Headlines for Monday, December 10, 2012

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FordDirect frees store's Internet sales whiz to sell

12:01 am U.S. ET | Dec. 10, 2012
This fall, Ken Stoepel Ford-Lincoln signed with the FordDirect Social Media and Reputation Management Service to establish a more effective online presence. Subscribing to a prepackaged reputation management service had another big benefit.

VIDEO: Dealer Bob Rohrman: 'Never give up'

12:01 am U.S. ET | Dec. 10, 2012
U.S. Army veteran Bob Rohrman started selling cars in 1955 and says his career, if anything, is 'speeding up.' With more than 19,000 new retail sales in 2011, Rohrman's auto group ranks No. 18 on Automotive News' list of the Top 125 Dealership Groups.

New EPA lab gear will monitor mpg claims

12:01 am U.S. ET | Dec. 10, 2012
As the EPA continues to investigate Hyundai and Kia for selling cars with false fuel economy labels, the agency is adding equipment at its Michigan laboratory to spot errors and discourage any automaker that might be tempted to cheat.

VIDEO: AutoNews Now: A diesel leap with Jeep

12:01 am U.S. ET | Dec. 10, 2012
Chrysler to test the waters with 2014 Grand Cherokee, GM to build hand cycles for wounded vets, Pope gets a new Benz.

A pileup of pickups

12:01 am U.S. ET | Dec. 10, 2012
General Motors entered December with bloated inventories reminiscent of its prebankruptcy days-and its lowest market share in 90 years. GM will try to fix both problems in a hurry.

Arbitrator reinstates Chrysler workers fired for drinking during breaks

10:36 am U.S. ET | Dec. 10, 2012
More than a dozen Chrysler Group assembly-plant workers who were fired in 2010 after being filmed by a Detroit television station drinking alcohol and smoking during their breaks have been reinstated in their jobs by an arbitrator.

BMW widens luxury-car sales lead over Audi, Mercedes

Dec. 10, 2012 14:49 CET
BMW brand has widened the lead in luxury sales over its rivals as global deliveries at the carmaker grew 26.4 percent last month, compared with 10.9 percent at Audi and 5.7 percent at Mercedes-Benz.

Opel confirms German plant will close in 2016

Dec. 10, 2012 12:18 CET
Opel confirmed it will close its Bochum plant in Germany in 2016 when the current version of the Zafira minivan is replaced, as the automaker does not expect Europe's auto market to recover soon

GM seeks trademarks on El Camino, Nomad

2:37 pm U.S. ET | Dec. 10, 2012
General Motors has applied for trademarks on the names of its offbeat 1950s Chevrolet El Camino and Nomad with the federal Patent and Trademark office.

Obama opposes proposed 'right to work' measures in Michigan

3:55 pm U.S. ET | Dec. 10, 2012
President Barack Obama today threw his support behind labor unions opposed to a Republican-led drive for "right-to-work" laws in Michigan, saying efforts to pass such measures were not about economics but about politics.

Ford blames software glitch for Fusion, Escape recall

1:58 pm U.S. ET | Dec. 10, 2012
A defect that raised the risk of an engine fire in Ford's newly launched Escape and Fusion models was caused by a glitch in the software that monitors the vehicles' cooling systems, Ford said today. The automaker recalled almost 90,000 Escape crossovers and Fusion sedans on Nov.

A123 will not get remaining portion of government grant, U.S. says

3:09 pm U.S. ET | Dec. 10, 2012
The federal Energy Department will not give battery maker A123 the remaining half of its $249 million grant, following the company's high profile bankruptcy and acquisition by a Chinese auto parts supplier, a department official said today.

Ford tries its best on 4th recall

12:01 am U.S. ET | Dec. 10, 2012
Ford is taking pains to treat Escape owners gingerly after the fourth recall of the nameplate since its summer launch. Company officials have urged dealers to make extra efforts in dealing with owners, and Ford is paying retailers $55 a day toward car rental fees for all 73,320 affected owners

Fiat counts on Chrysler tie-up to boost Maserati

Dec. 10, 2012 15:06 CET
Maserati expects its new Quattroporte sedan to help the brand boost annual sales to 50,000 units. Fiat is investing $1.6 billion in Maserati, hoping technology and dealerships from its tie-up with Chrysler will help the luxury sports car brand to take on BMW and Porsche.

