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Top 5 Stories
Ford First-Quarter Net Rises 22% as Vehicle Prices Increase
Parts Woes Force Ford to Suspend Work at 3 Plants
A New Car Under $10K? Fugetaboutit
'Value Cars' Replace Bare-Bones Bottom-Feeders
Bob Mallon's Big Idea: A Charitable Arm for NADA
Top 5 Stories
Ford First-Quarter Net Rises 22% as Vehicle Prices Increase

Ford Motor Co., the second-largest U.S. automaker, said first-quarter profit rose 22 percent to the most for the period since 1998 as it commanded higher prices for fuel-efficient new models. Net income climbed to $2.55 billion from $2.09 billion a year earlier, Dearborn, Michigan-based Ford said today in a statement. Chief Executive Officer Alan Mulally has revived the automaker with a focus on fuel economy and raised U.S. prices twice this year as the cost of gasoline gained 26 percent. “Ford has more fuel-efficient models -- even their pickups and the Explorer get a lot better mileage,” said Gary Bradshaw, a fund manager at Dallas-based Hodges Capital Management, which owns about 200,000 Ford shares. “They’re much better prepared for these high prices of oil.”
Source: Bloomberg

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Parts Woes Force Ford to Suspend Work at 3 Plants

DEARBORN, Mich. — Ford Motor Co. says it has idled three overseas factories to conserve auto parts following last month's earthquake in Japan. Assembly plants in Pretoria, South Africa, and Nanjing, China, will be down this week. Spokesman Todd Nissen says the factories had been scheduled to shut down for a week later this year, but the downtime was pulled ahead. Ford also is shutting a factory in Taiwan for two weeks because it has run short of parts. The plant makes the Ford Focus, Mondeo, Escape and Econovan and the Mazda3 and Mazda5.
Source: The Associated Press

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A New Car Under $10K? Fugetaboutit

NEW YORK — The days of finding a new car for under $10,000 are officially over. Nissan North America Inc. plans to drop the stripped-down version of its Versa sedan that had an advertised sticker price of $9,990 -- the lowest on the market at the moment. But the price was always somewhat theoretical. As with all new cars, customers who bought the model had to pay the standard dealer destination charge, which bumped its real price to $10,740. (Larry Dominique, Nissan North America vice president of product planning,) says the hot button for consumers has changed. "As the economy comes back and fuel prices increase," he says, "there's a new issue buzzing in people's heads, and that's fuel economy."
Source: Automotive News

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'Value Cars' Replace Bare-Bones Bottom-Feeders

NEW YORK — It would be easy to overlook amid the shiny cars, fashion models, exotic lighting and other hoopla that attend an auto show, but one of the most significant trends at the show here is the emergence of “value cars.” It’s a nascent segment, to be sure. Underpopulated, too, but growing less so. Value cars usually are small, but not always the absolute tiniest or cheapest. They surely aren’t the premium small cars — such as Mini Cooper, Volkswagen Beetle, Honda Civic — that car companies favor for their higher potential profits. To automakers, value cars mean cars that might be nice enough to bring owners back for another, instead of shunning the brand because it reminds them of their barely livable cheap cars. “If you’re going to sell an inexpensive car, it still can’t be ‘cheap,’” says Don Levin, spokesman for the Dave Mungenast dealerships in the St. Louis area. Buyers are “going to want as much as they can get.”
Source: USA Today

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Bob Mallon's Big Idea: A Charitable Arm for NADA

Liking people to begin with makes it easy to serve the community, says Bob Mallon, who is credited with founding the National Automobile Dealers Charitable Foundation in 1975. Mallon was a Ford dealer in Tacoma, Wash., and an NADA director at the time. "It occurred to me and our committee that a national foundation might be a more effective way to serve, and it would also serve as a conduit for dealers to get the public recognition they deserved," Mallon says. Over the past 35 years, the foundation has raised more than $10 million in dealer contributions and donated the money to educational, health care and emergency-relief programs across the country. Mallon was the foundation's first board chairman, a post he has held ever since even though he retired as a dealer in 2002.
Source: Automotive News

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

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"As the economy comes back and fuel prices increase, there's a new issue buzzing in people's heads, and that's fuel economy."

    — Larry Dominique, Nissan North America vice president of product planning, who says consumers are less concerned with sticker price and more concerned with mileage as the economy improves, Automotive News, April 26

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Alert: Bogus Survey Misrepresents NADA

Dealers have reported receiving emails with “NADA Preferred Mail Company Info” in the Subject line. The email refers to an NADA survey of direct mail companies. NADA has not undertaken such a survey, nor authorized any other party to perform a survey on behalf of NADA. The company involved has agreed to stop any references to the bogus survey. Information about the phony survey originated in emails from, a website that is also bogus and has no connection to NADA.
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