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Inside this issue
Obama Taps Insider as EPA Chief; MIT Professor to Lead Energy Dept.
Editorial: Flat Fee Ahead?
Ford Expects Some Europe Market Recovery in 2013
Marchionne Confirms Fiat's 2013 Targets, Sees No European Market Recovery
FTC Warns Small Businesses: Don't Open Email Falsely Claiming to be From FTC
Carmakers Expand Production Reach to Limit Currency Risk
BMW Shrugs Off Europe Drop as Daimler Seeks More Capacity
Ford Displays New Commercial Trucks in Indianapolis
Chevrolet Unveils 2014 Corvette Stingray Convertible at Geneva
Click here for more auto industry news at NADAFrontPage.com. .
Top Stories
Obama Taps Insider as EPA Chief; MIT Professor to Lead Energy Dept.

President Barack Obama [Monday] announced his nominees to lead a new U.S. push to tackle climate change, choosing an air quality expert to run the Environmental Protection Agency and a nuclear physicist to head the Department of Energy. Obama selected EPA veteran Gina McCarthy, 57, to replace Lisa Jackson as EPA administrator and MIT scientist Ernest Moniz, 68, to take over for Steven Chu as Energy secretary. Both Moniz and McCarthy will preside over numerous issues that affect the auto industry -- particularly emissions regulations at EPA and alternative energy programs at the DOE.
Source: Reuters

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Editorial: Flat Fee Ahead?

Most dealerships are excluded from oversight by the Consumer Financial Protection Board. But some dealers have fretted that CFPB regulators would find a back door into the finance and insurance office through lenders, which are regulated by the CFPB. Critics said those dealers were paranoid. But now the CFPB is investigating whether some types of buyers are routinely treated unfairly when dealerships arrange loans for customers and mark up the loan rate by a couple of percentage points, which the dealerships keep as a fee. It seems likely that the CFPB will get lenders to reduce the allowable finance reserve further or move to a flat fee, which many lenders have done. Such a change affects dealership profits. It isn't paranoia to fear something that happens.
Source: Automotive News

NADA Statement: Dealership finance offices provide a valuable service that increases access and reduces the cost of credit to consumers. The dealer's ability to discount the interest rate that it offers to consumers, which is made possible by the customer's ability to negotiate that rate at the dealership, would be eliminated if agency action leads to an arbitrary flat fee compensation system. Removing the dealer's ability to “meet or beat” the best interest rate that is available to a customer from other finance sources would significantly weaken rate competition and result in more expensive financing for consumers. The CFPB's reported investigations do not involve unfair treatment of individuals, but rather consist of an after-the-fact statistical analysis of whether one group paid more for credit than another group. It is therefore essential that this analysis be conducted in a statistically reliable manner; otherwise it can produce flawed findings that could serve as a springboard for disrupting the optional dealer-assisted financing system that has served consumers at all credit tiers extraordinarily well.

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Ford Expects Some Europe Market Recovery in 2013

Ford Europe CEO Stephen Odell says the uncertain Italian election results "possibly didn't help" the European car market but he still expects some recovery this year. Europe's recession has caused auto deliveries to plunge from 18 million in 2007 in Ford's key 19 markets to around 13 million expected this year. Odell said Tuesday at the Geneva Motor Show that Ford sees signs of recovery in recent surveys of purchasing managers and supplier order books. Odell says Ford Europe was sticking to its target to break even in 2015.
Source: Associated Press

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Marchionne Confirms Fiat's 2013 Targets, Sees No European Market Recovery

