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Wednesday, March 25, 2009 RSSSEND TO A FRIENDPRINT
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Top Stories
Opinion: Signs of Life at Dealerships: A Good Start
Key Senator Won't Support Union Bill
GM Begins White-Collar Layoffs With 160 Pink Slips
Pay Falls 37% for Ford's Mulally
Fed Auto Focus Shifts to Electric
Report: GM and Saab Agree to Swap Technology
NADA Update
COBRA Subsidy Compliance Virtual Seminar to be Repeated March 31
NADA Member Handbook Now Available Online
New NADA Training Video Helps Dealers Find Additional Profits
Seminar Takes 'Deeper Dive' into FTC Red Flags Rule
Top Stories
Opinion: Signs of Life at Dealerships: A Good Start
By Edward Lapham

You wouldn't know it by reading most of the national newspapers and magazines or listening to comedians and commentators on TV, but there seems to be some good news starting to bubble around the Motor City. Here it is: Local car dealers tell me that showroom traffic is picking up — just a bit — and they're beginning to sell a few new cars again. They're not selling in record numbers, but they say there is movement in a market that was paralyzed for several months. Now, dealers typically are among the most optimistic people you'll ever meet. But the last time I asked these Detroit area dealers the same question — in early January — I got quite a different answer. Back then they were just barely hopeful that things might eventually improve. I know these dealers personally and believe them to be sane, rational and truthful, though none gave me any numbers or hard data about how much more traffic there has been or how many cars have been sold. But things could be creeping in the right direction. At least that's a start.
Source: Automotive News

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Key Senator Won't Support Union Bill

Republican Sen. Arlen Specter dealt a blow to organized labor's top legislative priority by announcing that he wouldn't support a bill to make it easier to unionize workplaces. The AFL-CIO and the bill's Democratic sponsors had been counting on Sen. Specter's vote to reach the 60 needed in the Senate to avoid a Republican-led filibuster. In 2007, Sen. Specter voted for cloture on the bill, or to cut off debate, but he said he could not do so now, especially given the recession and the weak economy. At the same time, Sen. Specter said he would reconsider the bill if other efforts to amend the National Labor Relations Act to increase labor's clout are unsuccessful. One change he supports is shortening the time frame in which union elections are held. The Employee Free Choice Act, also known as "card check," would make it easier for unions to organize workers by having them sign cards rather than by voting in secret ballot elections. Over the weekend, the chief executives of Whole Foods Market Inc., Costco Wholesale Corp. and Starbucks Corp. presented a proposal that would give union organizers greater access to workers, set a fixed and likely quicker date for elections, and impose tougher penalties for intimidating workers. Their alternative guarantees the secret ballot. The proposal was criticized by businesses, which said it undercut efforts to defeat labor reform outright, and labor, which sees it as a threat to the Employee Free Choice Act (EFCA).
Source: The Wall Street Journal

[Editor's Note: NADA strongly urges dealers to keep up the fight to oppose EFCA legislation (S. 560 and H.R. 1409). Dealers must continue to meet with and call members of Congress to oppose this legislation or any compromise measure.]

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GM Begins White-Collar Layoffs With 160 Pink Slips

DETROIT -- Dreaded white-collar job cuts at General Motors Corp. started Tuesday as the wounded automaker began to deliver on promises to the government to shrink its work force so it can be profitable at lower sales levels. On Tuesday morning, GM told 160 people at its manufacturing engineering operations in Warren, Mich., that they would be laid off as of April 1, spokesman Tom Wilkinson said. It's the beginning of 3,400 salaried layoffs in the U.S. and part of the 47,000 job cuts that GM wants to accomplish worldwide by the end of the year, Wilkinson said. Besides the salaried job cuts, GM plans to cut 18,000 more U.S. blue-collar workers by the end of the year.
Source: The Associated Press

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Pay Falls 37% for Ford's Mulally

Compensation for Other Top Ford Executives Also Drops; Flying by Charter
Ford Motor Co. cut total compensation for its top three executives in 2008 by more than one-third as the auto maker continues to weather poor sales and billions in losses. Ford Chief Executive Alan Mulally's base salary was $2 million in 2007 and remained unchanged in 2008, according to a preliminary company filing Tuesday with the Securities and Exchange Commission. But Mr. Mulally received no bonus in 2008 -- compared to a $4 million bonus in 2007. The CEO's total compensation for 2008, including stock grants, was $13.6 million, down 37% from the comparable 2007 figure. The company earlier announced that Mr. Mulally will take a 30% salary cut in 2009 and 2010. Ford also said it will now pay the charter costs to fly Mr. Mulally after the auto maker, bowing to pressure by federal lawmakers, abandoned using its own private aircraft late last year.
Source: The Wall Street Journal

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Fed Auto Focus Shifts to Electric

Government funding swings from hydrogen fuel cell technology to electric vehicles under Obama.
WASHINGTON -- The Obama administration is shifting much of the government's focus and funding from hydrogen fuel cell vehicles to plug-in electric vehicles. As a candidate, Obama touted plug-in electric vehicles as a cornerstone of his energy policy, pressing for 1 million plug-ins on American roads by 2015. The $787 billion stimulus bill approved by Congress last month includes more than $2 billion in new battery research grants, which are vital to the viability of plug-ins, but no new money for hydrogen research. The National Hydrogen Association, whose members include GM, Toyota Motor Corp., Honda Motor Co., Daimler AG and BMW AG, sent a letter to Energy Secretary Steven Chu Feb. 27 asking him to allocate up to $700 million from advanced energy research grant programs for hydrogen-related research. Hinkle said Tuesday the association had more work to do to convince the Obama administration. "Part of the rap is that hydrogen is a left-over Bush administration idea, and that's baloney," he said.
Source: The Detroit News

