market dragged on in December, raising questions of whether the auto industry will ever again have sales levels [of] a few years ago. The across-the-board decline of 35 percent, reported by auto companies on Monday, is certain to put more pressure on the fragile finances of several manufacturers, particularly General Motors and Chrysler. But unless consumers change course and return to vehicle showrooms, the entire industry will be forced to make sweeping adjustments to cope with declining demand. After several years of sales topping 16 million vehicles, the United States market plummeted to 13.2 million cars and trucks sold in 2008. Analysts expect another sizable decrease this year and do not predict a year with 15 million in sales until 2012 or later. “After an era of excess indulgence, we’re now entering a prolonged period of conservation,” said John A. Casesa of the consulting firm Casesa Shapiro Group. “Trading in a car every three years is a luxury that the average American can no longer afford.”
Source:  The New York Times

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Treasury to Give GM Second Loan of $5.4 Billion Jan. 16

WASHINGTON -- The U.S. Treasury said Monday it will grant General Motors Corp. a second loan totaling $5.4 billion on Jan. 16 as part of the $13.4-billion rescue of the ailing automaker. The second loan, following the $4-billion loan issued last week, was disclosed in an update on the Treasury's spending of money from the $700-billion financial industry bailout. Chrysler LLC won its $4-billion loan last week as well.
Source:  Detroit Free Press

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Chrysler Expands Credit Union Loan Program

DETROIT -- Chrysler LLC, which launched a test loan program with credit unions in 12 states last month, has expanded the program to all 50 states. The program, called Invest in America, will give credit union members additional rebates of $500 to $1,000 on most Chrysler, Dodge and Jeep vehicles. The expanded offer takes effect Tuesday. Qualifying credit union members will get the rebates on top of other incentives Chrysler offers. “We had fairly decent success with” Invest in America in December, said Steven Landry, executive vice president for North American sales.
Source:  Automotive News (Subscription required.)

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GM, Ford Gain in Reliability

Consumer Reports magazine said several Detroit-made vehicles top foreign competitors
A new analysis by Consumer Reports magazine shows that two of Detroit's automakers -- Ford Motor Co. and General Motors Corp. -- are making "real progress" against foreign rivals while Chrysler LLC continues to lag behind the rest of the industry. The report, which is featured in the magazine's February issue, shows that Ford now offers several cars with reliability "on par with Japanese models" and says it is now "in front of the class." Newer GM models also have performed well in Consumer Reports' testing... "Detroit has been lagging behind leading foreign automakers like Honda and Toyota for a long time, but forward-thinking leadership, better design and improved quality would do much to drive the recovery that we are all hoping for," said Rik Paul, automotive editor for Consumer Reports.
Source:  The Detroit News

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Toyota Orders 11-Day Output Halt as Sales Slump

TOKYO -- Toyota Motor Corp. is to halt production at its Japanese plants for 11 days in February and March as a sharp slide in U.S. sales has left dealers' lots full of unsold cars. A 37 percent slump in December sales in Toyota's biggest market was its sharpest fall in more than a quarter of a century and worse than declines at struggling U.S. rivals General Motors and Ford Motor. "I never expected the crisis to spread this fast and leave this deep a scar," Toyota President Katsuaki Watanabe told reporters at a Tokyo event hosted by Japan's top business lobbies. A sweeping suspension of domestic production is almost unprecedented. In 1993, Toyota halted output for one day as a strong yen hammered sales.
Source:  Reuters

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Hyundai: Can't Make Car Payments: Just Return It

Automaker will allow customers who bought a car to return it if they suddenly lose income
NEW YORK -- Can't make the payments on that new car you just bought? No problem -- just return it free of charge. That's the deal offered by Hyundai Motor America. Deadbeats need not apply, however. The "Hyundai Assurance Program" only applies to customers stricken by misfortune outside of their control, such as losing their employment, becoming disabled or losing their drivers license for medical reasons. Customers also must have made at least two payments on the car already. In addition, Hyundai will only refund the depreciation on the returned car up to $7,500 and the program is complementary for the first 12 months of leasing or financing. Hyundai, which launched the program on Friday, said the program is aimed at consumers too nervous to spring for a new car in the difficult economy. The slump in consumer confidence has been one of the biggest factors behind the collapse in new vehicle sales in 2008.
Source:  Associated Press

