Headlines for Monday, October 1, 2012

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Innovation spurs Serra's growth

12:01 am U.S. ET | Oct. 1, 2012
Joe Serra, the Michigan dealer who was on the vanguard of no-haggle pricing 20 years ago, has long been an idea man. Now Serra is on a growth tear.

Nissan plans panel to advise Leaf owners

12:01 am U.S. ET | Oct. 1, 2012
Nissan plans an independent global panel to review data for its electric Leaf batteries and help advise a small group of owners in Phoenix who believe their batteries are aging too fast.

VIDEO: Dealer Tim White readies chain for a 2nd century

12:01 am U.S. ET | Oct. 1, 2012
How does a dealership that started in 1914 keep on going? The White Family formula has included sticking to a business model, turning down suitors, and pursuing an expansion strategy that has stretched the group's Ohio roots to Spearfish, S.D., and beyond.

Fisker's Posawatz says partner talks 'on our radar screen'

4:06 pm U.S. ET | Oct. 1, 2012
Fisker Automotive CEO Tony Posawatz, five weeks into leading the luxury plug-in hybrid carmaker, says the company has a lot of work to do -- and says discussions with strategic partners are “on our radar screen.” One task on his to-do list, Posawatz said, is to start a leasing program.

VIDEO: AutoNews Now: Fisker boss on 'missteps'

12:01 am U.S. ET | Oct. 1, 2012
Toyota, Honda on rise

Mazda names ad veteran Wager to lead U.S. marketing

1:30 pm U.S. ET | Oct. 1, 2012
Mazda North American Operations today named longtime automotive advertising executive Russell Wager as vice president of marketing. Wager once handled Mazda's United States account for ad agency Doner.

Nissan sets new Sentra pricing below outgoing 2012 model

7:04 pm U.S. ET | Oct. 1, 2012
Nissan will start pricing on its redesigned 2013 Sentra compact sedan at $440 less than the outgoing Sentra.

Fiat may delay $1 billion Russian factory, official says

Oct. 1, 2012 15:49 CET
Fiat may delay building a plant in St. Petersburg, Russia, because of overcapacity in Europe.

VIDEO: First Shift: Congress and car sales

12:01 am U.S. ET | Oct. 1, 2012
Snyder: Why sparking sales may take an act of Congress; Chrysler-CAW contract ratified; GM, Ford team on transmissions.


Why Chrysler's new onboard navigation system makes me chuckle

12:01 am U.S. ET | Oct. 1, 2012
The advances in onboard navigation systems have come at a breakneck pace in recent years. But sometimes, it's what gets overlooked -- and what doesn't -- in the hurly-burly rush for the latest and greatest mapping software that gives me cause to chuckle.

TRW to spend $1 billion on share buybacks

11:43 am U.S. ET | Oct. 1, 2012
Automotive safety systems supplier TRW Automotive said today it would spend up to $1 billion to buy back its shares.

Magna to acquire German supplier Ixetic for $397 million

4:13 pm U.S. ET | Oct. 1, 2012
Canada’s Magna International plans to buy Ixetic Verwaltungs GmbH, a German maker of automotive vacuum, engine and transmission pumps, for about 308 million euros ($397 million).

VW's Browning: Political discord hampers U.S. auto investment

2:29 pm U.S. ET | Oct. 1, 2012
The United States needs to address rising debt and reduce political discord if it wants further investment from foreign companies such as Volkswagen AG, the top executive for Europe's biggest carmaker in the United States said today.

Visteon names Leuliette its permanent CEO

9:38 am U.S. ET | Oct. 1, 2012
Visteon, confirming weeks of speculation, today named Timothy Leuliette its permanent CEO and president. Leuliette, 62, will also be replaced as chairman of the supplier by current board member Francis Scricco, 63.

BMW to offer 3-bangers in the U.S.

12:01 am U.S. ET | Oct. 1, 2012
BMW, known for high-performance engines, is considering a three-cylinder powerplant for vehicles sold in the United States.


