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Thursday, 29 January 2009 10:37

Promising signs arise for January auto sales

Pent-up demand for new vehicles grew to 820,000 new cars and trucks last year, as consumers continued to wait out the dismal economic environment before making a new purchase, according to a report released Monday by CNW Marketing Research.

“We think the partnership with Fiat not only gives us a lot of confidence, but more than that, it really moves us to a prosperity plan where it’s a true global powerhouse,” Press told reporters following a meeting with dealers near the Baltimore-Washington International Thurgood Marshall Airport.

Thursday, 29 January 2009 10:31

Chrysler-Fiat deal may yield 7 new vehicles

Automakers say reports speculative

As for the specific product plans between the two automakers, spokespeople for Fiat and Chrysler said any reports are speculation.

Although defending proposed alliance, top exec says automaker is also exploring other alternatives.

Chrysler LLC Vice Chairman and President Jim Press said the automaker is in talks with other possible partners if the U.S. Treasury Department rejects a tie-up with Fiat SpA, and defended the proposed alliance saying it would help preserve U.S. jobs.

Wednesday, 28 January 2009 12:35

Chrysler turns to Fiat for strength

Chrysler has grabbed a tenuous lifeline, agreeing to give Italian automaker Fiat 35% of the company in exchange for access to its small car platforms and a global dealer network.

Wednesday, 28 January 2009 12:23

Incentives help Chrysler market share

Chrysler seeks $3 billion more in U.S. loans

Chrysler LLC's new incentives have given it more market share this month, even as the auto industry's sales remain depressed, Chrysler President Jim Press said.

GM said it may lose as many as 500 dealers in its home market this year, an increase from 350 last year, as the largest U.S. automaker works toward a goal of cutting 1,700 by 2012.

Mercedes-Benz's U.S. division paid a $28.9 million fine in December, 2008 --- the second largest such fine imposed --- for violating federal fuel efficiency requirements in the 2007 model year, the government said Jan 6. A total of six automakers were assessed $37 million in fines in 2008 for violating federal fuel efficiency requirements.

In declining a federal bailout, CEO Alan Mulally gambled that cash—and new models such as the Fusion Hybrid—can help Ford outlast its rivals

A new analysis by Consumer Reports magazine shows that two of Detroit's automakers -- Ford Motor Co. and General Motors Corp. -- are making "real progress" against foreign rivals while Chrysler LLC continues to lag behind the rest of the industry.

Hyundai will cover the depreciation on any returned leased or financed vehicle for the first 12 months to those who find themselves unable to make their car payments.

The U.S. Treasury said Monday it will grant General Motors Corp. a second loan totaling $5.4 billion on Jan. 16 as part of the $13.4-billion rescue of the ailing automaker.

Market likely to stay rough for at least first half of year

The historic collapse of the new-car market dragged on in December, raising questions of whether the auto industry will ever again have sales levels that it took for granted just a few years ago.

Once the air clears (pun intended) and the whining ends, what you’re likely to increasingly hear is how the big three automakers are rapidly ramping up their Plug-in Hybrid Electric Vehicle (PHEV) research and development.

The company has yet to report fourth-quarter results, but FORD CEO Mulally's remark suggests the company's monthly cash burn narrowed to $1.3 billion in the fourth quarter compared with $2.5 billion per month in the previous three months.

While most companies have seen a downturn since the recession began, recent news that Chrysler plans to suspend activity in most North American factories this summer meant another blow for the nation's auto parts suppliers - an industry that employs more U.S. workers than the automakers themselves.

Unless General Motors makes fundamental changes in its basic decision-making process, the company will be “back at the public trough again and again until the public finally grows weary and allows its demise.” That’s the view of Rob Kleinbaum, an auto industry business consultant who has worked or consulted for GM for the last 24 years.

Sunday, 01 June 2008 12:21

Data is the Tool, Information is the Currency

Written by

Metlife has written to shop members of its DRP (Guaranteed Repair Program) suspending the use of aftermarket steel bumpers, bumper reinforcements, energy absorbers, brackets and radiator supports. The letter dated Feb 5, 2010, stated:

The U.S. House of Representatives is considering a partial repeal of the McCarran-Ferguson Act that will apply only to health insurers. H.R. 3596, the Health Insurance Industry Antitrust Act, is tentatively scheduled to come to the House floor week of Feb 14.

Wednesday, 02 December 2009 08:22

The Hartford to Appeal Shop Judgement

A landmark 6-year-old class action lawsuit which awarded $15 million to Connecticut auto body repair shops concluded the Hartford Insurance Company was paying unfair  labor rates. The lawsuit may now be heading to the Connecticut appellate court.

McConnell Interested in Health Care Package Impact on Repair Industry

Leaders from the Automotive Service Association (ASA) met with U.S. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., to discuss insurance reform and the repeal of the McCarran-Ferguson Act. This meeting was part of ASA’s Capitol Hill Fly-In July 28-29 for automotive collision repairers.

