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Inside this issue
Auto Sales Soar Even as the Rest of the Economy Struggles
A High-tech Year Ahead for Automakers
Ford, GM Take Opposite Routes to Engine Fuel Economy
Fiat-Chrysler Likely to List Stock in New York, Further Sidelining Italy
End of Another Automotive Era: GM Kills Off the Monthly Sales Call
NAIAS Preview: About 50 New Cars, Trucks, Crossovers, Concepts to Make Their Debut
Click here for more auto industry news at NADAFrontPage.com. .
Top Stories
Auto Sales Soar Even as the Rest of the Economy Struggles

Auto sales have risen to their highest level since the recession, as cheap loans and a surge in leasing have combined with pent-up demand to send the reborn industry soaring far above much of the still-struggling U.S. economy. Automakers sold about 15.6 million new cars and trucks in 2013, up about 8 percent from 2012. The growth continues a strong turnaround for an industry that was reeling when annual sales bottomed out in 2009. Despite an economy marked by high jobless rates and flat wages, customers have been flocking to car dealerships. They have been lured by what analysts call an ever-improving selection of vehicles, free-flowing credit and a growing sense that the broader economy is finally on the mend. “Home prices have moderated and that is good because it makes people feel a little more confident,” said Steven Szakaly, chief economist for the National Automobile Dealers Association, or NADA. “Debts are being paid down and that certainly makes people feel wealthier. When you add to that the tremendous number of new products on the market, it makes the decision to buy that much easier.”
Source: The Washington Post


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A High-tech Year Ahead for Automakers

Audi will light the way for the increasingly high-tech auto industry next week when it introduces its Sport Quattro Laserlight Concept vehicle at the annual Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas. The CES extravaganza has traditionally been the place where techies track breakthroughs in TV, smartphone and computer technologies, but in recent years cars have been an increasing focus. It's no wonder, considering that some of today's cars likely have more microprocessing power than the most sophisticated homes. Technology is transforming virtually every aspect of the automobile, from engines to headlights—and even the mundane windshield wiper. Some of the year's biggest breakthroughs will make their debut at the CES and the 2014 North American International Auto Show, which follows a week later in Detroit.
Source: CNBC

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Ford, GM Take Opposite Routes to Engine Fuel Economy

General Motors and Ford Motor Co. are using radically different strategies to raise the fuel economy of their thirstiest vehicles: trucks and performance cars. Ford, with its EcoBoost turbocharging technology, makes a small engine act big. GM, with its Active Fuel Management cylinder deactivation system, makes a big engine act small. Whose strategy is better? It depends on how success is measured. If cost and manufacturing complexity and real-world fuel economy gains are the metrics, GM has the advantage. But if sales, image and government-measured fuel economy improvements are the yardsticks, Ford gets the nod.
Source: Automotive News

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Fiat-Chrysler Likely to List Stock in New York, Further Sidelining Italy

CEO Sergio Marchionne's merger of carmakers Fiat and Chrysler will probably entail a U.S. share listing that cements North America as the group's new center of gravity and further sidelines Italy. Two sources close to Fiat said it was likely to move its primary listing to New York as early as 2015 after a merger with Chrysler, heralding a politically delicate shift of focus that reflects the operating facts. Chrysler already made more than half the group's first-half revenue, turning what would have been a 501 million euro ($690 million) loss for Fiat alone into a 435 million euro profit, while Fiat plants in Italy tick along at just 41 percent capacity, according to 2013 estimates from IHS Automotive. A listing move would help Marchionne distance himself from troubles in Europe, where thousands of Fiat's Italian workers are on state-backed temporary lay-off schemes, highlight its gains in the United States and convince a larger pool of investors that the merged company can take the fight to rivals General Motors and Ford Motor Co.
Source: Reuters
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End of Another Automotive Era: GM Kills Off the Monthly Sales Call

In a surprise move, General Motors Co. said Friday it is killing off its U.S. monthly sales call, ending a more than decade-long practice where each month analysts and journalists get to pepper executives with questions about the company’s latest performance. GM said it decided to nix the call because it already provides ample opportunity to interact with its executives throughout the year. It participates in six to seven major analysts’ conferences annually, and on top of that, holds quarterly earnings calls and offers interviews to the media during auto shows, said Jim Cain, a GM spokesman.
Source: The Wall Street Journal
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NAIAS Preview: About 50 New Cars, Trucks, Crossovers, Concepts to Make Their Debut

In the business world, few things matter more than momentum, and with the books closed on 2013 — the best year the auto industry has had since the start of the Great Recession — manufacturers will be looking to keep things rolling in the year ahead. So, expect both automakers and auto buyers alike to be keeping a close eye on what happens when the North American International Auto Show opens in little more than a week. The good news is that with an estimated 5,000 or more automotive journalists and perhaps 750,000 potential car buyers set to pass through the turnstiles at Cobo Center, there will be plenty of news made before this year’s show wraps up. According to Rod Alberts, the executive director of the Detroit Auto Dealers Association, the trade group sponsoring the NAIAS, about 50 new cars, trucks, crossovers and concepts will make their debut at the newly expanded convention center.
Source: The Detroit News

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"While 2013 was kind of a transition year for the economy, we should see economic growth [become] stronger this year, and that will help new-vehicle sales."

    -- NADA Chief Economist Steven Szakaly, The Washington Post, Jan. 3

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