Headlines for Monday, May 6, 2013

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Flex-N-Gate workers at Texas plant vote to join UAW

12:01 am U.S. ET | May 6, 2013
After a contentious organizing drive, hourly workers at a Flex-N-Gate Corp. plant in Arlington, Texas, voted last week to join the UAW. The bumper supplier, which has more than 12,000 employees at 59 sites worldwide, has been a high-profile target of the UAW.

2nd lives for EV batteries could cut prices

12:01 am U.S. ET | May 6, 2013
Lithium ion battery packs that power some electrified vehicles could end up feeding juice into the electrical grid -- a development that could cut EV ownership costs.

Public retail groups: 'We're fighting tooth and nail' for margins

12:01 am U.S. ET | May 6, 2013
Profit margins on new vehicles are slipping for the nation's largest dealership groups as manufacturers and retailers slug it out for market share. New-car margins dropped for all the public dealership groups during the first quarter of 2013.

Beattie to head Kawasaki sales

12:01 am U.S. ET | May 6, 2013
Veteran auto industry executive Richard Beattie has joined Kawasaki Motors Corp. U.S.A. as chief marketing and sales officer.


Connecting with service customers

12:01 am U.S. ET | May 6, 2013
Soon after employing his first female service adviser, Roger Pipher had an epiphany: He should hire more women.


Audi's tight supply, fast turn rate lift dealer profitability

12:01 am U.S. ET | May 6, 2013
Audi of America President Scott Keogh is presiding over a brand with momentum, with U.S. sales up 16 percent through April and a batch of new vehicles launched or on tap. Keogh, 44, became president of Audi of America in June, a promotion from chief marketing officer.


Nissan retools management structure for global growth

12:01 am U.S. ET | May 6, 2013
Last year, Colin Dodge juggled a long list of responsibilities for Nissan Motor Co. He was global chief performance officer and in charge of Nissan's markets in North and South America, Europe, Africa, the Middle East and India.


Mercedes CEO: Customer service will be 'my legacy'

12:01 am U.S. ET | May 6, 2013
Mercedes-Benz USA CEO Steve Cannon says customer service will be "the next major battlefield for all luxury manufacturers" and will be Cannon's main priority over the next five years.

Reuss: Buick earns product pizazz

12:01 am U.S. ET | May 6, 2013
There's little chance that the flashy Buick Riviera concept will ever grace a Buick showroom. But dealers should view the Riviera as a signal that GM is serious about adding pizazz to the Buick lineup.


Reuss wants a volume rwd Chevy

12:01 am U.S. ET | May 6, 2013
Atop Mark Reuss' wish list for Chevrolet's lineup is a modestly priced, rear-wheel-drive sporty car to appeal to young drivers.


Custom 'werks' loads up Jeeps -- and revenue

12:01 am U.S. ET | May 6, 2013
The staff at Fields Chrysler-Jeep-Dodge-Ram noticed that many of the Jeeps they sold looked different when their owners came in for an oil change or other service appointment. The vehicles might have new tires, flashier wheels or modifications such as suspension lift kits.

AutoTrader's VinSolutions buys Haystak Digital Marketing

5:14 pm U.S. ET | May 6, 2013
VinSolutions, a unit of the AutoTrader Group, has agreed to buy Haystak Digital Marketing.

Toyota to post around $13 billion annual operating profit, report says

9:45 am U.S. ET | May 6, 2013
Toyota is expected to post operating profit of more than $13 billion for the year ended March, significantly more than what has been forecasted, the Nikkei business daily reported today.

VIDEO: AutoNews Now: Heat is on VW dealers

12:01 am U.S. ET | May 6, 2013
U.S. retailers grow frustrated as company guns for sales goals; Chrysler supplier crackdown; 3 years later, batteries.

Costly launches trim Chrysler's 1st-qtr. profit

12:01 am U.S. ET | May 6, 2013
Chrysler Group and Fiat Group eked out small profits in the first quarter. Chrysler was hurt by expensive vehicle launches, while Fiat was contending with Europe's nasty recession.


Goss: 'We have to move the Jaguar brand image forward'

12:01 am U.S. ET | May 6, 2013
When the topic is luxury brands, Jaguar Land Rover North America CEO Andy Goss wants Jaguar to be mentioned in the same sentence as BMW, Mercedes-Benz, Audi and Lexus.

VIDEO: First Shift: Chevy's premium pickup

12:01 am U.S. ET | May 6, 2013
Western-themed Silverado coming; GM defends China push; Audi's Mexico move; Tesla hikes residual; dealers' best investment?

F&I add-ons: Fed agency's target?

12:01 am U.S. ET | May 6, 2013
Finance and insurance products such as extended-service contracts and other add-ons could be the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau's next target in the auto lending sector.

Microsoft wants to become key player in auto software

12:01 am U.S. ET | May 6, 2013
Having reshaped a big piece of the world's economy around its Windows software, Microsoft Corp. now wants to do the same thing in the car business. What the Seattle giant sees there says as much about the future of cars as it does about itself.

U.S. Treasury plans to sell remaining GM stake

2:31 pm U.S. ET | May 6, 2013
The Treasury Department said today it will begin another round of sales of the GM stock it acquired during the government's bailout of the automaker.

General Motors recalls more than 38,000 sedans over circuit board glitch

3:37 pm U.S. ET | May 6, 2013
GM will recall more than 38,000 sedans equipped with its "eAssist" mild hybrid system to repair circuit boards that may overheat leading to a loss of battery charge or in extreme cases, a fire in the trunk.

