Headlines for Monday, April 8, 2013

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FINANCE & INSURANCE:

Service lane focus lifts Lithia's F&I sales

New software and a boost in spiffs have made it easy -- and lucrative -- for Lithia Motors Inc.'s service advisers to sell extended service contracts and lifetime oil change plans. Read More »

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BEST PRACTICES:

From high-tech lasers to ultraluxury vehicles

Antoine Dominic was set to ease into early retirement in 2008 after selling the high-tech laser company he had run for several years and making a fortune on the stock he owned. But fate took him in a new direction. Read More »

AUTOMOTIVE NEWS EUROPE CONGRESS:

How to prosper during tough times

With sales slowing and government debt a growing crisis, the European auto industry is in for a rough ride over the next few years. What are the solutions? Which companies will emerge as winners? The 16th Automotive News Europe Congress will explore answers to those questions on June 12 in Paris. Read More »

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Ex-GM marketing boss LaNeve takes over Lincoln's ad agency

Mark LaNeve, former top North American marketer at General Motors and ex-head of Cadillac, has taken over as president of the Lincoln brand's ad agency. LaNeve replaces Cameron McNaughton, who had been president of the agency, Hudson Rouge, since it was founded in 2011. Read More »

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AutoNews Now: Rivals gun for Camry

Nissan's Altima squeezes to top in March, Fusion also in the game; Impala's conquest hopes; Thatcher: Iron Lady and auto backer. Read More »

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Wheelchair van makers see growth

Colorado retailer Tim Myers sums up his optimistic outlook for the wheelchair van market this way: More Americans with disabilities simply want vehicle mobility. And that's creating an opportunity for retailers. Read More »

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THERE'S AN APP FOR THAT?:

Ford wants to see if smartphones can boost fuel economy

Ford Motor Co. wants consumers to see how their driving habits affect fuel economy and is offering big bucks to find an entertaining way to do that. Read More »

PRODUCTION:

Weak car output hits Czech economy

Czech industrial production edged up in February but thinning order books show the central European country may not yet be coming out of its longest recession in two decades. The main problem has been falling car production. Read More »

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First Shift: Hollywood heat on Nissan

Actor Danny Glover backing UAW organizing effort: GM Australia cutbacks; Fisker layoffs spark lawsuit, fuel political debate. Read More »

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VW patriarch Piech's wife up for election to Audi board

Volkswagen Chairman Ferdinand Piech's wife looks set to join the supervisory board of Audi in a move by the controlling Piech-Porsche family to solidify its sway over Europe's biggest carmaker. Read More »

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SALES:

Porsche's March sales rise 19.8% on strong German, U.S. demand

Porsche said today its global vehicle sales rose 19.8 percent to a record 14,494 units in March on strong demand in Germany, the United States and China. Read More »

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SUPPLIERS:

SAIC unit aims to buy JCI's electronics business, report says

An automotive supplier majority owned by China's SAIC Motor Corp. is in talks with Johnson Controls Inc. about acquiring the U.S. supplier's electronics business, a daily Chinese business newspaper reports. Read More »

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RICHARD JOHNSON:

Britain's Iron Lady forged lasting imprint on Europe's luxury brands

Britain's auto industry changed dramatically on Maggie Thatcher's watch. Japanese carmakers began setting up assembly plants in the United Kingdom in the 1980s, starting with Nissan in Sunderland in the North East of England in 1986. Read More »

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LARRY P. VELLEQUETTE:

Confused by pickup claims? That's the idea

The five automakers that build full-sized light-duty pickups must hate tree-grown fruit because they sure go out of their way to avoid apples-to-apples comparisons. Read More »

GM Holden cuts 500 Australian workers citing currency strength

GM's Holden division will cut about 500 jobs in Australia, saying the strong local dollar and currency devaluations in competing markets had made operations in the nation among the most expensive in the world. Read More »

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GM predicts sales growth for Impala, large-sedan segment

General Motors expects this month's launch of the redesigned 2014 Chevrolet Impala to boost sales of the tired nameplate and help revitalize the overall large-sedan segment. Read More »

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TONS OF CREDITS:

As Obama's CO2 regulations get tough, automakers -- especially Japanese -- have already earned a big cushion

As automakers ratchet down the fuel consumption of their cars to meet tougher federal standards, the top Japanese automakers already have an enormous head start from credits they earned since the 2009 model year. Read More »

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As Korea gets hot, automakers remain cool

The expressway from downtown Seoul to the city's auto show venue is lined with tank traps, barbed wire and guard towers. Mounting tensions with North Korea are a chilling reminder why. Automakers there have long factored this into their business plans. Read More »

ASIA:

As Korea gets hot, carmakers stay cool

The expressway from downtown Seoul to the city's auto show venue is lined with tank traps, barbed wire and guard towers. Mounting tensions with North Korea are a chilling reminder why. Automakers there have long factored this into their business plans. Read More »

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Fisker's job cuts fuel political debate on green energy projects

Fisker Automotive's dismissal last week of 75 percent of its employees, after it once received federal loans to build luxury plug-in cars, is adding to the political debate over the federal government's funding of clean-energy programs. Read More »

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Mid-sized crown up for grabs

