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January 5, 2016 FacebookTwitterFlickrRSSSEND TO A FRIENDPRINT
Inside this issue
U.S. Sues Volkswagen Over Emissions Scandal
U.S. Auto Makers Still Have Fuel in the Tank
Mary Barra Assumes Combined Chairman and CEO Role at GM
Toyota Snubs Apple, Google with Ford Tech Tie-Up
Hawaiian Dealer Starts Service Tech 'Farm Team'
Top Stories
U.S. Sues Volkswagen Over Emissions Scandal

Justice Department seeks billions of dollars in penalties over auto maker’s alleged cheating on emissions tests

The U.S. Justice Department sued Volkswagen AG on Monday, seeking billions of dollars in penalties in the wake of an emissions-cheating crisis at the German auto maker. The civil lawsuit, filed in federal court in Detroit, reaffirms allegations environmental regulators made last year that Volkswagen installed “defeat” devices to dupe emissions tests in 580,000 diesel-powered vehicles sold in the U.S. It significantly ramps up pressure on the company by putting the case before a federal judge and formally seeking court-ordered penalties. The suit, filed by the Justice Department on behalf of the Environmental Protection Agency, seeks sanctions that could total more than $18 billion. Whether Volkswagen ultimately faces such a large penalty would be up to the judge.
Source: The Wall Street Journal

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U.S. Auto Makers Still Have Fuel in the Tank

Strong car sales could gas up auto stocks one more time

That U.S. vehicle sales have long been robust is no secret. For investors, the question is how much gas is left in the tank. With December and full-year results due Tuesday, the auto market likely has never been stronger. The sharp performance figures haven’t done much lately for the shares of big auto makers, however: General Motors and Ford Motor were down 2% and 8% last year, respectively. Part of the reason is the reality that auto sales are cyclical. And good times don’t last forever. Then, too, the ready availability of cheap financing, which has bolstered sales, may be coming into question. The average finance rate on 48-month, new-car loans was just 4.1% through August, according to the Federal Reserve. The rate exceeded 6% as recently as 2010. The risk is that cheap money may be pulling future demand forward.
Source: The Wall Street Journal

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Mary Barra Assumes Combined Chairman and CEO Role at GM

GM historically has started top executives as CEO and then rewarded them with additional chairman responsibilities

Mary Barra cemented her leadership atop General Motors with the board of directors' decision Monday to also name her chairman of the board, a position historically afforded many GM CEOs after a growing-in period. Barra has won accolades in many circles for her deft handling of the company's ignition switch crisis and also for guiding the company's release of a highly acclaimed lineup of new and refreshed vehicles. She also is credited with building a strong leadership team as she articulates a clear vision.
Source: Detroit Free Press
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Toyota Snubs Apple, Google with Ford Tech Tie-Up

Toyota has chosen a technology developed by Ford to allow consumers to access smartphone apps and features via their dashboard, eschewing similar technology offered by Apple and Google. Ford's SmartDeviceLink (SDL) – an open source software – allows drivers to access smartphone apps via the dashboard touch screen or even voice control. Toyota will be adopting the feature for upcoming vehicles, Ford said in a statement ahead of the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas on Monday. The move highlights the pressure felt by some automakers to protect their industry from being dictated to by the likes of Apple and Google.
Source: CNBC
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Hawaiian Dealer Starts Service Tech 'Farm Team'

Dealer Mark Benson wants to give poor kids a shot at a lucrative career while helping to solve the national shortage of service technicians. Last year, Benson teamed with the Aloha Council of the Boy Scouts of America to start a program at his dealership to introduce high school students to careers as service techs. He wants to take it nationwide. Benson, president of Honolulu Ford in Hawaii, cites estimates of a need for 100,000 technicians in the U.S. and adds, "The high schools, for the most part, no longer have vocational tech training classes. So we have to create our own farm system, just like in baseball."

Benson pitched his idea to administrators at three local high schools in early 2014. Fliers distributed in the schools attracted about 60 school leaders, parents and students to an open house at his dealership to learn more. There, he shared figures from the National Automobile Dealers Association's Dealership Workforce Study, showing that the average service tech's compensation in 2014 was $59,181, up 4.8 percent from 2013.
Source: Automotive News
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Quotable
"I am honored to serve as chair of the Board of Directors. With the support of our board, we will continue to drive shareholder value by improving our core business and leading in the transformation of personal mobility."

   
-- GM CEO Mary Barra, on her appointment as chairwoman of the board, Detroit Free Press, Jan. 4

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