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Top 5 Stories
Uncertainty Surrounds Japanese Auto Production
Japan Earthquake's Effect on U.S. Economy Hard to Predict
Gas at $4: A Subcompact Sweet Spot?
Republicans Question Consumer Bureau Power, Oversight
Chrysler Sues T-shirt Seller Over Tagline Use
For More Auto Industry News, Visit NADAFrontPage.com
Top 5 Stories
Uncertainty Surrounds Japanese Auto Production

Amid cascading uncertainty surrounding Japan's leaky Fukushima nuclear plant, Toyota's Japanese factories will not make vehicles through Tuesday, but supplies of its popular Prius hybrid and other imported models remain adequate, according to dealers. The vast majority of Toyota, Honda, Nissan and Subaru vehicles sold in the U.S. are assembled in North America. However, the nuclear crisis forced rolling blackouts throughout Japan. Prius is of particular concern because Toyota only makes it in Japan, and demand for the hybrid has been strong in recent weeks as gas prices have climbed to a national average of about $3.50 a gallon. "Nationally the supply of Prius is about 40 days," said Bob Page, a Toyota dealer in Southfield. "It's getting tighter, but in the summer of 2008 when gas went above $4 a gallon we were down to six or seven days' supply on Prius."
Source: Detroit Free Press

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Japan Earthquake's Effect on U.S. Economy Hard to Predict

Some consumer goods likely to be limited, but it could provide job boost

Production of consumer products ranging from video games to the popular Toyota Prius has been hurt by Japan's earthquake, but economists are uncertain how deep the disaster will affect the broader U.S. economy. In fact, there is some thought that the catastrophe could mean more jobs within the United States, as companies pick up production slack or are called upon to help rebuild that country. Meanwhile, car buyers intent on purchasing a Toyota Prius may have to move to their second choice. At February's end, supplies of the fast-selling Prius stood at 32 days, according to Ward's Automotive. Supplies of other vehicles also are lower than a year ago. "Whatever's tight now is going to be tighter if there's not the ability to substitute production here," said Paul Taylor, chief economist of the National Automobile Dealers Association.
Source: Chicago Tribune

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Gas at $4: A Subcompact Sweet Spot?

Gasoline prices are rising toward $4 a gallon, the point at which auto-industry executives say they expect U.S. consumers to shift decisively from buying sport utility vehicles and trucks and embracing smaller, more fuel-efficient cars. Still, keeping up with shifts in consumer behavior that can take place over a few weeks can be difficult for manufacturers that need years to overhaul their model lines. It's not that global car makers such as GM, Toyota Motor Corp. or Ford Motor Co. don't know how to deal with high gas prices: They do it every day in Europe, where motorists would consider $4-a-gallon fuel cheap enough for a driving spree. What gives car makers fits—and makes it tough on car buyers—are gas prices that ride a roller coaster the way they've done in the U.S. since early 2008. "Volatility paralyzes customers," says Ford Motor Co. Chairman Bill Ford, adding they can be left wondering: "Am I making a decision today that I am going to regret six months from now?"
Source: The Wall Street Journal

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Republicans Question Consumer Bureau Power, Oversight

WASHINGTON - Republican members of a U.S. House financial policy panel Wednesday attacked the structure of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, raising questions about the agency's power over financial products while arguing the agency needs greater oversight. House Financial Services Committee Chairman Spencer Bachus (R., Ala.) suggested the agency has too much independence. "You are probably directing the most powerful agency that's ever been created in Washington," Bachus told White House adviser Elizabeth Warren, who is working to prepare the consumer agency for its July launch. "It's not a commission. It's one single person, and it will regulate all providers of credit, savings, payment and consumer financial products and services."
Source: Dow Jones Newswires

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Chrysler Sues T-shirt Seller Over Tagline Use

Chrysler, which used an artful Super Bowl ad to portray itself as the gritty urban underdog of automaking, is now playing Goliath against two local entrepreneurs who see themselves as the up-by-the-bootstraps David of Motor City pride. The Auburn Hills automaker sued the owners of Pure Detroit on Tuesday, alleging they violated the automaker's trademarked "Imported from Detroit" tagline by using it on a variety of apparel sold through their shops. The tagline was featured during Chrysler's two-minute Super Bowl ad promoting the 2011 Chrysler 200 and highlighting rapper Eminem driving the car with his hit "Lose Yourself" as the soundtrack. Chrysler has begun selling a range of merchandise with the tag line through its Chrysler brand Web site.
Source: Detroit Free Press

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For More Auto Industry News, Visit NADAFrontPage.com

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Quotable
“The impact to vehicle production from the earthquake in Japan will limit the supply of many fuel-efficient cars like the Toyota Prius."

    -- Jonathan Banks, executive automotive analyst for the NADA Used Car Guide, adding that low inventory of fuel efficient new cars could drive consumers to used vehicles, NADA Newswire, March 16

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