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Inside this issue
Senators Lobby Consumer Bureau in Letter That Appears to Be Written by Agency’s Own Adviser
Commentary: Florida's New-Car Dealers Benefit Buyers and Communities
NHTSA Chief Grilled by Congress on Latest Air-Bag Death
Airlines to Share Safety Ideas with Automakers
Toyota Chair Urges Industry to Develop Hydrogen Cars
Volkswagen Europe Quarterly Market Share Hits Five-Year Low
Marchionne Sees Toyota, VW, Ford as Merger Candidates for Fiat Chrysler
Top Stories
Senators Lobby Consumer Bureau in Letter That Appears to Be Written by Agency’s Own Adviser

The Daily Signal has obtained a draft letter from two Democrat senators urging the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau to continue addressing what they call “discriminatory and unfair lending practices” in the auto industry.

But, according to metadata found in the document’s properties, it appears the letter may not have been written by the two senators or any of their staffers but instead by a top adviser to the agency.

“We write to urge the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB), in the face of opposition, to continue its work to combat discriminatory and unfair lending practices, particularly in auto finance.” The letter … was provided to The Daily Signal by a Republican staffer. According to the document’s metadata, the author is Chris Kukla from Self-Help Credit Union.

Kukla is a member of the CFPB’s Consumer Advisory Board and also serves as a senior vice president at the Center for Responsible Lending ... The Republican staffer, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, said the situation raises alarming concerns. “CRL must really stand for the Center for Rented Letterwriters."
Source: The Daily Signal


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Commentary: Florida's New-Car Dealers Benefit Buyers and Communities
By Ted Smith

Today's car buyers have the best of both worlds. Every Florida shopper can use the digital platform and the intensely competitive attributes of the franchised new-car dealer network to shop across brands, makes and models for the perfect car and truck values. E-commerce has made shopping extraterritorial, and technology now provides the consumer with varied options for shopping. When it comes time to visit a store, Florida's new-car dealers are there for you. And, when the service light or maintenance demands a response, your local new-car dealer is nearby in your community and ready to serve you.

Lately it has become almost chic to criticize the dealer franchise network, just as a recent Sun Sentinel consumer columnist did. The entry of Tesla Motors into the retail space has certain uninformed observers drawing the wrong conclusions about a retail market they clearly do not understand. The backbone of auto retailing is competition among dealers. If manufacturers were allowed to own stores and sell their own products, competition would suffer. Today the Chevrolet dealer competes aggressively against the next nearest Chevy dealer. If General Motors owned every Chevrolet store, do you think consumers would benefit from this intra-brand competition? Just look at the price of all Apple computers.

Bottom line: When local dealerships compete for your business, consumers and local communities win. Prices drop on vehicles, financing and servicing, while the customer experience gets better and better, and local communities see job creation. When local businesses thrive, everyone wins.
Source: Sun Sentinel

Editor's note: Ted Smith is president of the Florida Automobile Dealers Association.

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NHTSA Chief Grilled by Congress on Latest Air-Bag Death

The Obama administration’s top highway safety official was grilled about the federal government’s handling of recall notifications after the recent death of a Texas teenager in a car than had been called back for a faulty Takata air bag. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration chief Mark Rosekind was summoned to testify before the House Energy and Commerce Committee, led by Rep. Fred Upton, R-St. Joseph, in a hearing that was promoted as a chance for lawmakers to review federal oversight of the agency. Upton said “there are not many issues as important as keeping Americans safe on the road” as he cited problems with “low recall completion rates, Takata recalls and cyber-security issues.”
Source: The Detroit News

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Airlines to Share Safety Ideas with Automakers

U.S. auto safety and aviation regulators have invited automakers to a joint summit on April 22 to examine whether airline industry safety practices can be adapted to help improve safety on the road. The event, which will be closed to the public, will be co-hosted by Mark Rosekind, administrator of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, and Federal Aviation Administration chief Michael Huerta, according to an invitation to the event obtained by Automotive News. U.S. aviation officials and senior executives from U.S. airlines such as Delta and United will discuss data sharing and other collaborative efforts between the aviation industry and government that have contributed to an 83 percent decline in commercial airline fatalities from 1998 to 2008, according to the invitation, which was sent to representatives of automakers. “The FAA and aviation industry have been tremendously successful reducing commercial aviation fatalities,” Rosekind said in a statement. “We are convening this cross-industry and cross-agency forum because we believe that the best practices will apply” to the auto industry.
Source: Automotive News

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Toyota Chair Urges Industry to Develop Hydrogen Cars

Toyota Chairman Takeshi Uchiyamada, known as the father of the Prius hybrid, believes hydrogen fuel cell cars have the greatest long-term potential for reducing energy usage and emissions for the automotive industry -- as long as an adequate refueling infrastructure is developed. Toyota has been talking about the potential benefits of hydrogen fuel cell cars for several years, and has emerged as an industry leader. Toyota introduced the Toyota Mirai, the world’s first mainstream hydrogen fuel cell car, in November in California and has sold about 100 of them this year. On Thursday, Uchiyamada used a keynote speech before several hundred engineers at SAE World Congress at Cobo Center in Detroit to tout the potential of hydrogen powered cars but also to warn the industry that the lack of an adequate refueling infrastructure is holding back progress.
Source: Detroit Free Press

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Volkswagen Europe Quarterly Market Share Hits Five-Year Low

Volkswagen AG’s European first-quarter market share reached a five-year low as auto buyers snubbed the German carmaker’s efforts to resolve its emissions-cheating scandal and turned to models from BMW AG, Fiat Chrysler Automobiles NV and Daimler AG. Volkswagen’s brands, including mass-market Skoda and up-market Audi, accounted for 23.4 percent of new registrations in the three months ended March versus 24.4 percent a year earlier, the European Automobile Manufacturers’ Association said Friday in a statement. That was Volkswagen’s worst showing for the period since 2011. Industrywide demand in the region rose 5.7 percent to 1.74 million cars in March, the 31st consecutive month of growth, and jumped 8.1 percent in the quarter to 3.93 million.
Source: Bloomberg

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Marchionne Sees Toyota, VW, Ford as Merger Candidates for Fiat Chrysler

Fiat Chrysler Automobiles sees Toyota Motor Corp., Volkswagen Group and Ford Motor as the remaining potential merger candidates after its attempt to tie up with General Motors was rebuffed, CEO Sergio Marchionne said. "The door [on mergers] never closed, the need to consolidate does not go away" Marchionne told journalists on the sidelines of a shareholder meeting [Friday] in Amsterdam. Marchionne said he would be the one doing the merger if it happens during his tenure, which runs until the end of 2018, but if it is later than that, it would be "other people's problem."
Source: Reuters

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          "The backbone of auto retailing is competition among dealers."

             ---  Ted Smith, president of the Florida Automobile Dealers Association, on the value of the dealer franchise network, Sun Sentinel, April 12

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