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Tuesday, Dec. 28, 2010 RSSSEND TO A FRIENDPRINT
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Top 5 Stories
Car Dealers Hope for a Year-End Bump
Environmentalists, Carmakers Debate 60 MPG Target, Loopholes
Ford Plans to Offer Fuel-Saving 'Start-Stop' System in 2012
House Lawmakers Object to Increased EPA Regulation of Used Oil
NADA Charitable Foundation Provides Family with Canine Companion
Top 5 Stories
Car Dealers Hope for a Year-End Bump

DETROIT -- Car dealers across the nation are hoping for a surge in new-vehicle sales during this holiday week, typically the strongest week of the year for car buying. A robust showing between Christmas and New Year's Day would close 2010, a tough year for the auto industry, on an up note, and give the industry reason to believe sales will be closer to normal next year. "Most dealers I've talked to are pretty optimistic," said Wes Lutz, owner of Extreme Dodge in Jackson, Mich., about 60 miles west of Detroit. "We think we are coming out of the slump. Financing is easing up. We're getting people into loans again." Most auto makers also are doing their best to pump up sales, offering year-end incentives and cut-rate leases to pull in consumers. Toyota Motor Corp., General Motors Co., Ford Motor Co. and Chrysler Group LLC are offering 0% financing on various models and, in some cases, adding cash rebates on top of that.
Source: The Wall Street Journal

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Environmentalists, Carmakers Debate 60 MPG Target, Loopholes

Environmentalists and automakers are waging a behind-the-scenes debate in Washington as the green advocates push to raise vehicle mileage standards into the next decade and the car companies lobby to scale back the demands. The Environmental Protection Agency and National Highway Traffic and Safety Administration have started collecting input for fuel-economy and emissions rules governing cars sold from 2017 through 2025. The environmentalists want carmakers to boost the fuel economy of the average vehicle by as much as 6 percent a year, ending with 60 or 62 mpg by 2025.
 
Without a more lenient standard, the industry may be forced to sell cars that lack the size and power consumers want or that cost too much, Ed Tonkin, Chairman of the National Auto Dealers Association, said in an interview. "The manufacturers don't think it's feasible," Tonkin said. "Sixty miles per gallon is way too aggressive." A government-ordered standard of 60 mpg would force about 40 percent of new cars to be hybrids or electric-powered by about 2020, Tonkin said. Those cars are less than 3 percent of sales now because of their high price, he said.
     
Requiring a 6 percent annual increase in fuel efficiency will force the industry to build vehicles that consumers don't want, said Andy Koblenz, NADA's vice president of legal and regulatory affairs. "If car prices get too high, consumers will opt for an alternative and go to the used-car market," Koblenz said. "We need to increase fuel economy as far as we can while still acknowledging market realities."
Source: Bloomberg Government (Subscription required)

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Ford Plans to Offer Fuel-Saving 'Start-Stop' System in 2012

Ford said (Monday) that it plans to introduce fuel-saving start-stop technology on many vehicles starting in 2012 and will show the feature in January at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit. Generally, start-stop systems save fuel by turning an engine off when the vehicle is idling and quickly restarting it when the driver releases the brake or steps on the gas pedal. Ford estimates that its system improves fuel economy by 4% to 10%, depending on driving conditions. Company spokesman Richard Truett said Ford hasn't decided whether start-stop will be standard on Ford vehicles in the U.S. or if it will be an option. By 2015, Truett said, it will be offered on most Ford cars and crossovers.
Source: Detroit Free Press

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House Lawmakers Object to Increased EPA Regulation of Used Oil

U.S. EPA's proposal to define used oil that exceeds certain chemical content limits as solid waste, putting it in line for new combustion and disposal restrictions, came under fire (earlier this month) from 26 House members on both sides of the aisle. The lawmakers warned EPA chief Lisa Jackson in a letter that labeling "off-specification" used oil -- which carries arsenic, lead, chromium and cadmium levels higher than EPA-set health limits -- as a solid waste could result in "unintended negative consequences."

Changing the designation, as EPA suggested in June, would force any automobile service station that accepts the waste from a "do it yourself" oil change to "to send it out for testing before they could burn it," the 26 lawmakers wrote. "As a practical matter, no small business is going to be willing to either incur the cost of testing the oil or of sending any oil to an incinerator."

Spearheaded by Reps. Bill Owens (D-N.Y.) and Mike Rogers (R-Mich.), the letter cited estimates of as many as 350 million gallons of used oil "improperly disposed of annually" after auto service work and say the change could increase that total. "EPA should be doing all it can to increase the amount of used oil flowing into the legitimate recycling system," the lawmakers wrote.
Source: E&E News (Subscription required)

Editor’s note: NADA's Legislative Affairs office advocated for Congressional support for the Owens-Rogers letter. NADA is concerned that adopting the EPA proposed rule could result in serious environmental problems because it would disrupt the relationship between do-it-yourself (DIY) oil changers and new-car dealerships, which currently accept DIY used oil. Under the proposed rule, many dealerships may be forced to choose between continuing to accept DIY used oil or face new regulatory burdens. Accordingly, the proposed rule would likely result in DIY used oil being disposed of improperly. Click here for a copy of the Owens-Rogers letter.

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NADA Charitable Foundation Provides Family with Canine Companion

McLEAN, Va. – For Ean Williams, a 9-year-old boy from Bulgaria who along with his sister were adopted by an American family, life just got a little easier with a grant from the National Automobile Dealers Charitable Foundation that provides him with a skilled companion dog named Kobe. “Ean’s disabilities are very complicated and very rare,” said Nancy Williams, Ean’s adoptive mother. “Kobe helps Ean in the morning get his brace and his shoes. (Ean) needs assistance with dressing, so Kobe’s just there to help bring things to him.” The partnership between Ean and Kobe was made possible by a $10,000 grant from the Frank E. McCarthy Memorial Fund to Canine Companions for Independence, which provides highly-trained service dogs to assist children and adults with physical disabilities. Click here to watch the related NADA-TV report.
Source: NADA Public Affairs

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Quotable
 
"Most dealers I've talked to are pretty optimistic. We think we are coming out of the slump. Financing is easing up. We're getting people into loans again."

    -- Wes Lutz, owner of Extreme Dodge in Jackson, Mich., about 60 miles west of Detroit, The Wall Street Journal, Dec. 27
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