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Inside this issue
Video: GM CEO Sees Strong US Sales, Despite Payroll Tax Bite
Hyundai and Kia Recall More than 1.8 Million Vehicles
Toyota Seeks to Avoid Midlife Crisis for Youthful Scion Brand
GM to Invest $331M in Powertrain Plants in Michigan, Ohio and Indiana
Detroit Electric Launches First Vehicle, All-Electric Sports Car
What Do U.S. Car Shoppers Really Want?
Click here for more auto industry news at NADAFrontPage.com. .
Top Stories
Video: GM CEO Sees Strong US Sales, Despite Payroll Tax Bite

Auto sales are expected to be in the range of 15 million and 15.5 million units this year, General Motors Chairman and CEO Daniel Akerson told CNBC on Thursday, adding that he sees an underpinning of strength that will drive the industry for the next four to five years. Akerson acknowledged in a "Squawk Box" interview that the payroll tax increase did have a dampening effect on sales so far this year, and said the improving U.S. economy is not as robust as he would like it to be. But the average age of cars currently on the road is a tailwind for GM, he said, noting that the automaker's new line of trucks is well-timed for the uptick in economic growth. While Japan's continued devaluation of its currency makes Japanese autos cheaper overseas, Akerson stressed that GM competes on fundamentals and does not make excuses about the effects of foreign currency fluctuations. Meanwhile, amid escalating tensions in North Korea, Akerson said GM is making contingency plans for the safety of employees in South Korea, but he said it would be difficult to swiftly shift production from the region.
Source: CNBC

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Hyundai and Kia Recall More than 1.8 Million Vehicles

Hyundai Motor Co. and its Kia Motors Corp. unit are recalling a total of more than 1.8 million vehicles. In three filings with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, the car makers said they are recalling certain Hyundai cars to correct problems related to side-curtain airbags, and a range of Hyundai and Kia models to fix faulty brake-light switches and related electronic faults. Hyundai is recalling 186,254 Elantra cars from the 2011 to 2013 model years because a support bracket attached to the car's ceiling, or headliner, can loosen and protrude when the side curtain airbag inflates during a crash. If this happens the part could injure passengers. The company said it built the affected cars from Nov. 12, 2010, through March 05, 2013.
Source: The Wall Street Journal

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Toyota Seeks to Avoid Midlife Crisis for Youthful Scion Brand

Toyota Motor Corp executives are weighing repositioning Scion as a line of premium small cars as they debate the youth brand's future in the United States. A decade after its launch as a way to lure younger buyers into Toyota showrooms, Scion is still a work in progress as it looks to rebound from low sales during the recession. The brand is a relatively small seller for Toyota, with its five models selling 73,500 vehicles last year. That compares with Toyota's four-car Prius line, which sold almost 237,000. The Japanese automaker's top executives concede that Scion is at a crossroads of sorts. "There's still debate on where we should go from here," said Jim Lentz, Toyota's newly appointed chief executive of North America.
Source: Reuters

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GM to Invest $331M in Powertrain Plants in Michigan, Ohio and Indiana

General Motors Co. said Thursday it will invest $331.8 million into four powertrain plants in Michigan, Ohio and Indiana to help it build more fuel-efficient engines and an eight-speed transmission. In addition, the company also is adding $46 million to previously announced investments at two other Michigan plants. GM North America Manufacturing Manager Arvin Jones said the investments would not create any new jobs, but are expected to retain 1,650 jobs. The investments are part of the $1.5 billion GM said it would invest in North America plants this year. The company so far this year has announced investments totaling $1.2 billion.
Source: The Detroit News

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Detroit Electric Launches First Vehicle, All-Electric Sports Car

Revived automaker's sporty SP:01 first of four vehicles to debut

Resurrected automaker Detroit Electric "put the stake in the ground" Wednesday night with the debut of its first vehicle at new headquarters inside the Fisher Building [in Detroit, Mich.]: an all-electric, carbon fiber and aluminum SP:01 sports car. The vehicle introduction was an important mile-marker in a five-year journey for Albert Lam, former CEO of the Lotus Engineering Group and now chief executive of the 17-employee Detroit Electric. He hopes to make an impact on the small electric vehicle market in the birthplace of the mass-market automobile. Lam revived the brand, which made electric cars from 1907 to 1939, in 2008. Detroit Electric's inaugural vehicle, to cost $135,000, comes with a military-grade battery, has a top speed of 155 miles per hour and can go from 0 to 62 miles per hour in 3.7 seconds. The rear-wheel drive car is composed of an aluminum chassis — based on the platform of the Lotus Elise — and a carbon-composite body. The lightweight materials mean the two-seat sports car weighs a trim 2,403 pounds.
Source: The Detroit News

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What Do U.S. Car Shoppers Really Want?

American car buyers are a tricky bunch to please. Consumers want luxury and performance, but they want fuel economy. They're intrigued by electric cars but they are far more likely to buy a family-size sport utility. They want affordable hatchbacks with the safety technology of a luxury sedan. A look at five new cars unveiled at the 2013 New York International Auto Show this week reveals how auto makers are trying to respond to these mixed signals in surprising ways, from Mercedes-Benz small electric hatchback to Toyota Motor Corp.'s plush SUV. These cars will hit showrooms during the next year.
Source: The Wall Street Journal

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Quotable
"Toyota still hasn't found its feet with Scion. They're still hunting and pecking around, trying to figure out what the heck the darn thing is."

   
-- Art Spinella, president of research firm CNW Research, commenting on the future of the Scion, Reuters, April 3
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