Automotive News Table of Contents

March 19, 2018

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Austin, we still have a problem
Author: Shiraz Ahmed

Ride-hailing companies Uber and Lyft left the Texas capital to protest what they considered to be too-stringent rules. Now they're back, but tension remains.

Ford’s aggressive product plan bears Hackett’s stamp
Author: Michael Martinez

Jim Hackett is plotting a course for Ford Motor built around the ideas that trucks are what Ford does best, and trucks are what consumers want most. And if fuel prices soar, the CEO will have a new range of hybrids as a backup.

Will tariffs lift American steel to higher grade?
Author: David Sedgwick

Trump's tariff on steel imports could have a cost impact on automakers -- but in a better-case scenario, it could spur investment in hot specialty steels.

GM looks for an encore from Brycz
Author: Anisa Jibrell

The new head of global human resources will serve a critical role at an organization that's trying to balance its industrial heft and heritage with a Silicon Valley-style agility.

Krafcik to keynote European congress

John Krafcik, CEO of Waymo, the Google affiliate working on autonomous vehicle technology, will be the keynote speaker at the Automotive News Europe Congress in Turin on June 6.

Laying the groundwork for post-Ghosn Alliance
Author: Peter Sigal

Ghosn moves a step closer to reassuring Renault, Nissan and Mitsubishi shareholders that their Alliance will outlast him.

PSA stabilizes Opel, but much work remains
Author: Peter Sigal

"No regrets" -- That's PSA Group CEO Carlos Tavares' assessment one year after striking a $2.7 billion deal for Opel and Vauxhall, General Motors' stubbornly unprofitable European brands.

For Toyota, it's always time to panic
Author: Hans Greimel

Why all the crisis talk at Toyota? Akio Toyoda and his team seem to like it that way.

Medical transport is next frontier for ride-hailing
Author: Shiraz Ahmed

The ride-hailing industry is trying to make magic by finding a way to make non-emergency transportation to doctor's offices and hospitals affordable.

Mercedes readying subscription program for U.S.
Author: Richard Johnson

Britta Seeger, Mercedes-Benz's global sales chief, says dealers are cool with the subscription service it is launching in Germany and plans to bring it to the U.S.

Aston, Rolls spar over visions of tomorrow's superluxe sedan
Author: Nick Gibbs

Aston Martin and Rolls-Royce engaged in a public spat at the Geneva auto show over what the superluxury sedan of the future should look like.

GT sports car will be Audi's latest e-tron
Author: Nick Gibbs

Audi's e-tron GT, which will go into production in Germany in 2020, will be a low, sleek coupe-styled sedan with aggressive sports car detailing, based on a teaser photo of the model that Audi released last week.

Nissan rekindles body-on-frame SUV — in China
Author: Lindsay Chappell

Nissan will introduce the body-on-frame Terra SUV in Asia this spring with a name one letter different from its iconic Xterra.

Mexico auto sector down but still kicking
Author: Laurence Iliff

Trump's rhetoric and policies have put a dent in Mexico's auto industry over the last year, but the damage is far less than what some economic analysts on both sides of the border feared.

UAW vs. Tesla: It's on
Author: Katie Burke

UAW complaints, combined with production problems, could make it easier for the union to organize Tesla plants, experts say.

Detroit's auto show needs to escape the winter

The merits of moving the Detroit auto show from January to October are obvious. It's time to quit staging the show in the depths of winter.

Even online, people are the key
Author: James B. Treece

In a brave new world of online vehicle sales and subscription services, the overwhelming importance of hiring and retaining the right people remains.

Jackson ignores back of the store

AutoNation's Mike Jackson looks only at the front of the dealership (sales), just like most other dealers and chain store operators. As such, he is not paying attention to the back of the store (parts and service), where losses in warranty and policy dollars continue to mount.

Safety regulations need attention

The update to the New Car Assessment Program ratings system will be a big part of the future for inspiring the auto industry and must be perfectly clear to increase our driving safety.

What's wrong with fair trade?
Author: Keith Crain

Simply eliminate all tariffs and let everyone compete on an equal footing. That sounds good in theory, but there are still many nations that want to protect their auto industry regardless of the state of its maturity.

Alexa, meet Nexi: AI helps dealers manage used-car lots
Author: James B. Treece

Cox Automotive's vAuto unit says its new Nexi, designed to aid dealerships' used-car operations, is the first AI digital assistant for auto retailers.

Japan group's goal: 'Hydrogen society'
Author: Hans Greimel

Japanese automakers and energy companies have united in a consortium to jump-start construction of a hydrogen refueling network across Japan.

Texting repair info boosts sales, satisfaction
Author: Larry P. Vellequette

Audi of Wallingford in Connecticut uses a Web-based application that allows its service advisers to text repair updates, videos and files to customers, increasing sales and customer satisfaction.