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Nissan Dealers Won't Have Presence at Auto Show

DETROIT -- Nissan Motor Co. will not have a presence at the 2009 North American International Auto Show, despite plans by southeastern Michigan Nissan dealers to fill in the void after the parent company announced in November it was pulling out. Auto Show Co-Chairman Doug Fox said Monday the dealers were told of the company's wishes just before Christmas and as "dealer partners" they were willing to abide. "We were moving forward with manning the show, but were notified that Nissan would really appreciate that we respect their decision not to have a presence," he said. Fox is owner of Ann Arbor Nissan.
Source:  The Detroit News

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NADA Used Car Guide: Larger Segments on Price Upswing

McLEAN, Va. — As gas prices subsided at the close of 2008, two segments, in particular, continued to gain ground in the wholesale market. According to the latest Guidelines industry update from NADA Used Car Guide, the AuctionNet prices of pickups and SUVs each climbed more than 1 percent in the first week of December compared to their November levels. Meanwhile, the average wholesale price of cars fell roughly 1.5 percent in the same time frame, according to NADA Used Car Guide, while crossovers declined just over 0.5 percent and vans also dipped roughly 0.5 percent. These trends were somewhat similar to month-over-month price changes in November, where cars dropped just more than 6 percent in value compared to October. Their decline was second only to vans, which declined between 6 and 7 percent. Meanwhile, pickup trucks and SUVs appeared to have fared the best, as each fell less than 2 percent compared to October, officials noted. Crossovers, meanwhile, dropped in price by just more than 5 percent. That said, cars were down less than 15 percent year-over-year in November and CUVs fell just under 20 percent, according to NADA Used Car Guide. Meanwhile, pickups, SUVs and vans were all off at least 20 percent compared to the prior year.
Source:  Auto Remarketing

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NADA Update
Convention to Host 21 Automaker Franchise Meetings at Critical Time for the Industry

Now that U.S. automakers will receive bridge loans, attention has shifted to the NADA Convention & Exposition in New Orleans Jan. 24-27 when dealers will have an opportunity to meet face-to-face with the top leadership of the auto manufacturers. NADA’s Industry Relations Group has announced that 21 separate manufacturer franchise meetings have been confirmed at the convention.

“NADA is pleased that nearly all of the automakers’ CEOs and presidents plan to attend these important meetings,” said Annette Sykora, NADA chairman. General Motors’ Rick Wagoner, Toyota’s Jim Lentz, Chrysler’s Jim Press and Ford’s Alan Mulally are all planning to attend. Mulally will deliver the keynote industry address at the convention’s opening session on Saturday, Jan. 24. “There could not be a more important time for a dealer to attend an NADA convention and hear directly from their manufacturer,” Sykora added. "Franchise meetings offer dealers the opportunity to hear from NADA, dealer councils and the automaker’s leadership, as well as ask questions of their manufacturers directly."

“These meetings come at a critical time,” Sykora said. “Automotive retailing is going through historic changes, and there is no better place for dealers to meet and discuss the future of their industry than at the NADA convention." Information and a complete list of scheduled franchise meetings can be found at www.nada.org/convention.
Source:  NADA Newswire

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NADA Convention Features Former U.S. Presidents and Industry Leaders

The National Automobile Dealers Association (NADA) has assembled a lineup of leading political figures and inspirational speakers—including former U.S. presidents George H.W. Bush and Bill Clinton—to deliver remarks at its 92nd annual Convention & Exposition in New Orleans Jan. 24-27. “This year’s lineup is one of the most impressive in NADA’s history,” said Convention Chairman and auto dealer Jeff Carlson. “In line with NADA’s convention theme of ‘Committed to Community,’ former U.S. presidents George H.W. Bush and Bill Clinton join us in highlighting nationwide efforts to give back to the New Orleans community.” Last year, the NADA Charitable Foundation made a $400,000 contribution to the Brees Dream Foundation—founded by New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees and wife, Brittany—to help rebuild the athletic fields at the largest public high school in New Orleans. Ford Motor Co. President and CEO Alan Mulally will deliver the keynote address during the General Assembly on Saturday, Jan. 24, following NADA Chairman Annette Sykora. Archie Manning, former Saints quarterback and NFL Most Valuable Player, and Christopher Gardner, the inspiration for the movie “The Pursuit of Happyness,” will offer motivational talks. Incoming NADA Chairman John P. McEleney will outline his priorities Sunday, Jan. 25 for the coming year.
Source: NADA Newswire

