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Inside this issue
Breaking Down on the Road to Electric Cars
Virginia Denies Tesla Request to Run its Own Dealership
Fuel Rules Drive Move to Light Vehicles
Toyota Outsells GM for Fifth Quarter Amid Yen-Led Recovery
Ford Profits Rise to $1.6B on Record-Breaking North American Results
Daimler Lowers Profit Forecast After First-Quarter Drop
Fiat Close to Securing Financing for Chrysler Buyout, Report Says
NHTSA Unveils New Distracted Driver Guidelines
NADA and ATD Convention Workshops Now Available Online at NADA University
Click here for more auto industry news at NADAFrontPage.com. .
Top Stories
Breaking Down on the Road to Electric Cars

No one answers the phones these days at Fisker Automotive. Its visionary founder has quit; its employees have been laid off or put on furlough without pay. Production of its sleek plug-in hybrid car, the Karma, ended months ago. Veering on the edge of bankruptcy, without a buyer in sight, Fisker has become — to lawmakers and others — the Solyndra of the electric car industry. Not only private backers but millions of dollars in government loans gave life to a company, some would argue, that was a shaky investment from the start. No electric vehicle initiative backed by Washington seems more of a debacle than Fisker, which was given a $529 million federal loan in 2009 to advance the project. Fisker, with its technical problems, management turmoil and mounting losses, offers a cautionary tale in the fiercely competitive arena of alternative-fuel vehicles and of government subsidies for start-up businesses.
Source: The New York Times

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Virginia Denies Tesla Request to Run its Own Dealership

Virginia officials have rejected a request from electric car maker Tesla Motors to operate its own dealership at a Tysons Corner mall. State law requires manufacturers to sell cars through a dealer, unless the manufacturer can show that no dealer is available. Palo Alto-based Tesla sought an exception, saying its unique model for selling cars would not be attractive to a traditional dealer. The showroom would be more of a "design studio" where customers would use touch screens to customize options. No inventory would be on hand, and customers would wait up to six months to receive their vehicle. There would not be a service department. The Virginia Automobile Dealers Association objected to Tesla's request. In a ruling Monday, Department of Motor Vehicles Commissioner Richard Holcomb said he was unable to say definitively that no dealer could meet Tesla's needs. Holcomb ruled against Tesla even though a DMV hearing officer had twice recommended that Virginia grant the company's request -- first in September and again in February after hearing specific complaints from VADA.
Source: Associated Press

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Fuel Rules Drive Move to Light Vehicles

Automakers are turning to lighter materials and innovative engineering to build cars that weigh less. Reducing the weight of cars is every bit as important as developing gas-thrifty engines, as automakers try to meet government standards of 54.5 miles per gallon across their fleets by 2025. General Motors Co. showed off its lighter, redesigned 2014 Cadillac CTS at the New York International Auto Show last month. The car shed about 250 pounds — that's 7 percent of its weight — compared to the 2013 model. Jaguar Land Rover took a different route with its 2014 Range Rover Sport. The new model with an all-aluminum body structure will be as much as 800 pounds lighter — 17 percent — than the current SUV. And Chrysler Group LLC made more extensive use of high-strength steel in its 2014 Jeep Cherokee to create a strong but lightweight structure. It helps make the Cherokee about 200 pounds lighter than the Liberty it is replacing, even though it's 5.1 inches longer. All are previews of what's to come.
Source: The Detroit News

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Toyota Outsells GM for Fifth Quarter Amid Yen-Led Recovery

Toyota Motor Corp. outsold all automakers for a fifth straight quarter as the yen's depreciation sharpens the Japanese company's edge over General Motors Co. and Volkswagen AG. Worldwide sales at Toyota, including those of subsidiaries Hino Motors Ltd. and Daihatsu Motor Co., reached 2.43 million units in the January-to-March period, spokeswoman Shino Yamada said. That compares with GM's 2.36 million units and VW's 2.27 million vehicles reported earlier this month. The Japanese company has been projecting since late December that sales will climb to almost 10 million units -- a milestone no automaker has ever breached -- in 2013. Since then, business conditions have improved further as the yen extended its depreciation against all major currencies, bolstering Toyota's earnings prospects and raising its market value by more than $50 billion this year alone.
Source: Bloomberg

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Ford Profits Rise to $1.6B on Record-Breaking North American Results

