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Inside this issue
Virginia Says 'No' to Tesla
Hybrid Sales Increase, But Some Eco-Drivers are Disappointed
Fisker Fails to Make $10M Payment to Energy Dept.
FTC Eliminates Dealer, OEM Label Burden
Strength of Ford Q1 Results to Come From North America
With Kinks Worked Out, Can Lincoln Relaunch New MKZ?
Oregon Auto Dealers Association Endorses NADART as Preferred Retirement Plan Provider
Hands-Free Texting Still Dangerous
Boston-Area Dealership Had Bird's Eye View of Bombing Suspects' Gunfight, Arrest
Click here for more auto industry news at NADAFrontPage.com. .
Top Stories
Virginia Says 'No' to Tesla

The Commonwealth of Virginia has denied Tesla Motors request to own and operate a retail operation in McLean, Va. Virginia law establishes a general rule prohibiting manufacturer-owned dealerships unless the motor vehicle Commissioner determines that there is no dealer available other than the manufacturer in the community to own and operate the franchise, then the manufacturer may be able to operate its own dealership. Tesla claimed its business model differs from traditional dealerships and dealers would not be profitable. The Virginia Automobile Dealers Association (VADA) argued that the exception to the statute was not satisfied by Tesla simply claiming it did not want to have dealers. In a ruling on Monday, April 22, after reviewing  both arguments, Richard D. Holcomb, commissioner of the Virginia Department of Motor Vehicles, said he would need further proof to indicate that no dealer independent of Tesla would be available in the community to own and operate a dealership and therefore, did not authorize Tesla to operate a dealership in Virginia. "We are pleased with the ruling," said Don Hall, president and CEO of VADA.
Source: NADAFrontPage.com

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Hybrid Sales Increase, But Some Eco-Drivers are Disappointed

Demand for hybrid and battery-operated cars may be increasing – the Toyota Prius accounted for 3.1 percent of the total U.S. new car market last year – but that doesn't mean car buyers are trading in their eco-cars for another “green” model. According to industry reports, only about one in three hybrid owners buy another gas-electric model when they trade in. Not that demand for eco-cars has waned: Green car buying set an all-time record in 2012. Sales of the ever-popular Toyota Prius increased 49 percent year-over-year from the 2.2 percent market share in 2011. But demand continues to lag proponents' expectations. It appears all but certain that the Obama administration's goal of having one million plug-ins or BEVs on the road by the end of 2014 won't happen. Pricing and range limitations remain critical factors.
Source: CNBC

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Fisker Fails to Make $10M Payment to Energy Dept.

Struggling start-up automaker Fisker Automotive Inc. did not make a $10 million loan payment to the Energy Department on Monday as it races to find a buyer or new investor and considers a possible bankruptcy. Energy Department spokeswoman Aoife McCarthy said the government recouped earlier this month $21 million of the $192 million it loaned to Fisker. An Energy Department official confirmed Fisker had not made the payment. "Given the obvious difficulties the company is facing, we are taking strong and appropriate action on behalf of taxpayers," McCarthy said.
Source: The Detroit News

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FTC Eliminates Dealer, OEM Label Burden

Effective May 31, the FTC will no longer require a special label for new alternative-fueled vehicles (AFVs). NADA Regulatory Affairs had strongly advocated for this change, arguing that alternative-fuel information on the FTC label duplicated that found on EPA's revised fuel economy label. The FTC also has eliminated its AFV label mandate for used vehicles, agreeing with NADA that such labels were of limited usefulness for consumers yet imposed undue regulatory burdens on dealerships. For more info, see the FTC's press release, or contact NADA Regulatory Affairs at regulatoryaffairs@nada.org or (703) 821-7040.
Source: NADA Regulatory Affairs

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Strength of Ford Q1 Results to Come From North America

Ford will report first-quarter earnings Wednesday that likely will repeat a recent pattern of profits in North America more than making up for losses in Europe and South America. Analysts expect the first quarter to exceed the $1.4 billion in profit Ford earned in the first three months of 2012. Ford executives have warned that the company expects to lose $2 billion in Europe this year, while currency fluctuations will impact negatively results in South America. Investors will be interested how Ford did in Asia, where sales in China are rising, but the automaker has spent aggressively there to boost its capacity. Results in North America likely will be better. U.S. sales rose 1% in the first-quarter from a year ago. Ford expects to gain market share in the U.S. this year, reflecting stronger pickup truck demand and a full-year of Escape and Fusion sales.
Source: Detroit Free Press

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With Kinks Worked Out, Can Lincoln Relaunch New MKZ?

