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Inside this issue
Feb. Sales: Ford Down 1.9%; Fiat Chrysler Up 5.6%
Buffett says Berkshire's Job is to Perform, Grow in Auto Retail
Marchionne Says He Has Merger Candidate in Mind, But it's Not VW
GMC Doubles Down with 10-Year Plan to Boost U.S. Share to 5%
Takata Increasing Production of Replacement Kits for Faulty Air Bags
Senators Unveil Bill to Require Recall Fixes
Five People Reject Settlement Offers From GM Ignition-Switch Fund
Toyota, Ford Frustrated By Rail Car Shortage
Kobe Steel Considers $800 Million U.S. Aluminum Plant for Auto Suppliers
University of Portland Receives Grant from the NADA Foundation
Click here for more auto industry news at NADAFrontPage.com. .
Top Stories
Feb. Sales: Ford Down 1.9%; Fiat Chrysler Up 5.6%

Ford Motor Co.'s U.S. vehicle sales last month were down slightly from a year ago due to falling car and utility sales. The Dearborn automaker reported sales of 180,383 cars and trucks in February, a 1.9 percent decrease compared to the same time a year ago. Ford’s Feburary sales come after FCA US, formerly Chrysler Group LLC, on Tuesday announced its 59th consecutive month of year-over-year U.S. sales gains. The automaker reported sales for last month of 163,586 cars and trucks, a 5.6 percent increase compared to February 2014 and its best February sales since 2007.
Source: The Detroit News
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Buffett says Berkshire's Job is to Perform, Grow in Auto Retail

With Berkshire Hathaway Inc.’s purchase of the Van Tuyl Automotive dealership group materially complete, Warren Buffett already is looking toward how to expand his company’s dealership holdings. His aspirations for growth are big. In his annual letter to shareholders, released on Saturday, the Berkshire Hathaway CEO talks about buying more dealerships and expanding the company’s auto retail business to many times the size of Van Tuyl alone.
Source: Automotive News

Editor's note: Warren Buffett and Larry Van Tuyl will participate in a panel session during the 2015 NADA/J.D. Power Automotive Forum in New York City on March 31. The session will be moderated by CNBC's Becky Quick. For more information and to register, click here.

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Marchionne Says He Has Merger Candidate in Mind, But it's Not VW

Volkswagen is not the ideal candidate for a tie-up with Fiat Chrysler, the CEO Sergio Marchionne said, adding he was exploring various merger and acquisition options. Speaking to reporters at the Geneva car show, Marchionne said he had an ideal partner in mind for Fiat Chrysler but would not disclose who it was. Marchionne also said he could imagine expanding collaboration with Mazda to other projects. However, nothing specific has been decided.
Source: Reuters
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GMC Doubles Down with 10-Year Plan to Boost U.S. Share to 5%

Aldred on big investment: 'There are plenty of opportunities'

General Motors plans to roughly double its total spending on its GMC truck brand over the next decade with the goal of boosting its U.S. market share by two-thirds, the brand's top executive said. Duncan Aldred, vice president of the GMC and Buick brands, said the doubling of investment in GMC will cut across vehicle development, marketing and other areas. "To make that happen, we're going to invest hugely in the brand in marketing … and investing in portfolio options," Aldred told reporters, while outlining [Monday's] debut of GMC's broadest advertising campaign in 15 years.
Source: Automotive News
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Takata Increasing Production of Replacement Kits for Faulty Air Bags

Japanese company says initial results from probe point to age, heat and humidity as factors

Takata Corp. on Monday said it is ramping up production of replacement kits for defective air bags amid widespread recalls and federal probes. The Japanese auto-parts supplier said it has increased production of the kits to 450,000 a month, up from 350,000 in December. The company said it expects to double that figure to roughly 900,000 kits a month by September. Takata said it is continuing its own investigation into the defective air bags, with results so far supporting the company’s initial view that age and prolonged exposure to heat and humidity are among the main factors contributing to inflater malfunctions.
Source: The Wall Street Journal