ASA Press Release: President Obama Announces Insurance Reform Proposal

President Barack Obama announced the administration’s proposal, “Financial Regulatory Reform: A New Foundation” on June 17. As expected, the president’s plan would establish a federal Office of National Insurance (ONI) within the Department of the Treasury, and it would further modernize the American system of insurance to compete within the global market. Presently, the United States is “the only country in the International Association of Insurance Supervisors (IAIS) that is not represented by a federal insurance regulatory entity able to speak with one voice,” according to the proposal.

The U.S. House of Representatives Financial Services Committee’s Subcommittee on Capital Markets, Insurance and Government Sponsored Enterprises held a hearing regarding “Systemic Risk and Insurance.” Rep. Paul E. Kanjorski, D-Pa., chairman of the subcommittee, continues to push for federal regulation of insurance. Kanjorski has legislation that will create an Office of Insurance Information (OII) within the U.S. Department of the Treasury. This bill does not go as far as other initiatives that provide insurers with a federal or state regulatory option.
Terry Fortner, Vice President Material Damage Claims for Nationwide Insurance, will be retiring this summer after more than 30 years with the company. Fortner has held many positions within Nationwide since his joining the company in 1977 as a trainee and earning his first position as a multi-line claims adjuster. He has been claims manager, quality control leader, managing claims consultant, claims technical officer, and associate vice president prior to being named to his current post as vice president of material damage claims.

Fortner will officially retire on July 31, 2009 and plans to take some time off and relocate to the Southeast.

The recession has made retaining existing customers more important than ever for insurers. For carriers’ long-term profitability, customer retention is the most important factor, acconding to  the J.D. Power and Associates 2009 Personal Insurance Retention Special Report.
The report finds that in the past 12 months, 30 percent of households with annual incomes below $50,000 shopped for a new insurance carrier and 45 percent of those customers eventually switched carriers. In contrast, only 26 percent of more affluent households (those with incomes of $100,000 or more) shopped for a new carrier, with only 31 percent of shoppers eventually switching.

The Automotive Service Association (ASA) of Arizona released the results of its 12th annual “Best Insurer” survey.  Arizona collision repair facilities were asked to rate insurance companies on a scale of one (worst) to ten (best) based on the question; “Do the insurance company’s overall policies, attitudes and payment processes focus on providing quality and timely repairs for the consumer?”

A year-long investigation by the Maryland Insurance Administration has found that 67 of the state's 119 car insurers underpaid claims, Commissioner Ralph S. Tyler said on April 17.

Auto Repair, Credit, Catastrophic Risk Issues Top PCIs State Advocacy Agenda in 2009

Auto repair issues, credit-based insurance scoring, catastrophic risk issues, and a continued push for a more effective and efficient regulatory environment top the list of 2009 state advocacy objectives for the Property Casualty Insurers Association of America (PCI).

Deal would make Farmers the largest auto insurer in California

American International Group announced a deal to sell 21st Century, its auto insurance unit to Farmer's Insurance Group, owned by Swiss insurer Zurich Financial Services. Some kind of deal has been anticipated since October of last year, and talks between the two firms were first confirmed in February.

AIG said Farmers Group will pay $1.9 billion, about $1.5 billion in cash and $400 million in notes. Farmers will also assume 21st Century’s outstanding debt of $100 million.

Zurich CEO James J. Schiro said that expansion of U.S. personal lines capabilities at Farmers “has always been one of our strategic priorities.”  Growing Farmers, he said, “reduces the overall volatility of our portfolio of businesses, while continuing our focus on profitable growth through customer, product and distribution excellence.”



Sears Holdings Corp. plans to expand its Sears Auto Center network by recruiting former car dealers as franchisees. Sears said it is launching the Independent Sears Auto Center franchise program, allowing auto dealers who lost their GM or Chrysler franchises to operate as licensed Sears Auto Centers.

Tuesday, 09 February 2010 08:49

Prius Recall totals 437,000 Worldwide

Automotive News is reporting that Toyota announced, on Feb. 9, a worldwide recall of 437,000 hybrids, mostly of the 2010 Prius, triggered in part by an NHTSA investigation  of braking problems with the 2010 Prius.

Friday, 05 February 2010 06:58

GM, Ford may be benefiting from Toyota woes

The U.S. auto industry rebounded from last January's sales collapse with one big exception: Toyota, which lost an estimated 20,000 sales after it stopped selling eight models because of defective gas pedals.

Monday, 01 February 2010 10:36

Feds sign off on Toyota gas pedal remedy

Toyota spokesman Mike Michels said the company received feedback from the government, but he would not say what that was or when it intends to start sending out parts. The company has said it plans to announce the fix the week of Feb. 1.

Toyota Motor said on Feb. 1 that repairs to accelerator pedals in millions of recalled vehicles would begin later this week as it tried to reassure customers and show that it had the situation under control.

Thursday, 28 January 2010 11:32

Mopar Gives Dealers Cut of Online Orders

Automotive News has reported that Chrysler Group’s Mopar parts brand has opened an online store to sell parts and accessories electronically. Dealers, though, will ship the parts to customers and get paid for handling the sales.

