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Inside this issue
Marchionne Won't Be 'Strong-Armed' Into EVs
Editorial: A Fairer Car Deal: Government is Already Involved
U.S. Sales Projected to Rise 7% as Annual Rate Stays Above 15M
GM-VW China Rivalry Heats Up as Both See 3 Million Auto Sales
Transplants Keep Rolling in N. America
Chinese Auto Buyers Grow Hungry for Larger Cars
'Ask My Manager' is Taboo to Car Buyers, Study Says
Flat Rock Ford Plant to Be Idled
NASCAR: Charity, and Car Salemanship, Begins at Home for Clint Bowyer
NADA Hosts Exhibitor Focus Group to Improve Convention & Expo Experience
Click here for more auto industry news at NADAFrontPage.com. .
Top Stories
Marchionne Won't Be 'Strong-Armed' Into EVs

Fiat-Chrysler CEO Sergio Marchionne again asks the U.S. government to let auto makers chart their own course toward meeting the fuel-economy standards it has mandated. “My fear, which I've uttered more than once, is that legislators are rushing precipitously toward embracing (electric vehicles) as the only technological solution,” Marchionne tells attendees at the SAE World Congress [in Detroit]. “But it's a very limited market. Even 10 years from now, electric cars are expected to account for well below 5% of the total market.”
Source: WardsAuto

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Editorial: A Fairer Car Deal: Government is Already Involved

Legislation to level the playing field between New Hampshire car dealers and car makers deserves to pass. It won't really "level" the field, but it may help keep down your car purchase price. Auto makers are opposed to Senate Bill 126, which would amend an existing car dealer "bill of rights," because of concern that it will spread to other states. In fact, all 50 states have some form of law addressing the relationship between the car dealer and the car maker, so the position that government should not get involved is a bit behind the curve here. And as we all know from recent government bailouts and government ownership of auto makers, "we, the people" have already stuck our collective noses under that tent, regrettable as that may be. What SB 126 addresses is the current ability of car makers to demand wholesale changes to dealer showrooms, to the point of ordering them rebuilt every few years, all on the dealer's dime. But the dealer doesn't get to decide what materials to use or what products to buy, even if local ones are less expensive, as they often are. Thefefore, the claim that SB 126, which would lessen those "rebuild" orders, will raise car prices seems to turn logic on its head. Without these revisions, manufacturers will continue to impose extremely costly mandates on dealers that they will have no choice but to pass on to consumers in the form of higher prices.
Source: New Hampshire Union Leader

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U.S. Sales Projected to Rise 7% as Annual Rate Stays Above 15M

Drivers replacing aging vehicles will keep U.S. auto sales "in a healthy holding pattern" in April, J.D. Power and Associates and LMC Automotive said while raising the forecast for the full year. April sales will rise 7 percent from a year ago to 1.3 million units, according to the forecast jointly developed by LMC and the Power Information Network. On a seasonally adjusted basis, an April annualized selling rate of 15.2 million would match March's and extend the 15 million-plus streak to a sixth month. "The irrepressible buying behavior of consumers is driving auto sales growth in 2013, as consumer spending remains remarkably stronger than the economy suggests it should be," Jeff Schuster, LMC's head of forecasting, said in a statement. Schuster increased his 2013 forecast to 15.4 million light vehicles from 15.3 million, mostly on expectations of gains on the retail side.
Source: Automotive News

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GM-VW China Rivalry Heats Up as Both See 3 Million Auto Sales

General Motors Co. and Volkswagen AG, the largest foreign carmakers in China, both forecast sales will climb to 3 million vehicles in the country this year as the rivalry heats up for a second year. GM is "cautiously optimistic" and expects its sales to reach that level if market fundamentals are strong, Bob Socia, head of China operations, said in an interview at the Shanghai Auto Show on Saturday. His Volkswagen counterpart, Jochem Heizmann, said a day earlier that the German carmaker expects deliveries to reach that number or beyond. Both companies sold about 2.8 million vehicles in China last year. The projections signal competition -- GM's lead over VW in China shrank to less than 1 percent in 2012 -- will intensify as their sales slow in their biggest market.
Source: Bloomberg

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Transplants Keep Rolling in N. America

They now account for 39% of auto company employment

The rise of foreign automakers in North America gained huge momentum during the dark days of the recession, accelerating the decline of Detroit 3 dominance. Today 39 percent of all auto company employees in North America work for companies other than the Detroit 3, according to an Automotive News survey. That's up from 25 percent in 2005 -- the last time we counted -- and 15 percent in 2000. The totals include hourly and salaried workers in all departments, including captive finance companies.
Source: Automotive News

