Headlines for Monday, February 11, 2013

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Heir buds: Young dealers swap strategies

A meeting of the Young Dealers Group in North Carolina was discussing the problem of third-party vendors accessing information from dealership management systems without the dealer's knowledge. Greg Westcott suggested a low-tech solution: Smoke 'em out. Read More »

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DAVID BARKHOLZ:

AutoTrader: Only 2 of 3 of dealership Web visits are for vehicle shopping

After reviewing nearly 3 million dealer Web site visits at 3,000 dealers recently, AutoTrader found that 32 percent of dealer Web visitors go to the site for something other than shopping. Read More »

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AutoNews Now: Chevy ad, growth plan

Bowtie debuts global marketing campaign, eyes more sales; new SUV is sold out; keeping employees honest. Read More »

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Pickup truck towing standard isn't standard

Automakers often brag about the towing abilities of their pickups, encouraging shoppers to believe that their vehicles could safely pull almost anything. The towing claims are effective, moving heavy metal in the single most profitable product segment in the auto industry. Read More »

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Midday Newscast from NADA: Cadillac sales hopes

Dealers told to expect 35 percent retail improvement, VW infotainment plans, break for Fiat dealers, eBay goes for parts bin. Read More »

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Tesla refutes N.Y. Times review of Model S, 'cold' range

Tesla Motors refuted the accuracy and accounts of a Model S review published by The New York Times that raised concerns about the electric vehicle's range in cold weather, an account that sent the company's share price down in Monday trading. Read More »

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U.S. Treasury: Cost of auto bailout drops to $20.3 billion

The Treasury Department on Monday said the overall cost of its 2008 financial-rescue effort was reduced to $55.48 billion from $59.68 billion, as it has recouped a majority of the costs of programs that unlocked tight credit markets. Read More »

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Fiat's Turkish partner, Tofas, unveils plans for N.A. van exports, new cars

Fiat's Turkish partner, Tofas, disclosed plans to export the Doblo small commercial van to North America and also said it is working on two new passenger cars for local and export markets. Read More »

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Renault and PSA 2012 financial results will put turnaround strategies in spotlight

The gravity of the French auto industry's crisis will be underlined this week by weak results at PSA/Peugeot-Citroen and Renault, boosting pressure on both for tougher cost-cutting moves. Read More »

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Nissan urges dealers to stay on track amid product blitz

After setting a brand sales record in 2012 and two years of record dealer profitability, Nissan urged retailers at its make meeting to stay focused on the strategy of the past three years. Nissan is midway through a plan to introduce five key model redesigns in 15 months. Read More »

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Acura to give each dealer 2 RLX sedans ahead of launch

Acura plans to give each of its 265 dealers two 2014 RLX flagship sedans on Friday, a month before the car goes on sale March 15. Read More »

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AutoTrader acquires incentive-tracker Automotive Information Systems

AutoTrader Group's stable of online classified properties and software companies just got bigger. Dale Pollak, founder of vAuto, a unit of AutoTrader, said AutoTrader has acquired Automotive Information Systems, an Ann Arbor, Mich., tracker of new-vehicle incentives, for an undisclosed price. Read More »

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Mitsubishi to double marketing spend this year, return to prime-time network TV

Mitsubishi Motors North America executives told dealers at a standing-room-only make meeting here today that it will double its marketing spend this year and return to prime-time network TV after a long absence. Read More »

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Hyundai aims to increase owner loyalty

Hyundai Motor America hopes that the third shift added in September at its Alabama plant will help the company boost 2013 sales 4 percent, to 730,000 units. Read More »

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First Shift: Plus side of dealer reviews

Study shows sales edge if stores score high online; Ford spruce-up bucks; plus, Henry Ford, Dr. J and a really big truck. Read More »

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Has VW discovered the Holy Grail of carmakers?

Ulrich Hackenberg isn't yet a household name but if Volkswagen's $70 billion bet on his big idea pays off, he may join the likes of Henry Ford, Alfred Sloan and Taiichi Ohno in the canon of auto industry pioneers. Read More »

EU sees no grounds to extend car coolant deadline despite safety concerns

The European Commission sees "no grounds" to give German automakers more time to comply with EU law requiring a less polluting coolant to be used in vehicle air-conditioning, a letter seen by Reuters said, despite safety concerns. Read More »

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MIKE COLIAS:

Why Chevy's new advertising road looks promising

Opinions on what flavors and themes should infuse Chevy's brand messaging are as diverse as its sprawling vehicle lineup. Read More »

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Ally sees full U.S. repayment by 2014 on auto business gains

Ally Financial, the second-largest remaining investment by the Treasury’s federal bailout fund, will repay the government by 2014 on the strength of its auto-finance business, its CEO said. Read More »

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Fiat to move 500 output from Mexico to Poland, sources say

Fiat S.p.A. plans to move all production of the next-generation 500 subcompact to Tychy, Poland, three sources said. The consolidation in Tychy will end 500 production at Chrysler Group's plant in Toluca, Mexico. Read More »

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EDWARD LAPHAM:

Why 'Back to the Future' resonates at NADA

It caught my eye immediately. Parked at a booth in the NADA exhibition hall was a DeLorean time machine. It looked as if it had just blown in from the "Back to the Future" movie trilogy -- complete with blinking dashboard lights and a flux capacitor. Read More »

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Has VW discovered the Holy Grail of carmakers?

