Headlines for Monday, March 18, 2013

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2012 Top 125 Dealership Groups

This is data compiled by the Automotive News Data Center and requires a Data Center subscription to access. Read More »

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BEST PRACTICES:

Aha! Hiring retirees proves to be a wise move

Cascade Auto Group of Cuyahoga Falls, Ohio, employs a dozen people who are retirees or near-retirees, ranging in age from their late 50s to their 80s. They make up about 19 percent of the company's work force. Read More »

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Dealer Don Forman's slick service strategy

Don Forman says providing a quick oil change is his most important service-retention tool. So the owner of United Nissan in Las Vegas pushed technicians to provide an oil change and car wash within 25 minutes. That paved the way to a 23% increase in customer-pay repair orders last year. Read More »

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American Honda keeps RPA as creative agency for Honda; Mullen picked for Acura

American Honda, following a three-month selection process, picked incumbent RPA to remain its advertising agency for the Honda brand, but has given the Acura business to Boston-based Mullen. Read More »

Geneva explorations

Automakers rolled out some high-profile vehicles during the Geneva auto show press days, but they also explored new variations on existing vehicles and platforms. Read More »

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Hoop hype helps big Buick launch

Buick is counting on March Madness excitement to launch its Encore small crossover. Read More »

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ELECTRIC CARS:

Renault CEO Ghosn clings to China for electric car boost

China will save the electric car, Renault-Nissan boss Carlos Ghosn predicts - and with it the vision of battery-powered motoring on which he has staked his credibility. Ghosn has invested a bigger share of his companies' cash into the technology than any other mass-market carmaker. Read More »

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2013 NEW YORK AUTO SHOW:

Redesigned 2014 Cadillac CTS to pack twin-turbo V-6

The redesigned 2014 Cadillac CTS sedan that goes on sale this fall will have a 420-hp, twin-turbo 3.6-liter V-6 engine as an option. The redesigned CTS will be unveiled next week at the New York auto show. Read More »

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Higher-volume cars get carbon fiber

Carbon fiber has finally broken out of its European supercar niche. The 2013 SRT Viper and the redesigned 2014 Chevrolet Corvette have carbon fiber hoods and other parts, and the Corvette's production is likely to top 20,000 units this year. Read More »

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COMEBACK?:

Comeback for Mitsubishi?

Mitsubishi executives in the United States and Japan are evaluating plans to bolster the brand's U.S. lineup with new vehicles, including a mid-sized sedan and a crossover or SUV larger than the Outlander compact crossover. Read More »

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Accavitti expands Honda role

Mike Accavitti, the former Chrysler executive who became American Honda's chief marketing officer in 2011, is adding responsibility for several key departments, including product planning. Read More »

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Mitsubishi bets on 2014 Outlander features, price to help spark rebound

Mitsubishi's restyled Outlander crossover is a vast improvement in interior refinement, packaging and technology over the outgoing model. The outgoing Outlander was among the worst-selling compact crossovers in the industry. Simply put, Mitsubishi needs a home run. Read More »

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Sonic, citing weak accounting controls at dealerships, delays annual report

Sonic Automotive told regulators on Monday it delayed the filing of its annual report because of weak accounting controls at its dealerships. Sonic said in a regulatory filing it believes that financial results will be the same as reported on Feb. 20. Read More »

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AutoNews Now: Quest for Hispanic buyers

Japanese brands dominate fast-growing market; VW's U.S. sales goal may hinge on SUV; Cadillac CTS goes turbo for 2014. Read More »

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EDWARD LAPHAM:

A St. Paddy's Day reminiscence of the papal ride

As a tourist, I've visited the Sistine Chapel, St. Peter's Square and many of the other attractions in and around the Vatican that we saw on TV news reports last week. Read More »

Ghosn favors incentives to revive Europe car demand

Renault CEO Carlos Ghosn supports scrapping incentives to mitigate falling demand for new cars in Europe, which is headed toward a sixth straight year of decline as austerity measures keep customers out of showrooms. Read More »

Lexus global brand effort starts in May

The United States was Lexus' first and most successful market; but now that it is in more than 80 countries, Lexus plans to begin global brand advertising. Read More »

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VW profit lead over Toyota under threat as demand wobbles

VW CEO Martin Winterkorn achieved the company's goal of surpassing rivals GM and Toyota in profit in 2012 but this year's race will be tighter as Toyota bounces back. Read More »

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Bentley, Lambo eye big-bucks crossovers

Bentley and Lamborghini want to create a niche -- the ultraluxury crossover with a price tag of $200,000 to $250,000 -- and they're aiming for annual combined volume of more than 7,000 vehicles. Read More »

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LARRY P. VELLEQUETTE:

Chrysler's hot sales streak faces tough test in March

Chrysler Group's string of 35 months of year-over-year sales increases may be about to end. The streak goes back to April 2010 and equals the company's longest run of consecutive U.S. gains, which stretched from February 1992 to December 1994. Read More »

North America car and truck production by plant - Feb. & YTD

This is data compiled by the Automotive News Data Center and requires a Data Center subscription to access. Read More »

North America car and truck production by model - Feb. & YTD

This is data compiled by the Automotive News Data Center and requires a Data Center subscription to access. Read More »

