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Inside this issue
A Little Education Can Save A Lot Of Complaining
GM's Akerson Vows Lighter Vehicles, Hails Potential of CNG
Marchionne's Big Gamble
Contamination of R-134a Refrigerant Found in U.S.
Toyota Chief Stresses Safe Growth
Lithium-ion Battery Costs to Remain High
Audi Suits Up For 'Iron Man 3'
Click here for more auto industry news at NADAFrontPage.com. .
Top Stories
A Little Education Can Save A Lot Of Complaining

It's easy to be cynical about this, but consumer education could ease the sting of tougher regulations that seem to be in the works for auto lenders and dealers. "Compliance and education are the culture in our dealership. It has to be instilled," said Todd Snell, CEO of Snell Motors Inc. (Buick-Cadillac-GMC) in Mankato, Minn. Snell also is a director of the National Automobile Dealers Association. "On our Web site, we've got 'Auto Financing 101,' '' he said at the American Financial Services Association Vehicle Finance Conference in Orlando last month. The link leads to a Web site belonging to Americans Well-informed on Automobile Retailing Economics. AWARE is sponsored by AFSA, NADA, the National Association of Minority Automobile Dealers and the American International Automobile Dealers Association. You could be cynical and argue those groups are mostly interested in nipping tougher regulations in the bud. But education also could head off consumer complaints that may strike people in the auto industry as silly, but which federal regulators take seriously.
Source: Automotive News

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GM's Akerson Vows Lighter Vehicles, Hails Potential of CNG

Automaker developing EVs with 100- and 200-mile ranges, CEO says

General Motors aims to cut the weight of its North American vehicles by as much as 15 percent by the 2016 model year, compared with GM's current fleet, CEO Dan Akerson said [Wednesday]. GM estimates that a 10 percent reduction in curb weight cuts fuel consumption by about 6.5 percent. To reach that goal, Akerson said, GM is "aggressively investing" in new materials and technologies such as carbon fiber, nanosteel and resistance spot welding for aluminum structures. "But if you're worried that we're going to throw safety, comfort and performance out of the window to get there, you can breathe easy," Akerson said during an address to a Houston energy conference. GM has said that it is targeting major weight savings for its vehicles, which typically are heavier than rivals', hurting fuel economy. But it had not stated an across-the-board goal for weight reduction. In his remarks, Akerson also touched on electric vehicles and compressed natural gas. He also urged the Obama administration to appoint a blue-ribbon commission to develop a national energy policy.
Source: Automotive News

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Marchionne's Big Gamble

CEO bets billions on Alfa, Maserati revival; skeptics see many risks, few rewards

Fiat CEO Sergio Marchionne is betting billions of euros that Alfa Romeo and Maserati will help drive the automaker's money-losing European operations back into the black by 2015-2016. He's also counting on the underperforming sporty brands to help ignite a production boom that will turn the company's under-used European plants -- particularly those in Italy -- into export champions that will work around the clock to meet untapped global demand for models such as the Levante, Maserati's first SUV. Marchionne's big gamble on Alfa and Maserati comes at a time when rivals such as PSA/Peugeot-Citroen, General Motors and Ford Motor are negotiating to close European car plants to adjust to shrinking demand and to end big financial loses in the region. Marchionne has said for years that European volume automakers must make painful capacity reductions to become profitable in Europe again. Now the CEO has accepted that it is politically impossible for Fiat to close factories in Italy. To fully use the group's underperforming Italian plants, Marchionne aims to increase Maserati's annual sales to more than 50,000 by 2015 from about 6,000 last year, and he wants Alfa to triple sales to more over than 300,000 by 2016.
Source: Automotive News

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Contamination of R-134a Refrigerant Found in U.S.

Motor vehicle A/C refrigerant contamination has become a heightened concern with the recent discovery in the U.S. of R-134a contaminated with R-40. Unlike CFC-12 or R-134a, R-40 can pose a risk to technicians, shops and equipment. To avoid cross contamination, it is recommended that techs identify the refrigerant in a vehicle before evacuating it into a recycler. Note too that R-134a offered for sale well below its current market price may not be R-134a. For further information on the R-40 contamination issue, click here. For general information on motor vehicle A/C refrigerants, see L.30, A Dealer Guide to the EPA Mobile Air Conditioning Coolant Recycling Regulation and click here for more information from EPA. If you have any questions, contact NADA Regulatory Affairs at (703) 821-7040 or regulatoryaffairs@nada.org.
Source: NADA Regulatory Affairs

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Toyota Chief Stresses Safe Growth

After four tumultuous years bookended by an unprecedented recall crisis and a return to the top of the global auto industry, Akio Toyoda is refashioning Toyota Motor Corp. into a leaner company that's more imbued with the venture spirit of founder Kiichiro Toyoda, his grandfather. In an exclusive interview with The Associated Press, Toyota's president said he is putting new auto plants on hold for three years and reshaping the automaker's structure to give more autonomy to regional divisions and foreign executives.
Source: Associated Press

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Lithium-ion Battery Costs to Remain High

Big investments in lithium-ion battery manufacturing plants won't significantly reduce the cost of making batteries, a revised outlook that cautions that sustainable growth in electric vehicle sales will happen later rather than sooner. Through the first two months of this year, however, alternative powertrain vehicles did not do badly. Sales of gas-electric, non-rechargeable hybrids rose 29% to 74,784. Sales of plug-in hybrids and all-electrics more than tripled to 10,081, according to Hybridcars.com. Still, much higher volumes are needed to bring down the cost faster.
Source: Detroit Free Press

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Audi Suits Up For 'Iron Man 3'

Once again, Iron Mans' alter ego, Tony Stark, will be tearing through the streets of a crime-infested city in an Audi. Moviegoers apparently aren't getting tired of the Iron Man franchise and seeing Robert Downey Jr. behind the wheels of Audis. Such will be the case again when Iron Man 3 comes to theaters May 3. Audi has placed a lot of its hottest cars in the first two movies. They included the R8 supercar and its convertible version, the stately A8 big sedan, S5 sporty car and the Q7 crossover. This time, look for the electric version of the R8, the e-tron.
Source: USA Today

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Quotable
"Compliance and education are the culture in our dealership. It has to be instilled."

    -- Todd Snell, CEO of Snell Motors in Mankato, Minn., and an NADA director, commenting on the need for consumer education on auto financing, Automotive News, March 6

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