Ulrich Hackenberg isn't yet a household name but if Volkswagen's $70 billion bet on his big idea pays off, he may join the likes of Henry Ford, Alfred Sloan and Taiichi Ohno in the canon of auto industry pioneers. Read More »

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PSA bank unit gets temporary EU OK for bond guarantee

PSA's finance arm was granted temporary EU approval to receive a French government guarantee backing the issuance of 1.2 billion euros of new bonds. France must submit a restructuring plan covering the entire PSA group within six months to win final approval. Read More »

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DEALER COUNCIL LEADERS:

Cadillac dealer: We need an S-class fighter

As General Motors CEO Dan Akerson ponders whether to authorize production of a flagship sedan for Cadillac, the head of the luxury brand's dealer council has some advice for him. "We clearly need an S-class competitor," says Carl Sewell, co-chairman of the Cadillac National Dealer Council. Read More »

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Russian car sales grew 5% in January; flat 2013 forecast

Russian new-car sales grew 5 percent year-on-year in January, the Association of European Businesses said. Read More »

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Honda's Europe problems extend beyond market slump, analysts say

Honda is cutting jobs in the booming UK auto market because it says there are no signs that Europe's car sales slump will end soon. Analysts believe Honda's problems go beyond the slump, especially since rival Nissan continues to add workers and production at its UK factory. Read More »

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Fiat will build the 500 for global markets in Poland only, sources say

Fiat will concentrate global production of the next 500 minicar in Poland, ending output of the model for North America at Chrysler's Mexico plant by 2015. The move provides additional work for Fiat's top-performing Tychy factory. Read More »

BACK IN BUSINESS:

After selling to the publics, these dealers have returned to retail

Dozens of retailers who sold out, particularly during the early years of consolidation, have gotten back into the game, sometimes right away. Some worked for the public companies that acquired their stores or tried retirement or other business ventures first. Read More »

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Chrysler spot scores for FFA

After an overwhelming response to Ram's "God Made a Farmer" Super Bowl TV spot, Chrysler Group will donate $1 million to the National FFA Organization as part of a campaign to end hunger. Read More »

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Store redos still bring iffy returns

With industry sales getting better, manufacturers' facility renovation programs aren't as painful for dealers as they were a year ago. Read More »

Toyota, Hyundai drive muted fleet sales in Jan.

The industry usually sees a surge of fleet sales in the first quarter, but so far this year it is a different story. Fleet efforts by the Detroit 3 and Nissan were subdued in January, while Toyota and Hyundai-Kia made the only aggressive moves. Read More »

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DEALER COUNCIL LEADERS:

V-6, awd may help Jag dealers

Last year was challenging for Jaguar dealers. New-car sales for the brand slipped 2 percent to 12,011, after an 8 percent drop in 2011. But things are changing, says Michael Levitan, the dealer principal of two Jaguar dealerships in New York. Read More »

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GM's do-better letters unnerve dealers

As David Westcott steps in as chairman of the National Automobile Dealers Association, the group faces renewed concerns about performance review letters being sent to dealers by automakers. Read More »

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Brown to step down; Stein will become publisher, editor

Peter Brown, publisher of Automotive News and a vice president of Crain Communications Inc., has announced his retirement effective April 30. Read More »

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A work of genius

Inspired by Apple retail stores, BMW will soon require dealers to hire young, tech-savvy employees to handle questions about its vehicles on the showroom floor. The "BMW Genius Everywhere" program is slated to go nationwide in about a year. Read More »

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To beat DVR dodgers, Kia turns to sports

If you're a sports fan, you're probably seeing a lot more TV advertising from Kia these days. The Korean brand has made sports a key part of its marketing plans in the last two years. Read More »

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CHICAGO AUTO SHOW:

Kia: 7-seater 'would fit very nicely' (and might look like this)

The Kia Cross GT concept shows what a Kia seven-seater might look like. And it offers a glimpse of the brand's new design direction. Read More »

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CHICAGO AUTO SHOW:

Chevy aims Cruze diesel at VW Jetta TDI buyers

With the Volkswagen Jetta TDI in its sights, Chevrolet unveiled the Cruze Clean Turbo Diesel at the Chicago Auto Show last week. Read More »

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CHICAGO AUTO SHOW:

Big fwd vans will fill gap in Chrysler lineup

Chrysler Group will fill a gaping hole in its commercial vehicle lineup this year with the 2014 Ram ProMaster, a full-sized front-wheel drive van based on the Fiat Ducato. Read More »

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CHICAGO AUTO SHOW:

An upscale urban-cowboy ride

During the recession, so-called urban cowboys -- buyers who chose pickups as a lifestyle statement, not because they needed them for work -- dropped out of the market in droves. As a result, the full-sized pickup market crashed from 2.5 million in 2005 to 1.1 million in 2009. Read More »

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CHICAGO AUTO SHOW:

Nissan has big hopes for small van

Nissan Motor Co., tipping its hat to Ford Motor Co. for opening the U.S. market to small cargo vans, plans to pit its own small van against Ford's Transit Connect. Read More »

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Michael Alford is Time Dealer of the Year

Michael Alford is the 2013 Time Dealer of the Year. Alford, 48, was scheduled to receive the honor Saturday, Feb. 9, at the National Automobile Dealers Association convention. He is president of Marine Chevrolet-Cadillac in Jacksonville, N.C. Read More »

MKZ is MIA so Lincoln offers spiffs on MKS, MKT

Lincoln dealers will get up to $1,000 per MKT and MKS sold in February and March, $500 for certain lease or finance contracts on those models, plus a one-time cash payment. The cash aims to compensate dealers who have been hurt financially by the delayed launch of the 2013 MKZ sedan Read More »

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