Headlines for Wednesday, February 20, 2013

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VIDEO: Huntington Bank's Stanutz frets about discipline loss

12:01 am U.S. ET | Feb. 20, 2013
Huntington Bank's Nick Stanutz worries 'that the best day for us and for our dealers was yesterday.' As the auto-lending sector thrives, Stanutz discusses how lenders and dealers can avoid the financial pitfalls of the past.

HANS GREIMEL

Catch the wave at Toyota's new motor show booth

9:35 am U.S. ET | Feb. 20, 2013
What do you get when you take a piece of Toyota corporate stationery and roll up one end like a tube of paper towels? It's the new look of Toyota's global motor show stand. Toyota calls it “The Wave.”

VIDEO: AutoNews Now: Honda pushing solar power

12:01 am U.S. ET | Feb. 20, 2013
Deal with Elon Musk affiliate could aid thousands of customers; Volvo seeking help with small-car efforts; Toyota on a roll?

Daimler says refrigerant dispute won't delay S-class launch

Feb. 20, 2013 16:25 CET
Daimler's summer launch of the Mercedes S class will not be delayed by uncertainty over whether the carmaker must use a new air-conditioning refrigerant. Daimler is banking on the success of the new S class, expected to hit European markets in July, to help it to offset a weak first half.

Jeep serves as poster child for the Twitter-hacked

2:54 pm U.S. ET | Feb. 20, 2013
Jeep is becoming a corporate poster child for the Twitter-hacked -- and automakers are taking note and playing defense. Companies should reassess the way they handle social media passwords after Jeep's Twitter account was invaded yesterday, a computer forensics expert suggested today.

Tesla loss widens but EV maker expects to become profitable in Q1

5:18 pm U.S. ET | Feb. 20, 2013
Tesla Motors expects to become profitable in the first quarter as it works to reduce manufacturing costs and benefits from a backlog of Model S orders. Tesla's fourth-quarter revenue jumped to $306.3 million compared to $39.

Mercedes tops BMW in 2012 U.S. registrations, Polk says

Feb. 21, 2013 00:34 CET
Mercedes-Benz had more U.S. new-vehicle registrations than BMW in 2012, giving the German automakers one more point of disagreement over which is the leading seller of luxury vehicles.

Volvo plans to cut 1,000 jobs to reduce costs

Feb. 20, 2013 18:21 CET
Volvo will cut 1,000 more jobs and save more than $200 million to reach breakeven this year after sales and Chinese growth have lagged.

VIDEO: First Shift: Jeep back after hack

12:01 am U.S. ET | Feb. 20, 2013
Humorous response to Twitter attack; more Audi SUVs?; Group 1 to revise pay; Impala's little secret; Nissan in Silicon Valley.

Hyundai Europe expects to keep market share in 2013

Feb. 20, 2013 12:58 CET
Hyundai Europe says it expects to keep the 3.5 percent market share it enjoyed in 2012, despite overall regional sales beginning their sixth year of decline.

Mercedes tops BMW in 2012 U.S. registrations, Polk says

6:34 pm U.S. ET | Feb. 20, 2013
Daimler AG's Mercedes-Benz had more U.S. new-vehicle registrations than BMW AG's BMW in 2012, giving the German automakers one more point of disagreement over which is the leading seller of luxury vehicles.

Lithia reports big earnings, outlines aggressive growth plans

10:33 am U.S. ET | Feb. 20, 2013
Lithia Motors executives said today that they expect the dealership group to increase annual revenue by 10 to 15 percent in coming years through dealership acquisitions. To reach that goal, they said, Lithia will have to look beyond its traditional western U.S. base for acquisition targets.

Audio: Why buying a car never changes

4:56 pm U.S. ET | Feb. 20, 2013
The car-buying process won’t change easily because state laws are designed to protect the franchised dealer, NPR reports in this Planet Money feature.

More delinquencies loom, GM Financial boss says

12:01 am U.S. ET | Feb. 20, 2013
Dan Berce, CEO of GM Financial, said the period of record-low delinquencies and credit losses for bad loans for the industry is just about over. “It's clear this trend has peaked,” he said.

JIM HENRY

Regulation overload would test Einstein

12:01 am U.S. ET | Feb. 20, 2013
Federal regulations on auto finance are on the short list of things for dealers to worry about in 2013, according to a recent panel of National Automobile Dealers Association leaders.

Sonic will add more stores; posts 48% rise in profit

11:38 am U.S. ET | Feb. 20, 2013
Sonic Automotive won’t close any dealership purchases during the first quarter, but company President Scott Smith still expects the retailer to acquire stores adding $500 million in annualized revenues during the balance of 2013.

