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Inside this issue
Japanese Automakers' U.S. Output Soars
Ford Exec Says Sales Pace May Have Slowed on Fed Signals
New DOT Secretary Confirmed By Senate as LaHood Bids Farewell
Electric Car Industry Reps Cheered by Market Growth
Connected Cars: 10 Tough Problems Automakers Must Solve
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Top Stories
Japanese Automakers' U.S. Output Soars

Japanese automakers, rebounding from an earthquake and aided by a weakening yen, cranked up U.S. vehicle production by 36 percent last year while boosting imports from Japan by 19 percent. Japanese automakers built 3.3 million cars and trucks in the U.S. last year, up from 2.4 million in 2011, according to new data from the Japan Automobile Manufacturers Association, a Tokyo-based trade group representing that country's major carmakers. That was the most since 2007, when Japanese automakers produced 3.5 million vehicles in the United States, JAMA said. As U.S. auto sales reached their highest level last year since 2007, Japanese automakers boosted their U.S. market share to 36.9 percent, from 34.9 percent in 2011.
Source: Bloomberg
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Ford Exec Says Sales Pace May Have Slowed on Fed Signals

A top Ford Motor Co. executive said the U.S. auto sales pace may have moderated after the Federal Reserve signaled it could begin unwinding its accommodative monetary policy. "The industry was really strong in the first half of the month, but maybe slowed a bit in the last week," Joe Hinrichs, Ford's president of the Americas, told reporters Thursday. Ford is monitoring whether concerns over rising interest rates are denting consumer confidence, he said. Auto lending has accelerated as the U.S. market rebounds to a pace of more than 15 million sales this year, positioning the industry for its best year since 2007. The Fed's monetary policy has driven rates for new-car loans to record lows, supporting demand from U.S. consumers looking to swap the oldest vehicles ever on American roads for new cars and trucks. Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke said last week that the Fed may taper the current $85 billion monthly bond-buying program later this year and halt purchases around mid-2014 should the economy grow in line with Fed projections. Concluding the stimulus program may take years to complete since most Fed officials said they don't expect to begin raising the benchmark lending rate out of its lowest-ever range of zero to 0.25 percent until 2015.
Source: Bloomberg
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New DOT Secretary Confirmed By Senate as LaHood Bids Farewell

The U.S. Senate [Thursday] unanimously approved Charlotte, N.C., Mayor Anthony Foxx to head the U.S. Department of Transportation, a role held for the past four years by former U.S. Rep. Ray LaHood. Foxx, 42, joins President Barack Obama's Cabinet after four years as mayor of the 17th-largest U.S. city and four years on the Charlotte City Council. As mayor of Charlotte, Foxx was a proponent of mass transit and so-called smart growth development, which supports providing a variety of transportation choices, but he has little experience working with the auto industry. He now will oversee a department with about 53,000 full-time employees and more than $72 billion in budget authority. In addition, millions of Americans are employed in automotive- and transportation-related jobs that his decisions could affect. Foxx has promised to continue LaHood's focus on safety, including a program to reduce distracted driving, while working with Congress and the transportation community to find new ways to fund highway projects and other infrastructure needs.
Source: Automotive News
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Electric Car Industry Reps Cheered by Market Growth

The electric vehicle network is expanding in both technological advances and new markets, according to representatives from the auto industry and energy community. During a press call Tuesday, Nissan North America and Bosch Automotive Service Solutions highlighted rising sales for electric cars and 240-volt charging stations. “We're on a roll,” said Brendan Jones, director of EV infrastructure strategy for Nissan. The carmaker had a record Leaf sales month in May, boasting 2,138 registrations – a 319% increase over that same month last year. Jones said June was on pace to be another good month. “We have high expectations.” Infrastructure played a big role in Nissan's campaign to boost Leaf sales and electric car use on a large scale, Jones said. He cited a three-pronged approach to ensure EV customers could charge when and where they needed: at home, at the workplace and out in the community. Bosch vice president of EV solutions Kevin Mull said the tech company has installed 7,000 residential charging stations over the last four years. “Seventy to 80% of charging does happen in the home,” Mull said. “Customers are looking for that high-value unit.”
Source: Los Angeles Times
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Connected Cars: 10 Tough Problems Automakers Must Solve

You might wonder what cars will look like in a decade, or how they'll be powered. But one thing you can be certain of: they'll be connected to the internet. Web-linked cars are the next digital frontier and key to the auto industry's efforts to attract younger, tech-savvy car buyers. It's not just about accessing email or Twitter. Connected cars will be able to help drivers navigate the best route home at rush hour, automatically schedule maintenance appointments and even order and pay for takeout food. It's all very promising, but multiple challenges remain: who will pay for all this technology? And how? And will it cut down on driver distraction? Or make it worse?
Source: Forbes
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Quotable
"We're on a roll."  

     --- Brendan Jones, director of EV infrastructure strategy for Nissan, commenting on the automaker's record Leaf sales in May, The Los Angeles Times, June 26


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