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Top 5 Stories
Dec US Auto Sales to Bode Well for 2011
Wade to Lead Dealers Association
Former Auto Czar Pays $10 Million Fine
Fiat May Increase Chrysler Stake to 51% Before IPO
Getting to 35.5: The ABCs of MPG
Top 5 Stories
Dec US Auto Sales to Bode Well for 2011

DETROIT -- December is expected to be the third straight month that U.S. auto sales hold above 12 million vehicles on an annualized basis, capping a year of gradual recovery for the auto sector, analysts said. Automakers are due to report December U.S. auto sales on Tuesday, Jan. 4. On average, experts expect 2010 industry sales of about 11.5 million vehicles. J.D. Power and Associates expects 2011 U.S. sales to be near 13 million, and some forecasters are as bullish as 15 million. Many analysts and experts believe the growth in the U.S. population, rising prices for used cars, and the increasing age of vehicles on the road will spur more new vehicle sales next year. "The news is full of trade-offs," said Bill Fox, of Auburn, New York-based Fox Dealerships. "Fuel is going higher and there's still a lot of unemployment." "All of these things will impact whether next year is (vehicle sales of) 12 million or 13 million," Fox said.
Source: Reuters

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Wade to Lead Dealers Association

ST. GEORGE, Utah -- St. George auto dealer Stephen Wade is set to become chairman of the National Automobile Dealers Association, a trade group representing approximately 18,000 dealerships nationwide. Wade, the owner of Stephen Wade Auto Centers, which operates 17 dealership franchises in St. George and California, was elected to the position in 2010 while serving as the organization's vice-chairman and is set to assume his new role in February. As chairman, Wade will serve as the principal spokesman for about 90 percent of auto dealers in America, said NADA President Phil Brady. Brady said Wade is expected to bring a both enthusiasm and experience to the position as chairman of the trade association. "The great thing he brings to the job is tremendous experience," Brady said. "He's held most of the major leadership positions that we have at NADA."
Source: The Spectrum (St. George, Utah)

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Former Auto Czar Pays $10 Million Fine

NEW YORK -- Quadrangle investment group founding partner and former Obama "auto czar" Steven Rattner agreed Thursday to pay a $10 million fine in a settlement with the New York attorney general's office over a pension fund scheme. Rattner was accused of a "pay-to-play" scheme involving New York's pension fund, in which Rattner's Quadrangle allegedly gave kickbacks to officials if they directed state pension money to the fund. "I am pleased to have reached a settlement with the New York Attorney General's Office, which allows me to put this matter behind me," said Rattner in a statement. "I respect the work of the Attorney General and his staff to ensure that the New York State Common Retirement Fund operates properly and in the best interests of New Yorkers."
Source: CNNMoney.com

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Fiat May Increase Chrysler Stake to 51% Before IPO

Fiat SpA, the Italian carmaker that owns 20 percent of Chrysler Group LLC, may boost the holding to more than 50 percent before an initial public offering by the U.S. automaker, the companies’ chief executive officer said. "I think it is possible. I don’t know whether it is likely, but it is possible that we'll go over the 50 percent mark if Chrysler decides to go to the markets in 2011,” Sergio Marchionne, 58, told reporters at the Milan stock exchange today. “It will be advantageous if that happens.” Fiat has an option to increase the holding to 51 percent, buying an additional 16 percent, after Chrysler repays U.S. and Canadian government loans. “It looks cheaper for Fiat to get 51 percent of Chrysler before the IPO,” said Philippe Houchois, a London-based analyst at UBS AG, who estimates that Fiat could save $1 billion to $2.7 billion if it exercises the option before a Chrysler listing. “It’s a positive scenario for Fiat shares.”
Source: Bloomberg

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Getting to 35.5: The ABCs of MPG

When gasoline prices blew past $3 a gallon last week, the highest level in 26 months, it was tough news for consumers but a marketing boost for automakers trying to sell pricey new technology needed to meet tougher fuel economy rules that took effect Jan. 1. The first step is a total fleet average of 30.1 mpg for 2012 models, which officially can go on sale this week. The latest data from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration for the 2010 model year show that some companies -- including Toyota, Honda, Hyundai-Kia and Mazda -- are at or above the 2012 standard and are well positioned with their product mix. For others below the 2012 standard -- such as Chrysler, BMW, Daimler and Porsche -- the requirements will mean an acceleration of steps to slash weight, shuffle products and shrink powertrains. Those changes don't come cheap.
Source: Automotive News

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Quotable
 
"The great thing he brings to the job is tremendous experience. He's held most of the major leadership positions that we have at NADA."

    -- Phil Brady, NADA president, speaking about 2011 NADA Chairman Stephen Wade, who is set to assume his new role at the association's annual convention in February, The Spectrum (St. George, Utah), Jan. 2

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