Headlines for Monday, June 17, 2013

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Batteries pose tough transport challenges

12:01 am U.S. ET | June 17, 2013
The fragility -- and dangers -- of lithium ion batteries for electric cars came up again at our recent Congress in Paris when DHL's head of automotive logistics pointed out the difficulties of transporting them.

VIDEO: Dealer O.C. Welch's big-truck turnaround

12:01 am U.S. ET | June 17, 2013
After Mercury's demise, South Carolina Ford-Lincoln dealer O.C. Welch had to find a way to replace lost revenue. He decided to load up on Super Duty pickups – and sell them online.

NAMAD, Jesse Jackson: GM needs more minority dealers

12:01 am U.S. ET | June 17, 2013
General Motors has too few minority-owned dealerships -- especially those owned by blacks -- civil rights leader Jesse Jackson said during GM's annual shareholders' meeting here this month. GM CEO Dan Akerson said GM has 198 minority-owned dealerships, but called that "inadequate."

Quick-swipe plan removes pain from pairing a phone

12:01 am U.S. ET | June 17, 2013
Tired of plowing through a 300-page owner's manual to pair your smartphone with the infotainment system in the rental car you just picked up? There may be a solution.

Dealers reap more Internet leads

12:01 am U.S. ET | June 17, 2013
Dealerships are seeing a surge of traffic on their Web sites and a greater willingness by shoppers to leave their crucial contact information, said data consultant Dataium.

VIDEO: AutoNews Now: 'Hole' closing for GM stores

12:01 am U.S. ET | June 17, 2013
After two-year drought, off-lease cars flowing back to dealerships; Chrysler sweetens 'stair steps'; Honda's electric-car apology.

Output soars to 16M, with high-profit twist

12:01 am U.S. ET | June 17, 2013
Vehicle production in North America is back near record levels, with output forecast to surpass 16 million units this year for the first time in more than a decade.

500 too small? Larger 500L to the rescue

12:01 am U.S. ET | June 17, 2013
Since returning to America in 2011, Fiat and its struggling dealers have been getting by on just the 500. But the cars that rolled off a transport ship from Europe in June promise to change that.

Lincoln targets fastest-growing segments

12:01 am U.S. ET | June 17, 2013
As Lincoln tries to reinvent itself, Ford Motor Co.'s struggling luxury brand will target only the fastest-growing luxury segments in which it can competitively and profitably field entries, the company said.

VIDEO: First Shift: Buttons, knobs for 'MyFord'

12:01 am U.S. ET | June 17, 2013
Move follows drops in quality ratings; GM widens SUV recall; Wilbur Ross taking IAC public; Chrysler SRT brand in spotlight.

JCI turns to private equity to sell auto electronics unit, report says

6:40 pm U.S. ET | June 17, 2013
Johnson Controls is speaking to private equity firms about selling its roughly $1 billion automotive electronics unit, after buyout interest from several rival auto parts suppliers faltered, according to several people familiar with the matter.

Nissan price cuts, weaker yen raise fear of U.S. discount war

2:25 pm U.S. ET | June 17, 2013
Nissan's take-no-prisoners approach to gaining U.S. market share has the auto industry worried that a price war is brewing that will erode the profit progress made since the recession ravaged auto sales.

Campbell Ewald CEO Bill Ludwig to leave agency, report says

3:39 pm U.S. ET | June 17, 2013
Bill Ludwig, CEO at longtime Detroit ad agency Campbell Ewald, is stepping down after more than 30 years at the company, executives familiar with the matter said. The agency is expected to tap an internal successor in a matter of weeks.

Chrysler helps Doner rebuild after loss of Mazda ad account

3:38 pm U.S. ET | June 17, 2013
Advertising agency Doner has regrouped since losing a $150 million Mazda account in June 2010 to a consortium of WPP Group agencies in California.

Automakers pressed to sell no-emission cars to reluctant buyers

2:48 pm U.S. ET | June 17, 2013
Automakers are coming under increasing pressure to sell zero-emission vehicles to consumers in the United States who haven't shown much interest in them, with more states following California's lead in setting sales targets.


Austin dealer is the biggest show in town

12:01 am U.S. ET | June 17, 2013
Since instituting one-price selling, First Texas Honda has jumped from 380th among Honda dealerships in terms of sales volume to the top 30, and from selling 200 new and used vehicles a month to 450.

GM's new head of N.A. manufacturing takes up busy launch schedule

1:28 pm U.S. ET | June 17, 2013
GM has named a longtime labor relations and manufacturing executive to run its North American factories during one of its busiest-ever vehicle launch periods.

Ford adding knobs, buttons to MyFord Touch

12:07 pm U.S. ET | June 17, 2013
Ford plans to revert to more traditional knobs and buttons in its MyFord Touch infotainment and control system. The system has hurt Ford's ratings in several quality surveys. Customers have complained the system is bulky, distracting and overly complicated to use.

GM goes dark on output stats, causes stir

12:01 am U.S. ET | June 17, 2013
General Motors' decision to stop publicly disclosing monthly production numbers has touched off concern among industry analysts and economists, as well as suppliers that rely on the data for their production plans.


Why GM can only get hurt keeping data secret

9:52 am U.S. ET | June 17, 2013
GM has decided to stop publicly disclosing monthly production numbers. That’s instantly alarming to economists, analysts and GM’s suppliers. Number crunchers rely on the GM data for their own forecasts, and suppliers for their business and production plans.

Porsche-Piech family buys Qatar's 10% stake in VW's majority owner

June 17, 2013 11:19 CET
The Porsche-Piech family bought Qatar Holding's 10 percent stake in Porsche Automobil Holding SE to regain full control of the majority owner of Volkswagen Group.


