FirstUp: Daily News

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Today’s FirstUp

April 23, 2014 

Toyota Sells 2.58 Million Vehicles, Outselling GM

According to The Detroit Free Press, Toyota kept its position at the top in global vehicle sales for the first quarter of this year, outpacing rivals General Motors and Volkswagen. Toyota Motor Corp. said today that it sold a record 2.583 million vehicles in the January-March period, putting the Japanese automaker ahead of Detroit-based GM at 2.42 million and Volkswagen of Germany at 2.4 million. Toyota’s first quarter sales rose by more than 6 percent from the same period the previous year. GM’s sales grew 2 percent, while Volkswagen’s added nearly 6 percent. Toyota finished first last year with a record 9.98 million vehicles in sales, remaining the top-selling automaker for a second year in a row. General Motors Co. finished second and VW third. Toyota is targeting sales of more than 10 million vehicles this year. No automaker has sold that many in a year. By region, Toyota’s first quarter sales grew in Japan as consumers rushed to buy ahead of a rise in the sales tax, which kicked in April 1. Its sales also grew in the rest of Asia, the Middle East, South America, and Africa, according to Toyota. Click here for more on Toyota’s sales success

Obama, Abe Under Pressure to Salvage Signature Pacific Trade Pact
A meeting between U.S. President Barack Obama and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe this week in Tokyo may not seal one of the world's biggest trade pacts, but it could give it a much-needed boost, reports Reuters. A central element of Obama's strategic shift towards Asia, the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) would connect a dozen Asia-Pacific economies by eliminating trade barriers and harmonizing regulations in a pact covering two-fifths of the world economy and a third of all global trade. The White House had hoped to complete the deal last year but has faced disagreements over barriers such as Japanese import duties on agricultural products. Tokyo is fighting to maintain import tariffs in five agricultural categories: rice, wheat, dairy, sugar, and beef, and pork products. Washington, meanwhile, has sought ways to protect U.S. carmakers from their Japanese rivals. Experts are looking for signs of concessions, especially from Japan given its staunch protection of its beef, sugar, dairy and wheat industries. Under one optimistic scenario, the leaders could announce they expect concrete outcomes soon, perhaps next month, when TPP negotiators meet in Vietnam. For the latest on efforts to salvage a trade pact with Pacific Rim nations, click here

Car-Industry Insiders Ready to Retake Steering Wheel
Detroit car makers were rescued last decade by a group of outsiders with scant auto industry experience. Now, reports The Wall Street Journal, the insiders are retaking the wheel. Later this year, Ford Motor Co. Chief Executive Alan Mulally will pass the keys to Mark Fields, a 25-year veteran of the U.S. auto maker and its affiliates. General Motors Co. this year named Mary Barra, who started at the company as a college intern, to replace private-equity executive Daniel Akerson. Within a few years, Fiat Chrysler Automobiles CEO Sergio Marchionne, the Italian-Canadian accountant and lawyer who took over Fiat in 2004, is expected to step down and name a replacement most likely from within its existing ranks. "When things are going well, insiders are a natural place to look. When you are in trouble and needing a turnaround, you go to the outside," said Sydney Finkelstein, a management professor at Dartmouth College's Tuck School of Business. Mr. Finkelstein cautions there is no evidence that outsiders do better, only that they are preferred when directors conclude big changes are necessary. For more on the industry insiders taking the reins at Detroit’s automakers, click here

U.S. Dealers Grapple with Recall Pain
Todd Caputo, dealer principal of Sun Chevrolet in Chittenango, N.Y., says he can’t recall a time he had to deal with so many recalls. So many that in the last month he lost floorplan financing money on dozens of used GMC Acadia, Chevy Traverse and Buick Enclave crossovers, Chevy HHRs, and Chevy Express vans that he couldn’t sell because he didn’t have parts to fix them. Automotive News reports that Chevy dealers such as Caputo are in the eye of General Motors’ 2.6 million-vehicle recall storm covering defective ignition switches and cylinder locks. But dealers of non-GM brands that have recently announced recalls face similar issues. Earl Stewart, dealer principal of Earl Stewart Toyota in Lake Park, Fla., says it’s not good for business or the brand’s image when he has to turn customers away who show up with their vehicles for recall repairs because he doesn’t have the parts. He says his service department is open seven days a week. It handles 100 service appointments and about 25 to 35 unscheduled jobs per day. The added volume created by recalls, especially when widely publicized, can disrupt the flow of his service department. Click here for more on the problems vehicle recalls pose to dealers

Electric-Car Buyers Younger and Richer Than Hybrid Owners
While it might seem logical to expect the demographics for buyers of both electric and hybrid-powered cars to be similar, the former tend to skew considerably younger and more affluent than the latter according to a market analysis conducted by Experian Automotive. Forbes reports that based on calendar-year 2013 sales, the study found that 55 percent of electric vehicle buyers are between 36 and 55 years old and have an average household income of $175,000 or more. By comparison, 45 percent of those driving hybrid-powered models off the lot are 56 years old or older (compared to just 26 percent of new EV owners), with only 12 percent having an annual income of $175,000 or higher. Among those who lease their cars, the average term length for an electric vehicle sits at 29 months with a $386 monthly payment, while the typical hybrid goes for 35 months with a more-affordable $263 payment. What’s more, nearly 44 percent of EV buyers indicate they have at least one child living at home, while nearly 52 percent of hybrid car purchasers are empty nesters. Click here for more on the demographic differences between EV and hybrid vehicle drivers.

It's Not Too Late: Register TODAY for AIADA's Auto Summit
There's still time to reserve your spot at AIADA's 8th Annual International Auto Industry Summit, happening May 7-8 in Washington, D.C. The annual Summit is an opportunity for dealers to learn about the policy and legislative issues that are shaping the industry this year and will include speakers like former vice presidential candidate, Rep. Paul Ryan. Other 2014 speakers include Cook Political Report Editor Charlie Cook, Former White House Budget Director Jim Nussle, and Jonah Berger, who is the best-selling author of Contagious: Why Things Catch On. Dealers will also have an opportunity to meet with lawmakers on Capitol Hill on Thursday afternoon. Click here to see what to expect when advocating for your business on Capitol Hill. Make plans now to join your fellow dealers for two-days dedicated to ensuring the future of your business. But don't wait. Register today online by clicking here, or call 1-800-GO-AIADA. 

Around the Web
Bad Cars We Love, Good Cars We Hate [MSN Autos]
1 in 6 Buyers Skip the Test Drive [CBT News]
Toyota Launches Updated Yaris in Europe [Autoblog]
Fisker Hopes to Relaunch Karma in 2015 [The Detroit News]


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