It's time for Lincoln to stand and deliver. Ford sold off a stable of European luxury nameplates — Aston Martin and Jaguar, Land Rover and Volvo — to clear the field for its revamped luxury brand, which it rechristened Lincoln Motor Co. in December. But the eye-catching and advanced 2013 Lincoln MKZ — meant to spearhead the rebirth — had a painfully slow production launch last fall with some parts arriving late from suppliers and also delays related to producing the MKZ and the Fusion on the same line in Hermosillo, Mexico. The many-months delay in delivering vehicles frustrated buyers and left thousands of unfinished MKZs, waiting for parts and final inspections. The snafus also cost momentum from splashy and expensive Super Bowl ads. But the flagship car is finally reaching dealers this month in meaningful numbers. About 10,000 are now at showrooms. With production kinks out of the way, Ford should know over the next six weeks whether the missteps permanently damaged the new brand and whether its attempt to reinvent Lincoln as a global luxury player is the start of something big or a very expensive and embarrassing lesson.
Source: Detroit Free Press

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Oregon Auto Dealers Association Endorses NADART as Preferred Retirement Plan Provider

The Oregon Automobile Dealers Association (OADA) has announced that it is partnering with NADART to offer retirement plan administration and management to its membership. Since NADART launched its 2013 initiative to increase partnerships, Oregon is the second state dealers association to select NADART following North Carolina. The Colorado dealers association endorsed NADART in 2012. NADART, the retirement plan and benefits division of NADA, and OADA will work together to provide a selection of investment and employee benefit options specifically targeted to dealer businesses. “The quality of their product and commitment to service sold us on this partnership,” said Greg Remensperger, OADA executive vice president. NADART's long-standing knowledge of the dealer business enables them to provide unique retirement plan benefits, and I want our members to be able to take full advantage.” For more information, visit http://retirement.nadart.org.
Source: NADAFrontPage.com

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Hands-Free Texting Still Dangerous

New research suggests it's just as unsafe to use a voice-to-text mobile app while driving as it is to text manually. The new study is by the Texas Transportation Institute, which says this is the first research on whether there are driving safety advantages in using voice-to-text apps. The study involved 43 licensed drivers in a 2009 Ford Explorer. They each drove four times for about 10 minutes at 30 mph: while not texting at all, while texting manually, while texting with the voice-to-text app on the iPhone, and while doing so with the Android smartphone voice-to-text app. The study found that driver response times were slower no matter which method of texting was used. Drivers took about twice as long to react as when they weren't texting and spent less time looking at the road no matter what texting method they used, the study says. Interestingly, the researchers found that driver performance was roughly the same with both methods, although manual texting actually required slightly less time than using voice-to-text.
Source: USA Today

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Boston-Area Dealership Had Bird's Eye View of Bombing Suspects' Gunfight, Arrest

Lexus of Watertown had snipers stationed on the roof, CNN on the front lawn

A week after the Boston Marathon bombings, the city was beginning to return to normal [Monday] with shops reopening and residents heading back to work. As Vin Luizzi, general manager at Lexus of Watertown (Mass.), described it: "You'd think nothing ever happened." But three days ago -- when the Boston area was under lockdown as officials searched endlessly for the second suspect involved in the blasts that left three dead and over 170 injured -- it was a different story. Luizzi, whose dealership lies about 400 yards away from the initial gunfight between the suspects and police, said there was only one word to sum up the events that took place: "Surreal." "We were on the edge of the perimeter…CNN and all the other media personnel were camped out on the front of our lawn because they couldn't go up any further on Arsenal Street," Luizzi said. "It was surreal; everything was just so close to us." By 6:30 a.m., the Department of Homeland Security had five snipers on the roof, facing directly over the dealership's showroom, Luizzi said. Officials were telling businesses Friday morning in Watertown, and surrounding cities, not to open -- and most complied. Residents in Belmont, Cambridge, Allston, Brighton, Waltham and Newton, Mass., also were told to stay in their homes.
 
Because of the lockdown, Luizzi, who lives in Plymouth, Mass., south of Boston, was unable to make it to the city before it was closed down. By communicating with employees via cellphone, he was able to monitor the situation. Three of his workers assisted police, providing them with food and shelter in the store's break room. "We hosted law enforcement all day long, making them coffee…they used our facilities [and] had pizza in our break room. They were very appreciative, as we were of them," Luizzi said. Boston dealerships remained closed Friday afternoon as law enforcement agencies continued to sweep homes and businesses in Watertown. That night, federal and local authorities announced a marathon bomb suspect was in custody.
Source: Automotive News

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Quotable
"The double benefit of new product in the car segments and the very strong industry pickup demand created what seems like a picture-perfect quarter for Ford in North America. They're really in a sweet spot."

   
-- Itay Michaeli, an analyst at Citigroup Inc., commenting on the prediction that Ford may post its highest first quarter North American profit ever, Bloomberg, April 23
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