Headlines for Monday, February 18, 2013

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BEST PRACTICES

Knight School: If you're sunk on Sync, tech-savvy Ford dealer can help

12:01 am U.S. ET | Feb. 18, 2013
When Bill Knight started offering monthly clinics on Ford Motor Co.'s Sync entertainment and communication system back in 2009, only a handful of customers showed up for each session. Fast forward to 2013.

MAKE MEETINGS -- MITSUBISHI

Mitsubishi tells dealers it's staying in U.S.

12:01 am U.S. ET | Feb. 18, 2013
Mitsubishi Motors North America executives told a standing-room-only make meeting that the Japanese brand is committed to the United States and will double its marketing budget this year.

NADA CONVENTION

Telematics challenge: Capable but simple

12:01 am U.S. ET | Feb. 18, 2013
Telematics systems run the risk of becoming too complicated and distracting, yet they also can become outdated well before the vehicle's life is complete. So said a panel at the J.D. Power International Automotive Roundtable.

Audi blocks use of GQ3 name by Qoros, report says

Feb. 18, 2013 13:15 CET
Audi won a temporary court injunction to prevent Chinese automaker Qoros from using the letter "Q" as as part of the name of a new sedan planned for Europe and China, a German newspaper said.

Dealers

12:01 am U.S. ET | Feb. 18, 2013
Dealerships in this report: Gunn Automotive Group in San Antonio; Hoffman Auto Group in East Hartford, Conn.; Jaremko Nissan in Spokane, Wash.; Cooley Mazda in Rensselaer, N.Y.; Northtown Mazda in Amherst, N.Y.; Sorensen Schade Chrysler-Dodge-Jeep-Ram in Lake Wales, Fla.

BMW recall is its largest ever in U.S.

8:01 pm U.S. ET | Feb. 18, 2013
BMW has told safety regulators it will recall about 570,000 vehicles in the United States and Canada because of a faulty battery cable connector that can fail and cause an engine to stall. The U.S.

Nissan seeks outsiders from Silicon Valley

2:00 pm U.S. ET | Feb. 18, 2013
Nissan wants to tap the nonautomotive world for new ideas and approaches to vehicle technology at its newly opened advanced product development center in California's Silicon Valley.

Chevy restores rwd roar with 415-hp V-8 SS sedan

12:01 am U.S. ET | Feb. 18, 2013
General Motors says the new 2014 Chevrolet SS -- the brand's first V-8 rear-wheel-drive sedan since the 1990s -- will produce 415 hp and accelerate from 0 to 60 mph in about 5 seconds.

American Axle hires former GM engineering exec

3:46 pm U.S. ET | Feb. 18, 2013
Drivetrain supplier American Axle & Manufacturing Holdings has hired retired General Motors executive Terry Woychowski to lead the supplier's engineering activities.

Geely leads China bids for Fisker, report says

6:00 am U.S. ET | Feb. 18, 2013
China's Geely is favored to secure a majority stake in electric carmaker Fisker, according to sources. Fisker is said to be weighing bids from Chinese automakers Geely and Dongfeng.

DOUGLAS A. BOLDUC

Mokka drives Opel into fast lane

12:01 am U.S. ET | Feb. 18, 2013
Thanks to the hot-selling Mokka, Opel/Vauxhall has something positive in common with BMW and Mercedes-Benz. All three brands increased year-on-year European sales last month.

The giddy sales forecast: Full speed ahead!

12:01 am U.S. ET | Feb. 18, 2013
All that giddy optimism in the air at the National Automobile Dealers Association convention was remarkable and appeared genuine. That's because, one by one, automakers have followed up their bold talk with big sales projections for 2013.

Chrysler's CSI crash course

12:01 am U.S. ET | Feb. 18, 2013
Nearly 150 Chrysler Group dealerships face a year of intense training to treat consumers better as Chrysler struggles to raise its bottom-dwelling customer satisfaction scores. Later, another roughly 650 dealerships will follow suit.

