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Inside this issue
November Sales Pace May Reach 4-Year High on Storm Recovery, Pent-Up Demand
Lexus U.S. Chief Says Sales Will Grow Even if Taxes Rise
Akerson Zeros in on '13 Launches
Toyota Pushes Dealers for Certified Body Shops
Plan to Raise Estate Tax Divides Democrats
How Federal Grants, Overeager Industry Created Massive Lithium Ion Battery Overcapacity
Mark Fields Diving into New Job as Chief Operating Officer at Ford
New NADART Website is Launched
Volvo Stakes its Claim to Driverless Vehicles
Click here for more auto industry news at NADAFrontPage.com. .
Top Stories
November Sales Pace May Reach 4-Year High on Storm Recovery, Pent-Up Demand

SAAR forecast to hit 14.8 million to 15.3 million

U.S. auto sales are expected to rebound robustly in November, potentially hitting their strongest pace in more than four years, as consumers in the Northeast returned to dealerships after superstorm Sandy hurt demand in late October. November sales were also boosted by pent-up demand for vehicles as consumers replaced their aging cars and trucks, analysts and executives said.
Source: Reuters

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Lexus U.S. Chief Says Sales Will Grow Even if Taxes Rise

Toyota Motor Corp. expects to boost U.S. sales of its luxury Lexus model next year even though taxes on the wealthy may rise as a result of a federal budget deal, the brand's global marketing chief said. Lexus sales, up 24 percent in the U.S. this year through October, may gain at least 10 percent in 2013, Mark Templin, who is also head of the brand in the region, said in an interview last week at the Los Angeles Auto Show. Demand for luxury autos will grow faster than the industrywide pace, even with a change in tax rates, he said.
Source: Bloomberg

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Akerson Zeros in on '13 Launches

General Motors is assembling a team of 100 engineers to work hand-in-hand with suppliers ahead of a spate of key vehicle launches. They'll crawl deep into GM's supply chain, even down to tiers 3 and 4, to inspect parts for quality and ensure that those suppliers can deliver adequate volumes. The move underscores the stakes during one of the busiest launch schedules in GM's history. Over the next 12 to 18 months, GM will introduce redesigns of its biggest money makers, including the Chevrolet Silverado and GMC Sierra pickups and its four big SUVs.
Source: Automotive News

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Toyota Pushes Dealers for Certified Body Shops

Goals are to improve operations, keep customers loyal

Toyota Motor Sales wants more of its dealers to bring body shop work inside their dealerships, not farm it out to independents. And it wants those dealers to be certified according to Toyota guidelines. Toyota believes that a good body shop can keep customers coming back to dealerships for sales and service.
Source: Automotive News

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Plan to Raise Estate Tax Divides Democrats

At least three senators in President's party oppose his proposal for 45% rate; Republicans generally oppose any levy

Sen. Mary Landrieu and President Barack Obama can link arms on many pieces of the White House's proposed budget package, including raising taxes on higher-income Americans and spending more on infrastructure. But Ms. Landrieu, along with a notable handful of Democratic colleagues, parts ways with the White House on one increasingly thorny issue: the president's call to raise the estate tax as part of Washington's bid to strike a deficit-cutting deal before year's end. Mr. Obama is proposing a 45% estate tax after the current 35% rate expires on Jan. 1. He would exclude from the tax the first $3.5 million of an estate's assets, down from the current threshold of $5.12 million. Greg Galpin, owner of an auto dealership outside Phoenix, recalled the estate-tax headache he experienced when his father died unexpectedly in 1992. The company had to sell its used-car inventory to come up with money to pay the tax—then 55%—along with attorney and appraisal fees. He said that some key staffers quit out of uncertainty about whether the business would survive. Mr. Galpin said if the current policy continued and he died, "it would be a doable situation." But under Mr. Obama's plan, "we would probably have to lay off a bunch of people just to keep the ball rolling."
Source: The Wall Street Journal

Editor's note: Greg Galpin currently serves on the NADA board of directors.

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How Federal Grants, Overeager Industry Created Massive Lithium Ion Battery Overcapacity

On Sept. 13, 2010, employees and political leaders at the opening ceremony for a lithium ion battery plant near Detroit patched in a special speaker. On the phone was President Barack Obama, who touted the federal Recovery Act grant of $249.1 million that helped build the A123 Systems plant. Little more than two years later, A123 filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection. The move added to a chain of dismal news among battery makers that hoped to supply a booming market for electric vehicles and plug-in hybrids. The drive to tool up lithium ion battery plants mixed environmentalism, national energy independence and a global race to dominate what seemed to be a coming boom. But in the excitement, boosters missed a key point: With gasoline prices below $4 a gallon, electric-drive vehicles were too expensive to attract mainstream car buyers.
Source: Automotive News

Related Story:

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Mark Fields Diving into New Job as Chief Operating Officer at Ford

As most of us enjoy[ed] the weekend, Ford executive Mark Fields [was] diving into his first day as chief operating officer -- a promotion that solidifies his stature as heir apparent to CEO Alan Mulally. Mulally has signaled his retirement will come in 2015 at the earliest. Fields becomes Ford's first COO since Jim Padilla retired in 2006. One element of his new role places Fields in charge of Ford's Thursday strategic meetings, which Mulally began soon after he arrived in 2006. They are frank conversations among senior management designed to ferret out bad news before it grows into a crisis. He still reports to Mulally, but Fields, who has spent the last seven years leading the automaker's operations in North and South America, is now in charge of all global business units and the company's skills teams.
Source: Detroit Free Press

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New NADART Website is Launched

Today NADART, the financial services division of NADA, rolled out a new website to the public and the dealer community. The goals driving the new website architecture and design were to provide an improved online experience for visitors, customers and prospects; to give a greater clarity on who NADART is and the value they provide in retirement planning and administration; and to reinforce their unique relationship with auto dealers through NADA. To view the new website, click here.
Source: NADA Public Affairs

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Volvo Stakes its Claim to Driverless Vehicles

Mired in losses, Volvo Car Corp. is staking its future on the equivalent of an automotive moon shot: promising by the start of next decade to sell vehicles that can avoid passenger injuries. The 85-year-old company believes it can produce an accident free vehicle in just seven years. "Our vision is that no one is killed or injured in a new Volvo by 2020," said Anders Eugensson, Volvo's head of government affairs. Underpinning Mr. Eugensson's optimism is a bet on increasing demand for driverless functionality in cars, and the emergence of technology that essentially eliminates the chance for driver error.
Source: The Wall Street Journal

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"We're locked and loaded with our supply base." 

   
-- GM CEO Dan Akerson, commenting on the automaker's plan to launch several redesigned vehicles in the next 12-18 months, Automotive News, Dec. 3

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