Headlines for Wednesday, March 28, 2012

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VIDEO: AutoNews Now: EVs still await a spark

12:01 am U.S. ET | March 28, 2012
Celebrity drivers aside, electric cars still not a magnet for consumers; Volt payoff: How much a gallon?; Ford turns up juice on electrification research.

Toyota to increase production of RAV4 at Ontario assembly plant

11:30 am U.S. ET | March 28, 2012
Toyota's Canadian unit said today it will make an $80 million investment in its Woodstock, Ontario, assembly plant to increase RAV4 production from 150,000 vehicles to 200,000 vehicles annually.

VIDEO: First Shift: Ex-Chrysler dealer setback

12:01 am U.S. ET | March 28, 2012
Ruling limits conditions for rejected Chrysler franchisees to reopen, NTSB raps device-makers in anti-distraction push, Ford defends fleet presence.

VIDEO: GM's Barra's hope for the Volt

12:01 am U.S. ET | March 28, 2012
Mary Barra became GM's product-development chief in early 2011. This year, she took on added duties as board member of the automaker's ailing Opel unit. On March 14, she discussed GM's efforts to reduce its number of global vehicle platforms. She also addressed hybrids, diesels and the Chevy Volt.

Former Opel sales boss Visser quits GM instead of joining Chevrolet

March 28, 2012 14:07 CET
Former Opel sales and marketing boss Alain Visser has left General Motors just weeks after GM said he was going to take a job coordinating marketing operations at Chevrolet.

Mitsubishi unveils new subcompact for Europe

March 28, 2012 09:45 CET
Mitsubishi unveiled its new subcompact for Europe at the Bangkok auto show. In Europe, the car will replace the slow-selling Colt that is currently made at Mitsubishi's soon-to-closed plant in Born, Netherlands.

Closure fears tarnish Opel plants' golden anniversary

March 28, 2012 08:24 CET
A golden anniversary is usually cause for celebration, but at General Motors' car plants at Bochum in Germany and Ellesmere Port in England, the talk is of closure, not their openings in 1962.

2012 NEW YORK AUTO SHOW

2013 Traverse gets Chevy's new corporate face

3:28 pm U.S. ET | March 28, 2012
The restyled 2013 Chevrolet Traverse will bow at the New York auto show in early April. The crossover is similar in size to the outgoing model and mechanically identical. It gets Chevy's new corporate face for crossovers and some safety upgrades for the model year.

Opel says union talks over restructuring to continue

7:52 pm U.S. ET | March 28, 2012
GM's European unit -- Opel -- said Wednesday it will continue negotiations with labor unions to restructure the struggling operation, but it didn't elaborate on any proposals or a possible timeframe.

MARK RECHTIN

Could high gasoline prices cost Obama the presidency?

3:06 pm U.S. ET | March 28, 2012
The price of gasoline again has replaced the price of milk as the American household's touchstone of how far its spending dollar goes. And there is an interesting -- though perhaps coincidental -- connection between rapidly rising gasoline prices and presidential election year results.

Subaru BRZ commands brisk sales in Japan as U.S. debut nears

11:02 am U.S. ET | March 28, 2012
Subaru’s BRZ sporty coupe, scheduled to go on sale in the United States April 20, is off to a brisk start in Japan, selling at a monthly rate quadruple initial forecasts.

JAMES B. TREECE

In EVs, practicality be damned

2:34 pm U.S. ET | March 28, 2012
Azure Dynamics has followed Bright Automotive into bankruptcy. Yet Tesla Motors’ stock trades near its record high on Wall Street. The stock market is supposedly rational. Keep telling yourself that.

Quake-damaged Nissan factory rebuilt to be more efficient

12:25 pm U.S. ET | March 28, 2012
A year after Japan's earthquake took Nissan's Iwaki engine plant offline, the company is still repairing damage. But instead of just making the factory more quake-resistant, Nissan also wants to make it more efficient.

Ford offers sporty, high-end version of Explorer

1:00 pm U.S. ET | March 28, 2012
Ford is introducing today what it calls the first-ever performance version of its Explorer SUV.

Bundling, dealer reserve may draw whistles on regulatory gridiron

12:01 am U.S. ET | March 28, 2012
Some items related to auto lending could come under scrutiny by government regulators, speakers at the Consumer Bankers Association convention in Texas said last week. And that could be cause for worry, they said.

How to win over F&I managers: Bankers weigh in

6:57 am U.S. ET | March 28, 2012
Dealers and bankers can be cynical about their relationships -- dealers gripe that banks bail out of auto lending when the going gets tough; banks complain dealers casually switch lenders to pursue cheap rates and easy approvals.

Captive lenders foster dealer, brand loyalty

10:27 am U.S. ET | March 28, 2012
Customers who get financing from a captive finance company are more likely to be loyal to a brand and to a particular dealer, Experian Automotive says.

Italian judge rules against Fiat for anti-union practices

March 28, 2012 06:01 CET
A judge ruled against Fiat for anti-union behavior at its Magneti Marelli plants in the first verdict concerning the Italian carmaker's new labor contract. Fiat introduced a new contract for its Italian workers beginning in January that includes longer shifts and shorter breaks.

VW China exec to head sales at Opel

March 28, 2012 06:01 CET
Opel named veteran VW Group executive Alfred Rieck as its new sales and marketing sales boss.

Bentley and Rolls-Royce target India's new Maharajas

March 28, 2012 09:19 CET
Bentley and Rolls-Royce are aggressively targeting India's richest 0.01 percent in a drive to grow sales in an historically important country for the luxury British brands.

JAMIE LaREAU

The F&I door dilemma

12:01 am U.S. ET | March 28, 2012
Close the office door, or leave it open? It sounds like an inconsequential question. And it sure seems nitpicky in the scheme of things.

Why you shouldn't backdate a sales contract

12:01 am U.S. ET | March 28, 2012
When a California appeals court handed down a July 2010 ruling that held San Diego dealership Pearson Ford liable for backdating sales contracts, it grabbed the attention of many dealers. Backdating occurs when the date on a document is earlier than the one on which the document was prepared.

Want to make a bundle? Try bundling

12:01 am U.S. ET | March 28, 2012
Providers of aftermarket products increasingly are bundling their offerings -- especially for second-tier products such as tire-and-wheel and paintless dent repair -- in customizable 3-in-1 and 4-in-1 programs.

Bentley appoints VW China exec Rose to head sales and marketing

March 28, 2012 06:01 CET
Bentley has chosen Kevin Rose, currently executive vice president for sales at FAW-VW in China, to head its sales and marketing operations.

JIM HENRY

Chief consumer watchdog takes stage, stays mum on auto lending

12:01 am U.S. ET | March 28, 2012
It's too bad that the head of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, which prides itself on enforcing transparency in the finance industry, is opaque about its plans for the auto-lending segment.

U.S. suggests Ally breakup, wants GM to buy captive finance unit

12:01 am U.S. ET | March 28, 2012
The United States Treasury, which put $17.2 billion into a bailout of Ally Financial, has indicated it would prefer a breakup and sale of the lender -- including selling the company's captive finance auto business back to GM, its original owner.

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