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Inside this issue
Toyota's Bob Carter to Keynote NADA/J.D. Power Auto Forum
Is Lincoln Driving Down Mercury's Path?
Feds' GM Stake Shrinks By $490M
Detroit Rethinks Small Trucks
Dealers Should Stress Service Online
Ford's Messenger for the Millennials
Click here for more auto industry news at NADAFrontPage.com. .
Top Stories
Toyota's Bob Carter to Keynote NADA/J.D. Power Auto Forum

Bob Carter, senior vice president of automotive operations for Toyota Motor Sales, U.S.A., will deliver keynote remarks at the 2013 Automotive Forum in New York City. The annual forum, presented by NADA and J.D. Power & Associates, brings together leaders from manufacturing, retailing and the media to discuss the future of the auto industry. The one-day forum, hosted by the New York International Auto Show, will be held at the Grand Hyatt on Tuesday, March 26. The forum precedes Press Days at the auto show, which run March 27-28. Industry consultant Glenn Mercer will highlight the findings of NADA's Phase 2 study, which examines the Dealership of the Future: a forecast of what the facility of 2025 might look like.

The event will also feature several panel discussions, including “Wall Street's View of the Industry,” moderated by auto consultant Maryann Keller with panelists Itay Michaeli, vice president of Citi Investment Research and Analysis; Adam Jonas, managing director of Morgan Stanley; and Colin Langan, director, general industrials group of UBS Investment Research. Other speakers include NADA Chairman David Westcott; Finbar O'Neill, president of J.D. Power & Associates; Neale Kuperman, chairman of the Greater New York Automobile Dealers Association; Nariman Behravesh, IHS chief economist; Chip Perry, CEO/president of AutoTrader.com; and others. Attendees will receive complimentary credentials to attend Press Days at the auto show. To register or view the full agenda, visit www.AutoForumNY.com.
Source: NADAFrontPage.com

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Is Lincoln Driving Down Mercury's Path?

There is increasing sentiment among some Ford employees that it's too late to save the Lincoln luxury brand, despite recent announcements that four new products would debut over the next four years. Ford reportedly plans to invest $1 billion to bring the new Lincolns to market. But that's not much when it comes to reinventing a luxury brand. GM reportedly shelled out $3 billion on the Cadillac brand more than a decade ago. And Toyota reportedly spent $1 billion to develop one model, the LS 400 sedan, when it launched its Lexus luxury brand in 1989. The first of the new products, the Mexico-built '13 Lincoln MKZ, has stumbled out of the gate, with dealer shipments slowed because cars are being routed first to Ford's Flat Rock, MI, assembly plant for an extra round of quality checks. Now, well into first-quarter 2013, units are just beginning to trickle into dealers, while reportedly more than 1,000 MKZs now crowd Flat Rock's parking lot awaiting unspecified repairs. Even when the MKZ reaches dealers in volume, there's no guarantee it will be a success. Some reviewers already are panning the sedan as an underwhelming, gussied-up, rebadged Ford. That's the same criticism that dogged Mercury for years before its demise.
Source: WardsAuto

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Feds' GM Stake Shrinks By $490M

Report suggests at least 7 percent of Treasury's holdings in carmaker sold

The U.S. Treasury sold at least 17.2 million shares of stock in General Motors Co. in February as it vows to exit its stake in the Detroit automaker by March 2014. In a report to Congress late Monday, Treasury said it had raised $489.9 million from the sale of shares in GM last month. Treasury hasn't disclosed the precise number of shares it sold, but based on stock prices in February, the government sold between 17. 2 million and 18.1 million. That means since January, Treasury has sold at least 22.6 million shares — or at least 7 percent of its 300 million shares it is selling off.
Source: The Detroit News

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Detroit Rethinks Small Trucks

After ceding market to Toyota, GM and Chrysler plot return

Rising fuel prices have General Motors Co. and Chrysler Group LLC taking a second look at peddling smaller pickup trucks—vehicles that the Detroit Three auto makers abandoned in the U.S. amid weak demand. GM is planning to revive its Chevy Colorado and GMC Canyon in late 2014, and Chrysler is considering a replacement for its Dakota. Both see the vehicles helping them to hit higher fuel-economy targets and to regain market share from Toyota Motor Corp.'s Tacoma, the current top-selling small hauler. A return represents a risk for Detroit's auto makers, which haven't been successful in convincing buyers to downsize to smaller trucks, and which carry smaller profits.
Source: The Wall Street Journal

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Dealers Should Stress Service Online

Dealer Rick Case wants his virtual service department to rival his physical one. Case has put his buildings' service departments near the front of almost all of his 15 dealerships for customer convenience. He is taking that same approach online. His company designed a new Web site for the group's main page and for each store. The new Web site gives more prominence to service, says Case, owner of Rick Case Automotive Group in Fort Lauderdale, Fla. Industry leaders say Case is addressing a problem common to many dealers: a weak online service presence. Solutions include buying better key words on search engines and making dealerships' Web sites easier to navigate, says Chip Maher, dealership management consultant for the National Automobile Dealers Association 20 Group Program in McLean, Va. "If you Google 'brake repairs,' you'll get a list of independent shops but not one dealership," Maher says.
Source: Automotive News

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Ford's Messenger for the Millennials

Ken Block combines race-car driving and marketing in one tire-squealing, doughnut-spinning package

The Ford brand these days offers a new generation of smaller, more fuel-efficient vehicles including the Fiesta, Focus and C-Max. But many customers hang onto a far different image of the company, seeing it as a maker of gas-guzzling pickups, SUVs and muscle cars. It's an image Ford wants to change. Fiesta sales fell 17 percent in 2012, to 56,775, before rebounding 3 percent in the first two months of this year. With a refreshed 2014 Fiesta and performance Fiesta ST arriving in dealerships this spring, Ford wants to bring new energy to its smallest car. Jim Farley, executive vice president of global marketing, sales, service and Lincoln, has made Ford one of the most aggressive carmakers in using social media to reach new customers. The Fiesta, Focus, Fusion, Escape and C-Max were launched with social media campaigns. And [Ken] Block is a celebrity tailor-made for the age of social media. He keeps his Facebook page fresh and mentions his sponsors by name at every opportunity. Ford is Block's second-biggest sponsor, behind Monster Energy Drink.
Source: Automotive News

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More Articles
 
Quotable
"He's [Ken Block] bringing the fun back into the automobile industry."

   
-- Scott Denby, marketing and strategy manager for Ford Racing, commenting on the automaker adding the race-car driver to their marketing mix to appeal to millennials, Automotive News, March 11
Register Today for Auto Forum in NYC March 26

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