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Louder EVs may turn off drivers, automakers say

A plan to make electric cars louder in the name of safety could annoy drivers and inhibit adoption of electric vehicle technology, automakers say. Read More »

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PRODUCTION LINE:

Nissan: Lighter, stronger steel will cut weight, boost mpg

As part of a drive to shed weight and boost fuel economy, some Nissan brand vehicles will get the ultra-high-strength, lightweight steel that debuted in the Infiniti Q50 in January at the Detroit auto show. Read More »

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Tougher CO2 emission limits could get EU on road to growth, study says

Proposed European legislation to cut CO2 emissions from Europe's new cars to 95g/km could create about 400,000 jobs and save tens of billions of euros in fuel costs, a study said. The European Parliament will vote on the proposals on Tuesday. Read More »

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VW to recall vehicles in China on complaints about gearbox

VW plans to recall vehicles in China after drawing scrutiny from the nation's quality inspector and state broadcaster over its direct shift gearbox. Read More »

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First Shift: Chrysler 200 in pipeline

'14 model to have short run, documents show; Dodge Challenger warning; GM's CEO plans D.C. trek; Acura RLX's TV shot. Read More »

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BRUCE GAIN:

Good outweighs bad in Renault Zoe EV

The good things about the Renault Zoe electric car – it's quiet, comfortable and affordable – outweigh the bad, especially for people who drive short distances everyday and have a way to charge the battery at work and home. Read More »

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China's Geely won't make final bid for Fisker stake, report says

China's Zhejiang Geely Holding Group will not bid for a majority stake in Fisker Automotive mainly due to the troubled U.S. electric car maker's obligations to the U.S. government, according to two sources familiar with the matter. Read More »

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RETAILERS GET BIGGER:

BIG DEAL: Retailers get bigger

New-vehicle retail sales for the top 125 dealership groups grew a collective 19 percent in 2012, while the whole U.S. market rose 13 percent. Tallying just the 113 dealership groups that were on the list for both 2012 and 2011, new-vehicle retail sales were up 18 percent. Read More »

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Chevy Impala gets flagship makeover

General Motors has done an ambitious make-over of the Chevrolet Impala for its 10th generation, transforming the car from basic transportation for value-conscious buyers and rental companies to a stylish flagship. Read More »

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VW profit lead over Toyota under threat as demand wobbles

VW CEO Martin Winterkorn achieved the company's goal of surpassing rivals GM and Toyota in profit in 2012 but this year's race will be tighter as Toyota bounces back. Read More »

Obituaries

Information about David Allen, owner of Allen Toyota-Scion and Allen Hyundai in Gulfport, Miss. Read More »

TOP 125 DEALERSHIPS:

Some groups have overseas outlets

Like much of the auto industry, some American dealership groups, both public and private, are going international. Read More »

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52 MILLION HISPANICS AND SOARING:

Se habla espaņol

Many automakers used to view Hispanic-oriented marketing as a way to drum up extra sales when their marketing budgets allowed. Read More »

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HARDBALL:

Tesla plays hardball

As dealers in some states try to tighten franchise laws to block factory-owned dealerships, Tesla is aggressively lobbying policymakers, reaching out to fans to foster public support and even countering with its own franchise law proposals. Read More »

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Fisker without Fisker: What's next?

What happens to Fisker Automotive now that Henrik Fisker is gone? Having produced no cars since last summer and scrambling to find new investors, Fisker's fate may be to pawn its technology and assets to Chinese automaker Zhejiang Geely. Read More »

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VW ponders a large SUV built in North America

Volkswagen AG is building the business case for a large SUV in the United States, top VW executives said last week. The vehicle is a key to the company's plan to nearly double the VW brand's U.S. sales to 800,000 units by 2018. Read More »

GM shuffling ad agencies for Chevy, Cadillac

General Motors is shuffling the advertising agencies of its most important brands, Chevrolet and Cadillac, as it embarks on a busy vehicle launch schedule. Read More »

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BRIGHT IDEA:

More dealers choose LEDs for outdoor lighting

A small but growing group of dealers switching to LED lights, particularly for outdoor lighting, because of their low operating costs and natural-looking light. Read More »

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Chrysler will launch all-new 200 in January

Chrysler will cut in half the mid-sized 200 sedan's 2014 model year to make room for a redesigned version scheduled to arrive in January. Read More »

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Thwarted Mahindra dealers win a round

For five auto dealers attempting to sue India's Mahindra & Mahindra Ltd. for failing to bring its diesel pickup into the United States as planned, a federal judge's ruling to let the suit move forward is a rare bit of good news. Read More »

TOP 125 DEALERSHIPS:

Missing groups: You might have been contenders

The Automotive News list of top 125 dealership groups in the United States last year has some omissions. Several large, privately held groups that probably would make the list did not respond to our survey, which didn't allow us to accurately list them. Read More »

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Canadian dealer buries a Jeep, hires an ambassador and puts on the Ritz

Canadian dealer buries a Jeep, hires an ambassador and puts on the Ritz

At Bay King Chrysler, Dodge, Jeep, Ram in Hamilton, Ontario, dealer Jamie Richter has put luxury-hotel touches in his new showroom. They include concierges who see to the needs of service customers. Mon., December 15
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