The Nissan Altima and Ford Fusion have entered the thick of the mid-sized sedan sales chase -- long a battle mainly between the Toyota Camry and Honda Accord -- leaving the rest of the pack a few laps behind. Read More »

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SALES:

Audi sets March and first-quarter sales records

Audi said today it increased global vehicle sales 3 percent in March to a record 147,700 because of strong demand for its SUVs. The Volkswagen Group subsidiary finished the first-quarter will an all-time high of 369,500 sales, up 6.8 percent on the year-ago period. Read More »

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AUTOMOTIVE NEWS EUROPE E-MAGAZINE:

Renault takes aim at VW

Renault says its net prices last year were higher than domestic rivals Citroen and Peugeot. Now the company wants to narrow the gap with Europe's price leader among volume brands: Volkswagen. Carlos Tavares explains how Renault will do this. Read More »

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SUPPLIERS:

Pirelli studying plan to offset weak Europe demand, source says

Pirelli plans to offset weakening demand in Europe for its premium tires by shipping tires produced in Europe to emerging markets, where demand is growing, said an industry source on Sunday. Read More »

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CHINA:

Dongfeng-PSA venture sales, fueled by 2 new models, jump 20% in March

Dongfeng Peugeot Citroen Automobile Co.'s sales in March rose 20 percent year-on-year to 49,009 Peugeot and Citroen vehicles.
The company, a joint venture between PSA/Peugeot-Citroen and Dongfeng Motor Corp. Read More »

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Rechtin drives the Tesla Model S

Automotive News West Coast Editor Mark Rechtin puts Tesla's Model S to the test during a road trip from Los Angeles to Las Vegas. In this video, Rechtin discusses the electric vehicle's driving range, handling, and recharging time as well as a potential flaw in Tesla's plan. Read More »

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NUTS & BOLTS:

Ford seeks to register 'inflatable light urban vehicle' trademark

Ford has filed an application to register the term "inflatable light urban vehicle (iLuv)" as a trademark, according to the database of the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office. Read More »

Lexus plans rival to Q3, X1

Lexus plans to show a production-ready premium compact crossover to rival the Audi Q3 and BMW X1 at next year's Geneva auto show, a company source said. Read More »

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MARK RECHTIN:

A flaw in Tesla's plan: It's Chargie McVanish

Driving range and recharging time have been significant hurdles for electric vehicles to gain mainstream acceptance. Tesla Motors is addressing the problem with stations for Tesla owners only that can recharge 150 miles of range in half an hour. Read More »

Massive Fisker layoffs may be prelude to bankruptcy

Absent an 11th-hour financial lifeline, a bankruptcy filing for Fisker Automotive looks likely soon, company sources said after the startup maker of hybrids fired three-quarters of its employees last Friday. Read More »

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Refining the Hyundai-Kia brand plan

Only two months into his new job as the first joint global design chief of Hyundai and Kia, Peter Schreyer is guarded about his burgeoning makeover plans. But this much, he says, is clear: The sibling brands need more distinct identities. Read More »

AUTOMOTIVE NEWS EUROPE CONGRESS:

How to prosper during Europe's tough times

With sales slowing and government debt a growing crisis, the European auto industry is in for a rough ride over the next few years. What are the solutions? Which companies will emerge as winners? The 16th Automotive News Europe Congress will explore answers to those questions on June 12 in Paris. Read More »

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Miller deal shows domestics' stores are hot

Larry H. Miller Group Dealerships' purchase of seven stores in Arizona, mostly selling Chrysler Group brands, signals two major developments in the increasingly active market for dealership acquisitions. Read More »

Feds weigh new safety gear ratings

To score high on the government's five-star safety program, car companies may soon need to do more than just protect passengers during a crash. They might need to keep their customers out of accidents, too. Read More »

For Tesla's EVs, credits turn into dollars

Based on Tesla's fuel economy during the 2010 and 2011 model years, the company earned 49,772 EPA credits. The company says it is selling those credits to other automakers. Read More »

Loopholes and the mpg game

Car companies have a long record of working the system to inflate their fuel economy ratings. The EPA's new program has broad potential for similar maneuvering. Read More »

How new CO2 credits differ from NHTSA's

The new EPA credits differ from credits that automakers accumulated under the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration's long-standing CAFE standards. Read More »

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Tesla CEO opens fire on Texas dealers

Tesla Motors CEO Elon Musk is firing all barrels against dealers in Texas in a franchise-law battle over whether the electric-car maker can sell its cars directly to the public. Read More »

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BMW expands 4-series lineup

The BMW X4 concept crossover with coupe styling debuts this month at the Shanghai auto show and will be built in Spartanburg, S.C. Read More »

8 states in Tesla's growth plan

Tesla Motors aims to add stores and service centers in at least eight more states: Minnesota, Pennsylvania, North Carolina, Missouri, Nevada, Georgia, Hawaii and Virginia. Read More »

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KEITH CRAIN:

Maybe we need SAE to get involved

One of the greatest dangers to drivers of motor vehicles is distracted driving. And some recent research suggests adults are more prone to texting than younger drivers. Read More »

EDITORIAL:

Updating auto safety ratings makes sense

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration is examining three possible revisions to its new-car assessment program, which provides shoppers with ratings to help guide their vehicle purchases. All three have merit. Read More »

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