Headlines for Monday, April 16, 2012

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BMW's Brazil sales slump 30% after tax hike on imported cars

April 16, 2012 12:49 CET
BMW posted a 30 percent drop in first-quarter sales in Brazil due to a tax rise for imported cars, Henning Dornbusch, the company's country head, said. The tax, aimed at protecting automakers who produce locally, has forced BMW to raise its sticker prices and find other ways of absorbing the costs.

BEIJING AUTO SHOW PREVIEW

Carmakers extend Chinese lineups with SUVs, luxury cars, EVs

12:01 am U.S. ET | April 16, 2012
No one expects China's vehicle sales to rise 30 percent a year anymore, but it's still the world's largest auto market, and some segments have room to grow.

For Lexus, high-profile nose job brings new attitude

12:01 am U.S. ET | April 16, 2012
If you saw a car with a double-kidney grille in your rearview mirror, chances are you would immediately recognize that car as a BMW.

Toyota turns to BMW to power European rebound against VW

April 16, 2012 10:34 CET
Toyota, which was overtaken by Volkswagen in global sales last year, is striking back on the German automaker's home turf.

VIDEO: AutoNews Now: Visions of 16M sales

12:01 am U.S. ET | April 16, 2012
Hyundai's Krafcik, AutoNation's Jackson among those who see a return to 16M U.S. sales; how hybrids can 'out-green' EVs; Mitsubishi's iMiev ads.

Flurry of product reshapes big-sedan segment

12:01 am U.S. ET | April 16, 2012
Volume brands are trying to do with the big sedans what they did with small cars -- add features, gussy up the interiors, liven up the sheet metal and lure shoppers who otherwise wouldn't take a second look at the segment.

VIDEO: First Shift: Mustang going Fusion?

12:01 am U.S. ET | April 16, 2012
Ford reportedly plans to update classic pony car to appeal to Gen Y, resin shortage could affect brake components, inside world of crash dummies.

VW favors Mexico for Audi plant

12:01 am U.S. ET | April 16, 2012
Volkswagen Group is leaning toward building a factory in Mexico for its premium Audi brand. The parent company favors Mexico for the North American assembly plant over a site on the grounds of its U.S. manufacturing complex in Chattanooga, Tenn.

Suppliers call emergency meeting to discuss resin shortage

9:30 am U.S. ET | April 16, 2012
Auto suppliers are preparing to address a "severe" shortage of a key type of resin with an emergency summit Tuesday in the Detroit area.

Next Mustang to follow Evos concept, ditch retro styling, report says

12:41 pm U.S. ET | April 16, 2012
The Ford Mustang will get a major makeover for the 2014 model year, The Wall Street Journal reported today. The newspaper said the automaker is working on a makeover that would retain the Mustang’s shark-nosed grille and round headlights, but make the car resemble the new Ford Fusion.

Electric cars cost $1,200 a year less to run, study says

2:44 pm U.S. ET | April 16, 2012
Drivers of electric vehicles such as GM's Chevrolet Volt and Nissan's Leaf may save as much as $1,200 a year compared with operating a new gasoline-powered compact car, scientists studying improved fuel economy found.

U.S. upgrades probe into BMW 7-series gear shift troubles

11:01 am U.S. ET | April 16, 2012
Federal safety regulators have upgraded their investigation into 122,000 BMW 7-series cars to an engineering analysis -- a step closer to a recall -- after receiving 50 complaints of unattended vehicle movement or rollaway, including 16 crashes and five injuries.

Volvo will offer 4-cylinder engine in U.S. in fall 2013

12:01 am U.S. ET | April 16, 2012
Volvo will offer a four-cylinder engine in the United States in the fall of 2013 for the first time since the 2004 model year.

FINAL ASSEMBLY

The 1st-qtr. share shuffle: Winners and losers

12:01 am U.S. ET | April 16, 2012
How strong was the first-quarter auto market? Well, if you increased sales by a third, or at least hefty double digits, you gained market share. If you posted a single-digit increase, you lost some.

Roaring back toward sweet 16

12:01 am U.S. ET | April 16, 2012
Sales of 16 million light vehicles? Suddenly it's not a mirage. In recent days, several key analysts, some big dealership groups and a handful of automakers, including Mercedes-Benz and Chrysler, have upped their forecasts for 2012 and the next two years.

Suzuki cuts costs; dealers bail

12:01 am U.S. ET | April 16, 2012
Struggling Suzuki is shrinking in many ways. Insiders say the company is slashing marketing while sales and the dealer roster dwindle.

Wanted: Dealership stars under 40

12:01 am U.S. ET | April 16, 2012
Automotive News is looking for 40 achievers who are rising stars at auto dealerships. Are you part of that mix? Or do you know someone who is?

AUTOMOTIVE NEWS WEBINARS

Tips on tapping technician talent

12:01 am U.S. ET | April 16, 2012
Good mechanics are hard to find. An Automotive News Webinar this week, "Finding Top Service Technicians Using Non-Traditional Techniques," will help you find them.

Zero-emission mandate: Coming to your state?

12:01 am U.S. ET | April 16, 2012
California isn't the only state that soon could force carmakers to deliver a specified number of electric, fuel cell and plug-in hybrid vehicles.

6 ways to sharpen your F&I intelligence

12:01 am U.S. ET | April 16, 2012
A lot rides on the tiny space that most dealerships give their finance and insurance departments. You can stay on top of the world of finance and insurance by attending the second annual Automotive News F&I Week, a free online conference June 19-21.

BMW ties CSI to dealer margin

12:01 am U.S. ET | April 16, 2012
BMW has tied more of its dealer profit margin to customer satisfaction and is removing a link to used-car sales.