2013 GENEVA AUTO SHOW

Opel previews potential Fiat 500c rival with Adam Rocks concept

Feb. 18, 2013 13:12 CET
Opel's Adam Rocks concept may preview a potential rival to the Fiat 500c convertible. Adam Rocks is based on Opel's Adam minicar, which went into production in January.

German car plans may breach EU carbon goal, Commission says

Feb. 18, 2013 13:53 CET
Germany's tactics to protect output of cars from BMW, Audi and Mercedes-Benz threaten a 2020 target for EU limits on vehicle CO2 emissions, a European Commission document said.

2013 GENEVA AUTO SHOW

Alfa Gloria hints at forthcoming Giulia

Feb. 18, 2013 11:00 CET
A styling model that hints at the Alfa Romeo Giulia will debut at the Geneva auto show next month. The mid-sized Gloria concept resulted from a collaboration between the Alfa Styling Center and the European Design Institute in Turin.

Top Fiat stores to get Alfa first

12:01 am U.S. ET | Feb. 18, 2013
Fiat dealerships meeting sales and customer service goals will be first to get the Alfa Romeo 4C, a Chrysler Group executive says.

Geely leads China bids for Fisker, report says

Feb. 18, 2013 12:00 CET
China's Geely is favored to secure a majority stake in electric carmaker Fisker, according to sources. Fisker is said to be weighing bids from Chinese automakers Geely and Dongfeng.

NADA study: Factories need to back off

12:01 am U.S. ET | Feb. 18, 2013
What will the ideal new-car dealership of 2025 look like and how will it operate? Much different from the dealership of today, according to the National Automobile Dealers Association's phase two facility study.

Beneath the buzz, a layer of caution

12:01 am U.S. ET | Feb. 18, 2013
We're in the sweet spot in the auto industry's recovery. At volumes that would have been called meager five years ago, automakers, dealers and suppliers are pulling in heady -- even record -- profits. Sales continue their steady but manageable march upward.

Crash diet gets results at GM

12:01 am U.S. ET | Feb. 18, 2013
While all automakers are working hard to reduce vehicle mass in a quest to meet toughening fuel efficiency standards, GM faces heavier lifting than most.

How price-fixing probe grew

12:01 am U.S. ET | Feb. 18, 2013
The U.S. Department of Justice has levied $809 million in fines, convicted 12 executives and coaxed guilty pleas out of nine automotive suppliers, but its price-fixing probe is far from finished.

Chrysler expects leasing to climb

12:01 am U.S. ET | Feb. 18, 2013
Chrysler Group expects dealers nearly to double the number of new vehicles they lease after Chrysler Capital, the group's new financial joint venture with Banco Santander SA, launches May 1.

Cheap, easy credit gives lift to leases

12:01 am U.S. ET | Feb. 18, 2013
Encouraged by cheap and easily available credit, several mass market brands will get more aggressive with leasing this year to boost sales and customer loyalty.

Steer-by-wire will be option on Infiniti Q50

12:01 am U.S. ET | Feb. 18, 2013
Infiniti dealers will market one the industry's most anticipated new technologies this summer when the 2014 Q50 sedan arrives in showrooms with steer-by-wire as an option.

Alt-fuel trust is new approach to energy r&d

12:01 am U.S. ET | Feb. 18, 2013
The White House has a new idea to encourage electric vehicles: a government trust fund that would support r&d for alternatives to oil.

Dealers cheer Ford facilities plan

12:01 am U.S. ET | Feb. 18, 2013
By offering to match dealers' spending on facility renovations dollar-for-dollar up to $750,000 per store, Ford has taken an already good program and made it even better, dealers say.

GM's 2013 priorities: Launch pickups, fix Europe

12:01 am U.S. ET | Feb. 18, 2013
For General Motors, there are two keys to maximizing 2013 profits: successfully launch its redesigned full-sized pickups in North America and curb losses in Europe.

Lithia goal: Add dealerships, boost revenue

12:01 am U.S. ET | Feb. 18, 2013
Lithia Motors Inc. says it will grow in size and revenue this year.