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Carville and Matalin to Headline AFSA's Vehicle Finance Conference in New Orleans

Political commentators James Carville and Mary Matalin will give the keynote presentation at the American Financial Services Association’s (AFSA) 13th Vehicle Finance Conference and Exposition scheduled Jan. 21-23 at The Sheraton New Orleans. The husband and wife duo, who have sharply different political views, will discuss the new presidential administration during a presentation on Friday, Jan. 23. The vehicle finance conference, held just prior to the National Automobile Dealers Association (NADA) annual convention, also will feature a panel of top industry leaders who will share their views about the current market environment as well as the traditional “Straight Talk with Dealers” session featuring the NADA leadership: John McEleney, incoming chairman; Ed Tonkin, incoming vice chairman; and Mike Martin, director from Virginia. Michael Brown from the Atlantic Auto Group will also speak. Additional sessions and round tables will focus on Risk Management, Legal and Legislative Issues, Maximizing Human Capital, the New Generation of Auto Finance Companies, Profitability Management Analytics and Operational Effectiveness and Dealing with Fraud. To register for AFSA’s meeting, visit www.vehiclefinanceconference.com.
Source:  AFSA

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NADA Convention to Focus on Future of the Industry

Now is the time to attend the industry event of the year and ensure your dealership’s success
Economic turmoil and uncertainty form the backdrop to the National Automobile Dealers Association (NADA) convention in New Orleans. "This is a must-attend convention if there ever was one," says Steve Pitt, NADA vice president of conventions and expositions. “The fate of the industry is hanging in the balance. All of the top manufacturer executives will be there, and dealer franchise meetings are more important than ever. We're also providing new ideas and information and a series of workshops designed to help dealers get through these tough times."
 
The 2009 NADA Convention & Exposition, which runs Jan. 24-27, is offering more than 40 workshops, many of which are designed to tackle today’s tough economic issues head-on, such as maintaining dealer profitability, improving cash flow, surviving the credit crunch and driving customers back to dealerships. “Convention participants will learn what they need to do back home at their dealerships for the good of their businesses,” Pitt added. “The convention will help dealers prepare for an upcoming year of uncertainty.”

For the first time ever at a NADA convention, two former U.S. presidents will take center stage. Former presidents George H.W. Bush and Bill Clinton will deliver remarks during the general session. Ford Motor Co. President and CEO Alan Mulally will deliver the industry keynote address. Inspirational speakers Archie Manning, former quarterback of the New Orleans Saints and the NFL’s Most Valuable Player in 1978, and Christopher Gardner, the inspiration for the movie “The Pursuit of Happyness” will offer motivational talks.

“This is our 92nd convention and, in many ways, it’s the most important one ever,” says Pitt. “If you’re a dealer, you have to be there.”
Source:  NADA Newswire

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Understanding the TALF

A new Web page on nada.org explains in greater detail what the Federal Reserve Board's Term Asset-Backed Securities Loan Facility (TALF) program means to dealers and how they will benefit from the action taken on Dec. 19 to include securities backed by dealer floorplan loans as a qualifying asset class. The information is helpful in explaining this action to dealers and the media. Click here for "Understanding the TALF."
Source:  NADA Newswire

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NADA Offers Virtual Seminar to Help Dealers in 'Tough Times'

In response to the challenges facing dealers during these uncertain times, NADA is offering a new seminar on dealership survival, Tough Times, Tougher Dealers: Saving Your Dealership’s Assets. The seminar is being presented both as a virtual seminar and as a convention workshop at the 2009 NADA Convention & Exposition in New Orleans.

