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Top 5 Stories
Auto Dealers Resist Plan for Plug-In Tax Credits
January Retail Sales Off to Hot Start, Analysts Say
Chrysler Looks to Offer Fiat 500 Shoppers a No-Haggle Experience
GM Drops U.S. Loan Application After Turnaround
NADA - Auto Dealers Preparing for Great 2011
Top 5 Stories
Auto Dealers Resist Plan for Plug-In Tax Credits

WASHINGTON — U.S. auto dealers are resisting a White House proposal that would require them to temporarily cover federal tax credits for consumers who purchase plug-in electric cars. The government currently offers tax credits of up to $7,500 for the purchase of electric vehicles. Consumers claim the credit on their tax returns. The National Automobile Dealers Association, a trade group, said Thursday the change could leave dealers on the hook for the rebates if applications are denied by the government. "It is not reasonable to expect dealers to determine a car buyer's tax status in the showroom," the group said in a statement. "When the specifics are made public, NADA will examine the proposal to determine if it makes sense for consumers and dealers."
Source: The Wall Street Journal

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January Retail Sales Off to Hot Start, Analysts Say

It may be cold outside, but inside U.S. dealer showrooms, January is hot. The three forecasters that have real-time access to dealership transactions all expect the first month of the year to produce strong gains in retail sales. (J.D. Power and Associates') top auto forecaster, Jeff Schuster says dealerships will post their fourth straight month of retail sales at or above a 10 million SAAR. Buyers are back in showrooms, he says and “this signals stability and strength of natural demand.” Power's Schuster also doesn't expect weather to affect January sales. The East Coast storms could push a few local January sales into February, “but the overall effect should be minimal,” he said.
Source: Automotive News

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Chrysler Looks to Offer Fiat 500 Shoppers a No-Haggle Experience

Chrysler Group LLC wants dealers to avoid haggling with shoppers over the price of the Fiat 500 when reintroducing its parent company’s brand to America, betting that will make young customers more comfortable in showrooms. “The pricing is the pricing,” said Laura Soave, head of the Fiat brand in North America. “The younger generation doesn’t haggle. They don’t feel comfortable with it. They hate the experience.” Dealers have been given advertising standards that include prohibitions on promoting vehicles for less than the manufacturer’s suggested retail price, Soave said during an interview this week in San Diego. Carl Galeana, who will open Fiat franchises in Michigan and Florida, said he’s seeing a lot of excitement for the 500. “The passion for a Fiat is much bigger than I thought,” he said in a telephone interview.
Source: Bloomberg

Editor's note: Fiat's Laura Soave will speak at the Women Dealers' Breakfast at NADA's 2011 Convention & Expo in San Francisco on Saturday, Feb. 5. For more information or to purchase a ticket, visit www.nadaconventionandexpo.org.

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GM Drops U.S. Loan Application After Turnaround

General Motors Co has withdrawn its application for $14 billion in subsidized loans from the U.S. Department of Energy, saying it has the financial strength to fund investment in more fuel-efficient and electric vehicles on its own. "This decision is based on our confidence in GM's overall progress and strong, global business performance," Ed Welburn, GM design chief, said in a speech at the Washington auto show. Welburn said he hoped that American consumers would view GM's decision to drop the loan application as positive. Chrysler, which is carrying high-interest loans from the U.S. Treasury from its bailout, has been seeking $3 billion in Energy Department financing to bring down its financing costs. "We don't want those kinds of debts to deal with," GM's Welburn said." I think it says a lot about the financial health of the company."
Source: Reuters

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NADA - Auto Dealers Preparing for Great 2011
By Grant Cardone

As the automobile industry appears to be improving, the National Automobile Dealer Association is getting ready for its annual automotive convention. Just retail auto dealers are responsible for over 1 million jobs in the U.S. so their solvency is critical to the US economic recovery! With car and truck sales predicted to be between 12-13 million cars it should be a big year for manufacturers and dealers. I am working with NADA again this year to deliver automotive sales and management training workshops that will demonstrate exact strategies that automobile dealers must employ to get their part of the upcoming recovery. While people will be returning to car dealerships in the upcoming year, increased competition is forcing dealers to be better at the customer experience.
Source: Huffington Post

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Quotable
 
"I think it says a lot about the financial health of the company."

    -- Ed Welburn, GM design chief, on the automaker's decision to withdraw its application for $14 billion in subsidized loans from the U.S. Department of Energy, saying it has the financial strength to fund investment in more fuel-efficient and electric vehicles on its own, Reuters, Jan. 27

Video Highlights
 

90 Seconds with Fiat's Laura Soave (Automotive News)
Soave will be a featured speaker at NADA's Women Dealers' Breakfast Feb. 5 in San Francisco.


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