Headlines for Friday, February 8, 2013

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MARK RECHTIN

No softballs at the Power roundtable

11:36 am U.S. ET | Feb. 8, 2013
Most Q&A sessions at industry conferences are loaded with softballs, easy questions lobbed for the on-stage executive speaker to knock out of the park.

U.S. sales growth to slow, yield healthy industry results, Power says

9:59 am U.S. ET | Feb. 8, 2013
The double-digit sales increases notched by the U.S. auto industry since 2009 will give way to slower but steady growth through 2015, J.D. Power and Associates predicts. Sales should grow 4 percent this year, to 15.1 million, followed by 4 percent gains in each of the next two years, Power says.

Comeback for the service lane?

6:16 pm U.S. ET | Feb. 8, 2013
Dealers' service departments are about to benefit from a growing number of 3-year-old vehicles on the roads, says Mike Jackson, CEO of AutoNation, the nation's largest auto retailer. Jackson said energy and housing are growing bright spots in an otherwise anemic economic recovery.

Honda to Detroit: Quit crying over exchange rates

12:44 pm U.S. ET | Feb. 8, 2013
Tough talk from Detroit about the more favorable yen giving Japanese automakers an unfair advantage in the U.S. market “doesn't pass the sniff test,” American Honda's top sales executive said today.

Winterkorn seeks to cut his VW pay ahead of wage talks

Feb. 8, 2013 14:49 CET
VW CEO Martin Winterkorn proposed that he should take a self-imposed pay cut as the automaker prepares for wage talks with production staff in western Germany.

VIDEO: First Shift: Coming clean about diesels

12:01 am U.S. ET | Feb. 8, 2013
Snyder: Slow U.S. acceptance more about loot than soot; Nissan net falls; Peugeot 'must not disappear'; Better Place quits N.A.

Q&A: JOSH WEEKS -- AUDI NATIONAL DEALER COUNCIL

Audi's dealers have big hopes for the small A3 sedan

12:01 am U.S. ET | Feb. 8, 2013
Audi had a solid year in 2012. Audi posted a 19 percent increase in sales without resorting to heavy incentives, helping a dealer network that used to struggle with thin profit margins. Sales of large sedans and crossovers soared.

JASON STEIN

How's business? Dazzling -- but we're keeping an eye on it

5:47 pm U.S. ET | Feb. 8, 2013
The year is off to a sizzling beginning, jump-started by a hot January for sales. Profits are near all-time highs across the dealer landscape. And, if you listen closely to those who escaped the winter blizzard and made it to Orlando, business is downright rocking.

VIDEO: AutoNews Now: Mercedes' 2020 vision

12:01 am U.S. ET | Feb. 8, 2013
Daimler ups ante with plan to roll out 13 more models; Chrysler, VW put performance on display; Lapham: A taste of NADA.

French gov't could take a PSA stake, minister says

Feb. 8, 2013 09:51 CET
The French government may buy a stake in PSA/Peugeot-Citroen if it is necessary to save the ailing automaker, a minister said. The comment came after PSA announced second-half writedowns of 4.13 billion euros ($5.53 billion) as Europe's plunging auto sales pushed down the value of its assets.

MIKE COLIAS

Why millennials are a double-edged sword for dealers

12:24 pm U.S. ET | Feb. 8, 2013
There's been a lot of ink spilled about why car dealers must go out of their way to court young people. Here's one more reason: They're more likely to help -- or harm -- a dealership's reputation.

vAuto chief to finance folks: E-commerce is coming

6:46 pm U.S. ET | Feb. 8, 2013
autonews@crain.com

M-B touts cultural change

6:16 pm U.S. ET | Feb. 8, 2013
Steve Cannon, CEO of Mercedes-Benz USA, said that automakers must improve their customer satisfaction if they are to survive in a crowded industry and that the effort must involve dealership employees.

