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Tuesday, March 3, 2009 RSSSEND TO A FRIENDPRINT
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Top Stories
Auto Dealer Group to Meet With Obama's Task Force on March 6
Toyota Talking With Japan Government About Loan
Saab Speeds Up Talks With Suitors
Chrysler President Says U.S. Market Share Rose in February
Volkswagen CEO Expects a Profit for 2009
Dealer: Expand Service So Profits Don't Stall
NADA Update
Stimulus Legislation Mandates Temporary COBRA Premium Relief
NADA Used Car Guide Launches All-New Appraisal Product
Union Legislation Addressed in New Virtual Seminar
Seminar Takes 'Deeper Dive' into FTC Red Flags Rule
2010 Convention Workshop Proposals Now Being Accepted
Top Stories
Auto Dealer Group to Meet With Obama's Task Force on March 6

The main trade group representing U.S. automobile dealers will meet March 6 with President Barack Obama’s automotive task force in Washington, seeking financing to buy new cars and trucks, the association’s spokesman said. The task force is considering as much as $21.6 billion in loans for General Motors Corp. and Chrysler LLC, which have borrowed $17.4 billion. The task force has met with executives from those two automakers and from Ford Motor Co., with analysts and with representatives of automotive suppliers. Dealers, suffering from the slowest sales in almost three decades, are complaining that lack of credit from automotive finance companies and from banks make it difficult or impossible for them to order new vehicles. Without orders, automakers usually won’t manufacture. “The No. 1 issue facing automotive retailing is the availability of floor-plan credit,” David Hyatt, vice president of public affairs for the National Automobile Dealers Association, said in an interview yesterday. He was referring to the money dealers borrow to pay for their inventory of vehicles. Dealers also have advocated less-stringent retail credit policies so their customers can buy new cars and trucks.
Source: Bloomberg

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Toyota Talking With Japan Government About Loan

TOKYO -- Toyota's financing unit is in talks with a Japanese government-backed bank on possible lending, the automaker said Tuesday, underlining the serious woes facing the car industry amid plunging global sales. Toyota Motor Corp. said no details had been decided. Kyodo News and NHK TV reported earlier in the day, without identifying sources, that Toyota's auto loan unit, Toyota Financial Services, had asked for a 200 billion yen ($2 billion) government loan. A spokesman for Toyota Financial Services said the talks with the Japan Bank for International Cooperation were among the various ways being studied to gain funding. The lender does 70 percent of its business in the U.S., where sales have been plunging and credit tightening. Toyota, which makes the Camry sedan and the Prius hybrid, had been growing solidly before the U.S. financial crisis hit last year. But now it is expecting a 350 billion yen ($3.5 billion) loss for the fiscal year through March, as plunging global demand and a strengthening yen batter earnings.
Source: The Associated Press

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Saab Speeds Up Talks With Suitors

GENEVA -- General Motors Corp.'s flagging Saab division will accelerate talks this week with "a number" of potential buyers, the unit's top executive said Monday. Saab Managing Director Jan Ake Jonsson, in an interview at the Geneva auto show, said Saab is working with Deutsche Bank and has begun discussions with potential investors from the auto industry and outside it. He declined to name any of Saab's suitors, but said it is possible a deal could be completed by next year. Mr. Jonsson also said Saab needs €500 million ($628.8 million) in aid from the Swedish government to survive amid the deep downturn in global auto sales. Saab recently sought to reorganize under court protection in Sweden, a process similar to Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in the U.S. Mr. Jonsson added he is confident Saab can attract government support thanks to its importance to Sweden's economy. Saab and its suppliers employ 15,000 people in Sweden, and it has more than 1,000 dealers world-wide. "The Saab brand at this point is very relevant," he said. Saab's vehicles are known to be fuel-efficient and sporty, a combination that appeals to certain consumers in the U.S. and Europe.
Source: The Wall Street Journal

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Chrysler President Says U.S. Market Share Rose in February

Chrysler LLC President Jim Press said [today] that the struggling U.S. auto maker gained share in the U.S. retail market in February. Mr. Press, speaking to reporters at the Geneva auto show, said Chrysler has been able to pass savings along to customers thanks to significant cost cuts that have been implemented in recent months. He also said dealers are working hard to sell models and that is "helping us see a ray of light." He said the U.S. retail market "appears" to have stabilized in the range of 8.5 million vehicles annually. That number doesn't include sales to fleet customers, such as government fleets and rental-car firms. Mr. Press said the market hasn't necessarily bottomed out, but the current environment suggests stability rather than further declines. Chrysler will report monthly U.S. sales before the American markets close [today].
Source: The Wall Street Journal

