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Inside this issue
House, Senate Committees to Hold Hearings on GM Recall, NHTSA Response to Complaints
Honda Restructures U.S. Operations
3 Years Later, Rebounding From Quake, Tsunami
Audi to Introduce 17 New, Revamped Models This Year
Ford's High-Tech Crash Tests Help Meet Worldwide Safety Standards
Larry Miller Group CEO Dons Fake Beard, Joins Utah Jazz Dunk Team For 'Undercover Boss'
Click here for more auto industry news at NADAFrontPage.com. .
Top Stories
House, Senate Committees to Hold Hearings on GM Recall, NHTSA Response to Complaints

The House Energy and Commerce Committee said late Monday it will hold a hearing on General Motors Co.'s recall of 1.6 million vehicles linked to 13 deaths and 31 crashes. The announcement came after aides said the Senate Commerce Committee also said it plans to hold a hearing. It's the latest sign of growing interest in Congress over the issue. Energy and Commerce Committee chairman Fred Upton, R-St. Joseph, late Monday said the committee will also investigate the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration's response to consumer complaints related to problems with ignition switches. It has been over a decade since passage of the Transportation Recall Enhancement, Accountability, and Documentation (or TREAD) Act approved in the wake of 270 deaths linked to Bridgestone tires on Ford Explorer SUVs. In light of GM's safety problems, the House Energy and Commerce Committee will seek a progress report on the TREAD Act's implementation and pursue answers relating to the complaints filed with NHTSA, the response, and the eventual recalls.
Source: The Detroit News

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Honda Restructures U.S. Operations

American Honda is restructuring its U.S. operations, splitting Honda and Acura into separate divisions for marketing and sales purposes and assigning top executives to lead each brand. The Japanese automaker said the moves, which take effect April 1, would cultivate a clearer distinction between Honda and Acura, allowing both brands to thrive. John Mendel will retain responsibility for the overall American sales operations with the new title of executive vice president of the automobile sales division. “The goal is to accelerate the already strong sales growth of both the Honda and Acura brands through a more cohesive strategy that we think will bring even greater focus to the unique needs of our Honda and Acura customers,” Mendel said in a conference call. Mike Accavitti, who currently leads national marketing for Honda and Acura, will become senior vice president and general manager of the Acura division. Jeff Conrad, who is currently vice president and general manager of Acura sales, will become senior vice president and general manager of the Honda division.
Source: Detroit Free Press

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3 Years Later, Rebounding From Quake, Tsunami

Japan's auto industry expanding again, with supply chain double sourced

Three years ago, Mazda dealer Eishi Kuramoto scrambled for his life as a mammoth black tsunami washed away two of his stores along Japan's northern coast. The March 11, 2011, earthquake-tsunami double punch sent his business back to square one -- and torpedoed the entire Japanese auto industry for much of the year. The disaster left 18,000 dead or missing. But as Japan marks the three-year anniversary, Kuramoto and the country's carmakers have rebounded to precrisis highs. Kuramoto has built a new store next to where one was torn from its foundation by the raging waters. It is nearly four times the size, with eight service bays vs. three before. The rest of Japan's auto industry has been equally resilient. In 2011, with most of the country's auto plants offline for at least part of the year, Japan's vehicle production slumped 13 percent to 8.4 million units, including trucks and buses. The tumble came despite a heroic late-year output surge to make up lost ground. Last year, Japan churned out 9.6 million vehicles, just topping 2010's prequake result. Surviving the quake has only made Japan's carmakers stronger. They finagled new ways of cutting costs and doing more with less. They reinforced their domestic operations to better withstand the next disaster and spread the risk by diversifying operations overseas.
Source: Automotive News

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Audi to Introduce 17 New, Revamped Models This Year

Audi AG plans to introduce 17 new or revamped models in 2014 and will move forward with the production an electric version of the R8 sports car in a push to gain momentum on rival BMW AG. “We will increase deliveries in all regions of the world, including Europe,” CEO Rupert Stadler said in a speech to be delivered today at the brand's headquarters in Ingolstadt, Germany. The CEO expects 2014 revenue to rise slightly and forecast registrations in China, Audi's biggest market, will exceed 500,000 vehicles for the first time. The biggest earnings contributor of Volkswagen AG will invest 22 billion euros ($30.4 billion) in the next five years, with 70 percent going toward new products and technology. Most of the rest will be spent on expanding global manufacturing capacity, including new factories in Brazil and Mexico.
Source: Bloomberg

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Ford's High-Tech Crash Tests Help Meet Worldwide Safety Standards

It takes massive computing power, expensive dummies and about 600 full-scale crash tests a year to ensure Ford and Lincoln vehicles meet safety standards for every market in the world. Ford recently completed its 20,000th crash test since 1954 at its facility in Dearborn and the automaker has more than 500 safety engineers around the world who have conducted more than 31,000 tests at 1,800 sites around the world. It took 40 years to conduct the first 20,000 tests and half that time for the next 10,000, said Jackie Shuk, Ford chief engineer for North American vehicle evaluation and verification and global testing. The Dearborn crash test site does five full vehicle crashes of every description a day, Shuk said, while a nearby facility has completed 10,000 servo sled tests where a dummy is strapped onto a moving platform to hit a barrier. And that is only the tip of the iceberg. Engineers spend weeks running thousands of computer simulations before a car is launched at 30 miles per hour into a wall, said Nand Kochhar, Ford global safety chief engineer.
Source: Detroit Free Press
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Larry Miller Group CEO Dons Fake Beard, Joins Utah Jazz Dunk Team For 'Undercover Boss'

The good-natured guy with the fake beard and prosthetic beer belly hidden under his shirt was a bit slow selling the fries in the concession stand, and looked like he might hurt himself performing with the trampoline-bouncing Dunk Team that entertains Utah Jazz fans during NBA games in Salt Lake City. But Jazz boss Greg Miller -- who, as CEO of Larry H. Miller Group of Cos., also does some heavy-duty auto retailing -- didn't have to worry about landing a job. He was disguised and incognito on the CBS-TV show "Undercover Boss" on Feb. 28. During the show, on which CEOs wear disguises and work among the underlings to get an employee's-eye view of their company, Miller also worked as a human basketball hoop as part of the cheerleading squad and helped the crew that puts down the floor, which is emblazoned with the signature of his dad and company founder Larry Miller.
Source: Automotive News
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Quotable

"The goal is to accelerate the already strong sales growth of both the Honda and Acura brands through a more cohesive strategy that we think will bring even greater focus to the unique needs of our Honda and Acura customers."

   
--- John Mendel, executive vice president of American Honda Motor Co., commenting on the automaker's plans to restructure its U.S. operations, Detroit Free Press, March 10 

 

  

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