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Inside this issue
NADA: April Auto Sales Continue to Lead Economic Growth
A Colossal Month for Crossovers
Detroit 3 Grapple with Slower Sales Growth
Four Senators Reintroduce Rental Car Recall Bill
Nissan Tweaks Dealer Sales Incentives
The Battle Over Sunday Sales
FCA to Offer Free College Education to Dealership Employees
Click here for more auto industry news at NADAFrontPage.com. .
Top Stories
NADA: April Auto Sales Continue to Lead Economic Growth

Future auto sales are backed by strong economic tailwinds.

Falling gasoline prices and continued pent-up demand have spurred spending on new cars and light trucks, with average retail transaction prices rising more than 3 percent in the first quarter compared to the same period a year ago, says the National Automobile Dealers Association. The average retail transaction price for a new vehicle was $33,189 through the first quarter. NADA has forecasted sales of 16.94 million new-light vehicles for 2015. "The automotive-retailing sector is continuing to outpace growth in the overall U.S. economy," said NADA Chief Economist Steven Szakaly. "Economic and employment growth were slower than expected in the first quarter but vehicle sales remain strong."
Source: NADA 

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A Colossal Month for Crossovers

Across the industry, automakers enjoyed buoyant sales of small and midsize crossovers. The new Ford Edge and Nissan Murano soared more than 73 percent; the Chevrolet Equinox, Jeep Cherokee, Toyota RAV4 and Subaru Forester were all up 21 percent or more. The month's overall gain renewed confidence in the industry's strength, following a rise of just 0.5 percent in March. The seasonally adjusted sales rate came in at 16.52 million, down from March's 17.12 million but up compared with the year-ago SAAR of 16.06 million. "The industry is off to its best start since 2001, the last time the industry sold 17 million vehicles," said Bill Fay, Toyota Division general manager. "Light trucks, especially compact and midsize SUVs and crossovers, have been driving the industry all year, and they did so again in April." Trucks accounted for 54 percent of total U.S. industry sales, making April the 20th straight month that trucks outsold cars.
Source: Automotive News

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Detroit 3 Grapple with Slower Sales Growth

Detroit's automakers, on track for their best sales year since 2006, may want to brace themselves for rockier times ahead. Auto executives say the industry is as healthy as it's been since being restructured in 2009. But judging by the recent stock performance of General Motors, Ford Motor Co. and Fiat Chrysler Automobiles, investors have a less robust view. Over the past year, GM and Ford share prices have lagged the overall market, in spite of moves by those two companies to give more cash back to shareholders. Fiat Chrysler prices plunged last week as CEO Sergio Marchionne made increasingly overt efforts to drum up interest in a merger with one of his rivals. "The party may be starting to wind down," said Charles Chesbrough, senior principal economist for IHS Automotive. "We're still looking at a good couple years of strong demand, but the days of big sales increases are behind us."
Source: Reuters
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Four Senators Reintroduce Rental Car Recall Bill

Four U.S. senators on Friday reintroduced legislation that would bar rental car companies from leasing unrepaired recalled vehicles — the third straight year they have proposed the plan. Sens. Charles E. Schumer, D-N.Y., Barbara Boxer, D-Calif., Claire McCaskill, D-Mo., and Bill Nelson, D-Fla., would require rental companies to follow the same rules that currently apply to new car dealers, who can't sell a unrepaired recalled vehicle. The bill is backed by the Obama administration and Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx. Reps. Lois Capps, D-Calif., Walter B. Jones, R-N.C., G.K. Butterfield, D-N.C. and Jan Schakowsky, D-Ill., also introduced an identical bill in the House.

The National Automobile Dealers Association has raised concerns about requiring all used cars to be repaired before being sold. Its president, Peter Welch, met in March with Rosekind and asked NHTSA to make data available to dealers to make it easier to check for open recalls. But NHTSA told NADA it didn't have the money to do so. Welch thinks dealers should focus on ensuring used vehicles with the most serious issues have recalls completed before being sold, rather than a blanket rule. "You have to use some common sense," Welch said last week. "We want to work toward a workable solution — a sensible solution. ... We can't clog up used-car commerce."
Source: The Detroit News

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Nissan Tweaks Dealer Sales Incentives

Nissan is adjusting its year-old sales incentives, seeking to spur dealers to bigger volumes and resolve their objections, says Jose Munoz, Nissan North America chairman. Last month the automaker introduced a new version of the Nissan Sales Growth Program, the blueprint for accelerating U.S. sales that it introduced last year. That plan was meant to replace its controversial and aggressive stair-step programs. "Is there still room for improvement?" Munoz asked during an interview with Automotive News last week. "Yes, and we've continued to work with the dealers to improve it."
Source: Automotive News
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The Battle Over Sunday Sales

Legislation to allow sales not good for business or workers

Car dealers hate government regulations, right? Not on Sunday. In Illinois, Texas and New Jersey, lawmakers who want to allow Sunday sales face vehement opposition from dealers. Sunday sales, dealers argue, are too hard to conduct with banks closed, make hiring and keeping quality workers difficult and are disliked by most consumers. Currently, 18 states ban or restrict Sunday car sales. In those states that allow them, many dealers say they are open that day only because competition demands it. Illinois has banned Sunday sales since 1983. Dealer Mark Scarpelli remembers life before the ban, when his car-dealer father was never home. Scarpelli does not want to work seven days a week as his dad did. But Illinois dealers say that if the state overturns the ban, competition will force all of them to be open on Sunday. Scarpelli and other dealers say they would not gain incremental sales by being open on Sunday but would incur more costs. The legislation awaits a hearing by the state Senate Transportation Committee.
Source: Automotive News
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FCA to Offer Free College Education to Dealership Employees

Deal with Strayer University to be paid for by FCA, participating dealers, potentially covers 118,000

Fiat Chrysler, seeking to curb the industry’s “dramatic” turnover rate among dealership employees, said  it will offer “no-cost, no-debt” college educations to workers at participating U.S. dealerships. The cost of the education -- for individual classes and associate’s, bachelor’s and master’s degree programs at Strayer University in about 40 fields of study -- will be paid for entirely by FCA and its dealers. The program, which FCA says is the first in the automotive industry, is voluntary for U.S. dealers and will start today at the 356 dealerships in FCA US’s southeast region of Florida, Georgia, the Carolinas, Alabama and Tennessee. It will expand to the company’s other eight U.S. regions in the third quarter, said John Fox, FCA’s director of dealer training.
Source: Automotive News
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Quotable

"Consumers clearly feel confident enough in the economic recovery to make big-ticket purchases. While we've seen a pullback in investments in other industries, particularly in oil-related industries, automotive retailing remains a growth industry." 

    -- NADA Chief Economist Steven Szakaly, commenting on auto sales in April, NBCNews.com, May 1



"The industry is off to its best start since 2001, the last time the industry sold 17 million vehicles. Light trucks, especially compact and midsize SUVs and crossovers, have been driving the industry all year, and they did so again in April."


    -- Bill Fay, Toyota Division general manager, commenting on strong crossover/SUV sales in 2015, Automotive News, May 4

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