Headlines for Wednesday, January 16, 2013

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2012 European car sales lowest since 1995

New-car registrations in Europe plunged by 16 percent in December as volume automakers suffered falling sales. Full-year sales declined 7.8 percent to 12.5 million cars, the lowest level since 1995. Read More »

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2013 AUTOMOTIVE NEWS WORLD CONGRESS:

Panel: Industry can meet 54.5 mpg, but at what price?

It's not yet clear how automakers will achieve the federally mandated 54.5 mpg fuel-economy standard in 2025, but the industry and consumers are likely -- though not guaranteed -- to adjust to the requirement. Read More »

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2013 AUTOMOTIVE NEWS WORLD CONGRESS:

Panel: Online experience new battleground for buyers

With brand competition so close these days on vehicle quality, cost and styling, the customer shopping experience online and in the store has become a key battleground for automakers, panelists from Google, Hyundai and TrueCar said at the Automotive News World Congress. Read More »

2013 AUTOMOTIVE NEWS WORLD CONGRESS:

Amid home-market turmoil, Europeans top shareholder value

Two German automakers and two European suppliers have delivered the best shareholder return in the industry this year, despite troubling economic conditions in Europe. For the past 12 months, Volkswagen AG provided the best shareholder value of any automaker, returning 64. Read More »

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2013 AUTOMOTIVE NEWS WORLD CONGRESS:

Mercedes-Benz addresses its culture in bid to improve buyers' experience

Thank or blame the digital world and social media, but there's no hiding a bad dealership experience today. Read More »

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2013 AUTOMOTIVE NEWS WORLD CONGRESS:

GM's Reuss: Electric vehicles' day will come

GM's top U.S. executive delivered a staunch defense of electric vehicles and the Chevrolet Volt, noting that the plug-in hybrid's sales tripled in 2012. Mark Reuss, head of GM North America, acknowledged the hurdles to broader adoption of EVs and plug-ins, including high prices. Read More »

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AutoNews Now: Honda on Civic misstep

U.S. chief: Concerns with '12 model predated launch; Chrysler speed deed; Penske's people priority; where bacon beats bread. Read More »

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2013 DETROIT AUTO SHOW:

Carmakers get creative with crossovers as SUV alternative

The 2013 Detroit auto show demonstrates an increasing diversity in crossovers, or car-based vehicles that provide the space, styling and functionality of a truck-based sport-utility vehicle without the penalty at the gas pump. Read More »

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2013 AUTOMOTIVE NEWS WORLD CONGRESS:

Wilbur Ross cautions against automakers' expanding their lineups

Automakers' attempts to boost sales and profits by broadening their U.S.product lineups could backfire, billionaire private-equity investor Wilbur Ross said Wednesday. Read More »

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2013 AUTOMOTIVE NEWS WORLD CONGRESS:

More production means more cooperation with suppliers

Rising production in North America has forced automakers to collaborate more closely with their suppliers. And suppliers, in turn, are reaching outside the auto industry to get help. Read More »

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Spain may extend subsidies for car buyers

Spain's government may extend a car-buying subsidy program in an effort to stimulate the country's flagging car market. New-car sales in Spain fell 13 percent to 699,589 in 2012. Read More »

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First Shift: Mulally's 'uh-oh' moment

What put Ford chief on the spot during bailout hearings, behind Infiniti car-naming scheme, BMW self-driving scenario. Read More »

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2013 DETROIT AUTO SHOW:

Carmakers get creative with crossovers as SUV alternative

The 2013 Detroit auto show demonstrates an increasing diversity in crossovers, or car-based vehicles that provide the space, styling and functionality of a truck-based sport-utility vehicle without the penalty at the gas pump. Read More »

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2013 AUTOMOTIVE NEWS WORLD CONGRESS:

Honda's Mendel chides automakers for inaccurate fuel-economy claims

American Honda's top sales executive chided automakers caught by federal regulators for overstating their fuel economy numbers. Read More »

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2013 AUTOMOTIVE NEWS WORLD CONGRESS:

Chrysler's Bigland: Dealers' 'methodical' response to online leads is boosting sales

A sharp focus on responding to Internet leads has allowed Chrysler Group to dramatically decrease both the number of lost leads as well as the time the average customer waits for a response, the automaker's head of United States and Canadian sales said. Read More »

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Toyota settles Utah unintended-acceleration suit, attorney says

Toyota agreed to settle an unintended-acceleration lawsuit stemming from a 2010 fatal crash in Utah that was scheduled to go to trial in February, an attorney for the plaintiffs said. Read More »

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2013 AUTOMOTIVE NEWS WORLD CONGRESS:

Audi shoots for 200,000 U.S. sales 'sooner rather than later'

Audi should hit its goal of selling 200,000 vehicles in the United States “sooner rather than later,” Audi of America President Scott Keogh told the Automotive News World Congress today. Read More »

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BRADFORD WERNLE:

For Bill Ford, Lincoln is personal

For most members of the Ford Motor management team, the resurrection of the Lincoln brand is a critical component of Ford's strategy to be a complete global car company and a sound business plan. Read More »

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2013 DETROIT AUTO SHOW:

Tesla nimbly updates Model S over the air

As a start-up company building a new vehicle in a new plant with many employees new to car assembly, Tesla Motors faces its share of challenges. Read More »

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DUSTIN WALSH:

Did Nissan's show marketing make scents?