Dentistry student found autos made him smile
Author: Jennifer Vuong

Ohio dealer Joey Huang, who chose auto retailing over a career as a dentist, explains in this Q&A how he got there and why he hasn't looked back.

Daughter's digital digging helps mom make a deal
Author: Sharon Silke Carty

When Automotive News editor Sharon Silke Carty's mom in New Jersey sought help buying a car, she went online to see what she could do from Michigan.

Do online sites help simplify the purchase? Not so much
Author: Michael Wayland

Buying a vehicle online can be complex and irritating, with many well-hyped promises unkept, Automotive News' Michael Wayland found while searching for a practical daily commuter car.

Frustrations in finding a CPO hatchback online
Author: Shiraz Ahmed

A online search for the perfect CPO hatchback quickly turned into a technological nightmare, including accusations of attempted fraud.

Online retailing products take the spotlight
Author: Hannah Lutz

Here's a sampling of the online-retailing tools and enhancements that vendors will showcase at the 2018 NADA convention.

Public retailers push toward online sales
Author: Jamie LaReau

Most public auto retailers are slowly moving toward allowing consumers to complete a full vehicle purchase online.

Cox launches Accelerate digital tool in Las Vegas
Author: James B. Treece

Cox Automotive says it has a way to help car buyers shave up to an hour from the time they spend in dealerships.

Survey: Nearly 1 in 10 does all steps online except for paperwork
Author: James B. Treece

In a survey, 15 percent of respondents said they did a significant part of the transaction online for their most recent vehicle purchase or lease.

Outgoing chief touts political 'seat at the table'

Outgoing Chairman Mark Scarpelli will remember his term as 14 months in which NADA gained an ally in the White House and dealers banded together in times of need.

AIADA priority: Update NAFTA, don't destroy it

The 2018 AIADA chairman has two priorities this year: protect NAFTA and motivate dealers to talk to their elected representatives.

Incoming NADA chief: Stair-steps, vehicle affordability top concerns
Author: Eric Kulisch

In this Q&A, incoming NADA Chairman Wes Lutz discusses the battle against stair-step incentives and whether consumers really want autonomous vehicles.

Rolls-Royce stores rebuild for bigger lineup
Author: Jackie Charniga

Rolls-Royce dealerships renovations aim to make room for expanded lineup while delivering a unique customer experience.

How ultraluxury buyers use leasing
Author: Anisa Jibrell

Leasing has always appealed to luxury-vehicle buyers more than to mass-market ones, and a look at financing in the luxury segment shows why.

Infiniti zeros in on redesigned QX50, inventories
Author: Lindsay Chappell

An eagerly looked-for QX50 redesign arrives this month, as Infiniti keeps a stern eye on inventories.

Mazda, dealers work to improve stores' profitability
Author: Jamie LaReau

For Mazda to sell 450,000 new vehicles annually in three years, the bulk of its dealers need to improve profitability, the dealer council chair said.

More money for marketing, BMW dealers say
Author: Amy Wilson

With a long lineup of new and redesigned vehicles coming in the next year, BMW dealers think the automaker should increase its marketing spend.

Truck lineup has Chevy dealers bullish on 2018
Author: Michael Wayland

Mike Bowsher, head of the Chevrolet National Dealer Council, says dealers are "pretty optimistic" that Chevy's current lineup will be able to address the shift in consumer preferences from cars to crossovers.

EV adoption won't happen overnight, says Ford council chief
Author: Michael Martinez

The chairman of Ford's dealer council thinks the automaker's push toward electrification may be a leap of faith for many customers.

For Mini dealers, boosting profitability is top priority
Author: Amy Wilson

Mini's dealer council is pushing the brand to spend more on marketing and make other moves to help right flagging dealership profitability.

Nissan preps push to sell Titans with training effort
Author: Lindsay Chappell

Selling more Nissan Titans involves sales training in how the pickup works -- and dealership training on how to sell it.

2019 will be year of the truck for Mercedes-Benz
Author: Amy Wilson

Despite an expected increase in crossover and SUV sales this year for Mercedes-Benz, 2019 will be the real year of the truck for the brand.

Strong lineup seen as Honda's advantage
Author: Vince Bond Jr.

Dealer Brian Benstock says Honda is well-positioned to stem the tide even as the brand fights through a down period to start the year.

Kia better positioned with new products
Author: Hannah Lutz

With new and updated product rolling out this year, Kia dealers expect the brand to be better positioned to meet the market's demands.

Opportunity from reduced fleet sales for FCA dealers
Author: Larry P. Vellequette

FCA US posted declining sales every month in 2017 and in the first two months of 2018, yet the newly installed chairman of the FCA National Dealer Council thinks there are opportunities for dealers in those monthly sales numbers.

Volvo dealers worried about subscription models
Author: Katie Burke

Volvo's new subscription service and its plans for its Lynk & CO brand to sell vehicles directly to consumers have stirred unrest among the Swedish automaker's approximately 300 U.S. dealers.