Japan chip maker Renesas secures $1.8 billion government-led bailout

11:39 am U.S. ET | Dec. 10, 2012
Japanese chip maker Renesas Electronics, hit by slumping orders and competition from rivals like Samsung Electronics, today secured a 150 billion yen ($1.8 billion) lifeline from a government-led bailout.

Chrysler may revive plans to build transmissions at Ind. plant

9:58 am U.S. ET | Dec. 10, 2012
Chrysler Group is again pursuing a newly built but never-used factory in Tipton, Ind., where it once planned to build transmission components for its nearby factories.

China, U.S. boost Audi's November car sales

Dec. 10, 2012 14:23 CET
Global sales of Audi's vehicle sales grew by 10.9 percent to 123,600 in November, helped by strong growth in China and the United States.

BMW car sales rise 23% in November on robust China demand

Dec. 10, 2012 11:42 CET
BMW Group increased global sales by 23 percent to 170,932 vehicles in November, a record for that month, powered by strong volume gains in China.

VIDEO: First Shift: EPA to probe Ford MPG

12:01 am U.S. ET | Dec. 10, 2012
Hybrids fell short in Consumer Reports test; GM pumps up truck spiffs; Chinese firm wins A123; Caddy's custom cluster.

Marchionne takes Volkswagen rivalry to U.S. with special rebates

Dec. 10, 2012 06:01 CET
Fiat and Chrysler boss Sergio Marchionne is exporting his rivalry with VW from Europe to the United States, with the offer of a $1,000 rebate to current Volkswagen owners in the U.S. to buy a Fiat or Chrysler vehicle.

UAW stunned by Michigan right-to-work bills

12:01 am U.S. ET | Dec. 10, 2012
UAW President Bob King got an early lump of coal in his Christmas stocking from Michigan Republican Gov. Rick Snyder last week when Snyder agreed to support right-to-work legislation.


It could be a game changer

12:01 am U.S. ET | Dec. 10, 2012
Last week in Detroit I drove a Tesla -- the model with a high price but with range to match. It was the first electric car I have driven that I found myself comparing to cars -- not just other electric cars Keith Crain is editor-in-chief of Automotive News.


What to watch in Washington

12:01 am U.S. ET | Dec. 10, 2012
In his first term, President Obama supported electric-drive vehicles. Will he double down in his second? It probably will take several months to find out, one person connected to alternative vehicle programs says Dave Guilford is enterprise editor of Automotive News.

Akerson's goal: Faster, leaner, smarter

12:01 am U.S. ET | Dec. 10, 2012
General Motors CEO Dan Akerson envisions a day when GM will be able to check instantly the profitability of every vehicle it sells. That, Akerson believes, would enable GM to pinpoint the product lines and countries that contribute most to the bottom line, leading to faster and better decisions.

How Carfax locks up car history

12:01 am U.S. ET | Dec. 10, 2012
West-Herr Automotive Group of Blasdell, N.Y., believes vehicle history reports sell used vehicles. It chooses Carfax Inc. reports -- even though its used-car director, Jack Anderson, says they are overpriced.

Rocky ILX launch has Acura execs plotting quick changes

12:01 am U.S. ET | Dec. 10, 2012
Acura sales are climbing again after last year's earthquake-caused inventory crisis, but the launch of the ILX compact sedan has been a disappointment for Honda's premium brand.

Making Mazda stand out

12:01 am U.S. ET | Dec. 10, 2012
Russell Wager's challenge is familiar to longtime Mazda watchers: How can the small Japanese automaker stand out in a crowded field of mainstream auto brands with deep pockets? Wager, who worked globally at ad agencies on behalf of Nissan, Volkswagen and Kia before becoming Mazda's U.S.

Fisker sees partnership next year

12:01 am U.S. ET | Dec. 10, 2012
Fisker Automotive's CEO, warning of the pitfalls facing independent small automakers, says the luxury plug-in hybrid manufacturer is poised to partner with other automakers next year.

GM trade-secret trial: How the scheme failed

12:01 am U.S. ET | Dec. 10, 2012
A General Motors trade-secrets trial peppered with accounts of FBI aircraft surveillance, incriminating recordings and dumping of shredded documents ended with guilty verdicts for a former GM engineer and her husband.

