Headlines for Monday, May 27, 2013

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Mercedes gives Sprinter safety tech

Mercedes-Benz is offering safety technology from its luxury passenger vehicles on the restyled Sprinter commercial van line that debuts in September. The 2014 Sprinter will be available with an optional $1,700 safety package that includes accident-avoidance features. Read More »

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GM's Reuss talks straight to dealers

In response to dealers’ questions, GM’s Mark Reuss says Buick is ready for 'special' signature products, foresees a Chevrolet revival, and defends the Corvette’s limited allocation and GM’s customer satisfaction measures. Read More »

Nissan says game gives its performance cred a boost

It may look like fun and games to some people, but this year's release of Sony's Gran Turismo 6 will be big marketing business for Nissan. Brand managers say the video racing game has been a gold mine for Nissan in recent years. Read More »

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U.S. will be Porsche 918 Spyder's top market

The United States will be the largest market for the Porsche 918 Spyder, the plug-in hybrid supercar going into production this fall, the company says. Porsche has been courting potential 918 Spyder buyers worldwide for months with promotional mailings and invitations to private viewings. Read More »

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Indy engines shrink, just like those in showrooms

The technological trends that are shrinking engines in the showroom are also downsizing cutting-edge powerplants at the Indianapolis 500 and the IndyCar racing circuit. Read More »

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Kia aims to conquest upscale shoppers

Kia's near-luxury Cadenza sedan -- priced from around $36,000 and equipped to swipe customers from the Acura TL and Lexus ES -- underscores how far the marque has come since its days as a value brand for used-car intenders. Where it goes from here is less clear. Read More »

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NO PARKING? NO PROBLEM:

VW, Audi see Manhattan stores as service trendsetters

There is no parking lot outside the Volkswagen and Audi stores that opened side by side last year in Manhattan's main dealership district. Parking on the street, for those lucky enough to find a spot, means popping $3.50 an hour into a parking meter. Read More »

Miss. officials defend Nissan incentive deal

State officials in Mississippi are defending Nissan -- and themselves -- from the public backlash of a UAW-sponsored study that claims the automaker stands to receive far more in public incentives than has ever been publicized. Read More »

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With Cadenza, Kia stakes out turf in near-luxury market

Kia loaded its new U.S. flagship Cadenza sedan with high-tech content and upscale touches, hoping to seize on the rising image of its brand to steal customers from competitors such as the Acura TL, Lexus ES and Toyota Avalon. Read More »

Dealers

Dealerships and groups in this report: Auto Dealers United for Kids, Toledo Automobile Dealers Association, Barber Honda in Bakersfield Calif., Penn Toyota in Greenvale, N.Y., and Lou Fusz Nissan in St Louis. Read More »

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BEST PRACTICE:

Historian-songwriter-developer leads revival of auto row near downtown L.A.

Long before Los Angeles became a skein of freeways, Figueroa was the city's Automobile Row. As far back as the mid-1920s, the street was chockablock with dealerships for such brands as Dodge Bros., Buick, Flint Motors and Hupmobile. Read More »

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Q&A: DOUG BETTS:

Chrysler quality chief: 'We're still working'

Doug Betts has spearheaded Chrysler Group's effort to improve product quality since he joined the company from Nissan North America in 2007. Betts, 49, who earlier worked at units of Toyota Motor and Michelin Group, says Chrysler quality is now close to that of Toyota. Read More »

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Too busy for a shutdown

The traditional summer auto plant shutdown is quickly fading away. With tight inventories, rising sales and customers flocking to big, profitable vehicles, the Detroit 3 no longer can afford to halt plants for two weeks. Read More »

Microsoft: Chrysler has plans for our infotainment system

Chrysler Group is equipping some of its lower-trim vehicles with a Microsoft-based infotainment system used by Fiat -- and, according to the software maker, more vehicles are on the way. Read More »

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STAR POWER:

Not satisfied with OnStar's steady profits, GM wants to create a global 4G powerhouse

General Motors' OnStar telematics unit has quietly become a profit margin superstar. Analysts peg OnStar's revenues at about $1.5 billion annually, with a margin of 30 to 35 percent. That's about five times the 6. Read More »

LEGAL FILE:

N.J. Honda store takes another hit in point fight

Willis Honda in Burlington, N.J., and its owner have lost another round in their long-running legal battle with Honda and a rival store over how the competing point in Hamilton, N.J., was awarded. Read More »

U.S. dealer group Penske interested in buying Daimler stores in Germany

Penske Automotive Group says it would be interested in buying some dealerships in Germany owned by Daimler. Daimler may want to sell four company-owned stores as it seeks to boost faltering profits. Read More »

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LUCA CIFERRI:

Ralph Lauren's Bugatti shows fascination with cars definitely is not dying

We keep hearing that the iPod generation doesn't care as much about cars. That theory was proved wrong over the weekend during the Concourse d'Elegance in Como, Italy. Read More »

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Merkel sticks to German EV target despite low consumer interest

German Chancellor Angela Merkel has reaffirmed her target to bring 1 million electric cars onto German roads by 2020, despite weak interest from consumers. Fewer than 3,000 EVs were delivered in Germany last year out of total car sales that exceeded 3 million. Read More »

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Lapham to retire after 40-yr. career

After 40 years of covering all aspects of the auto industry as a reporter, columnist, commentator and editor, Executive Editor Edward Lapham will retire at the end of June. Read More »

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Renault will end Better Place partnership after bankruptcy filing

Renault is ending a five-year partnership with Better Place LLC after the operator of electric-vehicle charging stations announced plans to shut down. The two companies have worked together in Israel and Denmark since 2008. Read More »

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2013 RISING STARS:

Automotive News Europe salutes Peter Domeney

Automotive News Europe salutes the winners of the 2013 Rising Stars awards. Every day until June 12 one of the 18 winners will be featured. Today's Rising Star is Peter Domeney, powertrain manufacturing engineering director at Jaguar Land Rover. Read More »

Is the dealership sales call center obsolete?