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Chinese Auto Buyers Grow Hungry for Larger Cars

The models wore traditional cheongsam dresses and medieval Chinese armor as well as the usual rainbow of shiny miniskirts at the Shanghai auto show this weekend, but the many midsize cars and sport utility vehicles on display made it look almost like an American auto show. Gone are the days when buyers in China, the world's largest car market since 2009, mostly purchased fuel-sipping compacts and subcompacts. Their shift toward larger and ever-more-numerous vehicles is not only driving up China's oil import bill and contributing to pollution but is also fattening automakers' profits — and manufacturers made clear over the weekend that they plan to infuse the market with large vehicles.
Source: The New York Times

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'Ask My Manager' is Taboo to Car Buyers, Study Says

Customers like it when salesperson can make deal work

Dealers who want showroom shoppers to have a satisfying buying experience should avoid getting more than one employee involved in price negotiations, a study by Maritz Research says. Satisfaction drops precipitously among car buyers when a salesperson has to ask a manager to approve a price, perhaps a number of times, or a second salesperson is brought into a deal, said Chris Travell, vice president of strategic consulting at Maritz. "That kind of volleying drives people nuts," he said. Maritz Research surveys about 200,000 car buyers annually within two months of their purchases. Buyers receive a 120-question survey on a variety of issues, including the satisfaction of the buying experience. Travell said 89 percent of one group of respondents said they were completely satisfied or very satisfied with a purchase that involved a single salesperson with pricing authority. When others became involved, though, satisfaction dropped.
Source: Automotive News

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Flat Rock Ford Plant to Be Idled

Ford Motor Co.'s Flat Rock Assembly Plant will shut down for a month this summer to prepare for production of the Fusion midsize car, the Dearborn automaker confirmed Friday. Beginning the final week of June, Ford will idle the plant, which currently produces the Mustang during its one-shift operation, to train new workers and finalize current production plans for the Fusion. The plant normally takes about two weeks off during summer months, a United Auto Workers official said; that idle time will be expanded this year. The plant will also be idled for a week in early May.
Source: The Detroit News

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NASCAR: Charity, and Car Salemanship, Begins at Home for Clint Bowyer

Clint Bowyer loves giving back to the down-to-earth hometown on the Midwestern plains that molded him into the emerging wisecracking and freewheeling star of NASCAR's premier series. Yet he learned charity might have its limits Tuesday when the co-owner of Emporia's [Kan.] newest car dealership took his first customer for a test drive. Bowyer struck out on his home run pitch and said he sold it virtually at cost.

That won't limit trips home for the Michael Waltrip Racing driver, who hasn't forgotten his humble roots in the quaint city where he was working as a dealership mechanic a decade ago when his big break arrived in the form of a cold call from team owner Richard Childress. The first two signs entering Emporia via Highway 50 salute its heritage ("Founding City of Veterans Day”) and its most well-known historical figure (”Home of William Allen White”) but Bowyer's imprint is clear a half-mile later. On one side of the street is the Clint Bowyer Autoplex, which celebrated a splashy grand opening Thursday with show cars, a ribbon cutting with the chamber of commerce and autograph signings with Bowyer, Fox analyst Darrell Waltrip, team owner Michael Waltrip and teammate Mark Martin. Sitting catty-corner is the $1.5-million Clint Bowyer Community Building, which opened last year with a concert by country artist Blake Shelton.
Source: USA Today

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2014 NADA Convention & Expo
NADA Hosts Exhibitor Focus Group to Improve Convention & Expo Experience

As part of an NADA Convention and Expo strategic initiative, a select group of exhibitors were invited to a special session earlier this month to look for ways to improve the convention experience for all participants. Representatives from 13 exhibiting companies particpated in the session, which was held in Dallas on April 3. The session was facilitated by Freeman, a leading provider of integrated services for brand-building events, including expos and conventions. Each year, a panel of new exhibitors will be selected to participate in the session. “This has turned out to be a perfect way to come up with new ideas that we can use to build a more enriching experience at future NADA conventions,” said Steve Pitt, NADA vice president of conventions and expositions.
Source: NADAFrontPage.com

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Quotable
"If the current favorable trend in the stock markets and housing continues throughout the year, the automotive market may be poised for a breakthrough performance."

   
-- Jeff Schuster, LMC's head of forecasting, commenting on the prediction that April auto sales will rise 7 percent from a year ago, Automotive News, April 19
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