Thursday, 28 January 2010 11:19

Toyota recalls top 5.3 million vehicles

Toyota's recall troubles continue to grow, with the total number of vehicles affected by two recalls involving gas pedals growing to at least 5.3 million.

Collision Week has reported that efforts by Autobody News columnist Toby Chess have led to GEICO issuing an order to inform  its staff of the companywide policy change this week citing the recent industry dialog surrounding the quality of aftermarket bumper reinforcements.

Thursday, 28 January 2010 10:35

Toyota Recall is the right thing says NADA

The National Automobile Dealers Association (NADA) issued the following statement today on the Toyota recall:

"Toyota is doing the right thing. The safety of the customer is of paramount concern. Toyota has a reputation for resolving problems quickly. We certainly hope that's the case in this situation as well.

Friday, 22 January 2010 10:22

Honda Hybrids Behind Sales Target

Honda planned on selling 200,000 Insight hybrids worldwide in its first year on the market, but that prospect has dimmed, Honda's executive vice president Koichi Kondo told media sources. The problem with the car is that it's too small for American customers, particularly in the backseat, Kondo explained. U.S. customers instead prefer Toyota's revamped hybrid Prius. The Prius beat Insight sales seven-to-one in the U.S. during the final quarter of 2009.


Toyota  announced on Jan 21 it would recall approximately 2.3 million vehicles to correct sticking accelerator pedals on specific Toyota Division models. This action is separate from the on-going recall of approximately 4.2 million Toyota and Lexus vehicles to reduce the risk of pedal entrapment by incorrect or out-of-place accessory floor mats. Approximately 1.7 million Toyota Division vehicles are subject to both recall actions.

General Motors has returned $140 million of the $290 million it received from the government to support is parts suppliers.

Wednesday, 25 November 2009 09:31

Toyota changing gas pedals on four million cars

Toyota Motor Corp. on Nov. 25 said it would fix about four million vehicles in the U.S. to avoid sudden acceleration that could occur from the floor mat interfering with the gas pedal.

--  Ford Motor Company has named Nancy Gioia to the new position of director of Global Electrification as the company accelerates its electric vehicle strategy

Toyota Motor Corporation's former in-house lawyer for rollover cases suddenly turned over hundreds of documents to a federal judge in Texas today in an apparent move to support his allegations that the automaker concealed and destroyed evidence in at least 300 accident cases.
Thursday, 29 October 2009 10:07

GM Sales Up in October

A top General Motors Co. sales analyst says the automaker is likely to post its first year-over-year monthly sales gain in October.

Tuesday, 29 September 2009 13:51

Toyota and Lexus Recall 3.8 M Vehicles

Recent events have prompted Toyota to take a closer look at the potential for an accelerator pedal to get stuck in the full open position due to an unsecured or incompatible driver's floor mat. A stuck open accelerator pedal may result in very high vehicle speeds and make it difficult to stop the vehicle, which could cause a crash, serious injury or death.

Wednesday, 25 November 2009 09:28

Toyota to recall about 110,000 Tundras

Toyota will recall about 110,000 Tundra vehicles sold in the United States due to safety concerns. The move was triggered by excessive corrosion on the frame rear cross-member of certain Tundra vehicles which operate in areas with high road salt use. "In the worst case, the spare tire stowed under the truck bed may become separated from the rear cross-member. Spare tire separation will create a road hazard for following vehicles and increase the likelihood of a crash," said the Japanese auto maker in a statement.

Wednesday, 19 August 2009 09:52

GM Sells Saab in All Stock Deal

GM has signed a stock purchase agreement with Swedish luxury car builder Koenigsegg Group AB regarding the sale of Saab. The deal is expected to conclude in the next several months.

Monday, 10 August 2009 09:49

Ford Says Suppliers Need to Restructure

  • Ford urges suppliers to re-examine their product portfolios, financial structure and manufacturing operations to create a more healthy business model
  • Ford is committed to supporting its long-term suppliers as they pursue restructuring actions
  • Ford has accelerated its supplier consolidation process to strengthen the industry supply base

Some of the largest U.S. Automotive Retailers in the country created a privately funded stimulus program to provide up to $4500 in incentives for consumers to make it easier for them to get a newer more fuel efficient vehicle. The dealer funded Automotive Stimulus Plan was designed to complement the government's program and to compensate for some of the gaps that don't allow consumers to purchase pre-owned vehicles or choose a short term lease.

Monday, 03 August 2009 11:34

Hyundai's Sales Jump 21% in July

Hyundai Motor America today announced July sales of 45,553 units, a 21 percent increase over last month and 12 percent increase compared with July 2008. This marks the seventh consecutive month of year-over-year retail share gains, and another all-time record retail market share performance. Cash-for-clunkers deals accounted for 22 percent of Hyundai sales.

Monday, 03 August 2009 10:20

Dealers Still Pay Tax on CARS Rebates

The CARS act exempts consumers from paying taxes on the rebate. But it does not exempt car dealers.

U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood said that the CARS program will continue until the Senate votes on an extension. Whether the program continues with an additional $2B in funding, already appproved by the House, will depend on the Senate vote, Dealer rebate applications will be honored at least through Tuesday, Aug. 4.