Auto companies try new recruiting techniques and workplace practices to fill engineering vacancies in Detroit

12:01 am U.S. ET | Oct. 1, 2012
Threatened by a chronic shortage of engineers -- exacerbated by years of industry restructuring -- auto companies are having trouble filling job vacancies in Detroit now that the industry is coming back to health.


Could Suzuki be the next subject of Marchionne vs. VW?

10:52 am U.S. ET | Oct. 1, 2012
It’s no secret that VW Chairman Ferdinand Piech wants to prize Alfa Romeo away from Sergio Marchionne’s Fiat Group. Marchionne won't let it happen, but he may just be angling to snag his own piece of Piech’s Volkswagen turf.

Honda expands N.A. recall to include over 600,000 Accords

10:33 am U.S. ET | Oct. 1, 2012
Honda is expanding a recall in North America to include more than 600,000 Accord mid-size sedans to address a potential power steering fluid leak problem that could cause a fire under the hood.

GM to recall about 41,000 cars over fuel leak problem

10:00 am U.S. ET | Oct. 1, 2012
GM is recalling about 41,000 Chevrolet, Pontiac and Saturn cars in the United States because of concerns that a defective plastic part might cause a fuel leak, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

Spyker will oppose GM's motion to dismiss Saab lawsuit

Oct. 1, 2012 13:11 CET
Dutch sports car maker Spyker, which is suing General Motors for more than $3 billion on behalf of Saab, said on Monday it will oppose GM's motion to dismiss the case.


BMW plans up to 12 models on new platform

Oct. 1, 2012 06:01 CET
BMW will develop 10 to 12 compact models based on its new front-wheel-drive platform, said Ian Robertson, board member for sales and marketing. The platform, known as UKL, debuted on the Concept Active Tourer at the Paris auto show.


The no-dicker sticker is back

12:01 am U.S. ET | Oct. 1, 2012
More that a decade ago, one of the hottest topics in the retail business was the no-dicker sticker. Although some dealers still use this method, it largely hasn't been thought about for a while. Well, the no-dicker sticker is back.

Europe: It's 'a disaster'

12:01 am U.S. ET | Oct. 1, 2012
As bad as European auto sales have been this year, they're about to get worse. That was the verdict from industry executives gathered at the Paris auto show last week. It marks a sharp turn from other European auto shows since the onset of the continent's stubborn debt crisis.

Toyota's engine overhaul

12:01 am U.S. ET | Oct. 1, 2012
For years, Toyota Motor Corp. has put hybrids at the center of its powertrain technology strategy, all but oblivious to the rapid fuel economy advancements rivals have made in the humble gasoline engine. Now, in a major overhaul of its lineup, Toyota is playing catchup.

Ford, GM co-design trannies

12:01 am U.S. ET | Oct. 1, 2012
General Motors and Ford Motor Co. are jointly designing nine- and 10-speed automatic transmissions for broad use across their vehicle lineups in a bid to boost fuel economy. GM is leading the design of a nine-speed gearbox for use in front-wheel-drive vehicles.

AutoNation's big digital push

12:01 am U.S. ET | Oct. 1, 2012
AutoNation Inc. has poured $500 million into store renovations in the past three years. But customers still can't purchase cars as easily as they buy electronics at the Apple Store or books on Amazon.com. That's why the country's largest dealership group is trying to remake itself.

Chevy ad campaign touts Malibu style

12:01 am U.S. ET | Oct. 1, 2012
Chevrolet is heading into an epic mid-sized sedan battle with an advertising campaign that plugs its Malibu as a stylish alternative to the Honda Accord and other rivals.

Chevrolet Spark sales are heating up

12:01 am U.S. ET | Oct. 1, 2012
Texas Chevrolet dealer Rox Covert is in truck country. But you wouldn't know it from the way customers snapped up all 16 Spark minicars he had on his lot since August. Buyers have included seniors, college kids, moms -- and lots of non-General Motors customers.