I had a little time Tuesday morning between interviews, meet-and-greets and general schmoozing to devote real time to the much-hyped scent at the Nissan display at the Detroit auto show. Read More »

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Magna expects emerging markets to boost 2013 sales

Diversified auto parts supplier Magna International forecast stronger 2013 sales and profit margins, reflecting gains from fast-growth markets such as China and Brazil. Read More »

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Toyota Prius line grabs crown from Honda Civic in Calif. sales race

Toyota's Prius hybrid passed Honda's Civic to become the best-selling vehicle line in California, the largest U.S. auto market, for the first time as higher fuel prices and new versions of the car drove up demand. Read More »

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JESSE SNYDER:

Debt ceiling standoff is an auto sales time bomb

The biggest drag on 2013 U.S. auto sales is the congressional impasse. Auto executives, forecasters, economists and analysts all agree. I've rarely seen such unanimity on naming a single problem for the year ahead. Read More »

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AMY WILSON:

Dealers like Detroit show, prospects for year

Dealers touring the Detroit auto show liked what they saw. And they like their prospects for 2013. Read More »

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2013 DETROIT AUTO SHOW:

Automakers set pace on safety advances

As they did with electronic stability control and air bags, automakers are rolling out what they see as the cutting edge of safety technology years before regulators require it or standards are set. Read More »

Chinese auto dealer group sees big jumps in consumer financing

Zhongsheng Group Holdings, a large Chinese auto dealership group, said consumer financing is fast gaining acceptance in China, which will help boost the market as well as encourage younger buyers to buy more expensive cars. Read More »

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Store faces $100,000 in punitive damages

Lithia Toyota in Medford, Ore., must pay $100,000 in punitive damages for "egregious" behavior that included intimidation, trickery and deceit in a debt collection case stemming from the sale of a used 1993 Toyota 4Runner, a divided state Court of Appeals has ruled. Read More »

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How a service manager spurred the F&I office

Nestor Alvarez, service manager at Land Rover North Dade in Miami, says selling extended-service contracts in the service lane has had a side benefit of motivating the store's F&I department to sell more service contracts, too. Read More »

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Q&A:

Helping solve the compliance puzzle

Teaching F&I managers and other dealership employees to comply with a growing list of state and federal laws is the No. 1 priority this year for GSFSGroup's training business. Read More »

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Saab parts unit offers service plans

Saab Automobile Parts North America is trying to make up for the fact that 2010-11 model Saab vehicles were not covered by a manufacturer warranty because of the automaker's bankruptcy filing in December 2011. Read More »

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GM in talks with Facebook about return to paid ads

General Motors and Facebook are discussing the return of the automaker as a paid advertiser about eight months after GM said it would stop running ads on the social networking website, a top GM executive said. Read More »

Captives gain stature among auto execs

Captive finance companies got high marks in the latest KPMG survey of top-ranking auto executives. Read More »

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JIM HENRY:

Are these the best of times?

The business dynamics of auto lending are so good -- low interest rates, low cost of funds, low delinquencies and rising consumer demand -- that auto lenders are asking: Is this as good as it gets? Read More »

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JAMIE LaREAU:

Readers take me to task

“Not easily dispelled or discouraged.” That’s the definition of “tenacious.” And there ought to be a photo of a finance and insurance manager beside that definition. Read More »

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Bentley sales to keep growing in double digits this year, CEO says

Bentley CEO Wolfgang Schreiber expects 2013 to be another year of growth at the carmaker as demand in the U.S. and China remains robust. Global deliveries of the super-luxury brand rose 21 percent last year to 8,500 vehicles. Read More »

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GM sees global profits rising 'modestly' with 2013 models

GM, on the verge of reporting a 12th straight quarterly profit, forecasts 2013 profit rising "modestly" as new models meet expanding global demand. Read More »

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VW's Mexican expansion leads push to boost N. America sales

Volkswagen CEO Martin Winterkorn opened an engine factory in Mexico to drive forward the automaker's North American offensive. The plant will produce up to 330,000 engines a year. Read More »

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GM defends Opel plan based on new models, steady cuts

General Motors will stick with an Opel recovery plan that combines ambitious model rollouts with a "series of incremental things" to cut costs over time, the automaker said. Earlier this week, GM was forced to deny reports it was preparing to offload the European unit on partner PSA. Read More »

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Faurecia profit drops on weak European car market

French supplier Faurecia posted a 62 percent drop in full-year net income, due partly to restructuring charges linked to falls in production in Europe's troubled car markets. Read More »

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