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Inside this issue
The Juggernaut That's Not: Japan
Fusion Leads U.S. Cars Driving Sales Gains Eluding Camry
Mulally, Ghosn Revive Touchy Japanese Currency Issue
GM Seeks to Save $200 Million by Increasing Resale Values
1 in 3 Chevy Dealers Can Get Corvette at Launch
More Efficient Gas Engines Gain on Diesels
Mitsubishi Says New Models Show It's Staying in U.S.
A Car Dealer's Role in Helping Break Baseball's Color Line
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Top Stories
The Juggernaut That's Not: Japan

The Japanese auto export machine that once appeared ready to decimate U.S. auto manufacturing is in decline

Thirty years ago, Japan Inc.'s formidable battery of domestic auto plants seemed ready to conquer the world. A nervous U.S. industry watched as the Japanese export machine devoured American jobs. Consultants trumpeted the supremacy of the Japanese business model. But in a dramatic reversal, the Japanese are tensely witnessing the decline of the auto industry on their own turf. Much of the lost production is moving to North America. Domestic sales are in a downward spiral, and exports continue to sink. The distraught Japanese have even coined a term for the malady: kuudouka, or "hollowing out."
Source: Automotive News

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Fusion Leads U.S. Cars Driving Sales Gains Eluding Camry

A commercial showing the new Ford Fusion being driven off a cliff led David Bowhall to visit a dealer last month for a test drive. The owner of four Mercedes-Benzes in the last five years said it wasn’t much of a leap. “Boy, that kind of looks like an Aston Martin,” Bowhall, who designs and installs audio-visual equipment, said of his first impression of the car. The hybrid version that Bowhall, 41, plans to buy has many of the same features as the Mercedes C350 he’s replacing, plus it will almost double the fuel economy of his German luxury car and cost about $17,000 less. The Fusion, redesigned by Ford Motor Co. late last year, has vaulted into the top five models by U.S. sales early in 2013 and is leading a charge by U.S. automakers that are offering the best small and mid-size cars to take on Japan’s in decades.
Source: Bloomberg

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Mulally, Ghosn Revive Touchy Japanese Currency Issue

A long-distance debate last week between two CEOs -- Ford's Alan Mulally and Nissan-Renault's Carlos Ghosn -- reignited a hot-button debate in the industry over the value of the Japanese yen. Is the weakening value of the yen giving the Japanese an unfair edge? In Thailand on Tuesday, Mulally said he was concerned that the depreciation of the yen this year has given an advantage to Japanese automakers. In an interview at the [New York] auto show, Ghosn denied that, saying Japanese automakers are still suffering from an overvalued yen.
Source: Automotive News

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GM Seeks to Save $200 Million by Increasing Resale Values

General Motors Co., seeking to boost its profit margins, says it can save as much as $200 million annually by improving resale values of its vehicles and further narrowing the gap with competitors who don’t have to spend as much to offer lease deals. The automaker’s so-called residual values rose to 44 percent last year from 36.5 percent in 2009 when the company went through bankruptcy reorganization, according ALG Inc., the Santa Barbara, California-based company that sets resale values. Higher residuals help automakers offer lower monthly lease payments because the cost is based upon the projected resale value when the contract ends. 
Source: Bloomberg

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1 in 3 Chevy Dealers Can Get Corvette at Launch

Fewer than one in three Chevrolet dealerships will be eligible to sell the 2014 Corvette Stingray when it begins rolling off the assembly line in late summer. Last week, General Motors notified about 900 of its roughly 3,000-plus Chevy dealerships that they have met the requirements to sell the redesigned Corvette, a GM spokesman says. Those dealerships can begin ordering 2014 Corvettes in the next few weeks. GM is limiting allocation to its highest-volume Corvette dealers because it expects demand for the seventh-generation sports car to outstrip production. GM wants to get that limited number of Vettes into the hands of dealers that can best turn them. Those 900 dealerships accounted for 80 percent of Corvette sales in 2012.
Source: Automotive News

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More Efficient Gas Engines Gain on Diesels

General Motors and Chrysler are adding diesels to their U.S. car and truck lineups, but traditional gasoline engines and hybrids are becoming so fuel-efficient that American consumers have fewer financial and performance reasons to buy them. Diesel-powered cars are losing ground to advanced gasoline engines: They cost thousands of dollars more than comparable models with gas engines. They no longer have nearly the advantage in pulling power, at least in passenger cars. They don't deliver significantly better fuel economy. And diesel fuel costs about 36 cents a gallon more than regular unleaded.
Source: The Detroit News

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Mitsubishi Says New Models Show It's Staying in U.S.

Mitsubishi has become a very small brand in the U.S. and needs to make a big noise to keep from going silent. Hoping to do that at the New York International Auto Show, it announced three new models and said it would ramp up marketing spending, though didn't give a dollar figure. In an aside, it hinted at two more vehicles coming. "I can assure you we have no intention of pulling out of the U.S. market," said Masatoshi Hasegawa, executive vice president of North American operations who wears several hats, including head of sales strategy and corporate planning. "We're going to get it back on track," he said, by overhauling the U.S. lineup "within two or three years."
Source: USA Today

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A Car Dealer's Role in Helping Break Baseball's Color Line

Jackie Robinson broke the color line in major league baseball in 1947. But a decade earlier, a Chrysler dealer in Bismarck, N.D., made history by sponsoring a mixed-race semipro baseball team that included the legendary Satchell Paige, arguably the greatest pitcher ever. The dealer, Neil Churchill, recruited the team and paid their salaries out of his own pocket. "He set about building the best team he could," and that meant recruiting players from the old Negro leagues, including Paige, Ted "Double Duty" Radcliffe and Quincy Trouppe, Tom Dunkel, author of a new book called Color Blind: The Forgotten Team That Broke Baseball's Color Line, said in an interview with Don Gonyea of National Public Radio.
Source: Automotive News

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Quotable
"Competition coming from the U.S. carmakers is at a much higher level. That's good for the consumer, because they have a choice between much better products coming from everywhere. And it's good even for the competitors, because whenever you have tough competition, it forces you to be a much better company."

   
-- Carlos Ghosn, Nissan's chief executive officer, said last week at the New York auto show, referring to increased global competition in the small and mid-size car segments, Bloomberg, March 31
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