FirstUp: Daily News

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Today’s FirstUp

April 16, 2014 

Audi to Revive A3 Hatch in U.S., Sans Gasoline

How confident is Audi that American car buyers will embrace diesel? So confident, it seems, that the German luxury brand has decided to bring back the five-door version of its A3 compact to the United States without offering customers an ordinary gasoline engine. According to Automotive News, Audi announced today, ahead of the New York auto show, that the five-door body style also will be available with a 2-liter TDI engine next summer. Audi already announced plans to sell a plug-in hybrid version of the hatchback called the A3 e-tron. Though the last-generation A3 hatch was pulled from the United States at the end of the 2013 model year, the car “has an incredibly passionate and loyal fan base,” Audi of America President Scott Keogh said in a statement. “This new version has been one of our most requested models since the announcement of the new A3 family.” Exact pricing has not been announced, but the diesel A3 will compete with entry-level luxury cars such as the Lexus CT, a similarly sized hybrid-only hatchback that starts at $32,960 with shipping. Lexus sold 15,071 of them in 2013 in the United States. For more on Audi’s plans to bring its A3 hatchback to the U.S., click here

GM to Ask Bankruptcy Court for Lawsuit Protection
GM wants a federal bankruptcy judge to bar lawsuits related to conduct before its 2009 bankruptcy restructuring. The automaker made the request Friday in a court filing in a lawsuit filed in San Francisco. A hearing is set for U.S. Bankruptcy Court in New York for April 25 on whether the court has jurisdiction. According to The Detroit News, GM faces about three dozen proposed class-action lawsuits related to the recall involving 2.59 million vehicles worldwide for an ignition switch defect linked to 13 deaths. GM says it faces at least 41 lawsuits in 19 U.S. district courts across the country, including in Alabama, Arizona, California, Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Louisiana, Michigan, Missouri, New York, Pennsylvania, and Texas. A judicial panel is debating whether to consolidate the actions into a single court for early stages of the case. GM wants the case sent to the bankruptcy court. As part of GM’s bankruptcy restructuring, GM became a new company in July 2009, leaving behind liabilities for crashes and other product liability claims. “New GM did not assume the liabilities of Old GM,” GM said in the filing. For more on GM’s request, click here

Infiniti Refreshes Biggest Models
Infiniti will show off refreshed versions of its largest models today at the New York International Auto Show, revealing the ’15 Q70 (M) sedan and QX80 SUV. According to WardsAuto, the current-generation M and QX80, called the QX56 at its launch, went on sale in the U.S. in March 2010 and July 2010, respectively. Both models receive freshened exterior styling and a variety of driver-assist technologies, while the Q70 adds a new long-wheelbase model. “We know our customers desire more choice and prestige (and) the long wheelbase Q70 is our offer to them,” Vincent Gillet, vice president-marketing for Infiniti, says in a statement. Infiniti calls the Q70’s design more dramatic and upscale than before. Changed elements include the car’s grille, now boasting a more 3-D look; a wave-like bodyline that flows from the grille to the new LED combination lights in the rear; a flatter trunk lid; and slimmer rear bumper. The Q70 Sport model gets a unique front bumper for a lower, wider appearance, and a rear bumper finished in glossy black paint near the bottom. The Q70 continues to offer wood and leather trim inside, as well as such creature comforts as a 7-in. (18-cm) display screen. For more on Inifiniti’s largest models, click here

5 Car Segments to See Price Corrections
Tax season ended yesterday with the IRS tax filing deadline, and most likely, so will many seasonal price hikes in the lanes. Black Book picked out five car segments, in particular, that are expected to see significant near-term price declines. Every dealer is familiar with what the February through April time frame means: thousands of car-shoppers are going to use their tax rebate checks on used car purchases. Consequently, demand pushes auction prices high as the new year kicks off. According to Auto Remarketing, wholesale prices rose 6 percent in March on a monthly basis and 4 percent from the same period last year, averaging $10,429, according to ADESA Analytical Services’ data. But these unnaturally high rates don’t last for long. Based on seasonal trends tracked by Black Book, the entry midsize car, full-size car, full-size crossover, upper midsize car, and compact car segments will see the biggest price corrections as rates drop back down to normal levels. Touting the largest expected change is the entry midsize car segment, which at the current average of $10,741, is expected to drop 5.9 percent during the May-to-July time frame. For more on the used vehicle segments that can expect to see price corrections, click here

Customers' Luxury Motivation Turns to Self-Reward, Execs Say
The definition of luxury automotive brands, and the motivation of luxury-car shoppers, is changing from a look-at-me display of wealth to a self-reward for achieving success. That was the conclusion of a panel of luxury-brand executives at the NADA/J.D. Power Automotive Forum yesterday in New York. According to Automotive News, executives said that pushes to smaller front-drive vehicles, alternative powertrains, and the entry of new vehicle types like crossovers have irreversibly shaken up automotive luxury. “All the research is showing a very different mindset after the recession,” said Michael Bartsch, vice president of Infiniti Americas. “Conspicuous consumption has shifted to self reward.” That reward is pushing luxury makers into new areas, as consumers define for themselves what a premium vehicle means. Scott Keogh, president of Audi of America, noted that innovations like aluminum bodies, all-wheel drive and four-cylinder engines have gained significant share. For some makers, that can require a change of brand image. Steve Cannon, CEO of Mercedes-Benz USA, said the brand has to go beyond its traditional image of making big, rear-wheel-drive cars. “Our challenge is going to be to change the definition of rear-wheel-drive luxury because the future is going to demand it,” Cannon said. For more on why buyers are choosing luxury vehicles, click here

It Starts Here: AIADA's 8th Annual International Auto Industry 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
2015 VW GTI Priced from $25,515 [MotorAuthority]
The Mercedes S63 AMG Coupe: This Is It [Jalopnik]
2015 Hyundai Sonata Plays a More Mature Tune [Autoblog]
BMW Gets Serious About Plug-Ins for NY Auto Show [USA Today]

 

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