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Volkswagen CEO Expects a Profit for 2009

GENEVA -- Volkswagen expects to make a profit this year, CEO Martin Winterkorn said. VW reported preliminary full-year results for 2008 that showed a 3 percent rise in operating profit to a record 6.33 billion euros ($8 billion). When asked about prospects for making a profit in 2009, Winterkorn said: "I expect so, yes." VW finance chief Hans Dieter Poetsch has forecast Volkswagen could post a loss in the first quarter amid what will likely be one of the worst years for the auto industry since at least the Second World War. On Monday, VW said its 2008 after-tax profit rose 14 per cent to 4.7 billion euros.
Source: Reuters

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Dealer: Expand Service So Profits Don't Stall

LOS ANGELES — Despite — or because of — the industry's tough times, California megadealer Fritz Hitchcock is expanding the service departments at most of his dealerships. "In order to stay profitable, in 2009 we have to have significant growth in parts and service," Hitchcock told Automotive News. Hitchcock is boosting service operations at his Toyota of Santa Barbara and Northridge Toyota dealerships. He plans to relocate his North County BMW dealership in Oceanside, Calif., in part to provide more space for service work. Hitchcock said he wants his expansion plan to increase the service absorption rate — the percentage of a dealership's operating costs covered by service department income — to more than 80 percent. Service departments at Hitchcock's dealerships hold maintenance clinics for new-vehicle owners every other month. "New-car clinics are absolutely the best way to marry your customer to the service department," Hitchcock said. Hitchcock advises fellow dealers to promote their service departments through coupons and other direct-mail pieces as well as online advertising. He suggests collecting e-mail addresses from service customers with an eye to future business.
Source: Automotive News

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NADA Update
Stimulus Legislation Mandates Temporary COBRA Premium Relief

The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (ARRA) provides temporary, taxpayer-funded, premium relief for people otherwise eligible to elect to continue an employer's health plan coverage under the Consolidated Budget Reconciliation Act of 1985—known as COBRA. As of Feb. 17, 2009, the ARRA creates a temporary program of premium relief for Assistance Eligible Individuals (AEIs). AEIs are those who become COBRA eligible between Sept. 1, 2008 and Dec. 31, 2009. AEIs who elect continuation coverage may receive a 65 percent plan continuation premium discount. In other words, where employers normally require such individuals to pay 100 percent of COBRA plan premiums, AEIs may only be required to pay 35 percent under this temporary program. The Department of Labor (DOL) will issue a new model notice form by March 19, 2009. NADA suggests that dealers use that form to issue the new required notice to AEIs. For more information and details on what to do, click here.

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NADA Used Car Guide Launches All-New Appraisal Product

NADA AppraisalPRO, a groundbreaking used-vehicle appraisal product from NADA Used Car Guide, is now available for use by NADA members. It provides dealers with the most complete view of their used-car market ever available in a single, affordable online tool. NADA AppraisalPRO incorporates the latest information and data from six industry leaders: NADA Used Car Guide (Guide values); AutoTrader.com (retail asking prices); J.D. Power and Associates/Power Information Network (retail sales transactions); Manheim Market Report (auction sales transactions); vAuto (used-vehicle market days supply); and Experian – AutoCheck (vehicle history reports).

NADA has tapped the expertise of auto auction veteran James F. Dodd to present this new product to dealers at auctions, NADA 20 Group meetings, conferences and other industry events across the country. Dodd has helped develop electronic delivery systems of real-time auction data to dealers during his 10 years at Southern Auto Auction and is well-positioned to recognize and explain the value of NADA AppraisalPRO to auto retailers.

NADA AppraisalPRO is available exclusively to dealer members of NADA and the National Independent Automobile Dealers Association at an affordable annual subscription rate of $150 per month for unlimited lookups per site. It can be billed annually or monthly. The product doesn’t require software, system integration or long-term commitments. For more information, visit www.nada.com/appraisal and place orders by calling (866) 974-6232.

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Union Legislation Addressed in New Virtual Seminar

The so-called Employee Free Choice Act (EFCA) could become law in 2009 and usher in the most dramatic pro-union shift in federal labor law in U.S. history. The EFCA would eliminate the secret ballot in union representation elections, escalating labor union membership, returning traditional labor issues to the forefront—and forcing dealerships to bargain with unions.

