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Top 5 Stories
JD Power Raises 2011 U.S. Auto Sales Forecast
GM Redraws Dealership Territories
GM Downplays Need for Captive
Nissan Falls Months Behind in Electric Leaf Car Deliveries
TIME National Dealer of the Year to be Announced at NADA Convention
Top 5 Stories
JD Power Raises 2011 U.S. Auto Sales Forecast

DETROIT - J.D. Power, which tracks the U.S. auto market, on Friday raised its forecast for 2011 sales by almost 2 percent on the basis of a strong start to sales in January. The forecasting and sales-tracking firm said it expected 2011 sales to total nearly 13 million vehicles, up from an earlier forecast for 12.8 million vehicles. "Optimism is increasing for the auto industry following a stronger outlook for the economy," Jeff Schuster, director of forecasting at J.D. Power, said in a statement. J.D. Power said it expected January auto sales to be near 12.2 million vehicles on the annualized and seasonally adjusted basis tracked by the industry. That would be up sharply from 10.7 million a year earlier and down slightly from 12.5 million in December. "The month of January typically experiences a much more pronounced pullback in sales," Schuster said.
Source: Reuters

Editor's note: NADA Chief Economist Paul Taylor projects sales will reach 12.9 million new-cars and trucks in 2011, up from 11.55 million light vehicles sold in 2010. For a list of NADA’s top five factors that will accelerate new-vehicle sales in 2011, click here.

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GM Redraws Dealership Territories

General Motors Co., compensating for dealer cuts during its 2009 bankruptcy, has expanded the geographic market area used in performance reviews for thousands of dealerships. In mid-December GM wrote letters to all 4,500 of its dealerships informing them of their brand-specific territories, company spokeswoman Ryndee Carney said. Most letters changed dealers' areas of responsibility, usually enlarging them. The remapping was based in part on recommendations by the consulting firm Urban Science, using a computerized formula for the distance between dealerships and population centers "as the crow flies," said Randy Berlin, global practice director for Urban Science of Detroit. All automakers have used this algorithm for decades, he said. At least three dozen stores are preparing objections arguing that GM hasn't adequately considered local conditions such as traffic flow and mountain and river barriers, dealer lawyers said.
Source: Automotive News

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GM Downplays Need for Captive

Reuss: Rising dealer profits will lure wholesale lenders

DETROIT -- General Motors Co. officials are downplaying concerns that the automaker's lack of a full-service in-house lender puts it at a competitive disadvantage. Some Wall Street analysts say that without a strong captive finance unit, GM dealers won't have ample access to floorplan financing or the best floorplan terms, particularly in the next downturn. Mark Reuss, president of GM North America, said GM dealers' access to floorplan financing should grow thanks to their sharply improved profitability. GM's dealers, around half of whom were profitable roughly six months ago, now are "approaching 100 percent profitability," he said. "That means the business is going to be much more healthy and people will be knocking on the door for the wholesale piece of business," Reuss said. The debate comes amid renewed speculation that GM is eyeing a stake in Ally Financial Inc., the former GMAC lending unit. The Wall Street Journal reported on Jan. 11 that GM is considering a bid for part of Ally's auto-loan business to enhance dealers' access to wholesale credit.
Source: Automotive News

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Nissan Falls Months Behind in Electric Leaf Car Deliveries

Buyers hoping to lead the electric-car revolution are hitting the slow-charge cycle when it comes to deliveries of their new vehicles. Nissan says many among the 20,000 who pre-ordered the Leaf all-electric car are going to have to wait months longer than they expected. Those who signed up to buy last summer, expecting delivery of the car this month or next, may have to wait as long as until May or June. Nissan acknowledges giving prospective buyers overoptimistic delivery-time estimates. Senior Vice President Brian Carolin says that his estimates of how long it would take for the Leafs, $33,630 to start, to arrive didn't end up meshing with the car's production schedule in Japan. Customers have expressed their concern, Carolin says, and most are understanding. Leaf buyers "seem very committed, and few will lose interest."
Source: USA Today

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TIME National Dealer of the Year to be Announced at NADA Convention

NEW YORK – Fifty-two new-car dealers from around the country have been nominated for the national TIME Dealer of the Year award. This is the 42nd annual TIME award recognizing dealers who exhibit exceptional business performance combined with distinguished community service. The award is presented by TIME in partnership with Goodyear.
Source: TIME

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Quotable
 
"Optimism is increasing for the auto industry following a stronger outlook for the economy."

    -- Jeff Schuster, director of forecasting at J.D. Power and Associates, which on Friday said it expected 2011 sales to total nearly 13 million vehicles, up from an earlier forecast for 12.8 million vehicles, Reuters, Jan. 21

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