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Top Stories
LaHood, Toyoda Meet in Washington Following Hearings
Toyota's Crisis Puts Spotlight on Auto Electronics
Congressional Hearing Highlights Need for Greater Lending in Wholesale Auto Credit Market
GM's New 'Car Guy' Sees a Ray of Hope for the Company
General Motors Is Said to Consider Potential Buyers for Hummer
Jaguar Reports First Profit Since Takeover by Tata
Opinion: Letting Bygones Be Gone
Click Here for More News from NADAFrontPage.com
Top Stories
LaHood, Toyoda Meet in Washington Following Hearings

U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood said he had a “productive” meeting (Thursday) with Toyota Motor Corp. President Akio Toyoda following two days of congressional hearings into the automaker’s recalls. LaHood met with Toyoda in Washington and discussed “the importance of safety and working cooperatively to protect consumers in the U.S.,” the Transportation Department said in a statement. “Mr. Toyoda promised to take the initiative to advance safety to the next level,” Toyota said in an e-mailed statement. “He reiterated his focus on putting customers first and making sure that going forward the company will do all it can to further improve communications and work more closely with the department.”
Source: Bloomberg

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Toyota's Crisis Puts Spotlight on Auto Electronics

Investigations into whatever is lurking behind Toyota's crisis of quality have put a spotlight on all that can go wrong with auto electronics — the growing number of wires, sensors and computer chips that have profoundly changed the automobile in the last decade. Though no smoking circuit has been found so far, a picture is emerging that shows the automobile industry's technology is racing ahead of quality-control testing and regulators. It's troubling not only for Toyota owners but for drivers of any modern car that's basically a computer on wheels. Toyota insists that electronics played no role in the unintended acceleration that has sparked its massive recalls, and no one has been able to disprove it. Lawyers, regulators, engineers and politicians aren't so sure.
Source: The Associated Press

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Congressional Hearing Highlights Need for Greater Lending in Wholesale Auto Credit Market

WASHINGTON – Lending to the nation’s 17,000 franchised auto dealers to purchase new and used vehicle inventory continues to lag, making it a top NADA issue. The dealer association said that a hearing on Feb. 25 by the Congressional Oversight Panel on the Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP) highlights the ongoing need to provide more liquidity for auto business lending. “This hearing underscores a much larger problem: lenders are still too often unwilling to lend to auto dealers to buy cars and trucks for sale to their customers,” said Andy Koblenz, NADA vice president for legal and regulatory affairs. 

During the hearing, Ron Bloom, from the President’s Automotive Task Force, emphasized the need for action, saying that the future of the U.S. auto industry hinges on the ability of policy makers to restore the free flow of credit to auto retailers and car buyers. “By extending the Federal Reserve’s successful Term Asset-backed securities Loan Facility (TALF) and expanding the government’s small business loan guarantee programs, we create the best environment for banks and finance companies to be comfortable lending to dealers again,” Koblenz said.

In a Feb. 24 meeting with the Federal Reserve Bank of New York, Koblenz outlined the need to continue TALF for wholesale or floorplan loans past the program’s March deadline. TALF has been successful in getting consumer credit transactions moving again. Credit cards, consumer vehicle loans and home mortgages, among others, have rebounded. Yet, wholesale credit for dealers is still “stymied” for some reason, Koblenz added. “It doesn’t make sense; floorplan credit is traditionally one of the lowest risk loans a lender can make,” Koblenz said. 

The Fed meeting is part of a two-pronged approach by NADA: In addition to its TALF efforts, the other is to boost lender interest in government-backed loans. Already successful in lifting an outdated ban on floorplan lending guarantees by the Small Business Administration (SBA), NADA is urging Congress to increase the amount of funds that the government will guarantee. 
Source: NADAFrontPage.com

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GM's New 'Car Guy' Sees a Ray of Hope for the Company
By Alex Taylor III

NEW YORK – There's a generational story that Mark Reuss, the new head of General Motors' North American operations, likes to tell. Over the Christmas holidays, he drove his son north of Detroit to Flint to see what used to be known as Buick City. The massive manufacturing complex, which once employed 28,000 workers, represented an unsuccessful attempt to compete with the integrated production of Japanese manufacturers. As GM's volumes declined, it became obsolete; it was closed in 1999 and demolished in 2002. As Reuss, 46, tells the story, his son, 13, asks him why Buick City failed. Reuss (pronounced "royce") ponders a few possibilities -- management and union squabbles, GM's failure to build cars that people wanted. Then he turns to his son and says, "This happened because we could not compete."
Source: Fortune