GM lowers Malibu pricing to compete with Camry in online searches

1:34 pm U.S. ET | Feb. 8, 2013
GM, aiming to make the mid-sized Chevrolet Malibu sedan more appealing to online car shoppers, lowered the car's price by hundreds of dollars to compete with better-selling mid-sized sedans.

Ford cites 6 dealers for efforts in community service

5:01 pm U.S. ET | Feb. 8, 2013
Ford Motor Co. has honored six dealers for their dedication to their communities.

DealerTrack to supply sales tools to Honda, Acura

6:01 pm U.S. ET | Feb. 8, 2013
DealerTrack Inc. said Friday that it has signed an exclusive agreement to provide Honda and Acura with loan-origination and other sales tools. The company said it will partner with American Honda Finance Corp.

Question of the day

6:02 pm U.S. ET | Feb. 8, 2013
What are you doing to increase sales and margins of service contracts and other insurance products? Is it working?

Does your store have what it takes?

5:46 pm U.S. ET | Feb. 8, 2013
Wanted: The Best Dealerships To Work For. In partnership with Best Companies Group, Automotive News will identify dealerships in the United States and Canada that have excelled in creating quality workplaces.

On the record

5:32 pm U.S. ET | Feb. 8, 2013
JOHN MENDEL, American Honda Motor Co. executive vice president

AutoNation's Jackson says retail recovery in 'early innings'

4:05 pm U.S. ET | Feb. 8, 2013
The automotive economic recovery is only beginning from a retail standpoint, despite a growing seasonally adjusted annualized selling rate, according to Mike Jackson, CEO of AutoNation, the nation's largest auto retailer.

Mercedes exec touts cultural change in U.S.

5:27 pm U.S. ET | Feb. 8, 2013
Steve Cannon, CEO of Mercedes-Benz USA, said automakers must improve their customer satisfaction if they are to survive in a crowded industry, and that the effort must involve dealership employees.

Reviews can grease or kill deals

5:02 pm U.S. ET | Feb. 8, 2013
Dealers are seeing a steady stream of studies asserting that online consumer reviews influence traffic and sales at dealerships.

What's happening on Saturday

5:02 pm U.S. ET | Feb. 8, 2013
Various workshops, receptions and other events on Saturday

Bid on a Harley, help disabled children and wounded veterans

5:17 pm U.S. ET | Feb. 8, 2013
For the second straight year, ADESA will auction off a Harley-Davidson motorcycle during the convention with the proceeds benefiting the Frank E. McCarthy Memorial Fund of the NADA Charitable Foundation.

Northwood pays tribute to dealers who aided education

5:16 pm U.S. ET | Feb. 8, 2013
Northwood University in Midland, Mich., will present eight Dealer Education Awards at a breakfast Sunday at the Rosen Centre Hotel.

Exhibitors shine light on facilities

4:31 pm U.S. ET | Feb. 8, 2013
Lighting is big at the convention this year. There are 24 show-floor exhibitors in the lighting category, up from 10 last year and just six in 2007, the last NADA convention before the recession.

Make meetings outlook: Grins and gripes

4:32 pm U.S. ET | Feb. 8, 2013
This year's make meetings at the convention generally should be upbeat affairs. After all, U.S. industrywide sales last year increased 13 percent, and only one brand's sales fell by more than 5 percent. The general rule is that when sales are good, make meetings are chummy.

Shopping sites to dealers: Show us some love

4:31 pm U.S. ET | Feb. 8, 2013
AutoTrader, Edmunds, Cars.com and other online shopping sites are rolling out products to get dealers noticed by car shoppers. Now, if they could only get more credit from dealers for their efforts.

Dominion expands Microsoft ties

4:31 pm U.S. ET | Feb. 8, 2013
Dominion Dealer Solutions is expanding its Microsoft ties to entice auto dealers to switch to Dominion's new dealer management system.

