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Top 5 Stories
Toyota Targets Annual Sales of 10 Million Vehicles
EPA Bill Showdown Coming Thursday
GM May Pay Dividend, Fund Pension by Mid-2012, Report Says
Audi Aims for Boost in its Sales to Justify U.S. Plant
Truck Dealers to Focus on Economic, Legislative and Regulatory Priorities at ATD Convention
For More Auto Industry News, Visit NADAFrontPage.com
Top 5 Stories
Toyota Targets Annual Sales of 10 Million Vehicles

TOKYO -- Toyota Motor Corp. is aiming for an auto industry first by reaching annual sales of 10 million vehicles by 2015 even as it acknowledges that overly rapid growth was at the root of its recall fiasco. Toyota President Akio Toyoda gave the 10 million figure Wednesday while outlining the company's "global vision" in his first major strategy announcement since the recall crisis that hit a year and a half ago. The Japanese automaker reported worldwide sales of 8.42 million vehicles last year -- 30,000 more than General Motors Co.'s 8.39 million. Speaking at a Tokyo hotel, Toyoda said the car maker wants to make millions of customers happy, and even denied he was giving a numerical sales target. He repeatedly emphasized goals like quality controls, customer satisfaction and solid profits. The company is forecasting operating profit of ($6.6 billion) for the fiscal year ending March 31.
Source: The Associated Press

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EPA Bill Showdown Coming Thursday

Thursday morning's vote in the House Energy and Commerce Committee's Energy and Power Subcommittee on blocking the Environmental Protection Agency from regulating greenhouse-gas emissions has all the makings of an explosive markup, although the outcome is almost certain. “We want to send a message that Congress is reasserting itself in the environmental arena,” (Energy and Power Subcommittee Chairman Ed Whitfield, R-Ky., said). Though delaying EPA regulations, as opposed to blocking them entirely, has been popular among Democrats in both chambers as a way of waiting out the economic recovery. Despite the efforts to challenge the bill from House Democrats on Thursday, the bill will most likely pass the subcommittee, full committee and the House, which Energy and Commerce ranking member Henry Waxman, D-Calif., acknowledged. “The Republicans have control of the House, they can pass a bill to cut the EPA by a third and even more,” Waxman said on MSNBC on Monday. “But they can't pass a law because the Senate will stop them and if the Senate doesn't stop them, the president will veto it. It's the same thing over and over again.”
Source: National Journal (subscription required)

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GM May Pay Dividend, Fund Pension by Mid-2012, Report Says

DETROIT -- General Motors Co. may pay a dividend as early as 2012 after funding its pension, Brian Johnson, an analyst at Barclays Capital, said in a new report distributed (Tuesday). GM may begin paying the dividend after contributing $5.5 billion or more in cash to its U.S. pension in each of the next two years, Johnson wrote (Tuesday) in a note. The ability to start payouts in 2012 would require "exceptionally strong" returns on pension assets that bring the program to full funding, he said. GM CFO Chris Liddell has called for the automaker to reduce its debt and fund pension obligations so the automaker can maintain spending on vehicle development through downturns. GM paid down $11 billion of debt last year and made $6 billion in cash and stock contributions to the U.S. pension. The dividend could come by mid-2012 if returns are 11.5 percent this year and next year, or if there is a "sharp increase" in long-term interest rates, Johnson wrote. GM earned $6.17 billion in 2010, the largest annual profit since its predecessor earned $6.7 billion in 1997.
Source: Bloomberg

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Audi Aims for Boost in its Sales to Justify U.S. Plant

Volkswagen AG's premium Audi brand expects to boost U.S. auto sales in the next few years to levels that would justify a hefty investment for an American assembly plant. "We think we'll be able to reach volumes that will facilitate a confident decision about U.S. manufacturing before the year 2015," Johan de Nysschen, president of Audi of America, told reporters Tuesday. The German luxury carmaker has been weighing building a U.S. plant for several years. Rivals BMW and Daimler AG's Mercedes-Benz produce vehicles in the United States, and its sister brand, VW, has just built a plant in Chattanooga, Tenn., as part of a $5 billion investment in North America. Audi sold a record 101,629 vehicles in the United States last year, amounting to close to 10 percent of its global sales of 1.1 million vehicles. At a briefing about Audi's U.S. operations, de Nysschen predicted Audi's sales would rise to 114,000 vehicles this year and to about 120,000 in 2012.
Source: The Detroit News

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Truck Dealers to Focus on Economic, Legislative and Regulatory Priorities at ATD Convention

The nation’s commercial truck dealers will meet in Phoenix next month for the 48th annual American Truck Dealers (ATD) Convention and Expo, the truck industry event of the year. Keynote speakers during the four-day conference, April 15-18 at the Phoenix Convention Center, include ATD Chairman Kyle Treadway; Bill Graves, president of the American Trucking Associations; and Donald Broughton, senior research analyst and managing director of Avondale Partners LLC. Political analyst Charlie Cook will headline the first-ever general session covering legislative and regulatory affairs. Five truck dealers have been nominated for the prestigious Truck Dealer of the Year award sponsored jointly by Heavy Duty Trucking magazine and ATD. ATD will honor two new commercial trucks, one medium-duty (classes 3-7) and one heavy-duty (class 8), sold in the United States. ATD will also host its first “Next Generation ATD” event at the convention. For more information or to register, visit www.ATDconventionandexpo.org.
Source: NADAFrontPage.com

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For More Auto Industry News, Visit NADAFrontPage.com

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Quotable
 
"Medium- and heavy-duty truck dealers face a growing number of policy challenges in the nation's capital -- so many, in fact, that legislative and regulatory priorities are the focus of the ATD convention."

   
-- Dick Witcher, ATD vice chairman and convention chairman, referring to the theme of the upcoming ATD conference in Phoenix April 15-18, NADAFrontPage.com, March 8
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