BEST PRACTICES

Dealer's 'huge!' commercials get into people's heads

12:01 am U.S. ET | April 16, 2012
Just try to get away from Billy Fuccillo in Florida's Fort Myers-Cape Coral market. He won't let you.

Daily rental fleet lifts 1st-qtr. sales

12:01 am U.S. ET | April 16, 2012
You can thank the oft-maligned daily rental fleet segment for that surprising 13 percent surge in first-quarter U.S. auto sales.

Knott steps down; Chrysler promotes 2 execs

12:01 am U.S. ET | April 16, 2012
The retirement for medical reasons of Dan Knott, Chrysler Group's purchasing boss, on Friday, April 13, has resulted in new responsibilities for two other Chrysler executives.

Caught: Fiat-based mules for Jeep, Chrysler

12:01 am U.S. ET | April 16, 2012
Glimpses of two more Fiat-based vehicles for Chrysler Group leaked out last week. Test mules of a small hatchback, the Chrysler 100, and the replacement vehicle for the Jeep Liberty were caught by spy photographers.

NHTSA seeks override unit on all autos

12:01 am U.S. ET | April 16, 2012
U.S. safety regulators proposed a mandate last week that would require a brake-override mechanism that enables a driver to stop a vehicle if the accelerator pedal sticks.

Dealers

12:01 am U.S. ET | April 16, 2012
Dealerships in this report: Kayser Ford in Madison, Wis.; Roger Beasley Mazda in Austin, Texas; and DeNooyer Jaguar in Kalamazoo, Mich.

Suzuki struggles around the globe

12:01 am U.S. ET | April 16, 2012
Suzuki Motor Corp.'s downward spiral in the United States, one of its smallest markets, is part of a wider struggle in countries that were once cash cows.

KEITH CRAIN

Reality doesn't matter; perception does

12:01 am U.S. ET | April 16, 2012
Last week at a General Motors laboratory in Warren, Mich., a battery exploded, injuring a few people, including one seriously. It made news. Reports indicated that the battery was a prototype from a supplier GM might use for future electric vehicles.

EDITORIAL

ZEV mandate: How to make a bad idea worse

12:01 am U.S. ET | April 16, 2012
California is a trendsetter. Americans hungrily emulate all things California -- from fashions to lifestyles.

EDITORIAL

A legacy of elegance

12:01 am U.S. ET | April 16, 2012
He never received the same kind of headlines as his controversial cousin, but Ferdinand Alexander "Butzi" Porsche was an automotive legend.

LETTER TO THE EDITOR

I'm a limousine liberal?

12:01 am U.S. ET | April 16, 2012
I enjoyed Peter Brown's commentary on the Chevrolet Volt ("The brutal 2012 election -- for the Volt," April 2). I am as solidly middle class as they come. I am also treading the line between blue and white collar as a community college automotive instructor.

LETTER TO THE EDITOR

Just 2 things wrong with Volt

12:01 am U.S. ET | April 16, 2012
I read Peter Brown's comment regarding the Chevy Volt. He's right; too many people have tied the car to unfavorable political opinions.

LETTER TO THE EDITOR

A disaster in the making

12:01 am U.S. ET | April 16, 2012
I agree with Richard Herdegen's assessment of General Motors ("GM must be run by a car guy," March 26). With the government bailout and the appointment of people with no experience in all the facets of the car business to run the company, it is a disaster waiting to happen.

Cadillac takes a CUE from LaHood

12:01 am U.S. ET | April 16, 2012
At the Detroit auto show in January, a high-profile visitor stopped by Cadillac's display of its latest infotainment system for a demonstration: U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood. LaHood has been the most prominent critic of distracted driving.

Lexus looks to reverse slide with 21% sales gain in '12

12:01 am U.S. ET | April 16, 2012
Lexus is targeting a 21 percent surge in U.S. sales this year, which executives say would give the brand a shot at reclaiming the luxury sales crown it lost in 2011.

Carmakers keep vehicle stocks lean

12:01 am U.S. ET | April 16, 2012
Automakers are sticking to their plan to keep inventories tight, reducing the days supply of unsold vehicles again this month.

PRODUCTION

N.A. output up 9% in March

12:01 am U.S. ET | April 16, 2012
North American car and truck production in March rose 9 percent from March 2011 to 1,453,270 units. Production for the first quarter rose 18 percent.

Obituary

12:01 am U.S. ET | April 16, 2012
Information about George Richard Grubbs, a retired auto dealer.

JAMIE LaREAU

Selling a car to a vet? Start with 'Thanks'

12:01 am U.S. ET | April 16, 2012
As thousands of troops return home from Afghanistan and Iraq, they create a potential customer base for dealers. But many dealers might not know how to best serve these buyers Jamie LaReau is an Automotive News staff reporter.

FINAL ASSEMBLY

Mazda's latest quandary: Keep the Carp or cut them loose?

12:01 am U.S. ET | April 16, 2012
Mazda should be trying to sell its baseball team as aggressively as it has been selling its stock, analysts say.

FINAL ASSEMBLY

From pitchman to Ironman: Octogenarian Lutz thumps Colbert

12:01 am U.S. ET | April 16, 2012
Bob Lutz was hawking his book, Car Guys vs. Bean Counters, last week on "The Colbert Report" when talk turned to fitness.

FINAL ASSEMBLY

Ram dial-a-gear is child of Chrysler's push-button past

12:01 am U.S. ET | April 16, 2012
Chrysler's re-engineered Ram 1500 pickup held a hidden nugget for automotive history buffs when it debuted this month at the New York auto show: a resurrected transmission name that dates back to 1956 and a novel way for a pickup driver to shift gears.

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