Headlines for Monday, March 18, 2013

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Aha! Hiring retirees proves to be a wise move

12:01 am U.S. ET | March 18, 2013
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.

VIDEO: Dealer Don Forman's slick service strategy

12:01 am U.S. ET | March 18, 2013
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.

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

7:15 pm U.S. ET | March 18, 2013
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.

Geneva explorations

12:01 am U.S. ET | March 18, 2013
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.

Hoop hype helps big Buick launch

12:01 am U.S. ET | March 18, 2013
Buick is counting on March Madness excitement to launch its Encore small crossover.


Renault CEO Ghosn clings to China for electric car boost

March 18, 2013 19:10 CET
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.


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

12:13 pm U.S. ET | March 18, 2013
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.

Higher-volume cars get carbon fiber

12:01 am U.S. ET | March 18, 2013
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.


Comeback for Mitsubishi?

12:01 am U.S. ET | March 18, 2013
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.

Accavitti expands Honda role

12:01 am U.S. ET | March 18, 2013
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.

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

4:22 pm U.S. ET | March 18, 2013
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.

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

12:53 pm U.S. ET | March 18, 2013
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.

VIDEO: AutoNews Now: Quest for Hispanic buyers

12:01 am U.S. ET | March 18, 2013
Japanese brands dominate fast-growing market; VW's U.S. sales goal may hinge on SUV; Cadillac CTS goes turbo for 2014.


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

12:01 am U.S. ET | March 18, 2013
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.

Ghosn favors incentives to revive Europe car demand

March 18, 2013 06:01 CET
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.

Lexus global brand effort starts in May

12:01 am U.S. ET | March 18, 2013
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.

VW profit lead over Toyota under threat as demand wobbles

12:01 am U.S. ET | March 18, 2013
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.

Bentley, Lambo eye big-bucks crossovers

12:01 am U.S. ET | March 18, 2013
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.


Chrysler's hot sales streak faces tough test in March

12:01 am U.S. ET | March 18, 2013
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.

Louder EVs may turn off drivers, automakers say

12:01 am U.S. ET | March 18, 2013
A plan to make electric cars louder in the name of safety could annoy drivers and inhibit adoption of electric vehicle technology, automakers say.


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

12:01 am U.S. ET | March 18, 2013
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.

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

March 18, 2013 06:01 CET
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.

VW to recall vehicles in China on complaints about gearbox

March 18, 2013 13:34 CET
VW plans to recall vehicles in China after drawing scrutiny from the nation's quality inspector and state broadcaster over its direct shift gearbox.

VIDEO: First Shift: Chrysler 200 in pipeline

12:01 am U.S. ET | March 18, 2013
'14 model to have short run, documents show; Dodge Challenger warning; GM's CEO plans D.C. trek; Acura RLX's TV shot.


Good outweighs bad in Renault Zoe EV

12:01 am U.S. ET | March 18, 2013
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.

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

8:33 am U.S. ET | March 18, 2013
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.


BIG DEAL: Retailers get bigger

12:01 am U.S. ET | March 18, 2013
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.

Chevy Impala gets flagship makeover

12:01 am U.S. ET | March 18, 2013
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.

VW profit lead over Toyota under threat as demand wobbles

March 18, 2013 06:01 CET
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.


12:01 am U.S. ET | March 18, 2013
Information about David Allen, owner of Allen Toyota-Scion and Allen Hyundai in Gulfport, Miss.


Some groups have overseas outlets

12:01 am U.S. ET | March 18, 2013
Like much of the auto industry, some American dealership groups, both public and private, are going international.


Se habla espaņol

12:01 am U.S. ET | March 18, 2013
Many automakers used to view Hispanic-oriented marketing as a way to drum up extra sales when their marketing budgets allowed.


Tesla plays hardball

12:01 am U.S. ET | March 18, 2013
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.

Fisker without Fisker: What's next?

12:01 am U.S. ET | March 18, 2013
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.

VW ponders a large SUV built in North America

12:01 am U.S. ET | March 18, 2013
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.

GM shuffling ad agencies for Chevy, Cadillac

12:01 am U.S. ET | March 18, 2013
General Motors is shuffling the advertising agencies of its most important brands, Chevrolet and Cadillac, as it embarks on a busy vehicle launch schedule.


More dealers choose LEDs for outdoor lighting

12:01 am U.S. ET | March 18, 2013
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.

Chrysler will launch all-new 200 in January

12:01 am U.S. ET | March 18, 2013
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.

Thwarted Mahindra dealers win a round

12:01 am U.S. ET | March 18, 2013
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.


Missing groups: You might have been contenders

12:01 am U.S. ET | March 18, 2013
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.


For dealers, many paths to success

12:01 am U.S. ET | March 18, 2013
The top 125 U.S. dealership groups in 2012 have driven different paths to success. Their business models are as diverse as the vehicles they sell, as the data in our ranking show.


Will Buick dodge the dinosaurs? Time will tell

12:01 am U.S. ET | March 18, 2013
Buick has come a long way in the past decade, but ask anyone who doesn't work for General Motors or one of its dealerships to describe Buick customers, and you'll probably hear two words: "old people."


Subaru disses Toyota drop-top

12:01 am U.S. ET | March 18, 2013
Subaru has hinted at a convertible version of its BRZ since the sports car went on sale last year. So when Toyota showed the FT-86 concept at the Geneva auto show this month, Subaru engineers were paying close attention -- and scratching their heads.

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