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Top 5 Stories
NADA Chairman: Auto Dealers 'On the Way Back'
Toyota Exec Defends Higher Incentive Levels in US
GM Makes Plans to Shore Up Dealer Network
Castriota Named TIME Dealer of the Year
Subaru Uses Facebook, Social Media on Super Sunday
Top 5 Stories
NADA Chairman: Auto Dealers 'On the Way Back'

SAN FRANCISCO – With auto sales expected to reach nearly 13 million units in 2011, the outgoing chairman of the National Automobile Dealers Association (NADA) said today that the nation’s auto dealers have a renewed sense of optimism about the auto industry. “We are on the way back,” said Ed Tonkin, a multi-franchise dealer from Portland, Ore., who will end his term as NADA chairman Monday, passing the gavel to Utah dealer Stephen Wade at the NADA Convention and Expo in San Francisco. The convention, which runs through Monday, Feb. 7, is expected to draw nearly 17,000 total attendees, a 15 percent increase from the 2010 event. “Our challenge now is to do everything in our power to keep things moving forward,” Tonkin said.
Source: NADA

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Toyota Exec Defends Higher Incentive Levels in US

SAN FRANCISCO -- Toyota Motor Corp has increased incentives to lure buyers but its U.S. Toyota brand chief vowed on Friday that high resale and residual values will be maintained. Bob Carter, Toyota brand sales chief in the United States, said higher incentives including a current program offering zero-interest financing does not signal a change in business strategy for the world's biggest automaker. "Our position on incentives has not changed. We use it as part of our strategy to address the competitive marketing environment and the inventory," Carter told reporters on the sidelines of a J.D. Power & Associates auto industry conference. Carter said that U.S. consumers who buy a Toyota want to know that three years later the vehicle will have more worth than most of the cars or trucks in the same class. "That's been a core strength for 20 years and we will not touch that," Carter said.
Source: Reuters

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GM Makes Plans to Shore Up Dealer Network

SAN FRANCISCO -- General Motors is studying ways to strengthen its dealer network on the East and West coasts through a combination of adding showrooms or relocating existing ones to higher traffic areas, North American president Mark Reuss said (Saturday). Reuss, who has met Friday and Saturday with Chevrolet, Cadillac and Buick-GMC dealers at the National Automobile Dealers Association convention here, said reducing the number of GM dealers to nearly 4,500 from 6,150 before the 2009 bankruptcy was the right decision. But now the company needs better retail locations in California, and more dealers in places such as Long Island, N.Y. "This problem happened over 20 years," Reuss said. "We need to get the right dealership distribution on the coasts. We don't have enough distribution in highly populated areas," especially in metropolitan areas such as Los Angeles and the Bay Area. More than 90% of GM dealers are profitable today, compared with less than 40% at the end of 2009.
Source: Detroit Free Press

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Castriota Named TIME Dealer of the Year

SAN FRANCISCO – Thomas Castriota of Castriota Chevrolet in Hudson, Fla., was named the 2011 national TIME Dealer of the Year, sponsored by the Goodyear Tire and Rubber Co. Castriota received this highest honor out of a select group of dealers from across the country recognized at the 94th annual National Automobile Dealers Association (NADA) Convention & Exposition in San Francisco on Saturday. The TIME Dealer of the Year award is one of the automobile industry’s most prestigious and highly coveted awards for new-car dealers. Recipients are among the nation’s most successful auto dealers, but they must also demonstrate a long-standing commitment to effective community service.
Source: TIME

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Subaru Uses Facebook, Social Media on Super Sunday

SAN FRANCISO -- While nine other automakers are spending about $3 million each fighting it out during tonight's Super Bowl, Subaru is sponsoring a different kind of bowl. And dealers at the NADA convention told Subaru they love it. Subaru is premiering three new commercials, using social media and sponsoring the second-annual Animal Planet Puppy Bowl -- little doggies falling over each other on a pseudo football field for three hours. Subaru also invited dog owners to commit to walking their dogs at half-time and so far, 100,000 have signed up on Facebook, says Tim Mahoney, chief marketing officer. “Not one dealer asked us why we weren't in the Super Bowl,” Mahoney said.
Source: Automotive News

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Quotable
 
"We're not selling cars and we're not selling trucks. We're selling dreams. We're selling livelihoods. We're selling mobility and lifestyle."

     -- Ed Tonkin, NADA Chairman, who told thousands of dealers at NADA's 94th annual convention Saturday that the industry is on strong footing, The Detroit News, Feb. 5

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