NADA Headlines - 10/25/2013 (Plain Text Version)
AutoNation Inc. Chairman Mike Jackson blasted the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau [Thursday] for being “bound and determined” to find discrimination in auto lending whether or not it exists, at least in his company's case. “It seems to be a regulator looking for a problem that doesn't exist. At least it doesn't exist in our portfolio. Maybe there are other issues somewhere else I don't know about,” Jackson, head of the nation's largest new-car dealership group, said in a conference call for analysts and investors, as he commented on the company's third-quarter earnings. Jackson said lenders have “tested” AutoNation's portfolio of loans, looking for potential problems. “On a sensitivity of $1 or $2 difference in payment per month, 99 percent of everything that has been tested so far passed with flying colors,” Jackson said. On “something like 0.001 percent of our deals -- it has been said they need to be looked at.” Echoing other dealers and the National Automobile Dealers Association, Jackson complained about what he called the agency's “top secret” methodology for identifying which loans go to protected borrowers.
Ford Motor Co.'s market value is reaching levels last seen in 1999, putting the company closer to its historical peak than the world's biggest carmaker, Toyota Motor Corp. For much of yesterday, Ford traded at a market capitalization of more than $70 billion, a level it has closed at only three times in the last 14 years, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. That left the second-largest U.S. automaker within about $6 billion of its peak valuation in May 1999. Toyota ended the day $30 billion short of its $254 billion high reached in February 2007. The higher value investors are placing on Ford followed a 17th-straight quarterly profit that showed progress in Chief Executive Officer Alan Mulally's plan to extend beyond sales of trucks and sport-utility vehicles in developed markets that used to be the company's strength. That Ford is on track to beat Toyota back to its all-time valuation also reflects a changed environment in which Detroit is competing with its best line of cars in a generation.
The governors of California and seven other states said today that they intend to get 3.3 million zero-emission vehicles onto their roads by 2025, showing a determination to keep their electric vehicle mandates despite automakers' complaints. Seven states -- Connecticut, Maryland, Massachusetts, New York, Rhode Island, Oregon and Vermont -- have already adopted California rules requiring 15 percent of new vehicles sold to be zero-emission vehicles by 2025. Their definition of ZEVs includes battery-electric vehicles, plug-in hybrids and fuel cell electric vehicles that run on hydrogen. At a conference at the offices of the California Air Resources Board in Sacramento, the eight ZEV states announced an agreement to push harder to spur sales of these vehicles.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration said late Thursday that it will not open a formal investigation into Tesla Motors Model S EV after a battery fire destroyed a vehicle in Kent, Wash., this month. “After reviewing all available data, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has not found evidence at this time that would indicate the recent battery fire involving a Tesla Model S was the result of a vehicle safety defect or noncompliance with federal safety standards. The agency continually reviews incoming and prior consumer vehicle complaints, as well as other data to identify potential vehicle defect trends and takes appropriate action as necessary,” the agency said.
Hyundai Motor Co. said Thursday it expects to manufacture 4.7 million vehicles this year, exceeding its target despite strikes that disrupted its South Korean production. The company had aimed to make 4.66 million vehicles this year. Kim yeung-tae, Hyundai's vice president, said higher production in China and Brazil offset its South Korean plants making fewer cars. Hyundai has been reducing the proportion of vehicles it manufactures at home. In 2008, 40 percent of the vehicles it sold globally were made in South Korea. Kim said the figure will be 25 percent this year.
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Mary Barra, General Motors' chief of global product development, is starting to look like a serious candidate to run the company some day. GM CEO Dan Akerson has said nice things about her, and she keeps amassing more power. He recently gave her oversight of the company's vast purchasing operation. As of Aug. 1, GM purchasing chief Grace Lieblein began reporting directly to Barra rather than GM Vice Chairman Steve Girsky.
Olivier Francois is a Parisian working for an Italian company, but he understands American popular culture better than most U.S.-born marketers. Thus the Fiat and Chrysler CMO — the man behind the iconic “Imported from Detroit” campaign for the Chrysler brand — now has scored what looks like another major marketing coup by creating another cultural touchstone with Will Ferrell's Anchorman 2-based ad campaign for the new Dodge Durango. Two weeks out of the gate, the campaign has captured the attention of TV audiences and notched more viral-video views online than any auto ads in recent memory.