Honda's little radiation-proof robot does nuke duty

8:58 am U.S. ET | June 17, 2013
In the highly radioactive crucible of Japan's crippled Fukushima nuclear power plant, there are simply some areas too hot and hazardous for humans to venture for cleanup. Now, Honda is parlaying its expertise in robotics into a helping hand.

Ford pushes new models over rental sales in Europe revival

June 17, 2013 10:34 CET
Ford is counting on new models such as the EcoSport small SUV to help reduce reliance on low-margin sales to rental-car companies in Europe in the battle to stem losses in the region.

Apple's bid to crack the center stack

12:01 am U.S. ET | June 17, 2013
Last week Apple executive Eddy Cue said 12 car brands will let motorists link iPhones to center consoles to make calls, send text messages, use maps and issue voice commands. So Apple is poised to invade the cockpit and take over the center stack, right?

GM extends summer production shutdown at Russian plant as market cools

June 17, 2013 14:22 CET
General Motors will extend the summer shutdown at its factory in St. Petersburg, Russia, as the country's car market growth slows down. The Russian market is expected to decline by 5 percent in 2013.

Mitsubishi ad campaign takes on 2 vital missions

12:01 am U.S. ET | June 17, 2013
Mitsubishi's new ad campaign to launch its redesigned 2014 Outlander crossover -- built around the tag line "Find your own lane" -- also will have to help the brand find a route back to relevance in the U.S. market.

Toyota's U.S. aces now run the Americas

12:01 am U.S. ET | June 17, 2013
North America and South America are radically different markets. But Toyota Motor Corp. has installed two familiar names from the United States to lead them.

Jaguar's global sales rose 63% in May

June 17, 2013 13:42 CET
Global sales of Jaguar cars rose 63 percent to 7,061 last month, helping to offset a 6 percent fall in Land Rover deliveries. Boosted by the success of the new Jaguar F-Type, combined sales at the Jaguar Land Rover unit rose 4 percent, Tata said.


Peugeot, Seat, Ford push LED headlamps into European mass market

June 17, 2013 06:01 CET
When Peugeot launches its new 308 at the Frankfurt auto show in September it will become the first automaker in Europe to offer full-LED headlamps as standard in the majority of the compact's trim lines.

SiriusXM offers trial to service customers

12:01 am U.S. ET | June 17, 2013
SiriusXM Radio is launching a program this summer that allows dealers to offer a complimentary two-month SiriusXM subscription to qualifying service customers.


Europe in the spotlight

12:01 am U.S. ET | June 17, 2013
Industry leaders gathered in Paris last week for the 16th annual Automotive News Europe Congress and third annual Rising Stars program. PHOTOS BY SILVIA STEINBACH

Opel-Buick link to grow stronger

12:01 am U.S. ET | June 17, 2013
The Buick lineup has taken on a decidedly European flavor in the past three years. The Regal and Verano sedans and the new Encore compact crossover are Opels that migrated to the U.S. market wearing Buick badges.

Voice controls: Just another distraction?

12:01 am U.S. ET | June 17, 2013
Car companies are moving full steam ahead on voice controls and are unlikely to be slowed by the note of caution AAA sounded last week, automakers and suppliers say.


Big Brother is watching

12:01 am U.S. ET | June 17, 2013
I am constantly amazed by how much bureaucracy dealers face running what used to be called small businesses.


Jury's out on hands-free

12:01 am U.S. ET | June 17, 2013
As Apple squares off with Microsoft to determine which will become the dominant operating system for in-vehicle infotainment programs, there is another factor to consider.


A special award to Bob Lutz

12:01 am U.S. ET | June 17, 2013
It's so nice that we have Bob Lutz around to psychoanalyze our industry's leaders.


Public awareness helps fight fraud

12:01 am U.S. ET | June 17, 2013
Far too many times fraud takes place undetected for long periods. Then when it is discovered, minimal action is taken.

Pop the clutch? Not with Bosch system

12:01 am U.S. ET | June 17, 2013
Any parent who has taught a kid to drive a stick knows the problem: When the clutch comes up too slowly, the engine stalls; too fast and there's lurching, angst and potential whiplash. Bosch thinks it has a solution.

Lentz: Toyota may never match '09 share

12:01 am U.S. ET | June 17, 2013
Toyota may never recapture the 17.0 percent share of the U.S. light-vehicle market that it achieved in 2009, Jim Lentz, CEO of Toyota North America, told reporters before the company's annual shareholders meeting.


Lutz admires entrepreneurs, couldn't be one

12:01 am U.S. ET | June 17, 2013
Bob Lutz says nice things about Rick Wagoner in his new book, Icons and Idiots, but faults his former boss at General Motors for coddling "useless" executives. Lutz got sideways with a few bosses in his time and never made CEO. Should he have been an entrepreneur instead of a corporate high-flyer?

States seek to fill gas tax gap with EV-hybrid tax

12:01 am U.S. ET | June 17, 2013
State lawmakers seeking a new revenue stream to pay for the upkeep of roads are looking for owners of vehicles that use little or no gasoline to pay a little more.

Another low-wattage week for EVs

12:01 am U.S. ET | June 17, 2013
Chalk it up as another rough week on the electric vehicle front.


Bravo to Chrysler's quality chief

12:01 am U.S. ET | June 17, 2013
The Q&A with Chrysler's Doug Betts was interesting, but what caught my attention was his citing a "roughly 60 percent improvement in warranty rates."

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