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Inside this issue
N.H. Auto Dealers Bill Going to House Panel After Passing Senate
Mulally Hones Ford's China Focus
Chrysler Reshuffles Brand Executives
NADA: Used-Vehicle Prices for 2013 Peaked in March
Efficiency Top of Mind at SAE Conference in Detroit
VW to BMW Plan $25 Billion Hedge by Building Autos Abroad
Unapologetically, Volvo Aims Its New Campaign At True Believers
'Killer App' Book Urges Dealers to Join Mobile Revolution
Click here for more auto industry news at NADAFrontPage.com. .
Top Stories
N.H. Auto Dealers Bill Going to House Panel After Passing Senate

The fight has moved to the [N.H.] House over legislation that New Hampshire's auto dealers say would help protect their businesses and big automakers say would interfere with the free market. Both sides say customers will feel an impact if the bill becomes law – the manufacturers say it'll drive up costs, while the dealers say it'll help keep costs down. All 50 states have laws granting certain legal protections to auto dealers, and the bill that passed the [N.H.] Senate last month on a 21-2 vote would expand New Hampshire's existing “Dealer Bill of Rights." The House Commerce and Consumer Affairs Committee will hold a public hearing on it this afternoon, starting at 1. Senate Bill 126 is a complicated piece of legislation. In a variety of ways, it would change the terms under which locally owned dealerships interact with the manufacturers – Ford, General Motors, Toyota, Honda and the like – whose products they sell. The New Hampshire Automobile Dealers Association backs the bill and has put the word out to its members across the state, said President Peter McNamara: “Call your local reps. Tell your story.” The bill now before the House would bar manufacturers from forcing dealers to replace or significantly renovate their facilities except every 15 years, or seven years if the automaker covers the bill. Another element of the bill: Manufacturers wouldn’t be able to require dealerships to buy tools or construction material from a specified source, instead giving them the option of buying “goods or services of substantially similar quality” from a vendor of their choice.
Source: Concord Monitor

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Mulally Hones Ford's China Focus

Behind rivals in key market, U.S. auto maker places $5 billion bet on continued gains

Just a few years ago, Alan Mulally, Ford Motor Co's chief executive, spent about 10% of his time on matters related to China. These days, the world's largest auto market consumes about one-third of his and his top lieutenants' schedules, each week. The increased focus is key for Ford's future because the company has a lot of ground to make up here. A latecomer to China, the Dearborn, Mich., auto maker has about 3% of the Chinese market. Volkswagen AG puts its share at 18.2% and General Motors Co. calculates its 2012 share at 14.6%. Moreover, Ford is spending big to catch up. The company has committed to spending $5 billion to build five plants in China to go along with the four it has now, and will need to increase its market share to be able to use all the plants' output. The auto maker also is aiming to double the number of dealerships to about 800 by 2015, bring 15 new vehicles to China and launch the Lincoln brand here in 2014.
Source: The Wall Street Journal

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Chrysler Reshuffles Brand Executives

Chrysler Group LLC reshuffled its executive team on Monday naming Reid Bigland as chief executive of its Ram truck brand, replacing an executive who left the company for a position at Nissan Motor Co.'s U.S. operation. Mr. Bigland, formerly head of Chrysler's Dodge brand, will continue to head U.S. sales and marketing for the Auburn Hills, Mich., auto maker. He also will be chief executive of Chrysler Canada. Tim Kuniskis, formerly Fiat brand chief for North America, replaces Mr. Bigland as chief executive for Dodge, the company's car and sport-utility vehicle brand. Mr. Kuniskis's Fiat brand duties will be filled by Jason Stoicevich, now director for the California Business Center. The new appointments follow Friday's disclosure that Fred Diaz, 47, who has run Chrysler's Ram truck brand for the last four years, would become divisional vice president of sales and marketing for Nissan's U.S. division effective May 1. He is the first top Chrysler executive to leave on his own after majority owner Fiat SpA put its executive team in place. Chrysler said Bruno Cattori will assume Mr. Diaz's role as president and chief executive of Chrysler de Mexico.
Source: The Wall Street Journal

