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Inside this issue
Mary Barra, a Child of GM, Prepares to Lead It
Hyundai, Kia Agree to Lump Sum Payouts in MPG Flap
Ford F-150 Seen Borrowing Military Armor to Shield Profit
Chevy's Gamble on Stop/Start Paying Off, Exec Says
The World's Most Popular Cars: Ford Focus And Other Surprises
NHTSA, Automakers Reach Deal to Extend Drunken Driving Research
Chinese Students Major in Luxury Cars
Party with the Porsches at Ohio Store
Click here for more auto industry news at NADAFrontPage.com. .
Top Stories
Mary Barra, a Child of GM, Prepares to Lead It

When Mary Barra was born in 1962, General Motors was selling half the cars on U.S. roads. In her booming middle-class suburb north of Detroit, the woman who will soon become GM's CEO remembers pining as a 10-year-old for her cousin's red Camaro convertible and tinkering in the garage with her father, a die maker who spent four decades at GM. In 33 years at GM, Barra has worked in engineering, communications and human resources. She's gained in-depth knowledge of a company whose complexity contributed to its losing ground to rivals and, four years ago, a trip through bankruptcy court.
Source: Associated Press

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Hyundai, Kia Agree to Lump Sum Payouts in MPG Flap

Owners of more than 850,000 Hyundai and Kia vehicles that had their gas mileage revised downward will be eligible for lump-sum payouts under an agreement reached to end class-action litigation over the matter. The payouts will vary by model. Hyundai owners of 2011 to 2013 model year cars that had their gas mileage reset will get an average of $353 if they opt for the lump-sum instead of the system currently in place. For Kia owners, which saw larger discrepancies in gas mileage figures on some models, the payouts will average $667.
Source: USA Today

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Ford F-150 Seen Borrowing Military Armor to Shield Profit

There are beer cans, and then there are Humvees. Ford Motor Co. will take pains to show its new, aluminum F-150 pickup has more in common with combat vehicles. Ford will debut an aluminum F-Series -- its anticipated and high-stakes redesign of the top-selling pickup in history -- at next month’s Detroit auto show, according to people familiar with Ford’s plans. The automaker has asked Alcoa Inc., which makes aluminum blast shields for battlefield-bound vehicles, to lend some of its military-grade metal for the automaker’s display, said one of those people, who asked not to be identified because the plans are secret. Ford’s sales job will be considerable: The company is eager to demonstrate the toughness of aluminum, which is lighter than steel, to pickup buyers who’ve made F-150 the bedrock of its business.
Source: Bloomberg

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Chevy's Gamble on Stop/Start Paying Off, Exec Says

Though some feared the new engine stop/start feature on the ’14 Chevrolet Malibu sedan might make more enemies than friends, brand marketing manager John Hahn insists the technology not only has won consumer acceptance but stands a good chance of migrating to other Chevy models. Stop/start is standard on the 2.5L 4-cyl. engine in the base Malibu, a sedan that was given both a revised look and upgraded technology only one model year after it was completely redone for ’13. “The days of waiting to make changes based on traditional timing cycles is a thing of the past,” he says. “We're going to react to customers as quickly as we can when we develop new technology and the customer needs it.”
Source: WardsAuto

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The World's Most Popular Cars: Ford Focus And Other Surprises

Pickup trucks and sport-utility vehicles are once again popular among Americans, thanks to lower fuel prices and an improving economy. But outside the U.S., people prefer small, fuel efficient cars like the Ford Focus. Driven by demand in China and other Asian markets, the Focus is likely to finish 2013 as the most popular car in the world, according to LMC Automotive. It would be the second year in a row that Focus ranked highest in global sales. In 2012, it ousted the Corolla from the top spot. Yet the Focus is far from being America’s best-selling small car. Through November, it ranks fifth in the segment. The leader, Honda Civic, doesn’t even crack the Top 10 globally.
Source: Forbes.com

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NHTSA, Automakers Reach Deal to Extend Drunken Driving Research

The Obama administration said Monday it has reached a deal with 15 major automakers to continue researching advanced alcohol detection technology to prevent vehicles from being operated by a drunken driver. Under the partnership, NHTSA is working with automakers including Detroit’s Big Three automakers to develop a Driver Alcohol Detection System for Safety — known as “DADSS” — a noninvasive system aimed at detecting when a driver is above the legal alcohol limit. Unlike an ignition interlock system used by some convicted drunken drivers, this system would not require drivers to blow into a device.
Source: The Detroit News

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Chinese Students Major in Luxury Cars

Chinese students at the University of Iowa began coming into Carousel Motors in Iowa City about three years ago to get their Mercedes and Audi luxury cars serviced. Finally, general manager Pat Lind started asking if they’d ever considered his dealership when they made their original purchase. No, the students told him. Back in China, they’d been told to buy their wheels in Chicago before heading to college. So Lind began sponsoring the university’s Chinese student association, which sends information to incoming students in China before they arrive in the U.S. Sales to Chinese students doubled and now make up about 5 percent of the vehicles sold at the dealership, located about two miles from campus. “We became an advertiser,” Lind says, “and got our face in front of them.”
Source: Bloomberg

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Party with the Porsches at Ohio Store

Bar mitzvahs, runway fashion shows, fundraisers, dinners and after-parties are among the events held at Porsche of Beachwood in Beachwood, Ohio. "We have not done a wedding reception yet, but I imagine it's just a matter of time," says Jason Grimm, the dealership's general manager. Grimm wanted Porsche of Beachwood to stand out in the affluent suburb on the eastern edge of Cleveland. About two years ago, he began offering free use of the $12 million dealership to charity organizations, community groups and private residents for events, which are held mostly during nonbusiness hours. The return he gets -- in good will and potential future customers -- has been priceless, he says.
Source: Automotive News

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Quotable
"This is already the most significant debut at the [Detroit] auto show. Everybody's going to be dissecting that thing for a long time, especially since Ford will be taking such a big gamble."

   
-- Joe Langley, a production analyst for researcher IHS Automotive, commenting on Ford's debut of an aluminum F-Series, Bloomberg, Dec. 23
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