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Inside this issue
Economists Cautious About Auto Industry Growth
Nissan to Lift U.S. Output of Leaf Electric Car as Demand Climbs
Kia, Mazda, Toyota Execs See U.S. Sales Topping 16 Million in '14
Automakers Quietly Boost Car Efficiency with New Tech
Toyota Plans Camry Tweaks in 2014 to Extend U.S. Sales Race Lead
Farley Says 'Connected Car' Success Rides on Tech Firm Flexibility
Chrysler to Produce Centennial Editions of Dodge Challenger, Charger
Click here for more auto industry news at NADAFrontPage.com. .
Top Stories
Economists Cautious About Auto Industry Growth

Car sales are leading housing starts in driving the U.S. economic recovery, but housing starts are catching up and adding momentum, a leading economist said Tuesday. Beth Ann Bovino, U.S. chief economist for Standard & Poor's, said that the Federal Reserve's focus on job creation, providing businesses with a major incentive to invest and spend, is helping push the U.S. economy to higher growth. Bovino cited other strong economic signals: Private sector growth should be about 3 percent this year, and slightly higher next year. Stock prices are climbing. Consumer debt is shrinking while savings grow. The average household net worth has surpassed the record high in 2007 -- although not when indexed for inflation, Bovino said in a speech at the Western Automotive Conference sponsored by J.D. Power and Associates and the National Automobile Dealers Association. There are still concerns, Bovino said. The economy has regained only two-thirds of the 9 million jobs lost during the recession. The phase out of the U.S. payroll tax holiday could crimp consumer spending.
Source: Automotive News
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Nissan to Lift U.S. Output of Leaf Electric Car as Demand Climbs



NADA President Peter Welch, Nissan's Jose Munoz and NADA Chairman David Westcott (l-r) attend the Western Automotive Conference in Los Angeles on Tuesday. Photo/NADA

Nissan Motor Co. said it will lift U.S. production of its all-electric Leaf as demand for the car has surged sharply this year following a cut to its sticker price. For many automakers, demand for electric vehicles has generally failed to live up to expectations set when models like the Leaf and General Motors Co.'s gasoline-electric hybrid Volt were being developed. But Jose Munoz, Nissan's senior vice president of sales and marketing for the Americas, said the Leaf is now the top reason customers are referred to the Nissan brand, adding that the vehicle is profitable. "From a purely attraction and branding point of view it's already a very good car," he told reporters Tuesday at the NADA/J.D. Power Western Automotive Conference in Los Angeles.
Source: Reuters
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Kia, Mazda, Toyota Execs See U.S. Sales Topping 16 Million in '14

Despite some nascent signs of a plateau, a panel of auto executives said they anticipate U.S. light-vehicle sales to exceed 16 million units in 2014. Top executives from Kia, Mazda and Toyota said they expect U.S. light-vehicle deliveries next year of 16.1 million or 16.2 million vehicles. U.S. sales of cars and light trucks have climbed 8 percent through October and are on track to reach the mid-15 million range for the year. That would mark the industry's fourth straight year of post-recession increases, following gains of at least 10 percent in each of the previous three. Sales are being driven by easing credit standards, low financing offers, new models and pent-up demand.
Source: Automotive News

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Automakers Quietly Boost Car Efficiency with New Tech

The hydrogen fuel cell concepts on display at this week's Los Angeles Auto Show may be a peek into the future of fuel efficiency, but there's still plenty of life left in the internal combustion engine. Automakers are quietly working behind the scenes to squeeze every mile per gallon out of today's automotive technology. While hybrids and EVs are gaining market share, today's traditional cars use clever grilles and extra gears to do the dirty work of saving gas. In the auto industry, regulation is the mother of innovation. Corporate Average Fuel Economy (CAFE) standards require automakers to hit an average of 35.5 mpg across their vehicle lineups by 2016. Electric and hybrid vehicles will undoubtedly be key in meeting CAFE's long-term target of 54.5 mpg by 2025, but manufacturers are already making incremental improvements to hit short-term goals.
Source: Detroit Free Press
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Toyota Plans Camry Tweaks in 2014 to Extend U.S. Sales Race Lead

Toyota Motor Corp.'s Camry, headed for a 12th straight year as the best-selling U.S. car, will get “significant attention” including freshened features to hold the title a 13th year, the brand's U.S. sales chief said. The Camry leads its closest rival, Honda Motor Co.'s Accord, by more than 40,000 units through October this year, far ahead of Nissan Motor Co.'s Altima and Ford Motor Co.'s revamped Fusion sedan. Tighter competition in 2014, as Ford boosts Fusion production and Hyundai Motor Co. adds a reworked Sonata, doesn't guarantee Camry will be knocked from its perch, said Bill Fay, group vice president of the Toyota brand. As Toyota, the world's biggest automaker, battles Camry challengers and the best vehicles from U.S.-based competitors in a generation, the Toyota City, Japan-based company is targeting its highest U.S. sales in as long as six years. Demand for new cars and trucks, a bright spot for the U.S. economy, remains robust as the year winds down, Fay said.
Source: Bloomberg
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Farley Says 'Connected Car' Success Rides on Tech Firm Flexibility

Ford Motor Co., trying to satisfy customer demands for more in-car technology, said technology companies must work in more open and flexible ways for Internet “connected-car” features to be as seamless as smartphone apps. Ford's push to offer voice-activated commands, navigation software and entertainment features ahead of competitors has had mixed results. While the carmaker is improving its in-car technology, Microsoft Corp., Google Inc. and other software firms will ultimately determine how well web-connected features work, said Ford Executive Vice President Jim Farley. “It's important for us to acknowledge that the real value for customers with the connected car is outside of our auto industry,” Farley said today in a speech at the Los Angeles Auto Show. “For the car companies, it's pretty clear the mobile digital economy is not in our hands.”
Source: Bloomberg
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Chrysler to Produce Centennial Editions of Dodge Challenger, Charger

Chrysler Group LLC kicked off the centennial of its Dodge brand Tuesday with special 100th Anniversary Editions of the Challenger and Charger that will go on sale next year. “The Dodge Charger and Challenger are the perfect foundation to celebrate 100 years of Dodge style and performance,” said Dodge brand president Tim Kuniskis in a statement. “Over the last century, the Dodge brand has seen its biggest success when we've combined head-turning designs with ingenious engineering and world-class performance. These two iconic muscle cars do all of that and more. They represent the Dodge brand's heart and soul.” Both limited-production vehicles boast a new “High Octane” red pearl paint scheme, all-new 20-inch aluminum wheels, commemorative badging, unique key fob and a special limited-edition owner's kit and a commemorative book that celebrates 100 years of Dodge heritage.
Source: The Detroit News
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