Headlines for Wednesday, April 3, 2013

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VIDEO: AutoNews Now: Something about March?

12:01 am U.S. ET | April 3, 2013
Nissan, Subaru sales hit historic highs, and Ram, Fusion, Escape reach milestones; Hyundai, Kia recalls; $500-a-month Tesla?

Chrysler buys former Ford testing site in Florida

3:04 pm U.S. ET | April 3, 2013
Chrysler Group has bought a 531-acre testing center in Florida, where it plans to expand its vehicle testing, especially in winter. The site has more than six miles of test track, including a 2.1-mile straightaway and a 1.1-mile ride and handling loop.

VIDEO: First Shift: March winners, losers

12:01 am U.S. ET | April 3, 2013
Cadillac soars, Mitsubishi tumbles; GM gets Ally in Europe, Latin America; what irks car buyers; relief for senior drivers.


Weak March dashes recovery hopes for European carmakers

April 3, 2013 08:37 CET
European car sales shrank again in March, threatening more losses for carmakers in the region after a dismal 2012, according to figures and forecasts. With euro-zone unemployment at a record high, forecaster LMC Automotive sees this year's sales dropping 3.1 percent in western Europe to 11.

Q&A: Musk talks about Tesla's financing plan, company's future

9:18 am U.S. ET | April 3, 2013
On Tuesday, Tesla Motors announced a guaranteed-residual-value financing plan starting at $1,051 a month for the base 60 kWh Model S electric sedan. While paying off the 63-month loan, consumers can trade in the car after 36 months for a guaranteed price.


Musk outlines Tesla's financing plan

9:18 am U.S. ET | April 3, 2013
Tesla Motors plans a guaranteed-residual-value financing program starting at $1,051 a month for the base 60 kWh Model S electric sedan. While paying off the 63-month loan, consumers can trade in the car after 36 months for a guaranteed price.

Former A123 battery maker settles supply claim with Fisker

5:19 pm U.S. ET | April 3, 2013
The bankrupt electric-car battery maker formerly called A123 Systems, renamed B456 Systems, reached a settlement in which Fisker Automotive reduced its claims by 89 percent to $15 million.


Worried about the CFPB? Stay calm

12:01 am U.S. ET | April 3, 2013
Everyone stay calm. That's David Westcott's message to finance and insurance professionals, even though the chairman of the National Automobile Dealers Association admits he is very concerned.


Worried about the CFPB? You should be

12:01 am U.S. ET | April 3, 2013
Dealers and lenders are upset that the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau is demanding greater transparency from them, but isn't reciprocating.

Japan automakers' China sales continue to struggle

3:38 pm U.S. ET | April 3, 2013
Japanese car makers' sales in China in the first three months of the year have yet to recover fully from last year's slump, and foreign rivals are capitalizing in a market which expects 7 percent growth in 2013.

Auto loans trigger 1,585 complaints to U.S.

12:01 am U.S. ET | April 3, 2013
The U.S. Consumer Financial Protection Bureau has received 1,585 complaints about vehicle financing since last March, according to data released by the agency.


Economic indicators: Sales of cars, trucks and ... tchotchkes?

1:47 pm U.S. ET | April 3, 2013
Economists have long known that certain retail-level transactions -- such as the number of packages handled by UPS or FedEx -- are good indicators of the economy's overall strength or weakness. But does the same hold true for branded automotive tchotchkes?

2014 Porsche Panamera gets new hybrid

1:10 pm U.S. ET | April 3, 2013
The Porsche Panamera has been restyled and the lineup gains a plug-in hybrid model, along with a new twin-turbo V6 for the Panamera S and 4S models that is more powerful than the former base V8. Also, Porsche is adding a stretched version of the Panamera with 5.

GM financing strategy: More leases, lenders

12:01 am U.S. ET | April 3, 2013
General Motors dealerships can expect these vehicle financing trends: More activity from subprime specialist GM Financial, including prime-risk financing and floorplanning; More leases for GM brands, especially Cadillac; GM incentives offered through more auto lenders.