American Axle earnings rise on large tax benefit

4:13 pm U.S. ET | Feb. 8, 2013
American Axle & Manufacturing Holdings, helped by a large tax benefit, said fourth-quarter net profits increased tenfold to $319.9 million from $31.1 million in the same period a year ago.

Lear investor group seeks board seats to boost shareholder value

12:56 pm U.S. ET | Feb. 8, 2013
Lear shares rose the most in more than two years after an investor group said it would nominate directors and push the auto-parts maker to return more cash to shareholders.

LINDSAY CHAPPELL

Gross memories of 2009

2:26 pm U.S. ET | Feb. 8, 2013
Before we get around to cheering for the growth in vehicle sales, let us wax nostalgic for the good old days of 2009 and 2010. Even though it was cataclysmic on most counts, it wasn’t too shabby on at least one point. Dealership gross profits were better then.

Better Place to wind down N.A. operations

2:06 pm U.S. ET | Feb. 8, 2013
Electric vehicle technology provider Better Place, saddled by rising losses and negative cash flow, will wind down operations in North America.

LARRY P. VELLEQUETTE

New van crop is ugly — but in a money-making way

1:10 pm U.S. ET | Feb. 8, 2013
Not to burst the ego of the automotive stylists who worked on them, but the new commercial vans that are about to flood the market are ugly. Beautifully, hideously ugly. The vans from Nissan North America, Ford Motor Co.

Ally claims top spot in consumer auto finance volume

12:41 pm U.S. ET | Feb. 8, 2013
Ally Financial retained its top spot in consumer auto finance volume in 2012 for the second year in a row, the company said today, citing data from Experian Automotive.

LARRY P. VELLEQUETTE

New Chrysler council chairman slips in a sale wherever he can -- or bottle

12:00 pm U.S. ET | Feb. 8, 2013
The difference between regular auto dealers and successful auto dealers is simple: successful auto dealers never stop selling, even when they're hundreds of miles from home.

Auto execs turn away from EVs, focus r&d on downsizing, hybrids

Feb. 8, 2013 06:01 CET
Optimism about electric cars is fading as manufacturers scale back investment in response to weak sales. Just 8 percent of auto executives said their companies would invest in pure battery technologies over the next five years.

DOUGLAS A. BOLDUC

A Mercedes in half the time

12:01 am U.S. ET | Feb. 8, 2013
Daimler is determined to build its Mercedes-Benz and Smart cars in half the time it took just six years ago. Back then, the average production time at the Daimler subsidiaries was 60 hours, excluding the powertrain.

France weighs stake in ailing PSA

3:51 am U.S. ET | Feb. 8, 2013
The French government may buy a stake in PSA/Peugeot-Citroen if it is necessary to save the ailing automaker, a key minister said. The comment came after PSA announced second-half writedowns of 4.13 billion euros ($5.53 billion) as Europe's plunging auto sales pushed down the value of its assets.

Nissan profits dented by China slump, lagging sales of key U.S. models

Feb. 8, 2013 10:34 CET
Nissan reported a 35-percent drop in third-quarter profit after sales tumbled in China and new models trailed rivals in the United States.

Nissan profits dented by China slump, lagging sales of key U.S. models

4:34 am U.S. ET | Feb. 8, 2013
Nissan reported a 35-percent drop in third-quarter profit after sales tumbled in China and new models trailed rivals in the United States. Net income fell to 54.1 billion yen ($581 million) in the three months ended Dec. 31, from 82.7 billion yen a year earlier, Nissan said today.

Renault Twingo, Smarts will share rwd platform

Feb. 8, 2013 06:01 CET
The Smart ForFour will share a rear-wheel-drive platform with Renault's future Twingo, executives at Smart said.

Supplier group CLEPA achieves new milestone

Feb. 8, 2013 13:35 CET
Powertrain component producer Dana this month became the 100th member of the European suppliers association, CLEPA. Partsmakers are counting on the Brussels-based lobby group to help them cope with tough times in Europe, CEO Jean-Marc Gales said.

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