Headlines for Monday, June 24, 2013

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MDX ads aim to elevate Acura

12:01 am U.S. ET | June 24, 2013
The first creative work from Acura's new ad agency -- for the launch of the redesigned 2014 MDX crossover -- is an attempt to propel the brand's status from premium to true luxury. American Honda Motor Co.'

VIDEO: Hyundai store creates a culture from scratch

12:01 am U.S. ET | June 24, 2013
When Andrew DiFeo opened a Hyundai store in St. Augustine, Fla., in 2008, he saw a chance to create a culture. Earlier experiences at Toyota Motor Sales and his New Jersey-rooted family dealership group helped forge three founding principles.


BMW 4 series coupe sets benchmark for segment price

12:01 am U.S. ET | June 24, 2013
When BMW decided to rethink and reposition the venerable 3 series coupe, it set several ambitious goals: Rename it the 4 series, style it and equip it with an even more premium feel than the 3-series sedan, and charge more for it.

GM plays musical chairs, roils Chattanooga market

12:01 am U.S. ET | June 24, 2013
The turmoil is finally subsiding in the Chattanooga market four years after the national economic crisis and the bankruptcy of General Motors. But getting the car business back in order in this mountainous market of 350,000 people has been a game of musical chairs.

Fiat's Turkish unit raises market forecast

June 24, 2013 10:18 CET
Tofas, a venture between Fiat and a Turkish partner, raised its forecast for growth in the country's car and van market this year as lower interest rates fuel purchases.

VIDEO: First Shift: Global boss for Chevy?

12:01 am U.S. ET | June 24, 2013
Sales chief Alan Batey tapped to lead brand in 140 markets, report says; Jeep Cherokee delay; linking car tech with heart tech.

VIDEO: AutoNews Now: GM arms for Texas shootout

12:01 am U.S. ET | June 24, 2013
Silverado storming pickup capital to grab share from Ford; Honda Civic gets engine of its 'Dreams'; Buick LaCrosse age appeal.

Foreign automaker lobby group hires additional counsel

5:53 pm U.S. ET | June 24, 2013
Mark Dowd, a lawyer who worked for the Obama administration team that oversaw the 2009 restructurings of General Motors and Chrysler Group, has been hired as assistant general counsel at the Association of Global Automakers.

Chrysler Capital gets off to a strong start

12:01 am U.S. ET | June 24, 2013
Chrysler Capital, the lender created this year by Santander Consumer USA and Chrysler Group, is already the top loan writer at Chrysler dealerships. Chrysler Capital, now Chrysler's preferred finance provider, gives Chrysler dealerships a stronger lineup of loan choices for car shoppers.

GM's Batey to be named Chevrolet's global boss, report says

June 24, 2013 12:35 CET
General Motors is expected to name Englishman Alan Batey, a former Vauxhall apprentice who is now the automaker's U.S. sales chief, as Chevrolet's global head, a report said.

Opel convertible, minicar make Akerson's wish list for Buick

June 24, 2013 06:01 CET
Opel's Adam minicar and Cascada convertible would look good in the U.S. showrooms of Opel's sister brand, Buick, General Motors Co. CEO Dan Akerson thinks.

U.S. light-vehicle count, dented by recession and consumer shifts, peaked in 2008, study says

5:35 pm U.S. ET | June 24, 2013
The number of light vehicles on U.S. roads peaked at 236.4 million in 2008, then dropped through 2011, reflecting the auto industry's sharp sales slump and echoing findings from other recent reports that Americans are driving less, a University of Michigan researcher says.

Chevy Spark conceived in South Korea surprise hit in U.S.

10:12 am U.S. ET | June 24, 2013
General Motors in modern times has never successfully sold a tiny car like the Chevy Spark in the United States. The Spark's success today, 26,869 sales in its first 12 months, exceeds GM's initial expectations by as much as 35 percent, said one person familiar with the company's internal planning.

Germany offers new proposal to weaken EU car emissions law

June 24, 2013 11:01 CET
Germany has put forward a new proposal to weaken European draft rules on vehicle CO2 emissions as it struggles to persuade other nations to help it protect its powerful car industry, EU sources said.