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Senators Unveil Bill to Require Recall Fixes

Two senators on Monday introduced legislation Monday modeled after laws in Germany that would seek to require vehicle owners to get recalls completed before they could renew their license plates. Sen. Ed Markey, D-Mass., and Richard Blumenthal, D-Conn., introduced legislation that would require state motor vehicle registration agencies to notify vehicle owners of open safety recalls to help ensure that owners get the safety recalls remedied.
Source: The Detroit News
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Five People Reject Settlement Offers From GM Ignition-Switch Fund

Rejections are first to be publicly disclosed

Five people who brought injury claims to General Motors Co.’s compensation fund as a result of defective ignition switches have rejected settlement offers, likely paving the way for future lawsuits against the nation’s largest auto maker. The rejections are the first publicly disclosed in what has been a steady stream of settlements offered by the fund since its creation last year. The fund, administered by compensation experts Kenneth Feinberg and Camille Biros, closed the claim window on Jan. 31. Ms. Biros and Mr. Feinberg now are working through those claims to determine eligibility in injuries or death connected with faulty ignition switches installed in 2.8 million older GM cars.
Source: The Wall Street Journal
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Toyota, Ford Frustrated By Rail Car Shortage

Railroad companies are struggling to keep up with surging U.S. demand for trucks and SUVs, frustrating Ford Motor Co. and Toyota Motor Corp. The shortage of rail cars is particularly acute for double-deckers big enough to fit taller trucks and SUVs stacked on top of one another. BNSF Railway Co., owned by Warren Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway Inc., will buy almost 1,900 this year, more than its combined total purchase of both bi-level and tri-level rail cars during the last two years. Carmakers are finding it harder to get vehicles to dealerships as demand for trucks and SUVs extends the U.S. auto market’s longest expansion since World War II.
Source: Bloomberg
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Kobe Steel Considers $800 Million U.S. Aluminum Plant for Auto Suppliers

Kobe Steel Ltd., supplier of aluminum sheet to half of Japan’s auto industry, is considering building a 100 billion yen ($832 million) plant in the U.S. to expand sales to Japanese carmakers operating in North America. The prize is an expected 10-fold increase in demand for aluminum sheet in the U.S., where stricter fuel economy standards have ignited a race among carmakers to save weight and boost the efficiency of new models, driving up demand for the lightweight metal. Kobe's plans could be driven by Toyota Motor Corp., which has been eyeing more aluminum content in its North American vehicles, including the Camry.
Source: Bloomberg
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University of Portland Receives Grant from the NADA Foundation


The NADA Charitable Foundation presents a $7,000 grant to the University of Portland last month. (Pictured left to right): NADA Foundation Chairman Bob Mallon; Rev. Mark Poorman, president, University of Portland; and Greg Remensperger, executive vice president, Oregon Automobile Dealers Association.

The National Automobile Dealers Charitable Foundation provided the University of Portland with a $7,000 grant last month. The funds will be used for the emergency needs of students. “The University of Portland greatly appreciates the support from the NADA Foundation,” said Laurie Kelley, vice president of University Relations at the University of Portland. “Scholarships for students in need are of specific focus. In particular, an emergency fund for students who face unexpected financial circumstances is critical to some students’ success. We are truly grateful for this support.” The contribution was made through the NADA Foundation’s Joseph J. Sanchez Memorial Fund. The fund was established to honor Sanchez, former vice president and general manager of General Motors’ Oldsmobile division and the first president of Saturn Corporation.
Source: NADA Public Affairs
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Quotable

"Even with tougher year-over-year sales comparisons in 2015, our vehicle lineup continues to produce record sales results."

   
-- Fiat Chrysler Automobiles Head of U.S. Sales Reid Bigland, commenting on the automakers February sales up 5.6% from January, The Detroit News, March 3

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