Toyota's quiet hero

12:01 am U.S. ET | Oct. 1, 2012
Don Esmond was known for an easy smile, quiet demeanor and low-key public persona during his 30 years at Toyota Motor Sales U.S.A. He was content to blend into the team effort.

In Vietnam: 900 missions, Purple Heart and Silver Star

12:01 am U.S. ET | Oct. 1, 2012
Don Esmond never backed away from danger. But after his first tour at sea as a Navy ROTC candidate -- riding out a hurricane off Bermuda, watching destroyers vanish from view in the roiling sea -- Esmond decided he wasn't cut out for the seagoing life.

Mopar adds used-vehicle service plans

12:01 am U.S. ET | Oct. 1, 2012
Mopar is offering several inexpensive service plans for pre-owned vehicles, part of a rebranding of its service contract business.


Subaru XV Crosstrek goal: 18,000 N.A. sales

12:01 am U.S. ET | Oct. 1, 2012
Subaru aims to sell 18,000 units of its new XV Crosstrek in North America annually, targeting the increasingly crowded market for small crossovers. The target represents nearly a third of the vehicle's annual sales plan of 60,000


Toyota: Prius Plug-in needs more marketing

12:01 am U.S. ET | Oct. 1, 2012
Toyota Motor Corp. says it misjudged the market for its Prius Plug-in, which went on sale in Japan in January and in the United States in the spring. The solution: more marketing and, maybe, revised styling.


Ram heavy-duty pickups get beefier diesel

12:01 am U.S. ET | Oct. 1, 2012
Chrysler Group's re-engineered lineup of Ram heavy-duty pickups and chassis-cab trucks will feature a more powerful diesel engine and more Tradesman entry-level trim models to attract commercial customers, the company said. The Tradesman trim level now is just part of the Ram 1500 pickup line.


Panamera wagon is 'more likely'

12:01 am U.S. ET | Oct. 1, 2012
Porsche's Panamera Sport Turismo concept got such rave reviews at the auto show that it may get a green light for production. The Sport Turismo concept, based on the four-door Panamera, is a plug-in hybrid.


Crosslane to join Audi's crossover lineup?

12:01 am U.S. ET | Oct. 1, 2012
Audi's Crosslane concept, shown at the Paris auto show last week, may become the junior member of its crossover lineup -- perhaps the Q2.


Audi: RS 5 convertible, more diesels on the way

12:01 am U.S. ET | Oct. 1, 2012
Audi's decision to bring the RS 5 convertible to the United States in the first quarter of 2013 shows the increasing confidence of the brand's German executives in this market, says Scott Keogh, U.S. brand chief.


Infiniti boss wants to fill gaps in U.S. and European lineups

12:01 am U.S. ET | Oct. 1, 2012
Johan de Nysschen, who became head of Infiniti on July 1, says the brand needs substantial additions to its product lineup to become a credible global luxury player.


Hawaii dealer pleads guilty to federal tax evasion

12:01 am U.S. ET | Oct. 1, 2012
A Honolulu dealer faces up to three years in prison and a $250,000 fine after pleading guilty to federal tax evasion.


Ex-store president faces prison

12:01 am U.S. ET | Oct. 1, 2012
The president of a closed Ford dealership in Whitehall, Wis., is scheduled to appear in federal court Oct. 18 to plead guilty to defrauding his store's floorplan lender.


Former dealer principal indicted

12:01 am U.S. ET | Oct. 1, 2012
The former dealer principal of a Nissan store in Elizabeth City, N.C., faces a November arraignment on wire fraud and money laundering charges of submitting “substantial false and misleading information relating to vehicles under floor plans” to Nissan Motor Acceptance Corp.


12:01 am U.S. ET | Oct. 1, 2012
Companies in this report: Alea Leather Specialist Inc., Cal-Tex Protective Coatings Inc., Manheim and Search Optics Inc,


All eyes on China

12:01 am U.S. ET | Oct. 1, 2012
Media days at the Paris auto show last week were a grim reminder of the challenges that confront the European auto industry. But the worsening situation in China threatens to eclipse the European meltdown as a major headache for the global industry.

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