RLJ McLarty Landers may add stores

12:01 am U.S. ET | Feb. 18, 2013
RLJ McLarty Landers Automotive Holdings wants to add stores to its portfolio, specifically Toyota, Honda and luxury brands such as BMW, Lexus, Audi, Jaguar. But such acquisitions would have to "generate the right returns," the company's CEO says.

KEITH CRAIN

Orlando was the place to be

12:01 am U.S. ET | Feb. 18, 2013
During the National Automobile Dealers Association convention in Orlando this month, there was buzzing. Last year was a good one. Everyone was upbeat and looking forward, with some caution, to the rest of the year.

EDITORIAL

Towing standard is about safety, not market share

12:01 am U.S. ET | Feb. 18, 2013
When automakers agreed in 2009 to a common way to measure how their vehicles towed loads, it gave promise to a future world in which common sense and safety pulled marketing, not the other way around.

LETTER TO THE EDITOR

Why would small store want a Vette?

12:01 am U.S. ET | Feb. 18, 2013
Like most small dealerships, we have for our entire existence been trained for, purchased tools for and stocked Corvettes in a market where one or two sales a year is the norm. Why, you ask? Why would we spend the money necessary to do all those things, only to sell one or two cars?

LETTER TO THE EDITOR

Dealers give back again and again

12:01 am U.S. ET | Feb. 18, 2013
Congratulations on your "Dealers of Distinction" section. In my opinion, auto dealers never get the credit or thanks they deserve for the incredible work they consistently do in their communities.

Forte offers better ride, upscale touches

12:01 am U.S. ET | Feb. 18, 2013
Kia is banking on eye-catching looks, upscale features and major leaps in ride quality to give its redesigned 2014 Forte more of an edge in the cutthroat compact segment.

Q&A: BERND BOHR

Bosch exec expects global growth despite European woes

12:01 am U.S. ET | Feb. 18, 2013
Robert Bosch's auto division boosted global sales 2 percent last year to a record 30.9 billion euros, or about $40.83 billion, but missed its 2012 sales target by $793 million, mainly because of weakness in Europe.

Q&A: BOB SOCIA

GM China's Socia: More luxury models, stores, local output

12:01 am U.S. ET | Feb. 18, 2013
By necessity, Bob Socia is a multitasker. Over the past four months, he has reorganized General Motors' expansion in India, planned the company's return to Indonesia, sought a higher profile for Cadillac in China and wooed joint-venture partner SAIC Motor Corp.

EPA engineer expects more audits of mileage claims

12:01 am U.S. ET | Feb. 18, 2013
A senior EPA engineer says he expects the government to monitor automakers' fuel economy ratings more closely after Hyundai and Kia overstated mileage claims on some nameplates.

UAW rallies for Flex-N-Gate employees

12:01 am U.S. ET | Feb. 18, 2013
UAW members and supporters rallied Wednesday, Feb. 13, at a Flex-N-Gate plant in Warren, Mich., and elsewhere to bring attention to what the union cites as mistreatment of workers and lagging wages and benefits.

Getting Busy at NADA

12:01 am U.S. ET | Feb. 18, 2013
The NADA convention in Orlando was a round-the-clock combination of serious business, relationship building and relaxing with peers and colleagues. Here are some scenes from the show.

Audit rips grant waste at LG Chem factory

12:01 am U.S. ET | Feb. 18, 2013
An LG Chem battery plant in Michigan that received $150 million in U.S. Department of Energy grants used federal dollars to pay employees who played games, watched movies or did community service during work hours, a government audit says.

NASCAR builds brand appeal

12:01 am U.S. ET | Feb. 18, 2013
The Daytona 500 is set for Sunday, and executives from Ford, Chevrolet and Toyota racing divisions say nothing fires up an automaker's fan base and boosts its image among consumers more than a NASCAR victory.

INFORMATION TECHNOLOGY

Chrysler closes digital divide

12:01 am U.S. ET | Feb. 18, 2013
In an era in which 90 percent of vehicle buyers do some shopping online, Chrysler Group in July had just one in four of its dealerships consistently advertising on Google and other search engines. That had to improve, and it has, said Jeff Strickland, Chrysler's director of U.S.

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