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Report: GM and Saab Agree to Swap Technology

STOCKHOLM -- A news report says General Motors Corp. and its Saab Automobile unit have agreed to swap technology for at least five years in an effort to make the loss-making Swedish brand more attractive to buyers. Saab's finance director, Lars Hagerborg, has told financial daily Dagens Industri that the Swedish car maker will be able to use GM's platform technology in exchange for Saab's safety, chassis and engine technology. Last month, Saab went into bankruptcy protection in a court-managed reconstruction process that aims to disentangle the brand from its cash-strapped U.S. owner.
Source: The Associated Press

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NADA Update
COBRA Subsidy Compliance Virtual Seminar to be Repeated March 31

NADA's virtual seminar on the new COBRA subsidy will be offered again—still at the low price of $50 per computer connection—so that information can be disseminated to the widest possible audience. There were about 250 registrations for the first seminar.

As you may know, dealers with former employees and certain beneficiaries eligible for continuing health insurance coverage may need to issue a new COBRA notice indicating that they may be eligible for a 65 percent reduction in premiums. 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 program applies to people who become eligible for COBRA between Sept. 1, 2008 and Dec. 31, 2009. Those who choose to continue coverage may receive a 65 percent plan continuation premium discount. In other words, employees who normally would pay 100 percent of their COBRA plan premiums may need to pay only 35 percent, with employers or the health plan picking up the difference.

To help dealerships comply with the Act, NADA has asked Penny Wofford, an employment law specialist and partner in the law firm Ford & Harrison, LLP, to conduct a virtual seminar on Tuesday, March 31, from 1-2:30 p.m. EST. In “Employer Requirements for New COBRA Subsidy,” Wofford will discuss Assistance-Eligible Individuals (AEIs), employer notices and their timing, and the payroll tax credit. She will outline the steps dealerships need to take to comply and to coordinate the subsidy administration with COBRA administrators, insurers and other service providers. Participants’ questions will be addressed during the final 15 minutes of the seminar. Douglas Greenhaus, NADA director of environment, health and safety, will facilitate the seminar.

The fee for this timely virtual seminar is $50 per computer connection. To register, visit www.nada.org/seminars or call (800) 252-6232, ext. 2.

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NADA Member Handbook Now Available Online

For the first time, NADA's member handbook is available online at www.nada.org/membership. The handbook includes department information and contacts. NADA has also mailed 2009 member packets to all members. The packets include: An updated leadership brochure, which has contact information for NADA's leadership and board of directors; a database update form for member companies to update their contact information; a NADA/ATD quick-reference benefits card; and a 2009 member window decal. Visit www.nada.org/membership for more information or membership@nada.org.

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New NADA Training Video Helps Dealers Find Additional Profits

You can tell a lot about a person by the vehicle he or she drives. For many, a car or truck is more than just a way to get from point “A” to point “B.” It is an extension of the self. It is a way for everyone to express his or her individuality. Accessorizing is as much about passion as it is about product. NADA Management Education’s new training DVD, Accessorizing Your Way to Additional Profits, is designed to help dealers tap into this passion and add dollars to every sale. Dealers and managers can learn how to launch an accessories operation from dealers who have actually done it, examining staffing, displays, marketing, warranties, and more. The Specialty Equipment Market Association (SEMA) estimates that accessories sales top $38 billion, and that dealerships capture just 10–15 percent of this market. If this percentage were to increase significantly, U.S. dealerships as a whole could see billions in additional profits and build customer loyalty. Consumers who accessorize their vehicles spend, on average, up to $3,500 annually on accessories. This training package includes a four-part DVD and a 22-page study guide, complete with an accessories quiz and lists of established parts vendors. To order, visit www.nada.org/accessorizing or call (800) 252-6232, ext. 2. Order online to watch a free video preview!

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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” tomorrow, 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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Quotable
 

"Local car dealers tell me that showroom traffic is picking up — just a bit — and they're beginning to sell a few new cars again. They're not selling in record numbers, but they say there is movement in a market that was paralyzed for several months."

   
-- Edward Lapham, executive editor of Automotive News, March 23

Video Highlights
 

WTNH-TV: Are Banks Turning on American Car Dealers? (ABC affiliate, New Haven, Conn.)

NADA-TV: McEleney Says Meeting With Obama Auto Task Force Was Productive

 

NADA-TV: McEleney Testifies at EPA Hearing on Fuel Economy Rules 


 NADA Tackles Industry Crisis
 NADA Chairman Speaks at the Convention in New Orleans
NBC: "Demise of Local Dealerships Leaves Big Dent"
2009 Convention in New Orleans
NADA on the Front Lines


Click here for more NADA-TV reports.

Member Products & Services
 
 

Need Some Low-Cost Consulting? NADA's Dealer Hotline is Free

While new-car and truck dealers face unprecedented challenges today, NADA is offering free professional advice to help dealers meet them. NADA is helping members prioritize their dealership's top financial and operational challenges and identify areas of opportunity. Then, NADA will provide recommendations and suggestions for improvement. Free phone consultations are scheduled by appointment only. To schedule an appointment, visit www.nada.org/lifeline.

 
Lenovo Madness Sale

Lenovo is offering all NADA members up to 35 percent off select notebooks. Enter eCoupon USXTHINKMADNESS at checkout. 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 ends March 31. To take advantage of these savings, visit NADA's PC Purchase Program online (login required).


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 is available at a low introductory monthly subscription rate of $150 for unlimited lookups per location. For more details, visit www.nada.com/appraisal. To order, call (866) 974-6232.

 
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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.