Public dealership groups expand their brands

12:01 am U.S. ET | Dec. 10, 2012
When AutoNation announced last week that it would purchase three Volkswagen stores and a Chrysler dealership, it proved the company's interest in diversifying its brand base.

BMW 3-series convertible, coupe to become 4 series

12:01 am U.S. ET | Dec. 10, 2012
BMW's redesigned 3-series coupe and convertible will be renamed the 4 series in an effort to create more exclusivity and command higher prices for the two-door cars. The 4-series coupe is expected to go on sale in mid-2013, followed by the 4-series convertible in the fall.

2014 Grand Cherokee leads Chrysler's diesel push

12:01 am U.S. ET | Dec. 10, 2012
Chrysler Group will use the diesel-powered 2014 Jeep Grand Cherokee to gauge whether to offer diesels in other vehicles. The 2014 Grand Cherokee is scheduled to debut at the Detroit auto show in January and go on sale in the first quarter of 2013.

Most Suzuki dealers take buyouts

12:01 am U.S. ET | Dec. 10, 2012
All but six U.S. Suzuki dealers have accepted the automaker's buyout offers. Suzuki's largest dealers were offered $1 million or more, while the smallest received payments of as little as $25,000, according to bankruptcy court documents.

Back-up camera mandate could cover '14 models

12:01 am U.S. ET | Dec. 10, 2012
Safety advocates and industry lobbyists say the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration could be a few weeks from mandating back-up cameras in light vehicles -- by perhaps as early as the 2014 model year.

Register to be among the 2013 Best Dealerships To Work For

12:01 am U.S. ET | Dec. 10, 2012
In 2012, Automotive News set out to find the best dealerships to work for in North America. We want to hear from you again in 2013.


Feds should set goals, then get out of the way

12:01 am U.S. ET | Dec. 10, 2012
It is proper for the federal government to set strategic goals and standards. In this case, the Obama administration sought to create jobs quickly in low-polluting industries. That's laudable. But the market should find the best way to accomplish those goals, a method known as technology neutral.


A wise move

12:01 am U.S. ET | Dec. 10, 2012
The development of Honda's next-generation flagship Accord sedan, due in four or five years, likely will be led from Ohio instead of Japan, Honda says. The Ohio tech center will lead development of the next Honda Civic as well. Designing the next Accord in the United States would be a good thing.


Congratulations to Edsel B. Ford II

12:01 am U.S. ET | Dec. 10, 2012
I recently read that Edsel B. Ford II will receive the 2013 Keith Crain/Automotive News Lifetime Achievement Award in January. I have been in the automobile business since 1973 and a new-car dealer since 1988, and I will be happy to see Edsel receive the reward.


Face-to-face, it's all about the customer

12:01 am U.S. ET | Dec. 10, 2012
If a recent IBM Corp. retail survey is accurate in saying that 21 percent of new-car buyers and lessees did not test drive a single vehicle before purchase, consumers' impressions of our business won't improve anytime soon.


F&I after the storm

12:01 am U.S. ET | Dec. 10, 2012
Adam Kraushaar is making more money selling finance and insurance in the midst of mayhem. Kraushaar owns six dealerships in Toms River, N.J., one of the areas most forcibly struck by Hurricane Sandy in October.


Tailoring F&I to growing Hispanic market

12:01 am U.S. ET | Dec. 10, 2012
Auto dealers in markets with large Hispanic populations learned long ago that they often need to communicate with customers in Spanish. But the growing economic influence of Hispanic consumers in other markets means more dealerships must develop that capability.


Buyer's agent works the deal for frustrated car shoppers

12:01 am U.S. ET | Dec. 10, 2012
Linda Lee Goldberg thinks everyone deserves a fair deal. That's why she left her 13-year career at car dealerships in 1988 to work for the other side: buyers.

Akerson: In-house IT is crucial

12:01 am U.S. ET | Dec. 10, 2012
This summer, General Motors outlined plans for a sweeping transformation of its information technology system, one that could add as many as 10,000 IT workers to the company's rolls. The move is long overdue, said CEO Dan Akerson.

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