Losing MK names should lift Lincoln sales, dealer says
Author: Michael Martinez

The head of the Lincoln National Dealer Council says he was never a fan of the brand's MK product names and thinks the decision to change them will help sales.

Tight supply of Cayennes for Porsche
Author: Amy Wilson

Porsche dealers expect to exhaust their stocks of the Cayenne midsize crossover before a redesigned version arrives in the U.S. this summer.

'Full steam ahead' on Arch JLR facilities program
Author: Richard Truett

Some JLR dealers initially balked at the Arch plan to combine Jaguar and Land Rover under the same roof. Now, the conversion is rolling forward.

Acura dealers excited to have edgier RDX fronting their lineup
Author: Vince Bond Jr.

Jack Hanania felt a sense of excitement around the Acura brand at the Detroit auto show this year that he hasn't experienced in years.

Product stars finally are aligning for Hyundai
Author: Vince Bond Jr.

Andrew DiFeo, Hyundai's National Dealer Council chairman, says Hyundai's product lineup is finally starting to match up with consumer demand.

Buick-GMC dealers open to longer factory programs
Author: Michael Wayland

The Buick-GMC National Dealer Council is open to changing annual company initiatives such as brand and store standards to multiyear programs.

Toyota's success with cars, trucks inspires confidence
Author: Laurence Iliff

Trucks and cars, incentives, service programs -- Toyota gives its dealers what they need, council chairman says.

Dealers settling in to Cadillac's Project Pinnacle
Author: Michael Wayland

The changes for 2018 were implemented as many dealers missed their targets in 2017.

Solar eclipse started Mitsubishi's Eclipse buzz
Author: Jack Walsworth

The 2018 Eclipse Cross is just what Mitsubishi dealers have been clamoring for, says the chairman of the brand's national advisory board.

Lexus dealers say team effort led to 3-row RX
Author: Laurence Iliff

Lexus dealers are getting the three-row version of the top-selling RX crossover that they lobbied for, in a sign of the brand's interest in halo luxury vehicles.

Retailer: Ascent should help Subaru as a conquest vehicle
Author: Jack Walsworth

Subaru is riding 75 months of year-over-year sales gains. And that's been largely without a three-row crossover.

Audi dealer chair sees progress on profitability
Author: Larry P. Vellequette

A concerted effort by a special committee of Audi's National Dealer Council and the factory have helped make progress on the profitability of the brand's approximately 300 US dealers.

VW dealers cheered by Tiguan outcome
Author: Larry P. Vellequette

Volkswagen dealers like it that the brand's management lowered the price of the redesigned 2018 Tiguan crossover midstream.

Dealers upbeat ahead of spring sales time
Author: James B. Treece

Dealers, always an optimistic group, are nearly euphoric heading into the spring selling season, a survey found, due apparently to federal tax changes.

Geneva show stoppers

You've read about the splashy debuts at the big Swiss auto show this month, but here are seven intriguing vehicles that may have escaped your attention.

Ford recalls 1.4 million cars for loose steering wheels
Author: Nick Bunkley

Ford Motor Co. is recalling nearly 1.4 million Ford Fusion and Lincoln MKZ sedans in North America because loose bolts could allow the steering wheel to come off.

Chassis Brakes reclaims its roots
Author: Lindsay Chappell

Chassis Brakes, barred from the U.S. market by contract for three years, is now making up for lost time.

Hurry up, say lidar customers to supplier
Author: Jim Henry

Customers of lidar supplier LeddarTech are urging the company to move faster in its technology development.

Kiekert readies smarter latches for autonomous driving
Author: Anisa Jibrell

German supplier Kiekert believes autonomous vehicles will need smarter doors.

Suppliers develop a foam structure
Author: Stephanie Hernandez McGavin

BMW, IAC and Sabic together figured out how to make a lighter weight instrument panel carrier using foam. Now they want to perfect it for high-quality interior parts.

Japan's automakers warn of higher vehicle prices
Author: Hans Greimel

Japan's automakers warn that car prices will rise following President Donald Trump's new tariffs on steel and aluminum.

Tom Benson dies at 90; ex-dealer owned New Orleans Saints

Tom Benson, a longtime car dealer who bought the New Orleans Saints football team and New Orleans Pelicans basketball team, died on March 15 at age 90.

'The man' pays JLR a visit in Geneva

JLR's success since passing from Ford to Tata Group has made Ratan Tata a hero inside the British automaker.

For Zetsche, skipping Detroit is hard to do

It wasn't easy for Daimler CEO Dieter Zetsche to go along with the decision for Mercedes to pull out of the Detroit auto show.

What will next Defender look like?

A Land Rover designer says he wishes the new Defender would have bowed at the same time as Mercedes' G class.

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