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Inside this issue
Global Sales Will Hit 88.6 Million in 2015, Pushed by U.S. and China, IHS Predicts
Automakers Seek Succession-Plan Clarity
What Dealers Can Do in Good Times to Prepare for the Bad
Automakers Can't Make Air Bags Work
Moguls, Superrich Families and Private-Equity Titans Prowl for Dealerships
Emotion, Celebs -- and a Surprise By Chevy -- in Automakers' Super Bowl Ads
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Top Stories
Global Sales Will Hit 88.6 Million in 2015, Pushed by U.S. and China, IHS Predicts

Global automotive sales for 2015 could hit 88.6 million vehicles, a 2.4 percent increase from 2014 that would continue a five-year growth streak, IHS Automotive said. China and the U.S. will lead the increase, with regions in Europe and South America in flux. “The global market continues to move to new highs, but it's very spotty,” George Magliano, senior principal economist at IHS Automotive, said in an interview. Although the U.S. and Chinese markets are improving, “most of the rest of the world is struggling,” Magliano said. “Western Europe right now is only starting to come around very slowly.” North America's overall economic growth and improving credit conditions will continue to power global light-vehicle demand through this year, IHS said.
Source: Automotive News
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Automakers Seek Succession-Plan Clarity

Automakers are pressing dealers to have an orderly transition plan for when they leave the business. In the latest such move, General Motors' field organizations will ask GM dealers this year if they have a succession plan. If not, the company advises, get one. It's a "best practice" that originated in GM's operations in other parts of the world, said Eric Peterson, GM vice president of diversity dealer relations. The advice is timely, particularly in the wake of two high-profile, messy lawsuits filed in January over succession issues.
Source: Automotive News
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What Dealers Can Do in Good Times to Prepare for the Bad

Todd Blue remembers the day in 1981 when his dad, who ran the family's scrap-metal business, drove off in a red Porsche 928 and came home in a silver Buick LeSabre. "That stuck in my mind. I remember the sacrifices he went through in order to survive the cyclicality," said Blue, now a dealer with luxury-brand stores in Houston and Rancho Mirage, Calif. The childhood lesson: Be careful with debt and be able to tighten the belt quickly. That influences Blue's own dealership operations today as he watches inventory levels to make sure they don't creep to the point of causing trouble when sales dip. It's something many dealers at the National Automobile Dealers Association convention were thinking about as they looked to 2015 and beyond. With new light-vehicle sales predicted to approach or top 17 million units, dealerships are poised for another year of record or near-record profits. But a sales downturn is inevitable. And though the lessons of the Great Recession remain fresh, dealers know complacency can set in easily during robust times.
Source: Automotive News
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Automakers Can't Make Air Bags Work

U.S. regulators' push for a second recall of 2.1 million cars and trucks whose air bags could go off while driving delivered more cautionary tales about a complex life-saving technology that's had a very bad year. The National Highway Transportation Safety Administration held an unusual Saturday press briefing to warn the public that an earlier recall of nine models from Fiat Chrysler Automobiles NV, Honda Motor Co. and Toyota Motor Corp. didn't work entirely. The agency is asking vehicle owners who haven't completed the first repair to do so now. That may mean a second trip to the dealership for consumers, assuming replacement parts for the new fix are available, which they may not be until year-end.
Source: Bloomberg
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Moguls, Superrich Families and Private-Equity Titans Prowl for Dealerships

First Warren Buffett. Then George Soros. Who's next? Outside investors are shopping for auto retailers in greater numbers -- and with larger checkbooks -- than the industry has ever seen. Their activity comes at a time when many dealers are approaching an age when they're ready to sell out and when some privately held retail groups have grown to a size that puts them beyond the reach of all but their most well-financed peers. The new buyers also are making some automakers nervous and could face factory-constructed hurdles to entering the retail sector. The list of would-be buyers includes private equity firms, so-called family offices seeking to invest a wealthy clan's money and publicly traded companies.
Source: Automotive News

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Emotion, Celebs -- and a Surprise By Chevy -- in Automakers' Super Bowl Ads

On a night filled with emotional themes and celebrities in automakers' Super Bowl ads, Chevrolet pulled out a trick play just before the kickoff: A momentary attempt to fool America into mass hysteria. During an aerial view of the game's site, the University of Phoenix Stadium, the broadcast cuts out. Was it a power outage? Was it a hostile takeover of NBC? After all, the Superdome went dark during the 2013 Super Bowl. The ad resumes, asking, “What would you do if your TV went out?” Then the ad used the moment of suspense to pitch the 4G LTE Internet connectivity in the Colorado pickup that would allow for live streaming of the game.

While Chevy shook up the world without one person in its ad, it's been the year of the celebrity for other auto advertisers. BMW, Toyota, Kia and Mercedes-Benz all used famous faces -- and a famous voice in Toyota's case -- to anchor their commercials and social media campaigns in the weeks leading up to game day.
Source: Automotive News
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Quotable

"With a strong exit to 2014 and gasoline prices currently plunging, consumers may feel even more positive throughout 2015."

   
-- IHS Automotive, commenting on why global auto sales could hit 88.6 million in 2015, Automotive News, Feb. 2

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