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Inside this issue
NHTSA Takes Aim at Recalls Not Completed, Convenes Automakers, Others to Share Ideas
Fiat Chrysler Profit Jumps to $99M
GM to Invest Billions of Dollars in U.S. Plants, Report Says
U.S. Consumers Snap Up Trucks in April as Gas Worries Fade
Honda Prices HR-V SUV Below $20K, Goes on Sale in May
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Top Stories
NHTSA Takes Aim at Recalls Not Completed, Convenes Automakers, Others to Share Ideas

Development: Federal regulators knock heads together in effort to drive recall completion rates to 100 percent, as automaker group starts study on owner motivation to fix recalled vehicles.

The federal government would like to see motor vehicle recall completion rates, currently averaging about 75 percent, rise to 100 percent, senior transportation officials said at a conference aimed at generating ideas to improve recall results. Recalls are only successful if vehicles are fixed, Secretary of Transportation Anthony Foxx said April 28 at the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) workshop. “We have to fix 100 percent of them, and no other target is acceptable,” Foxx said to an audience that included NHTSA employees, automaker representatives, new- and used-vehicle dealers, trade associations, congressional staff members and safety groups. Panel members from Ford Motor Co., the Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers, dealerships and dealers' associations voiced support for the goal.

Rob Strassburger of the Alliance announced the group is beginning a “major study” to help understand vehicle owner attitudes toward recalls and motivations. Participants in that session and others cited owner motivation as a central factor, along with the age of the vehicle, in improving recall rates. Other factors affecting recall response include geography, demographics, and whether replacement parts are available immediately or require a wait. Among the demographic considerations, older owners and women bring recalled vehicles in to be fixed at higher rates, according to presenters at the conference.

Panelists mentioned other challenges as well. A helpful tool, the NHTSA VIN-lookup database, was designed with consumers in mind and is laborious for dealers to use, several said. They called for so-called batch lookup features in the search tool to make it easier for new- and used-car dealers to check their inventory for open recalls. Richard Stephens, a West Virginia dealer, said the problem is “apathy.”
Source: Bloomberg

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Fiat Chrysler Profit Jumps to $99M

Fiat Chrysler Automobiles NV on Wednesday reported a profit of 92 million euros ($99 million based on March 31 exchange rate) for the first quarter, led by a recovering European market and strong sales in the U.S. The automaker's performance was significantly up from the 2014 first quarter net loss of 173 million euros, due mainly to the company's acquisition of then-Chrysler Group LLC, now FCA US LLC.
Source: The Detroit News

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GM to Invest Billions of Dollars in U.S. Plants, Report Says

General Motors on Thursday will unveil multibillion-dollar, multiyear investments in several U.S. manufacturing plants in a move to boost production and vehicle quality, a person familiar with the matter told Reuters. GM has scheduled a press conference at its stamping plant in Pontiac, Mich., to make a "major U.S. manufacturing announcement." A spokesman declined to provide further details. The largest U.S. automaker is expected to reveal plans to make capital investments in plants and equipment, including body shops and stamping plants, said the person, who asked not to be identified. The investments are expected to create jobs, but it is unclear how many.
Source: Reuters
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U.S. Consumers Snap Up Trucks in April as Gas Worries Fade

Americans went big in April, snapping up jumbo SUVs and pickups. With U.S. gasoline prices down by about a third from a year ago, sales of large and luxury sport utility vehicles soared 31 percent in the first quarter, while family sedan sales fell 3 percent, according to researcher Autodata Corp. That trend continued this month, analysts said. It’s getting so hard to sell a small car, Ford Motor Co. is laying off 700 workers at a Michigan factory that makes compacts and hybrids. American consumers have become convinced lower fuel prices are here to stay and they are reverting to the vehicle equivalent of comfort food: roomy SUVs and pickups. Their focus on fuel economy has waned. Energy recovery technologies weren’t attractive to car buyers surveyed recently by J.D. Power. Even President Barack Obama’s pleas to consumers to consider fuel-efficient cars have been falling on deaf ears.
Source: Bloomberg
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Honda Prices HR-V SUV Below $20K, Goes on Sale in May

The 2016 Honda HR-V small SUV will go on sale May 15 with a starting price of $19,995, including destination. American Honda Motor Corp. expects to sell 70,000 of the sporty crossovers a year, with more than half of the customers new to the Honda brand. The HR-V is based on the same platform as the Fit and is built at the same plant in Celaya, Mexico. The HR-V is a new entry in the booming small crossover segment that is attracting drivers who want to sit higher and want the function of a crossover, but with a smaller price tag.
Source: The Detroit News
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Quotable

"Lower gas prices are influencing people tremendously. Big is what we want. Americans don’t want those little cars."

    -- John Wolkonowicz, a Boston-based independent auto analyst and historian, commenting on rising sales of trucks and SUVs, Bloomberg, April 30

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