Fiat CEO Sergio Marchionne confirmed the company's 2013 profit targets and said he saw no recovery in store for Europe's car markets this year. "I don't see any glimmer of hope [for a European market recovery] this year," he told journalists at a press conference at the Geneva auto show. "The first quarter will be rough," he added. New-car sales in Europe's biggest car market Germany fell 10.5 percent to 200,683 in February, the KBA federal transport agency said on Monday. Germany followed other major European markets in reporting sales declines last month as austerity-hit consumers avoided big-ticket purchases. Marchionne said he sees the Italian car market falling to below its 2012 level this year, when it returned to volumes not seen since the 1970s and added that political uncertainty in the country was not helping matters. Overall, European car sales fell to a 17-year low in 2012, down 7.8 percent to 12.5 million from the year before.
Source: Reuters

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FTC Warns Small Businesses: Don't Open Email Falsely Claiming to be From FTC

The Federal Trade Commission is warning small businesses: An email that pretends to be from the FTC with “NOTIFICATION OF CONSUMER COMPLAINT” in the subject line is not from the FTC. The email falsely states that a complaint has been filed against their company. It contains a link to consumer complaints, a link to contact the FTC and an FTC telephone number – but the email is fake. The FTC’s advice: Do not open the email; If you have opened it, do not click any links or attachments because they may install a virus or other spyware on your computer; and delete the email. To learn more about malicious software (malware), visit OnGuardOnline.gov.
Source: FTC

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Carmakers Expand Production Reach to Limit Currency Risk

Toyota Motor Corp., Renault SA and Nissan Motor Co. are among carmakers widening their global production footprint to limit exposure to currency risk. Toyota plans to expand production in Europe to about 75 percent of sales from 63 percent to 64 percent within two years, Chief Regional Officer Didier Leroy said. Its luxury Lexus brand is entirely produced in Japan. “We want to have a business model that completely frees us from the exchange notion,” Leroy said in an interview at the Geneva International Motor Show. The yen has depreciated 6 percent against the euro this year and was trading at 121.37 per euro as of 11:40 a.m. in London after dropping to 127.71 in February, the weakest since 2010. It's down 7 percent against the dollar. Still, Toyota's impact from the exchange rate this fiscal year will be less than 10 million euros ($13 million), Leroy said. Nissan Chief Executive Officer Carlos Ghosn, who holds the same title at partner Renault, said the yen isn't in positive territory for Japanese carmakers.
Source: Bloomberg

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BMW Shrugs Off Europe Drop as Daimler Seeks More Capacity

Bayerische Motoren Werke AG and Daimler AG are shrugging off the European auto-market decline as sales growth in China and the U.S. pushes their luxury-car production to maximum rates. BMW, targeting a third consecutive year of record sales, delivered more than 250,000 vehicles in the first two months of 2013, a jump of about 6 percent, and “our factories are running at full capacity,” Chief Executive Officer Norbert Reithofer said today at a Geneva Motor Show press conference. Daimler's Mercedes-Benz unit is adding shifts to meet demand for compact cars, CEO Dieter Zetsche said at a separate briefing. The two manufacturers, which rank first and third in global luxury-car sales, are pushing new models and targeting customers outside Europe to make up for a recession in the region.
Source: Bloomberg

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Ford Displays New Commercial Trucks in Indianapolis

Ford will unveil its new Transit chassis cab today at the NTEA Work Truck Show in Indianapolis, offering commercial truck customers an option they never had with the outgoing E-Series commercial van. The truck crowd will also see Transit cutaways. The exhibits are part of the full Transit line that will be assembled at the retooled Kansas City assembly plant. Ford has 46.7% of the commercial truck market.
Source: Detroit Free Press

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Chevrolet Unveils 2014 Corvette Stingray Convertible at Geneva

Chevrolet revealed the convertible version of its 2014 Corvette Stingray at the Geneva Motor Show. Rolling out traditional “American iron” at a big European exhibition like Geneva – which many consider the king of car shows – in part reflects Chevrolet's global aspirations. It is also an indication that the Corvette is an object of desire around the world.
Source: The Wall Street Journal

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Quotable
"It is painful, but it is not a sign that people are [no longer] interested in cars." 

    -- Renault-Nissan CEO Carlos Ghosn, commenting on low auto sales in Europe, Automotive News, March 5

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