Headlines for Monday, April 29, 2013

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Penske Q1 net income jumps 23% on higher new- and used-vehicle sales

Stronger new- and used-vehicle sales for Penske Automotive Group pushed up net income 23 percent in the first quarter on an 8 percent rise in revenue from the year-earlier period, the company said today. Read More »


Big plans, bad karma: How Fisker fell apart

The roots of Fisker Automotive's precarious state go back several years, to a time when the company and the Department of Energy established unrealistic sales goals for an unknown automaker working with tricky hybrid technology. Read More »


AutoNews Now: Marchionne: 'Plug your nose'

After launch-related profit dip, Chrysler boss calls for 'flawless execution'; most-wanted tech; China's BYD to build buses in U.S. Read More »


A rich harvest for 'Farmer' ads

Chrysler Group's chief marketing officer says the automaker's "Farmer" campaign launched during the 2013 Super Bowl is boosting Ram consideration among prospective pickup buyers. Read More »


Pelata on Renault's spy scandal: 'I had to leave'

Patrick Pelata fell on his sword to save his boss and friend Carlos Ghosn -- and maybe his company. Read More »


Chrysler hopes many hats make broad experience

The top-level management changes at Chrysler Group this month may be rooted in the cultivated tension of a criss-crossed management structure that has high-level executives wearing many hats. Read More »


First Shift: Glimpse of Cadillac's future

Dealers get look at ATS coupe, '15 Escalade; N.C. mayor LaHood's likely successor; GM pay limits; Mazda's 'game changers' Read More »


Once a product planner, Pelata now mines data

Former Renault COO Patrick Pelata had plenty of job possibilities after leaving the French automaker last summer. So how did the European product planner who helped revive Nissan end up selling customer-retention software from an office in San Francisco? Read More »


Mercedes chides dealers in China over lackluster sales

Daimler China sales chief Nicholas Speeks accused independent Mercedes dealers in China of laziness. In the first three months, Mercedes sales in China dropped 12 percent. Read More »


Fiat first-quarter profit falls on Chrysler earnings drop

Fiat Group confirmed its 2013 financial targets despite lower first-quarter profits at Chrysler and continued losses in Europe. Read More »


Chrysler profit tumbles on costs of product launches

Chrysler Group said net income fell to $166 million in the first quarter as costs of two large product launches crimped the automaker's seventh consecutive quarterly profit. Read More »

Tenneco's Q1 profits rise as revenue falls slightly

Tenneco, the supplier of emission-control and ride-control systems, today reported higher first-quarter profits. Read More »


Mercedes USA names new Smart general manager

Mercedes-Benz USA appointed a new general manager of the Smart brand and is transferring the head of the company-owned Mercedes-Benz Manhattan dealership in New York to a corporate position in Montvale, N.J. Read More »


Obama says DOT nominee Foxx to press ahead on transportation agenda

President Barack Obama said Charlotte, North Carolina, Mayor Anthony Foxx will press ahead as transportation secretary with the administration's goals to rebuild and expand the nation's infrastructure. Read More »


Mercedes chides dealers in China over lackluster sales

As Daimler AG struggles to keep pace in China with rivals BMW and Audi, the company is picking a fight with its own dealers. Read More »


Why the auto industry needs to slow down

I'd like to offer a bit of counterintuitive thinking, at least in terms of technology. Here it is: The auto industry needs to slow down. Read More »


Suzuki's top-selling U.S. dealer finds a new path with Subaru

Closing up shop was not an option for Scott Pitman, America's best-selling Suzuki dealer. He couldn't fathom leaving the business and laying off 86 employees at his Suzuki of Wichita. Read More »


'Game changers' will star in Mazda6 launch

An innovative surfer, pioneering Olympian and others who Mazda calls "game changers" will help launch the redesigned Mazda6 mid-sized sedan in an advertising campaign kicking off this week. Read More »

Nissan pushes chargers to boost sales of Leaf EV

To attract a bigger audience to electric cars, Nissan officials say they must get more public EV chargers in place -- particularly the more powerful and expensive fast-charging stations. Nissan has assigned a five-person "infrastructure" team to spur charger-station installations. Read More »


Magna founder Stronach aims to reshape Austria's politics

Frank Stronach, 80, has no interest in retiring after building Magna into a top supplier. He has launched anew political party, Team Stronach, in Austria. Read More »


Honda recalls almost 46,000 Fits in U.S., Canada

Honda is recalling almost 46,000 Fit small cars in the United States and Canada to fix a problem with the electronic stability control system software. Read More »


Nissan recalls 123,308 Altimas for spare tire issue

Nissan is recalling 123,308 Altima sedans in the United States to adjust the inflation of the spare tires, which could be over- or under-inflated. Read More »


VW brand bears brunt of Europe slump as Q1 profit halves

First-quarter profit at Volkswagen Group's core brand almost halved as automakers in Europe battle the region's protracted slump in demand with deeper discounts. Read More »