Editor's note: Alex Taylor, senior editor of Fortune, will moderate a media panel discussion at the NADA/IHS Global Insight Automotive Forum 2010 on March 30 in New York City. The day-long event features discussions on the Transformation of the U.S. Economy and the Auto Industry and brings together top-automaker executives to evaluate how recent events will impact the industry in the coming decade. The media panel includes: Paul Ingrassia, Pulitzer Prize winner; John McElroy, journalist and host of Autoline Daily; Jason Stein, editor, Automotive News; and Joe White, senior editor, The Wall Street Journal. Click here for more information.

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General Motors Is Said to Consider Potential Buyers for Hummer

General Motors Co. is considering expressions of interest from several potential buyers for its Hummer brand after the planned sale to a Chinese company collapsed, five people briefed on the discussions said. GM may still wind down Hummer because most of those interested have done little or no due diligence on the unit, said the people, who asked not to be identified because the talks aren’t public. The Detroit-based automaker expects some of the parties to drop out soon, the people said. GM won’t comment on speculation about possible buyers, said Nick Richards, a Hummer spokesman. “If there are viable alternatives for all or part of the brand during wind down, we will consider them,” he said.
Source: Bloomberg
 

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Jaguar Reports First Profit Since Takeover by Tata

Jaguar Land Rover reported its first quarterly profit since being bought by India’s Tata Motors Ltd. in 2008 after shedding staff and boosting sales of luxury cars amid an economic recovery. The British carmaker made a profit of 4.17 billion rupees ($90 million) in the quarter ended December compared with a loss of 11.8 billion rupees a year earlier, Tata Motors said in a statement today. The Mumbai-based parent posted a consolidated net income of 6.5 billion rupees for the period, also rebounding from a loss a year earlier. Jaguar Land Rover increased sales of luxury cars and sport-utility vehicles 28 percent from the preceding quarter helped by a revamped XF sedan and easing job concerns in the U.S. and Europe.
Source: Bloomberg

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Opinion: Letting Bygones Be Gone

General Motors Co. and officials with the National Automobile Dealers Association say they've put their disputes behind them. A bond between the two groups now "is nonnegotiable," says Mark Reuss, president of GM North America. That's the right move. The turmoil between the automaker and dealer association was a needless distraction and an unfair retribution by GM toward NADA. GM all but eliminated its participation in this month's Orlando convention after NADA supported legislation giving GM's rejected dealerships the right to independent binding arbitration. At a crucial time in GM's recovery, the automaker needs to communicate fully with dealers. It is time for the new GM to prove that it has learned the lessons of the old GM, where retribution, retaliation and arrogance often ruled.
Source: Automotive News

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Quotable
 
"A strong national dealer network is crucial to quickly and efficiently handle safety recalls."

   
– NADA Chairman Ed Tonkin, emphasizing the frontline role of dealers when recalls occur, NADAFrontPage.com, Feb. 25

Video Highlights
 

Tonkin: 'Dealers Will Be There'


NADA Launches New Online Magazine


NADA Comes Through in a Tough Year (NADA-TV)


NADA-TV: Interview with GM's Susan Docherty, VP Sales, Service & Marketing


NADA's Trucks for Haiti Campaign Off to Strong Start
 (NADA-TV)

2010 Convention
 

CLICK HERE for Comprehensive Convention News Coverage at NADAFrontPage.com.


REGULATORY UPDATES



Save up to $538 on Select Lenovo Notebooks

NADA members can now enjoy great Lenovo discounts, free shipping and peace of mind technology – all at a great price! Act now and save up to $538 on select notebooks – like the ThinkPad X200 with integrated graphics for only $881. To learn more about these and other specials for NADA members, visit NADA's PC Purchase Program site (member log in required).

 

HP Announces Winner of Mini Laptop

Julia George, the controller at Flagler Chrysler/Dodge/Jeep in Palm Coast, Fla., was the winner of the HP Mini 5102 laptop drawing at the 2010 NADA Convention. HP congratulates Julia and thanks all the visitors to the NADA Pavilion. To see all the HP computer and printer products available to NADA members visit NADA's PC Purchase Program site (member log in required).

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