Ford to build an 8-speed transmission in Michigan

Ford will build an eight-speed front-wheel-drive transmission, downsized from a planned nine-speed, at a Michigan plant.

Lexus patient with fixed-price program

A year into the Lexus Plus no-haggle pricing program, the expected waves of dealers joining are only ripples. But brand executives say a slow and steady pace has its benefits.

How racing pays off in daily driving

Automakers rationalize racing as a proving ground for performance and safety technology. I totally buy that, even for brands that make mainstream family haulers.

APR hits marker not seen since 2010

The average interest rate on a new-vehicle loan in April topped 5 percent, marking the first time since 2010 that the average U.S. interest rate has exceeded that level for two straight months. Rising interest rates could hurt U.S. new-vehicle sales, Edmunds says.

Ford Credit staffers spared from cuts

Ford Motor Co. plans to cut 10 percent of its salaried ranks in North America and Asia to cut costs amid slowing U.S. sales and growing outlays for new technology, but 7,300 workers at Ford Motor Credit Co. will keep their jobs.

Online transaction tools help dealers build trust

Enable customers to work through their transaction from the dealership website, suggests Chris May of JM&A Group. "We know a consumer has access. They can calculate a payment. They can go to other websites and get this information," he said. "Why not enable them to engage in the transaction through your website, ultimately building that trust and transparency to earn their business?"

Auto lenders unite to fight fraud

Major lenders, representing more than a third of U.S. auto loan originations, have begun to share internal auto lending data and experiences to combat fraud. Ninety percent of the lenders say fraud is a growing concern.

Online intros could draw Gen Y to F&I products

Millennials are more cost-conscious than Gen Xers or baby boomers, according to a Cox Automotive study, but transparency and online F&I product introductions could sway them to open their wallets for add-ons.

Teach F&I directors how to talk to lenders

Train F&I directors on how to have meaningful discussions and relationships with lenders, suggests Eric Fifield of EFG Cos. Doing so can maximize lender incentives for dealership profitability. “Provide them with talking points around reducing loan delinquency and remediation rates [and] ensure your lenders understand your policy on F&I product pricing strategies,” he said.

Toyota Financial growing -- and moving

Toyota Financial Services is issuing more contracts for protection products than financing as it tries to both extend its lead as the nation's top auto lender and complete its move to Plano, Texas.

Public dealership groups improve Q1 F&I results

Five of the six public new-vehicle retailers improved their F&I performance in the first quarter. Among the reasons cited for the gains: acquisitions, F&I product sales and working more closely with the sales team.

Accept customers' ties with their credit unions

When customers mention their credit unions, never respond with a negative, advises Melissa Bell, finance manager at Findlay Honda. “People are very loyal to their credit unions. And most credit unions work very well with us. We don't want to ruin our relationship with them,” she said. “If a customer has established a relationship with a credit union and wants to use them, accept that. You won't change their minds.”

Ally continues to grow used business

Ally Financial increased its lease originations in the first quarter. But rather than aggressively seeking growth in its leasing business, Ally is prioritizing used-vehicle financing, executives said.

Detroit 3 lenders show mixed Q1 results

Profits were mixed at the main lenders for the Detroit 3 automakers in the first quarter. Profits rose sharply at GM Financial but fell at Ford Credit and Santander Consumer USA.

What Protective gained when it bought U.S. Warranty

When Protective Asset Protection's parent acquired U.S. Warranty Corp. last year, the purchase came with a value proposition: expertise in helping dealers design their own F&I products. Now Protective plans to expand that business.

How to respond to an F&I skeptic

F&I managers know there's at least one constant in their jobs: Car buyers remain wary of finance and insurance. So it's imperative F&I managers and dealership staff develop presentation styles that help F&I skeptics sort through their misgivings.

AutoNation Q1 F&I results soften

AutoNation's F&I results eased slightly in the first quarter, and the company expects a flat or slight downward trend to continue this year as its used-vehicle volume expands as a share of total unit sales.

Successful training takes preparation

Before investing in training, dealers should ask managers where the team can improve, suggests Todd Cooper of EFG Cos. Without buy-in from F&I directors and sales managers, he said, "all that money spent on training will fly right out the window." Dealers' next step is to tell trainers the outcome they're hoping for to ensure "the training content, methodology and delivery is in line with [their] needs."