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Inside this issue
Fiscal Cliff: Estate Tax Not on Table, Say Two Democrats
For Ford's Fields, It's Not All about Europe, Fiscal Cliff
FTC Issues Warnings about “Drip Pricing”
Lentz: Toyota to Push Hybrids, Hydrogen Over EVs
Aging Cars Continue to Stoke U.S. Sales
GM Venture in China Plans $1 Billion Auto Plant
Automakers Shrink Their European Dealer Networks
L.A. Auto Show: Six New-Car Reveals
Future Driving: Controlling a Car with a Wave of the Hand?
Click here for more auto industry news at NADAFrontPage.com. .
Top Stories
Fiscal Cliff: Estate Tax Not on Table, Say Two Democrats

Two key Senate Democrats on the estate-tax issue say they favor maintaining the rates in effect this year, with one going further and suggesting that she could oppose a deal to avert year-end spending cuts and tax increases that does not preserve existing 35 percent rate for estate taxes. Sen. Mary L. Landrieu, D-La., told reporters the deal was a "make-or-break" issue for her in negotiations on the package. The rate, included in the 2010 tax package that generally provided for an extension of the George W. Bush-era tax cuts (PL 107-16, PL 108-27), came after years of debate and squabbling in the Senate, with Republican Whip Jon Kyl of Arizona and then-Sen. Blanche Lincoln of Arkansas drafting what they billed as an estate-tax compromise, with the lower rate and a unified exemption of up to $10 million.  Over the summer, Senate Democrats sought to avoid dealing with the estate tax question during work on a bill that extended tax breaks for all but the top-income taxpayers. Arkansas Democrat Mark L. Pryor also champions lower estate taxes and wants to see them extended for at least a decade, calling an old system of annual rate changes a "nightmare" for estate planning.
Source: Congressional Quarterly

Editor's Note: NADA is pushing for an extension of the current estate tax exemption and rate and applauds the leadership of Senators Landrieu and Pryor on this issue.  As a co-director of the Family Business Estate Tax Coalition, NADA joined over 50 other business groups in signing a letter to Congressional leadership supporting extension of the current exemption and rate. Click here to read the letter.

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For Ford's Fields, It's Not All about Europe, Fiscal Cliff

Ford Motor Co.'s President of the Americas says the automaker has a contingency plan in place to right-size demand in anticipation of the looming "fiscal cliff," but that he must also focus his attention on other aspects. Fields said Ford will have to continuously work closely with the supplier community, which could be strained if vehicle output significantly rises.
Fields also said the Corporate Average Fuel Economy standards are a "great challenge" for the auto industry and said the implemented standards provide "regulatory certainty" for the company to move forward with plans.
Source: The Detroit News

Related Story:

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FTC Issues Warnings about “Drip Pricing”

The FTC has issued warning letters to 22 hotel operators stating that the way they advertise prices on their websites “may violate the law by providing a deceptively low estimate of what consumers can expect to pay for their hotel rooms.”  The letters specifically address “drip pricing,” which the FTC defines as “a pricing technique in which firms advertise only part of a product’s price and reveal other charges later as the customer goes through the buying process. The additional charges can be mandatory charges, such as hotel resort fees, or fees for optional upgrades and add-ons. Drip pricing is used by many types of firms, including internet sellers, automobile dealers, financial institutions, and rental car companies.”  Dealers are reminded to have all of their advertisements reviewed for compliance with applicable federal and state advertising standards. For additional information on drip pricing, see the FTC press release and its related blog on the topic. 
Source: NADA Regulatory Affairs

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Lentz: Toyota to Push Hybrids, Hydrogen Over EVs

Toyota will introduce 21 new or redesigned hybrid vehicles worldwide by the end of 2015 while limiting investment in electric cars, the company's U.S. chief said. Speaking at the Los Angeles Auto Show [yesterday], Jim Lentz, CEO of Toyota Motor Sales U.S.A., said hybrids currently account for 3.4 percent of industry sales and 14 percent of Toyota sales. Lentz said Toyota will continue to improve internal-combustion engine technology while taking "a portfolio approach" to hybrids.
Source: Automotive News

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Aging Cars Continue to Stoke U.S. Sales

The U.S. auto industry is poised to report November sales cruised to another four-year high, a sign that the domestic market has returned to health even while Europe and Asia sales falter. Some analysts estimate November sales could hit an annualized selling pace of 15.2 million cars and light trucks—the strongest single monthly showing since 2008. Next year, U.S. sales are projected to reach between 14.5 million and just over 15 million cars and light trucks, a third consecutive year of growth. U.S. sales this year are projected to hit 14.4 million vehicles.
Source: The Wall Street Journal

Related Stories:

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GM Venture in China Plans $1 Billion Auto Plant

General Motors Co. and its joint venture partners in China say they will spend 6.6 billion yuan ($1 billion) to build a third car plant to keep up with demand for vehicles in the world's biggest auto market. The plant will be capable of turning out 400,000 vehicles and engines a year. It will help the joint venture reach its goal of producing 2 million vehicles a year in China by 2015.
Source: Associated Press

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Automakers Shrink Their European Dealer Networks

Automakers are using the expiry of the EU's block exemption regulations for new-car sales to eliminate underperforming dealers and shrink dealer networks in countries where vehicle sales are falling heavily. Starting June 1, 2013, car retailing will be governed by the EU's general competition rules instead of the block exemption regime that was introduced in 2002 and offered the motor industry a "safe harbor" from normal competition rules. Once block exemption ends, automakers will be able to require dealers to separate brands in a multibrand franchise, or even stop them from selling other brands altogether. Those powers are already being used on dealers.
Source: Automotive News

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L.A. Auto Show: Six New-Car Reveals

Carmakers introduced a wide variety of vehicles Wednesday in the state that buys more cars than any other. Toyota's popular RAV4 small SUV/crossover is getting a major makeover in looks and technology. Volkswagen revealed a convertible version of the new generation of larger and more capable Beetle. Ford showed off its new Fiesta ST hot hatch as well as its new Fiesta with a 1-liter, three-cylinder EcoBoost engine. Chevrolet introduced its first fully electric car, the Spark Electric Vehicle. Honda's luxury brand Acura unveiled the RLX, an all new full-sized, front-wheel-drive sedan that will come with a lot of new technology. Mercedes-Benz debuted the SLS AMG Black edition — a 622-horsepower gull-wing icon, wrapped in aluminum and carbon fiber.
Source: The Detroit News

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Future Driving: Controlling a Car with a Wave of the Hand?

Toyota Motor Co. is researching new ways to revolutionize the act of driving, and some start with a simple wave of the hand. Jim Lentz, head of Toyota’s U.S. division, said today the company is working on new hand motion technology that will allow drivers to control certain car functions, such as turning up the radio volume. For now, the research is mostly being done on a skateboard — yes, a skateboard — developed by Toyota’s “Board of Awesomeness” research team and in partnership with Microsoft Corp.
Source: The Wall Street Journal

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Quotable
"The auto industry seems to be defying the overall economic position" of the country.

   
-- Jim Lentz, CEO of Toyota Motor Sales U.S.A., The Wall Street Journal, Nov. 28

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