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Top 5 Stories
$4 Gasoline Changes the Industry
Toyota Car Production in Japan Plummets 62.7 Percent Due to Parts Supply Crunch After Tsunami
Obama EV Credit-to-Rebate Plan Draws Senate Concerns
Fiat Raising Chrysler Stake to 46% in June
Dealers of Distinction: Retailers Find Countless Ways to Give Back to Their Communities
Top 5 Stories
$4 Gasoline Changes the Industry

High-mpg cars are in; shipping costs are rising

NEW YORK -- At the New York auto show, Mazda and Kia joined the 40-mpg club, unveiling production cars they estimate will get 40 mpg in highway driving. Hyundai showed its third 40-miler. Ford introduced a large 2013 Taurus sedan with a four-cylinder engine producing 31 mpg. Chevrolet countered with the 2013 Malibu Eco, a version of the mid-sized sedan that gets 38 mpg. It's clear that $4-a-gallon gasoline is suddenly changing emphasis in the industry. "Oil is the biggest risk facing the economy," Nariman Behravesh, chief economist at IHS Global Insight, warned an auditorium full of industry executives last week in New York. Thirty days ago IHS revised its auto sales forecast to factor in the recent $10 increase in the price of a barrel of oil. The net result: 150,000 fewer U.S. auto sales this year, the firm now predicts.
Source: Automotive News

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Toyota Car Production in Japan Plummets 62.7 Percent Due to Parts Supply Crunch After Tsunami

TOKYO — Toyota’s car production in Japan plummeted a staggering 62.7 percent in March due to a parts supply crunch following the earthquake and tsunami. Toyota Motor Corp., the world’s top-selling automaker last year, said Monday its domestic production in March was 129,491 vehicles — the lowest since 1976 when Toyota began maintaining production figures. Given Toyota’s production woes after the tsunami, General Motors Co. is likely to reclaim the title of world’s largest automaker that it lost in 2008. Toyota said in December that its global production would total 7.7 million vehicles in 2011. But Tokai-Tokyo Securities analyst Mamoru Kato said that number would fall to around 6 million due to disrupted production. “The impact of the tsunami disaster on Toyota is extremely severe,” said Kato. “Since Toyota depends so much on domestic parts suppliers, any major disruptions in supply chains could cripple its output.”
Source: The Associated Press

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Obama EV Credit-to-Rebate Plan Draws Senate Concerns

WASHINGTON -- A key Senate Democrat is scrutinizing an Obama administration proposal to transform the $7,500 tax credit for electric-vehicle buyers to a comparable rebate at the point of purchase, an aide to the U.S. senator said. Sen. Max Baucus, chairman of the finance committee, "is very concerned from an effectiveness standpoint," said Ryan Abraham, a counsel for the panel, which handles tax legislation. Abraham told the Electric Drive Transport Association conference here Wednesday that the proposal might not provide as much incentive to potential EV customers as the current tax credit. Baucus is concerned the plan also could add a layer of complexity to the tax code, the aide said. Under the proposal, dealers would in effect reduce the sticker price and apply for reimbursement from the government. The National Automobile Dealers Association has questions about how the rebate would work. "We haven't seen any details in writing yet," said NADA spokesman Bailey Wood.
Source: Automotive News

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Fiat Raising Chrysler Stake to 46% in June

Analysts say pairing to succeed unlike Daimler era; firms already work as one

Italian Fiat SpA has essentially taken control of Chrysler Group LLC after Thursday's confirmation that it is upping its stake in the Auburn Hills automaker to 46 percent in June, and to 51 percent by year's end. But unlike the ill-fated 1998 union of Germany's Daimler AG and Chrysler Corp., industry observers believe this marriage will work. That's because Fiat needs Chrysler to fulfill its aspiration to create a single global company with multiple headquarters and brands selling 6 million vehicles a year. "The two relationships could not be more different," said analyst Rebecca Lindland of IHS Automotive in Lexington, Mass. Fiat could buy an additional 16 percent between 2013 and 2016, or earlier if all the government loans were repaid.
Source: The Detroit News

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Dealers of Distinction: Retailers Find Countless Ways to Give Back to Their Communities

It's not a secret that American car dealers are great supporters of their communities. It just seems that way sometimes. Dealers give back in countless ways. Scott Wood used his business acumen to get a critical school bond issue passed in Batesville, Ark. Ray Ciccolo opened an orphanage in China for disabled children. It's hard to be a successful car dealer and not feel a debt of gratitude to your community -- or even communities far removed from where you sell cars. Giving back makes sense. "It's just a given. It strengthens the community ..." says Bob Mallon, chairman of the National Automobile Dealers Charitable Foundation and a former Ford dealer in Tacoma, Wash. Since it was established by the National Automobile Dealers Association in 1975, the foundation has donated more than $10 million to health care, education and emergency relief programs.
Source: Automotive News

Editor's note: Click here for a new series from Automotive News called "Dealers of Distinction."

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For more auto industry news, visit NADAFrontPage.com

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"Anything that strengthens the community is a good thing."

    -- Bob Mallon, chairman of the National Automobile Dealers Charitable Foundation and a former Ford dealer in Tacoma, Wash., on why dealers give back to their communities

Click here for a new series from Automotive News called "Dealers of Distinction"

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