Automotive News Table of Contents

February 8, 2016



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Cash for Nissan's preferred dealers

In its drive to grab a larger slice of the U.S. market, Nissan North America is quietly forming alliances with selected dealers who get favorable treatment, and sometimes millions of dollars, from the company.

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TRUCK BATTLE BREWING

Countering Chevy's Silverado surge

General Motors gained a chunk of share in the full-sized pickup segment last year. But it faces stiffer competition from Ford and Ram in 2016.

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SUNSET FOR SCION

Toyota's youth brand fulfilled its purpose, if not its potential

Fourteen years after Scion's introduction, Toyota has decided to shutter the brand. But within the failed experiment are crucial successes that Toyota will draw on long after Scion fades to a footnote on Wikipedia.

A boost in fleet helps Jan. sales stay afloat

Strong fleet volume lifted overall sales of new light vehicles in the U.S. in January -- almost enough to overcome a shortened calendar and a winter storm.

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LUXURY LAGS

Premium brands face challenges as incentives rise and trucks rule the day

Luxury sales are slowing down, particularly on the car side. Can the luxury automakers keep a lid on their incentives and inventories?

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Toyota's Carter to speak at Retail Forum

Bob Carter, senior vice president of automotive operations for Toyota Motor Sales U.S.A., will be a featured speaker at the Automotive News Retail Forum on March 31.

Used-car loophole for recalls tightens up

While a proposed federal law to close the used-car loophole is dead for now, efforts to keep unrepaired recalled vehicles out of circulation are stirring.

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For game day, Nissan changes the channel

Nissan's new college sports marketing campaign is its top priority this year. And that meant no Super Bowl ad.

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Honda Ridgeline: Not your teenager's truck

Honda hopes its marketing campaign for the Ridegline will grab buyers with a little more gray in their hair and green in their wallets than the prototypical Toyota Tacoma fan.

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VW dealership valuations slide; some smell opportunity

Volkswagen's diesel scandal has dinged the company's sales, profits and image. Now, as the scandal enters its sixth month with few signs of a resolution, the effects are trickling down to the value of its U.S. dealerships.

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EV to use new VW platform

Volkswagen will build a production version of its BUDD-e electric vehicle concept, a senior VW executive told Britain's Car magazine.

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GM: Others could use Chevy Volt's powertrain

The gasoline-electric hybrid powertrain General Motors uses in the redesigned 2016 Chevrolet Volt could end up in competitors' vehicles.

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Kia plans 1st sport sedan, sources say

Kia Motors Corp. plans to launch its first sport sedan next year, sources told Reuters.

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Porsche: Diesel Macan in limbo for now

Porsche North America boss Klaus Zellmer still wants to bring the diesel-powered Macan to the U.S. But he needs Volkswagen to make a technical fix so the engines will meet emissions requirements.

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Bentley at work on a sporty SUV

Bentley is developing a sportier, coupelike version of the Bentayga, the ultraluxury brand's first SUV.

Conti must ration parts for recall fixes

Summary: Supplier Continental is recalling five million airbag control units that affectvehicles made by companies including Volkswagen, Mazda, Mercedes-Benz, Honda and Fiat Chrysler.

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Nissan bolsters Sentra as gateway to the brand

Nissan says it spent three times as much as usual to give its 2016 Sentra compact sedan a midcycle freshening. The goal is to give newcomers more reason to stay with the brand.

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JASON STEIN

Canada, fixed ops: Here we come!

Twenty years ago this week, Automotive News Europe was born. Now we are opening new doors, this time on this continent and in two very different sides of the industry.

EDITORIAL

Ditching quirky Scion is the right call for Toyota

Toyota's decision to pull the plug on Scion should come as no surprise. It was at the very least a distraction to busy Toyota dealers and probably a drain on engineering and marketing resources.

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JESSE SNYDER

In Flint, helping is just what you do

Dealers step up to help in Flint but don't talk about it. It's too personal. Of all the body blows it has endured, lead-laced drinking water is the cruelest.

AutoNation's recall policy disrupts used-vehicle business

AutoNation's recall policy challenged its used-vehicle business in the fourth quarter. The disruptions will continue through the first half as the retailer continues to expand its used-vehicle inventory.

Toyota Motor Credit settles lending bias charges

Toyota Motor Credit Corp. has agreed to pay up to $21.9 million and to limit its retail margins on auto loans to settle U.S.

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GM sacrifices rental sales to nab higher-margin business

GM is in the midst of a big cutback in sales to rental fleets, an effort that executives say is aimed at improving the bottom line, even if it stunts revenue or market-share growth in the short term.