GM hires retirees to smooth launch of full-sized pickups

12:01 am U.S. ET | May 6, 2013
General Motors has enlisted about 100 retired GM engineers to help monitor the launch of its next-generation full-sized pickups, which are expected to reach showrooms next month.

LG Chem to start production at Mich. car battery plant in July

1:52 pm U.S. ET | May 6, 2013
South Korean battery maker LG Chem plans to begin commercial production at its Michigan factory in July and will initially supply its products to General Motors' Volt electric vehicles.

Hyundai chief blunts talk of new U.S. plant

1:22 pm U.S. ET | May 6, 2013
Hyundai Motor Group does not immediately plan to build a new car factory in the United States, Chairman Chung Mong-koo said today, downplaying speculation that the South Korean automaker would soon announce production facilities in the key market.

Mercedes Citan vans recalled over faulty airbags

May 6, 2013 16:10 CET
Daimler is recalling 3,500 Mercedes-Benz Citan vans in Europe because of faulty airbags. The Citan is a derivative of the Renault Kangoo and recently scored only three out of five stars in an NCAP test.

GM to invest about $16 billion in U.S. market by 2016

10:04 am U.S. ET | May 6, 2013
GM is planning to invest about $16 billion on U.S. factories and facilities through 2016, more than it will spend in China, the company said.

Longtime supplier exec McClure out as Meritor CEO

12:06 pm U.S. ET | May 6, 2013
Longtime auto supplier executive Charles "Chip" McClure has departed as chairman, CEO and president of commercial truck supplier Meritor, the company said today.

VW dealers frustrated with factory

12:01 am U.S. ET | May 6, 2013
Volkswagen of America went through a growth spurt. Now the brand and its dealers are feeling growing pains.

GM China April sales rise 15% as Toyota struggles

6:19 am U.S. ET | May 6, 2013
General Motors reported sales growth in China accelerated last month while Toyota's sales continued to lag. GM sales climbed 15 percent to 261,870 units in April, according to figures released today by the carmaker. Toyota reported sales fell 6.5 percent to 76,400 units, the ninth drop in 10 months.

Mercedes brand sales rise 12% in April on Asia, Europe

May 6, 2013 13:17 CET
Daimler said vehicle sales of its Mercedes brand rose 11.7 percent last month, powered by double-digit gains in Asia and Europe.

Opel will offer cheaper loans after taking finance in-house

May 6, 2013 14:33 CET
Opel expects to boost the proportion of cars sold on financing with the offer of cheaper loans and leasing deals now that it has taken its German banking license back in-house.

Check out the new ANE monthly e-magazine

May 6, 2013 06:01 CET
The new issue of the Automotive News Europe monthly e-magazine is ready for you to view.


What's next for suppliers in a changing Europe?

May 6, 2013 06:01 CET
Parts suppliers are being tested in the European marketplace like never before. Sales have fallen dramatically and the industry is under enormous macroeconomic pressure.


The making of LaFerrari

May 6, 2013 06:01 CET
Ferrari's limited-edition supercars are special. Ferrari Chairman Luca Cordero di Montezemolo says the new LaFerrari is no exception because of features such as the supercar's gasoline-electric hybrid powertrain, F1-inspired carbon fiber cockpit and a state-of-the-art aerodynamics.


Surge in high-profit pickups, SUVs made April big for Detroit

12:01 am U.S. ET | May 6, 2013
April's auto sales rate was the lowest since October, but the parade of high-margin pickups and SUVs rolling off dealership lots gave the Detroit 3 double-digit increases for the month, hefty profits and a spike in market share.

Ford takes long look at launches

12:01 am U.S. ET | May 6, 2013
Ford Motor Co. is modifying its vehicle-launch procedures to catch problems earlier, said Joe Hinrichs, Ford president of the Americas. The changes come after quality problems hobbled several important launches of Ford vehicles, including the Ford Escape and Lincoln MKZ.


Toyota's car-buff president makes Lexus his pet project

12:01 am U.S. ET | May 6, 2013
By Akio Toyoda's own admission, his beloved Lexus luxury brand has a big problem. Unlike its German rivals, Lexus has no heritage, no narrative. Now the Toyota Motor Corp. president is investing himself personally in the brand by taking direct control of all things Lexus.

Dreary HQ city is a handicap in global glitz plan

12:01 am U.S. ET | May 6, 2013
Lexus Group was rechristened Lexus International in June 2012 in an effort to lend an air of worldwide reach and urbane globalism. Despite efforts to internationalize the brand, there is still one big hurdle: The limited allure of the company's bland industrial hometown of Toyota City.

What's next for suppliers in a changing Europe?

12:01 am U.S. ET | May 6, 2013
Parts suppliers are being tested in the European marketplace like never before. Sales have fallen dramatically and the industry is under enormous macroeconomic pressure.

Nissan price cuts could boost brand

12:01 am U.S. ET | May 6, 2013
Nissan expects that this month's cuts to suggested retail prices on seven key models will put the brand on more Internet vehicle shopping lists.


Execs drop hints about the next Lexus model

12:01 am U.S. ET | May 6, 2013
Lexus hosted a party at a trendy Chelsea nightspot last month to launch a global ad campaign, but brand bosses also fueled speculation on what's next in the lineup.


BMW plans to price i3 near 3 series

12:01 am U.S. ET | May 6, 2013
BMW's i3 electric car will be priced at about $40,000, or roughly the same as a well-equipped 3-series sedan, says Ludwig Willisch, CEO of BMW of North America.


VW plans fuel-saving 10-speed tranny

12:01 am U.S. ET | May 6, 2013
Volkswagen's new 10-speed DSG transmission will be paired with V-6 and V-8 engines and will replace conventional torque converter automatics in some of the company's vehicles.

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