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NADA: Used-Vehicle Prices for 2013 Peaked in March

Wholesale prices for used cars and light trucks reached their annual peak in March, says the NADA Used Car Guide in its April edition of Guidelines. Prices for used vehicles up to 8-years-old increased by 1.2% in March, substantially less than the 3% increase recorded for the month last year. “Wholesale prices for used vehicles increased in February and March, but the price growth has been mild compared to what is typically seen for the period,” said Jonathan Banks, executive automotive analyst for the NADA Used Car Guide. Click here for the April edition of Guidelines.
Source: NADAFrontPage.com

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Efficiency Top of Mind at SAE Conference in Detroit

Thousands of engineers and technical experts descend on Detroit beginning today for this year's Society of Automotive Engineers International World Congress. Among the issues on the minds of those behind the next generation of automobiles are autonomous cars, fuel-efficiency gains and other "game changers" facing the industry. The theme for this year's conference, which runs through Thursday at Cobo Center [in Detroit], is "Achieving Efficiency," not just through vehicle upgrades to improve fuel economy, but also the ability of the auto industry to work together to get the most out of its talent base. The conversation about efficiency will take place in many forms. The competition between steel and aluminum will be a topic of discussion as automakers attempt to lighten the weight of vehicles to meet rising federal fuel efficiency standards.
Source: The Detroit News

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VW to BMW Plan $25 Billion Hedge by Building Autos Abroad

With the yen weakening and Europe's debt crisis spreading, Volkswagen AG and its German peers are planning to spend more than $25 billion by 2017 to expand production outside their home region and insulate themselves from currency convulsions. Bayerische Motoren Werke AG (BMW), already among the largest U.S. car exporters, says it will start producing the new X4 sport- utility vehicle at its factory in South Carolina, in addition to the other three SUVs it makes there. Daimler AG is expanding a Mercedes-Benz plant in Alabama, and VW's Audi is building a $1.3 billion factory in Mexico. The German manufacturers' overseas investment leads European rivals PSA Peugeot Citroen, Renault SA and Fiat SpA, which remain more focused on their home region. VW opened its 100th production facility this year -- a $550 million engine plant in Silao, Mexico -- helping make the company the world's most global carmaker.
Source: Bloomberg

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Unapologetically, Volvo Aims Its New Campaign At True Believers

Volvo has been adrift and marginal in the U.S. market for several years. But now in its third year of ownership by Geely of China, the surviving Scandinavian auto brand is counting on a new marketing campaign and more confident positioning to spark an American revival in the short term while waiting for a fresher, broader product line to provide long-term prosperity. Beginning this week, Volvo is launching an integrated advertising campaign in the U.S. that explicitly appeals to the non-materialistic, minimalist ethos that brand executives believe differentiates Volvo aficionados from buyers of other luxury and near-luxury brands. In the process, they hope to produce a bounce in sales for a franchise whose U.S. results peaked a decade ago, when the company was owned by Ford, and have kept on sliding. Ford sold Volvo in 2010 to Geely, a large Chinese automaker, for $1.5 billion.
Source: Forbes

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'Killer App' Book Urges Dealers to Join Mobile Revolution

At first, Mike Martinez doubted the potential success of dealerships having their own mobile apps. Now, he's written a book about how great those apps are. “When we started this journey, I have to admit I wondered why someone would want a dealer app on a smartphone,” says the chief marketing officer of DMEautomotive. The project went ahead anyway, and the results have made Martinez a believer. About 200 dealerships now offer DME's Driver Connect app. Customers who download it spend an average of 21 minutes per visit. “That is five times higher than the average for a dealership website,” says the lead author of “The Pocket Revolution – The Complete Guide to a Killer Mobile App.” DMEautomotive sells the app to dealers who brand it as their own when offering it to customers.
Source: WardsAuto

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Quotable
"The costs are either going to be kept the same or lower when you don't require new facilities every seven years and when you allow dealers to buy local."

   
-- Peter McNamara, president of the New Hampshire Automobile Dealers Association, commenting on the N.H. auto dealers bill that will help dealers protect their businesses, Concord Monitor, April 16
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