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TIER 2 BLOCKBUSTER

For FCA, no one brand was big enough for 'Star Wars'

December is not only prime time for blockbuster Hollywood releases; it's also a crucial month for auto sales promotions.

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Compliance, accuracy trump F&I speed

Speeding customers through the F&I process is often a top priority for dealerships as they strive for higher customer satisfaction. But F&I insiders caution that speed should not shortchange compliance.

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Army marches forward with self-driving trucks

The U.S. Army is developing driverless trucks and could end up operating the largest fleet of autonomous vehicles. A key test comes this summer when the Army conducts road tests in Michigan.

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Texas dealer tunes into aftermarket audio

Huffines Chrysler-Jeep-Dodge-Ram Lewisville in suburban Dallas last year took a shot at selling specialized aftermarket audio accessories and has amped up profits as a result.

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Dual-sourcing dilemma hits Japan again

Toyota is suspending production at all assembly lines in Japan because of an explosion at a steel plant.

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Q&A

Nissan plans big strides in connectivity

Nissan is working to leverage its early lead in electric vehicles for bigger strides in autonomy and connectivity. Richard Candler, Nissan Europe's head of advanced product planning, provided details in an interview.

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Dealer anniversaries

Dealers featured this week include Greg Wills and Chris Wills of Wills Toyota in Twin Falls, Idaho; Adam Greene, owner of Trend Motors Volkswagen in Rockaway, N.J.; Steve Plante, dealer principal of Tri-City Chrysler-Dodge-Jeep-Ram in Somersworth, N.

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TWO BY TWO

Volume sellers they are not, but two-door cars keep coming

A wave of coupes is appearing in showrooms and at auto shows this year, even though the segment is declining in popularity.

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Q&A: OPEL'S KARL-THOMAS NEUMANN

At last, Opel sees breakeven on the horizon

This year Opel expects to break even financially after more than a decade of losses, finally rewarding parent General Motors' huge investment in its European division.

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Q&A: FORD'S JIM FARLEY

Ford of Europe boss aims for steady profits

Ford of Europe increased vehicle sales 11 percent to 1.3 million vehicles in its core markets and finished 2015 with its first operating profit in three years. Jim Farley, who started his second year as Ford of Europe president on Jan.

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REBOUND IN EUROPE

Ford, Opel find footing as carmakers will count more on the region

Opel is confident this is the year that it will break even after more than a decade of losses.

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Chicago auto show preview

Expected this week at the show are an updated Ram heavy-duty pickup, a freshened Hyundai Santa Fe crossover, a special-edition Ford Explorer Sport crossover and a new version of the Toyota Tacoma midsize pickup.

Toyota Q3 earnings hit by N.A. incentives

North America emerged as the only major growth market for Toyota in the latest quarter. Revenues and net rose, but rising incentives and foreign-exchange losses drove global operating income 5.3 percent lower during the period.

Where Toyota, Lexus got their leaders

While Scion served Toyota as a test bed for marketing and retail innovations, it was also an effective proving ground for executives.

N.A., Takata, currency sway Japanese earnings

Better business in North America helped Subaru, Mazda and Mitsubishi in the October-December quarter. But spiraling costs for the recalls of Takata airbags tempered earnings, and foreign exchange rates were a double-edged sword.

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LARRY P. VELLEQUETTE

A recall for wheel chocks? Maybe we've rolled off the deep end

In a sign of Fiat Chrysler's new hypersensitivity to safety, the automaker said last week it would voluntarily supply owners of 441,578 Dodge Chargers from the 2011-16 model years in the U.S. with free wheel chocks. Let that sink in a minute.

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A rocky start, but, hey, at least it's fast

The much drooled-over 2017 Ford GT revealed a few technical issues at its very public debut - the 24-hour Rolex endurance race in Daytona Beach last month.

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Just because rebadging hasn't worked so well before ...

Fiat Chrysler's plan to replace the Dodge Dart and Chrysler 200 with vehicles built under contract by other automakers faces long odds. In fact, it's hard to think of a rebadged or “captive import” that has been successful.

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Suburban is the granddaddy of them all

When Land Rover built the last Defender off-roader on Jan. 29 at its Solihull plant in the U.K., it ended a production run spanning 68 years. But the Defender, originally named Series 1, wasn't the longest-running vehicle on the road. Not even close.

The inventory is too low? Oh, the irony

Wall Street analysts tend to keep a wary eye on automakers' vehicle inventory. If it creeps up, it can be a sign that profit-eroding incentives are coming to help move the metal.


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