Couple found guilty of stealing GM secrets set for sentencing

A Michigan couple found guilty of stealing General Motors trade secrets related to hybrid-car technology to help develop similar vehicles in China will be sentenced Tuesday in Detroit. Read More »


Dealers grouse that stair-step plans are causing more pain than last year

Stair-step programs, the incentive plans that drive many dealers crazy, are causing more grumbling than they were a year ago. Several major retailers, including some of the largest dealership groups in the country, say stair-step programs are worse than last spring. Read More »


Virtues of '13 Civic: Low spiffs, high sales

Honda has turned off the incentive spigot for the 2013 Civic that arrived in January -- and so far, so good. The revamped car is winning over consumers who are looking for more than just the deal of the week. Read More »


West is best for growth in China sales, output

Automakers, urged on by China's national and local governments, are eager to expand in the markets of central and western China. Future growth will be in the hinterland, auto executives interviewed during this month's Shanghai auto show agreed. Read More »

M-B tech led cops to Boston suspects' car

Carjacking a Mercedes-Benz M class proved to be a critical mistake for the alleged Boston Marathon bombers. When the driver escaped and called police, officers were able to track the vehicle using the crossover's factory-installed GPS system. Read More »


Dealers try to strengthen franchise laws

Dealers and automakers are slugging it out in some state legislatures over state franchise laws. Several state dealer associations are trying to beef up existing laws. Read More »

Experts: Industry hears a call for voice commands

New federal guidelines to battle distracted driving will put even more pressure on car companies to pack voice-activated features into their vehicles, experts say. Read More »

F&I Week: 6 Webinars on vital topics

Automotive News will put a spotlight on dealership finance & insurance issues during the third annual F&I Week, an online conference in June. Experts, academics and F&I professionals will headline six Webinars on June 11-13. Read More »


A modest retirement goal: Reshape Austria's politics

White-haired, tanned and vigorous at 80, Frank Stronach clearly has zero interest in retiring after building North America's biggest auto parts company. He now intends to jolt politics in his native Austria. Read More »


Chrysler Capital's first job: Leasing

Chrysler Group expects more consumer auto leases next month when the newly formed Chrysler Capital begins operations as the automaker's preferred lender in the United States. Read More »

Carfax-dealers scuffle spirals into lawsuit

A scuffle between Carfax Inc., a widely known provider of vehicle history reports, and some dealers who subscribe to the reports, has escalated into a full-blown legal battle. Read More »


Mercedes' GLK, then C class, will get four-cylinder diesel

For the first time in nearly three decades, Mercedes-Benz will offer a four-cylinder diesel engine in the United States when the GLK250 BlueTec compact crossover goes on sale Tuesday, April 30. Read More »

Honda sees record sales; N.A. pace slows

Honda Motor Co. expects North America to be its slowest-growing region in the current fiscal year that began April 1. But executives say U.S. sales should still reach an all-time high. North American sales will rise just 4 percent to 1.8 million vehicles this fiscal year, Honda predicted. Read More »


The 10 million plan: Common parts, r&d

Toyota Motor Corp. President Akio Toyoda is banking on an overhauled r&d strategy to kick the company his grandfather founded into growth mode after four years of crises. The strategy will help boost Toyota's global sales beyond 10 million units a year. Read More »


Suppliers follow automakers to inland cities

International suppliers are moving into western China because that's where their customers are. For components with high shipping costs the supplier often puts a plant just a few miles down the road from its customer. Read More »

Base '14 Vette priced at $51,995

General Motors has set the base price of the 2014 Chevrolet Corvette Stingray coupe at $51,995, including shipping, $1,400 more than the outgoing model. The base convertible will be $56,995 with shipping, $1,240 more than its predecessor. Read More »


Toyota plant led March output

The top 10 plants in North America in March, ranked by output, were Toyota Georgetown, Ky., Volkswagen Puebla, Mexico, Nissan Smyrna, Tenn., Honda Marysville, Ohio, Honda Alliston, Ontario, Hyundai Montgomery, Ala., Ford Louisville Assembly, Ford Dearborn (Mich.) Truck Assembly, Kia West Point, Ga. Read More »


Auto sectors add value, but growth rate slows

Publicly traded carmakers, suppliers and retailers added shareholder value in the first quarter, but at a slower pace than the past several years. Read More »

Mitsubishi expects new models to boost U.S. sales

Mitsubishi Motors Corp. predicts its U.S. sales will rebound in the fiscal year that began April 1. Mitsubishi expects North American sales to increase to 100,000 this fiscal year, after dropping to 85,000 in the year that ended March 31. Read More »


Lexus goes hipster, parties with robots in the Big Apple

At the launch party for Lexus' global marketing campaign, the theme was definitely New York hipster. Read More »

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