Connected cars may lose exclusive Wi-Fi access band under FCC proposal

2:09 pm U.S. ET | Feb. 20, 2013
Facing intense pressure to open up more airwaves to Wi-Fi devices, regulators today voted to rethink a 1999 decision giving vehicles exclusive access to part of the wireless spectrum as a way to make driving safer.

Customer Incentives

3:18 pm U.S. ET | Feb. 20, 2013

Ford plans 2-liter engine output in Ohio, report says

11:19 am U.S. ET | Feb. 20, 2013
Ford Motor Co. plans to begin making in Ohio a small four-cylinder engine that it builds in Spain, according to a person familiar with the matter.

Ally taps Starbucks in quest to rev dealer test drives

12:01 am U.S. ET | Feb. 20, 2013
Ally Financial has rolled out a program nationwide to help dealers attract showroom traffic. Working with a local dealership, Ally sets up a vehicle display at a neighborhood “hot spot.

LEGAL FILE

Calif. appeals panel affirms arbitration in dealership-customer dispute

12:01 am U.S. ET | Feb. 20, 2013
A California Court of Appeal panel has ordered the buyer of a 2006 Toyota Sequoia to arbitrate her claims in her finance dispute with the dealership.

Group 1's Hesterberg: F&I's strong; now let's work on margins

12:01 am U.S. ET | Feb. 20, 2013
It's a nice problem to have, but F&I revenue per vehicle has gotten so high, and done such a good job of offsetting thinner margins in new cars, that it could actually be seen as a problem.

Q&A

Experian's auto finance analysis has surprises

12:01 am U.S. ET | Feb. 20, 2013
Experian Automotive's Melinda Zabritski said that despite conventional wisdom, it's too soon to say auto finance is all the way back, especially in some states that were hit hard when the housing bubble burst. For the fourth quarter of 2012 vs.

Auto lenders' business is great. Now what?

12:01 am U.S. ET | Feb. 20, 2013
Business is so good for auto lenders, it actually scares them a little. Several auto lenders interviewed at the AFSA conference and during the NADA convention listed specific concerns about the future.

Fisker technology shouldn’t go to the Chinese, U.S. senator says

10:02 am U.S. ET | Feb. 20, 2013
The technology of Fisker Automotive, the plug-in hybrid carmaker that owes American taxpayers about $200 million, shouldn’t be sold to Chinese companies, Senator Charles Grassley said.

HANS GREIMEL

Catch the wave at Toyota's new motor show booth

9:35 am U.S. ET | Feb. 20, 2013
What do you get when you take a piece of Toyota corporate stationery and roll up one end like a tube of paper towels? It's the new look of Toyota's global motor show stand. Toyota calls it “The Wave.”

Italy's Brembo sees first-half sales boost as U.S. car demand surges

Feb. 20, 2013 06:01 CET
Brembo, the Italian maker of brake systems for Ferrari and Porsche sports cars, is forecasting first-half sales growth as demand jumps in the U.S.

Ford to give Mulally bonus payment after he retires

Feb. 20, 2013 06:01 CET
Ford is planning to pay a bonus to CEO Alan Mulally after his employment ends as a reward for leading the automaker through its turnaround.

Volvo, Geely will establish joint R&D center in Sweden

Feb. 20, 2013 13:50 CET
Volvo and its Chinese parent Geely will set up a joint research and development center in Sweden to produce technology for new cars from both carmakers.

Cheap, easy credit gives lift to leases

12:01 am U.S. ET | Feb. 20, 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.

2013 GENEVA AUTO SHOW

Nissan counts on tech upgrades to boost Note's appeal

Feb. 20, 2013 12:20 CET
Nissan believes that a stronger focus on design and technology will boost the next-generation Note's appeal, allowing it to expand its customer base beyond its core small minivan buyers.

Audi set to double SUVs to close BMW's luxury lead

Feb. 20, 2013 08:19 CET
Audi plans to double its lineup of sport-utility vehicles to close the sales gap behind BMW as more customers seek high-riding vehicles with the cachet of a luxury brand. Audi is developing the Q2, Q4 and Q6 as a sportier alternative to its current range of three SUVs.

Infiniti names ex-Mazda exec to head key European markets

Feb. 20, 2013 06:01 CET
Infiniti has named Christian Blank its director for Germany and three other key European markets as the carmaker gears up for a major sales push in the region led by a new premium compact to rival the Audi A3 and BMW 1 series.

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