Ford Motor Co.'s profits rose to $1.6 billion during the first quarter, led by the highest profit in North America since at least 2000. The Dearborn automaker's profits rose for the 15th consecutive quarter, up 15.4 percent to 41 cents per share, compared to last year's first quarter, when the company posted a $1.4 billion profit, or 39 cents per share. This year's first-quarter earnings per share also topped first-call analyst expectations of 37 cents per share. Revenue jumped approximately 10 percent to $35.8 billion.
Source: The Detroit News

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Daimler Lowers Profit Forecast After First-Quarter Drop

Daimler AG, the world's third- largest maker of luxury vehicles, cut its 2013 profit forecast after first-quarter earnings tumbled more than analysts expected, burdened by weaker Mercedes-Benz sales in China. Earnings before interest and taxes and excluding one-time items will fall this year rather than match 2012's 8.1 billion euros ($10.6 billion) as previously predicted, the Stuttgart, Germany-based company said in a statement. Daimler's first-quarter Ebit plunged 56 percent. “In the first three months of this year, many markets developed worse than expected for economic reasons, especially Western Europe,” Chief Executive Officer Dieter Zetsche said in the statement.
Source: Bloomberg

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Fiat Close to Securing Financing for Chrysler Buyout, Report Says

Fiat could secure financing by May for a possible buyout of the rest of Chrysler, two people familiar with the matter told Reuters [Tuesday]. The Italian automaker is in advanced talks with banks, which are expected to conclude next month, on financing to buy the 41.5 percent of Chrysler which is held by VEBA, the UAW's retiree healthcare trust, the sources said. Fiat is looking to raise roughly 3 billion euros ($4 billion) in new financing, said one of the sources, and is hoping to strike a deal with VEBA by early July. Sergio Marchionne, the CEO of both Fiat and Chrysler, wants to merge the two carmakers to create the world's seventh-largest auto group, tapping Chrysler's cash flow to offset Fiat's losses in Europe and building economies of scale. A hearing in a U.S. court on Thursday could shed light on Chrysler's price tag, which is the subject of a legal battle between Fiat and VEBA.
Source: Reuters

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NHTSA Unveils New Distracted Driver Guidelines

The U.S. Transportation Department on Tuesday issued long-delayed guidelines intended to discourage carmakers from installing devices that allow drivers to text from behind the wheel or linger over touch-screens. "Distracted driving is a deadly epidemic that has devastating consequences on our nation's roadways," said Transportation Secretary LaHood, who urged automakers to embrace these "real-world" solutions. "The bottom line is this: We don't have to choose between providing the consumers with the technology they want and keeping folks safe. We can and must do both." The new guidelines are based on a recent National Highway Traffic Safety Administration study on distracted driving. Activities that require drivers to look at touch-screens or hand-held devices triple the risk of getting into a crash, the study found; texting, Web browsing and dialing a phone keep drivers' eyes off the road the longest. The government guidelines recommend against in-car devices that display web page content, text messages and other similar content. Two-dimensional maps or location information are acceptable, NHTSA said, but not photorealistic or 3D images.
Source: The Detroit News

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NADA and ATD Convention Workshops Now Available Online at NADA University

Sessions led by top industry trainers cover all facets of dealership operations

The workshops from the 2013 NADA and ATD conventions are now available online at www.NADAUniversity.com. Organized and sponsored by NADA University, the education and training arm of NADA, the workshops include 58 recorded sessions encompassing seven tracks for auto dealers and three for truck dealers. The programs are included in the Learning Hub Premium Subscription or available as packages individually in multiple formats. “If you couldn't make it to Orlando or missed any workshops of special interest, you now have a chance to attend them again without going anywhere,” said Kenneth C. Vance, chairman of NADA's Dealership Operations Committee and a new-car dealer in Eau Claire, Wis. “This is a must-have, one-stop shopping opportunity for anyone working in a dealership to find real solutions to business challenges and implement creative strategies from the top trainers in our industry.”
Source: NADA University

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Quotable
"We welcome Tesla to Virginia, but they too must abide by the laws like all other manufacturers and Virginia new car and truck dealers."  

   
-- Don Hall, president of the Virginia Automobile Dealers Association, commenting on the Virginia DMV rejecting Tesla's bid for a dealership license on Monday, Automotive News, April 23
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