Toyota president delivers highest returns for lowest pay

10:10 pm U.S. ET | June 24, 2013
Toyota made its name on the value and efficiency of its cars. Its chief executive, Akio Toyoda, now is earning a similar reputation for his compensation.

Nissan tightens safety watch after U.S. factory fatalities

3:27 pm U.S. ET | June 24, 2013
Nissan is stepping up safety procedures at U.S. manufacturing facilities after three accidental deaths in 18 months at its Tennessee vehicle-assembly complex.

Fiat is getting its own factory reps for dealers

12:01 am U.S. ET | June 24, 2013
Fiat is hiring its own field staff to work with its 205 U.S. dealerships as the brand starts selling its first four-door hatchback, the 500L. Fiat dealerships had been handled by factory reps that also visited Chrysler stores. Most Fiat dealerships are owned by Chrysler dealers.

Lentz: Yen's slide won't help Toyota

12:01 am U.S. ET | June 24, 2013
The weakening yen was supposed to be a boon for imported Japanese vehicles in the United States. But Jim Lentz, Toyota Motor Corp.'s CEO for North America, doesn't see it that way.

Suppliers absorb more of costs from warranty claims

4:12 pm U.S. ET | June 24, 2013
Automakers are increasingly requiring contributions from suppliers for potential product liability, warranty and recall claims, and the emphasis on shared responsibility has worked its way from the automakers down to all three tiers of the supply chain.

Ford, UAW launch two-year pilot to cut blue-collar medical costs

1:24 pm U.S. ET | June 24, 2013
Ford is launching a two-year pilot program with the UAW and a UAW-affiliated retiree healthcare trust aimed at lowering medical costs for the automaker's active and retired hourly workers.

GM's Batey to be named global boss for Chevy

6:35 am U.S. ET | June 24, 2013
GM is expected to name U.S. sales chief Alan Batey as the global head of Chevrolet, a person familiar with the plans said. Batey is expected to be assigned this week to the newly created post to accelerate Chevy's growth in the 140 markets where it is sold.

Subaru scouts Philly area for next HQ

12:01 am U.S. ET | June 24, 2013
Subaru of America has outgrown its Cherry Hill, N.J., headquarters, but it's not going to move to the West Coast, where most other Asian auto brands are based. Instead, Subaru is looking for a site in the area where it is now based. Cherry Hill is a suburb of Philadelphia, which is 9 miles away.

Tesla loan payoff removes acquisition barrier

12:33 pm U.S. ET | June 24, 2013
Tesla Motors, a long-speculated takeover target, just removed a barrier to a deal by paying off a federal government loan. The problem: For would-be suitors, it has also become the world’s most expensive carmaker.

Plant tweaks delay Cherokee launch

12:01 am U.S. ET | June 24, 2013
Chrysler has delayed the launch of the 2014 Jeep Cherokee by a couple of months as it fine-tunes the production process at its revamped Toledo Assembly Complex.

New York lawmakers set aside dealer bill fought by Tesla

12:01 am U.S. ET | June 24, 2013
New York's Assembly set aside a bill that Tesla Motors had said would shut down its operations in the state. The lower chamber adjourned its legislative session late Friday without acting on the measure. Lawmakers in the Assembly aren't scheduled to reconvene until January.

Volkswagen ponders extra Golf production for holidays

June 24, 2013 14:34 CET
Volkswagen is looking for volunteers among its work force in Wolfsburg to build its Golf hatchback during next month's three-week plant holiday to keep up with customer orders


EVs should pay their fair share

12:01 am U.S. ET | June 24, 2013
A June 17 editorial asks: "Should EVs help pay for highway maintenance?" Yes, they should, at least in time. Perhaps we can regard their free ride on fuel taxes as a subsidy justified by the societal benefits of electric vehicles in the initial stages of the market.

