NADA Headlines - 12/21/2012 (Plain Text Version)
Car shoppers have been "unfazed" by uncertainty related to the so-called fiscal cliff looming at the end of this month, and U.S. sales are expected to be up 14 percent in December, J.D. Power and Associates and LMC Automotive said today. The firms estimated this month's seasonally adjusted annualized selling rate to be 15.3 million, slightly below the 15.4 million posted in November. Automotive News calculated the November SAAR to be 15.6 million, which was the highest since January 2008. If the forecasts prove accurate, total U.S. light-vehicle sales for 2012 would be 14.5 million.
The U.S. Treasury Department will sell 200 million shares of General Motors back to the automaker on Friday, according to details of the agreement released [Thursday]. After the transaction, which was announced Wednesday morning, the government will own 300 million shares, or about 19%, of GM. GM released the agreement in a filing with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission. One fresh detail included in the filing: The government agreed to give up its right to inspect GM's financials and property, a right the U.S. acquired as part of its $49.5-billion bailout of GM in 2009.
On Friday afternoons, a group of top GM executives and engineers leave headquarters in downtown Detroit and head for GM's proving grounds in Milford, Mich. for "knothole drives." Originated by Mark Reuss, head of GM's North American operations, the drives allow the executives to test new vehicles -- along with their competitors -- in successive stages of development and offer an assessment. Many Fridays, the largely male contingent includes a woman, Mary Barra, senior vice president for global product development and one of GM's highest-ranking executives. Barra, 51, is a certified glass-ceiling breaker.
American Suzuki Motor Corp., the U.S. distributor of Suzuki cars and motorcycles, will import about 2,500 more autos to meet demand that jumped after the company filed for bankruptcy with plans to end U.S. sales.
Fiat SpA on Thursday announced its first investment under a plan to salvage its underused facilities in Italy, saying it will spend more than €1 billion ($1.3 billion) to prepare a plant in southern Italy to make two new small sport utility vehicles, including one for Chrysler's Jeep brand that will be exported to the U.S. market.
GM, Toyota, Chrysler step in as chauffeur companies look at life after Lincoln Town Car
A year after Ford Motor Co. pulled the plug on the venerable Lincoln Town Car, other automakers are racing to grab a bigger share of the potentially lucrative market for chauffeur-driven cars.
Continental AG is the first automotive supplier to receive an autonomous vehicle testing license in the state of Nevada, the company said Wednesday. Although Continental's first testing vehicle requires a human operator, it's being called a "highly automated" 2012 Volkswagen Passat. In a statement, the German supplier said it aims to launch production for partially automated driving systems by 2016. Continental's ultimate goal is to have fully autonomous vehicles ready for production by 2020 or 2025, the company said.
Three new-car dealers were named finalists for the 17th annual Urban Wheel Awards' Dealer of the Year, which for 2013 honors women in the auto industry. The finalists are Gail Burrus Martin, CEO of Martin Management Group in Bowling Green, Ky.; Lori Lum Toyooka, president and general manager of Lum's Auto Center in Warrenton, Ore.; and Evelyn Chatel, general manager and co-owner of Freedom Auto Group in Harrisburg, Pa. The multicultural award recognizes dealers for exceptional sales, exemplary service, strong customer relations and an overall commitment to excellence. The nominees were selected by local and national minority business and trade organizations. The winner will be announced Sunday, Jan. 13 at the Sound Board Theater in the MotorCity Casino Hotel in Detroit. The event is held in conjunction with the North American International Auto Show. For more information, visit www.urbanwheelawards.com.