The first virtual seminar, held Dec. 18, drew more than 200 participants and lasted more than an hour, followed by a lively and informative Q & A session. As participants were not identified by name or dealership, discussion was extremely candid. NADA is offering only one more virtual seminar to be held Jan. 13 from 1–3 p.m. EST. The registration fee is only $50 per computer connection. Don't miss out! Register now at www.nada.org/seminars.

This seminar, presented by Michael Charapp, Esq. of Charapp & Weiss, LLP and Bradley Nicklin, CPA of Beers + Cutler, discusses the tough issues facing dealers today. It is intended to help dealers and managers understand the steps required to protect their dealerships’ assets during tough economic times.

In Tough Times, participants will learn valuable information on cash management, expense control and franchise rights issues. They will also learn how to deal with bankruptcy—both at the manufacturer and dealership level—as well as franchise terminations, brand terminations and the legal ramifications of reducing a workforce. Additionally, the speakers will present other practical considerations for surviving the tough environment, both legally and financially.

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STAR Answers Dealers' Questions About Hardware Based Systems

Standards for Technology in Automotive Retail (STAR) has developed new guidelines to help dealers evaluate their Dealership Security. Visit STAR's Dealer Infrastructure Guidelines (DIG) publication. To learn "What is recommended for general maintenance of hardware based systems?" click here.

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Featured Video
 
  
Click here to see why New Orleans is still America's premier convention city.



More Video Highlights

Quotable
 
"We're in the midst of the most challenging and volatile markets we've ever faced and it may get worse before it gets better."

    -- Jim Lentz, president of Toyota Motor Sales USA, responding to industrywide 2008 year-end sales figures which fell 36 percent in December, Associated Press, Jan. 6


The sales year "was like two different years, and it really was driven by … an extreme shift in the price of gasoline, causing an extreme shift in buyer preferences."

    -- Jim Lentz, Toyota's U.S. sales president, explaining the extreme shift in consumer preferences in 2008, USA TODAY, Jan. 6


"After an era of excess indulgence, we're now entering a prolonged period of conservation. Trading in a car every three years is a luxury that the average American can no longer afford."

    -- John A. Casesa of the consulting firm Casesa Shapiro Group, referring to the adjustments the entire industry will be forced to make to cope with declining demand, The New York Times, Jan. 6


"Detroit has been lagging behind leading foreign automakers like Honda and Toyota for a long time, but forward-thinking leadership, better design and improved quality would do much to drive the recovery that we are all hoping for."

    -- Rik Paul, automotive editor for Consumer Reports, The Detroit News, Jan. 6

NADA Convention 2009
 
  
Convention Workshops Keyed to Today’s Economy

Now more than ever, dealers need to meet, talk and learn how to survive in tough times. In that spirit, workshops planned for NADA’s upcoming convention in New Orleans will focus on recession-proof business operations. NADA Headlines will spotlight three convention workshops each week.

(1) How Smart Dealers are Changing the Way they Advertise

(2) Creating Superstar Salespeople

(3) Maximize Service Advisor Performance: Four Easy Steps to Enhance Performance

Smart Dealers speaker Dorthy Miller Shore of the Miller Agency will present a 360-degree approach to advertising that integrates all forms of media to drive business. Participants will learn a new media model that applies in today’s Internet world.

Superstar Salespeople speaker Mark Tewart of Tewart Enterprises, Inc. will give specific examples of sales skills, people skills, life skills, and marketing skills that can transform average sales performance to great performance.

Service Advisor speaker Jim Phillips of NADA will present dealers with a clear-cut plan for improving the performance of service advisors. Participants will learn the best approaches to the appointment process, the pre-work process (including homework), the walk-around and write-up and interactive delivery.

Advance registration for the 2009 NADA Convention & Exposition is now closed. Register onsite beginning at 10 a.m. Friday, Jan. 23.

Video Highlights
 
 
'NBC Nightly News with Brian Williams' reports: "Demise of a local car dealership leaves a big dent."



NADA's New Orleans Project: Lusher Charter School
NADA's Return to New Orleans


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.