A Fiat 500 with 7 seats

12:01 am U.S. ET | June 24, 2013
Fiat will launch an extra-long version of the 500L four-door hatchback in Europe next month. The vehicle, called the 500L Living, is not planned for the United States. At 171.3 inches, the Living is 7.9 inches longer than the 2014 Fiat 500L now on sale in Europe.

Opel convertible, minicar make Akerson's wish list for Buick

12:01 am U.S. ET | June 24, 2013
Opel's Adam minicar and Cascada convertible would look awfully nice in Buick's U.S. showrooms. At least that's what the head of General Motors thinks.

VW plant leads May output

12:01 am U.S. ET | June 24, 2013
The VW Puebla, Mexico, plant topped our list of top 10 plants in North America in production volume in May.


12:01 am U.S. ET | June 24, 2013
Richard Lannen, former executive director of General Motors' Service Technology Group and North American Service Operations, died June 16. He was 76.

Ford drops Harley F-150

12:01 am U.S. ET | June 24, 2013
The Ford brand has discontinued the high-end Harley-Davidson edition of its F-series pickup.

Jeep plan: Peace, but no cure-all

12:01 am U.S. ET | June 24, 2013
Chrysler Group's plan to put trailer hitches on 1.56 million Jeeps has brought peace with federal regulators at a bargain-basement price. But it's not likely to give occupants of those vehicles much more protection in rear-end crashes above 50 mph.

Launches hurt IQS results

12:01 am U.S. ET | June 24, 2013
The increasing frequency of vehicle launches, coupled with the complex infotainment systems going into new models these days, make launching a vehicle a big risk for a brand's quality perception.


Why more TV shows are sounding like car commercials

12:01 am U.S. ET | June 24, 2013
Auto advertising execs say they are increasingly seeking -- and getting -- more from their placement deals in TV shows: not just a few seconds of screen time for a brand or nameplate but a more prominent role in the script that identifies the vehicle by model and showcases distinctive features.


As the pickup war heats up, GM barnstorms top truck market with redone models in push to regain lost share

12:01 am U.S. ET | June 24, 2013
A statewide blitz across Texas -- General Motors calls the five-month swing of more than 60 stops unprecedented -- is just the start of a national Silverado campaign.

An ultimatum for VW Chattanooga?

12:01 am U.S. ET | June 24, 2013
When workers try to unionize, they often hear that their factory will lose business if they do. At Volkswagen AG's only U.S. assembly plant in Tennesse, they are hearing exactly the opposite.


Chrysler made the right call

12:01 am U.S. ET | June 24, 2013
Three weeks ago it looked like Chrysler was about to go to war with the U.S. government's National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. But as quickly as it escalated, it disappeared with Chrysler agreeing to recall many of the vehicles in question. It was the right call.


GM's decision on production data doesn't compute

12:01 am U.S. ET | June 24, 2013
General Motors needs to rethink its myopic plan to stop publicly disclosing monthly vehicle production numbers that are used by economists, analysts, investors, suppliers and dealers to forecast business and make decisions that affect the entire U.S. economy.


How about a big Lincoln, Buick?

12:01 am U.S. ET | June 24, 2013
This is in response to the June 17 stories discussing future product strategies at Lincoln and Buick ("Lincoln targets fastest-growing segments" and "Opel-Buick link to grow stronger").

Toyota to enter turbo-four wars with Lexus by '15

12:01 am U.S. ET | June 24, 2013
Toyota Motor Corp. will offer its first turbocharged 2.0-liter, four-cylinder engine in Lexus vehicles beginning in late 2014 or early 2015. Several other automakers already offer 2.

BMW prices 4 series above its coupe rivals

12:01 am U.S. ET | June 24, 2013
When it goes on sale in late summer, BMW's 4 series, the renamed and redesigned successor to the 3-series coupe, will have a base price of $41,425, with shipping -- nearly $3,000 more than two key competitors.

Honda confirms Civic engine upgrade

12:01 am U.S. ET | June 24, 2013
Honda Motor Co.'s top executive for North America says Americans still favor small cars and good fuel economy, despite a recent boom in pickups that has fueled Detroit 3 market share gains.