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Top 5 Stories
J.D. Power Sees U.S. February Auto Sales Up 17 Pct
Presidential Hopefuls
Penske Auto Group on the Lookout for Acquisitions
GM to Offer Pandora Internet Radio on Chevy Cars
Entries for EPA's National Building Competition Due Feb. 25
Top 5 Stories
J.D. Power Sees U.S. February Auto Sales Up 17 Pct

DETROIT - J.D. Power and Associates forecast February U.S. light vehicle sales will rise 17 percent from a year earlier. U.S. retail sales are seen up 28 percent at 10.3 million vehicles, the research and consulting firm said on Thursday. J.D. Power said retail selling rates signal the continuing U.S. auto industry recovery from 2008 and 2009, when much of the industry was restructured, including bankruptcies at General Motors Co and Chrysler. "The stronger retail environment, guided by the new business model that the industry is operating under, is an encouraging signal for 2011," said John Humphrey, J.D. Power senior vice president of automotive operations. "While fleet sales are not expected to grow at the same rate as retail, a rebound in more profitable commercial and governmental fleet volume will make up a larger proportion of the fleet mix in 2011."
Source: Reuters

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Presidential Hopefuls

Dealers bet on pent-up demand to lift holiday auto sales

Auto dealers are crossing their fingers for the Presidents’ Day weekend, the unofficial kickoff to the New England car-selling season, in the hope that it will continue this year’s trend toward improved sales. “I think people have been so housebound by the weather that they’re going to be looking for any excuse to get out of the house, so we’re going to be looking at a very busy and exciting Presidents’ Day," said Ray Ciccolo, state director of the National Automobile Dealers Association and president of Village Auto Group, which is based in Boston and owns 10 auto dealerships in Eastern Massachusetts. The national dealers group expects 12.9 million new cars will be sold in the United States this year, still down nearly 20 percent from 2007, the last full year before the recession. “If you get 60 degrees, plus sunshine, plus the day off, I believe it will be a better environment for car shopping, and particularly for impulse buying," said Paul Taylor, chief economist at the national association. “That’s the sort of day the dealers will go out and put the tops down on the convertibles."
Source: Boston Globe

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Penske Auto Group on the Lookout for Acquisitions

Penske Automotive Group Inc. is again prowling for acquisitions, but it's unlikely to return to the torrid pace of 2007 when it added $1.5 billion in revenues through store purchases. The nation's second-largest auto retailer is being "opportunistic" about adding franchises but maintaining "strict financial discipline," CEO Roger Penske told analysts during the company's fourth-quarter earnings call Wednesday. In 2010, Penske Automotive Group acquired eight franchises and opened 16 new points awarded by manufacturers. Penske said he couldn't promise the company would match last year's revenue growth through purchases and new dealerships in 2011. "A lot of these hit just at the right time," he said. "When you look at the investment we made, it was minimal to build these stores."
Source: Automotive News

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GM to Offer Pandora Internet Radio on Chevy Cars

DETROIT - General Motors Co will launch a new system to stream online radio from Pandora in upcoming Chevrolets starting with the Volt and Equinox. The new partnership comes as the top U.S. automaker looks to make up for lost ground against Ford Motor Co in the increasingly competitive market for digital entertainment systems in vehicles. Chief Executive Dan Akerson, who has a background in telecommunications, has said one of his priorities was to sharpen the automaker's focus on vehicle electronics. Thursday's announcement marked the first new such service GM has launched since Akerson's arrival as CEO in September. "It's in our interest to make Pandora as easily and readily accessible in vehicles as traditional radio because over half of radio listening happens in the car," said Pandora Senior Vice President Jessica Steel.
Source: Reuters

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Entries for EPA's National Building Competition Due Feb. 25

There’s only one week left to apply for the EPA’s National Building Competition, a coast-to-coast contest to save energy in commercial buildings. This year, dealership applicants that meet eligibility requirements will be selected to compete in the first round. EPA will then narrow down the field to a select group of 10-15 finalists. Among this group of finalists, the building that reduces its energy use the most on a percentage basis will be recognized by EPA as the winner. For details and to apply, go to www.energystar.gov/BuildingContest. Remember, applications are due Friday, Feb. 25.
Source: U.S. EPA

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Quotable
 
“If you get 60 degrees, plus sunshine, plus the day off, I believe it will be a better environment for car shopping, and particularly for impulse buying."

    -- Paul Taylor, NADA chief economist, on the prospects for improved sales this Presidents’ Day weekend, as pent-up demand and a better economy bring consumers back to dealerships, Boston Globe, Feb. 17

Video Highlights
 
 
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