As Internet leads, mobile phone calls and texts swamp dealerships, business development centers are starting to look counterproductive to some dealers. Read More »

Scheduler's horror: 1 week, 3 auto shows

In a calamitous bit of coincidental timing, three major auto shows are scheduled at the same time this November. The Tokyo, Los Angeles and Guangzhou, China, shows all have media days of Nov. 21 and 22. Read More »

Lutz touts, then bids on, Fisker

Bob Lutz, the former product chief at General Motors, has seen a lot of four-door sedans in his 81 years. So people took note when Lutz rhapsodized about the Fisker Karma in an April 26 blog on Forbes.com. Read More »

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LARRY P. VELLEQUETTE:

Daimler debacle produced a cash cow for Chrysler

It's easy to criticize the way Daimler ran and ultimately left Chrysler during the disastrous "merger of equals" era. I know because I've done it on a regular basis. Read More »

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A Chinese MG? Not cricket, say Britons, who stay away in droves

The new generation of Chinese-designed MGs is proving a tough sell in England, birthplace of the legendary carmaker that produced a long line of stylish roadsters dating back to the 1920s. Read More »

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At lunch, no prix fixe menu

Mark Reuss, General Motors' North America president, and Jim Lentz, CEO of Toyota Motor Sales U.S.A., gave commencement speeches this month at Northwood University in Michigan. Then the two executives got together for lunch. Read More »

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Marchionne apologizes to Italian-Americans

Never one for PR-speak, Chrysler-Fiat boss Sergio Marchionne was particularly expressive at the Detroit auto show in January when discussing Fiat's new Alfa Romeo high-performance sedans. Read More »

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Penske: If Daimler sells stores in Germany, we're interested

Penske Automotive Group Inc. says it would be interested in buying some dealerships in Germany owned by Daimler AG. Daimler may want to sell four stores as it seeks to boost faltering profits, an unidentified source familiar with the company's thinking told Reuters. Read More »

Ford will shut down Down Under

Ford Motor Co., saddled with high costs, falling sales and financial losses, will close its Australian car and engine assembly plants in October 2016 after almost nine decades of manufacturing in the country, Bloomberg and Reuters reported. Read More »

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Dealers join tornado relief effort

Car dealerships suffered little damage from the tornado that ravaged an Oklahoma City suburb last week. So they were able to jump into the relief effort quickly, joining automakers and aid groups to help survivors. Read More »

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Speck cites family ties in departure from Volvo

Doug Speck, the American who will step down as Volvo Car's global sales and marketing boss, says he's leaving to be near his family in the United States after two years in Sweden. Read More »

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Second act: GM retirees suit up again

Four years after GM's bankruptcy, the leaner automaker has begun tapping a deep pool of relatively young, still talented retirees who left the company earlier than planned during the downturn. Some were laid off. Others left to sidestep the angst of restructuring. Read More »

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BMW's 5-series freshening

BMW has given the 5-series sedan and Gran Turismo a midcycle freshening for 2014 and hiked the price by $1,700 on base models. The cars go on sale in August. Read More »

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Nissan's NYC taxi deal may lose exclusivity

Nissan could have to give up part of its exclusive deal to supply the only taxicab in New York City for the next decade because of a state Supreme Court ruling there. Read More »

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KEITH CRAIN:

First distractions, then standardization

I am lucky enough to drive many cars during the year and am constantly amazed at how different the controls can be from vehicle to vehicle. I am talking about some of the most basic controls -- the ones that are critical to safety. Read More »

EDITORIAL:

Harmonize auto rules in U.S.-EU trade deal

As President Obama prepares to travel to Europe next month to start formal negotiations on a trans-Atlantic trade agreement, the opportunity exists for harmonizing auto industry rules across the pond. Read More »

EDITORIAL:

A smart idea for EVs

Smart USA's plan to allow customers who buy or lease the electric-powered ForTwo to lease the car's lithium ion battery is a worthy experiment. It removes another obstacle to EV acceptance by taking the heavy cost of the battery out of the vehicle purchase price. Read More »

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DAVE GUILFORD:

Infiniti, Lincoln face one tough challenge

Sales for Lincoln and Infiniti have been disappointing. In fact, there was talk that their respective parent companies might kill them. Now dynamic new leaders are trying to create some buzz with exciting lineups. Read More »

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E class gets some S-class features

Mercedes-Benz isn't waiting for the E-class redesign in 2016 to outfit its mid-sized range with some of the high-tech equipment that was developed for the S-class sedan that arrives this fall. Read More »

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Jaguar’s 3-series fighter

To add volume and attract younger buyers, Jaguar is readying a compact sedan to pit against BMW’s 3 series. This test mule with a modified XF body was spotted recently. The sedan, which may be called the XS or the Q-Type, is expected in 2015. Read More »

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A glimpse at Aston Martin's future

Aston Martin's design influence is well known (see 2013 Ford Fusion), and last week the British brand hinted at its own future styling tendencies with the debut of the CC100 Speedster Concept. Read More »

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Special Report
Dealer Bob Shuman trades courtroom for showroom

Dealer Bob Shuman trades courtroom for showroom

After an 11-year career as a lawyer, Bob Shuman, 52, became a car dealer after his father retired from the business founded by his grandfather. Mon., March 24
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