GM Financial completes $2.6B deal for Ally units in Europe, Latin America

12:01 am U.S. ET | April 3, 2013
Ally Financial said it completed the sale of most of its operations in Europe and Latin America to General Motors Financial for about $2.6 billion. Ally said it will get about $2.4 billion at closing and about $190 million in dividends prior to closing from the GM unit.

AutoNation's March sales rise 7 percent as economy grows

12:08 pm U.S. ET | April 3, 2013
Driven by a strong recovery in the housing market and big gains in pickups, AutoNation, the country's largest dealership group, reported a 7 percent gain in new-vehicle sales in March.

Tesla offers unique financing plan for Model S

12:01 am U.S. ET | April 3, 2013
Tesla Motors has joined forces with USBank and Wells Fargo Bank to create vehicle financing and leasing products that allow consumers to lease a Model S electric sedan for a net payment of about $500 a month after a 10 percent down payment and calculated savings.


Diamond program propels Capital One

12:01 am U.S. ET | April 3, 2013
Capital One Auto Finance booked a record $16 billion in auto loan originations last year. Much of that success, says President Trip Hall, stemmed from the lender's Diamond Dealer incentive program, which was launched in 2010.

Flying without a captive -- and with one

11:05 am U.S. ET | April 3, 2013
Auto shows are all about product, but auto finance is never far beneath the surface. Here are a few quick comments on auto finance from executives at the New York auto show last week.

UAW assets fell in U.S. last year amid growth push

11:07 am U.S. ET | April 3, 2013
The UAW's total assets fell for the sixth straight year in 2012 while spending on political activities and lobbying nearly quadrupled from the previous year, the union's annual financial filing with the Labor Department shows.


Porsche's plug-in Panamera to start at 110,400 euros

April 3, 2013 10:19 CET
Porsche will begin sales of its first plug-in hybrid in July with prices starting at 110,409 euros in Germany. The 416-hp Panamera S E-Hybrid will debut in China this month.


Usage rate for fancy F&I features is a mixed bag

11:08 am U.S. ET | April 3, 2013
In the real world, do the high-tech features that lenders develop for dealership F&I departments get any use? Yes, says Geoff Robinson, marketing vice president for Mercedes-Benz Financial Services USA.

Hyundai, Kia recall 1.7M vehicles for faulty brake switch

8:35 am U.S. ET | April 3, 2013
Hyundai Motor and Kia Motors are recalling vehicles in the United States to replace a faulty switch that can prevent brake lights from illuminating and trigger other problems. About 1.7 million vehicles are involved.


Better Q2 foreseen despite 17% fall in Germany's March registrations

April 3, 2013 14:42 CET
Germany's new car market is expected to stabilize in the second quarter, the country's main auto association said, despite another double-digit sales decline in March.


Ford to boost Kuga output in Spain by 10%

April 3, 2013 12:55 CET
Ford says it plans to increase output of its Kuga SUV in Valencia, Spain, this year by 10 percent, or 8,000 vehicles, to meet growing demand.


Audi CEO Stadler counts on SUVs to topple BMW as luxury leader

April 3, 2013 06:01 CET
Audi already knows how it feels to be global No. 1 in premium-car sales. The brand led in that category in January before falling back to second place behind BMW in February. Audi CEO Rupert Stadler plans on get back to the top and stay there by 2020 or sooner.


BMW's March advance trims Mercedes lead in U.S. luxury race

April 3, 2013 06:01 CET
BMW reported a 13 percent U.S. sales increase in March, cutting into the luxury-auto lead of Mercedes as both brands set records for the month.


Faurecia wins approval to build new NA headquarters

April 3, 2013 06:01 CET
Faurecia North America Inc. has received final approval to build a three-story, 278,000-square-foot North American headquarters in suburban Detroit that will house the company's administration and a technical center for its automotive seating and exteriors units.


Infiniti aims 1-series rival at 'Pascale'

12:01 am U.S. ET | April 3, 2013
Infiniti knows who will be buying its BMW 1-series rival. “The target customer is a French lady called Pascale. She's 34 years old, living in London with an English guy who works in banking,” Nissan global product planning boss Andy Palmer told Automotive News Europe.

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