To help dealerships understand the issues and meet the challenges they present, NADA has asked D. Gerald Coker, a partner in the law firm Ford & Harrison LLP, to conduct a virtual seminar on March 12 from 1 to 2:30 p.m. EST. In “Responding to Organized Labor: Defending Workplace Democracy,” Coker will discuss the current and proposed federal labor legislation, analyze how the EFCA would affect union organizing strategies at dealerships and present a 10-Point Strategic Action Plan for dealerships to reduce potential vulnerability and improve employee relations. Participants’ questions will be addressed during the final 15 minutes of the seminar.

The fee for this important virtual seminar is $199 per computer connection. To register, visit www.nada.org/seminars or call (800) 252-6232, ext. 2.

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Seminar Takes 'Deeper Dive' into FTC Red Flags Rule

Attorneys from the FTC’s Division of Privacy and Identity Protection—which drafted and enforces the Red Flags Rule—will present a virtual seminar “A Deeper Dive into the FTC Red Flags Rule” on March 26 from 1 to 3 p.m. EST.

With the revised May 1 enforcement date approaching, dealers should ensure that their required Identity Theft Prevention Programs incorporate all of their covered accounts, include all relevant Red Flags, contain effective response and detection procedures, address all the Rule’s other requirements, and are tailored to their particular operations. It's a daunting task in view of the Rule’s general provisions that encompass all types of financial institutions and creditors.

To assist dealers in understanding how the Rule applies to dealership operations, FTC attorneys will join NADA Regulatory Affairs Director Paul Metrey to recap the required elements of the Red Flags and Address Discrepancy Rules and examine implementation considerations for dealers—and then, we’ll open the phone lines so dealers can present their questions directly to the FTC attorneys. Dealers should consider attending the “Deeper Dive” seminar even if they attended one of the previous Red Flags Rule virtual seminars. If you still have any questions, now is the time to ask. We’ll have a great team to answer your questions. And be sure to bring your copy of NADA's A Dealer Guide to the FTC Red Flags and Address Discrepancy Rules.

The fee for this important virtual seminar is $199 per computer connection. To register, visit www.nada.org/seminars or call (800) 252-6232, ext. 2.

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2010 Convention Workshop Proposals Now Being Accepted

Proposals are now being accepted for speakers who are interested in presenting a workshop at the 2010 NADA Convention & Exposition in Orlando, Fla., Feb. 13-16. Topics that are applicable to the current state of the U.S. automobile industry are strongly preferred. To download the proposal, go to www.nada.org/workshops. Completed proposals should be postmarked by midnight, April 30, 2009. For more information, contact NADA Management Education at (703) 821-7227 or workshops@nada.org.

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Featured Video
 
 

 NADA Tackles Industry Crisis


More Video Highlights

Quotable
 
"The No. 1 issue facing automotive retailing is the availability of floor-plan credit."

   
-- David Hyatt, NADA vice president of public affairs, Bloomberg, March 3


"The Saab brand at this point is very relevant."

    -- Saab Managing Director Jan Ake Jonsson says he's confident Saab can attract government support thanks to its importance to Sweden's economy. Saab and its suppliers employ 15,000 people in Sweden, and it has more than 1,000 dealers world-wide, The Wall Street Journal, March 3


"New-car clinics are absolutely the best way to marry your customer to the service department."

   
-- California megadealer Fritz Hitchcock says he's expanding the service departments at most of his dealerships and holding maintenance clinics for new-vehicle owners every other month, Automotive News, March 2
Member Products & Services
 
 
Lenovo Madness Sale
Lenovo is offering NADA members up to 35 percent off select notebooks. Great savings are available on all ThinkPad and IdeaPad notebooks, along with all computing accessories. Free shipping is available on all Web orders. This offer is good March 2-9. To take advantage of these savings, visit NADA's PC Purchase Program online (login required), click "Lenovo," then "Special Offers" and enter eCoupon USXTHINKMADNESS at checkout or call (800) 426-7235, Option 1, Ext. 4838.

NADA Used Car Guide Unveils Used-Vehicle Appraisal Product for Dealers
NADA Used Car Guide is introducing a unique and affordable new appraisal product called NADA AppraisalPRO, which provides a complete picture of the used-vehicle market in one location. The online tool provides dealers with the flexibility to define the market area and customize each appraisal by making adjustments to determine the best number for each and every trade-in. NADA AppraisalPRO will be available at a low introductory monthly subscription rate of $150 for unlimited lookups per location. For more information, visit www.nada.com/appraisal. To place an order, call (866) 974-6232.

Video Highlights
 
  

 
"The next two months are critical to the future of our industry as we know it," says NADA Chairman John McEleney, addressing a crowd of about 5,000 at the general session of the NADA convention in New Orleans.

NBC: "Demise of local car dealerships leaves big dent."
2009 Convention in New Orleans
NADA on the Front Lines


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.