February 2, 2012

January Sales Point to Bright Outlook for International Dealers
AIADA’s January edition of Market Watch reports that the New Year began on a positive note for international nameplate dealers. Overall sales, including domestic brands, rose 11.4 percent from January 2011. For international brands, sales were up an impressive 14.9 percent from January 2011. Hyundai set a January sales record with 42,694 units sold, up 14.7 percent from a year ago. Honda and Toyota both saw sales rise 9 percent. Led by Jetta and Passat sales, Volkswagen marked its best January since 1974. The German automaker gained 47.9 percent over January 2011. “International nameplate dealers started 2012 off on the right foot,” said AIADA President Cody Lusk. “New models, new technology, and signs of a recovering economy drove customers to dealerships in January. We expect this year to be the most profitable our industry has seen in some time.” International brands led sales in the U.S. during January, occupying 55.8 percent of the market and selling 509,793 units. Five of the top ten selling vehicles in January were international nameplates, led by the Toyota Camry. Click here to read the rest of AIADA’s Market Watch sales report for January and check out the accompanying charts.

International Brands Fume as Obama Saves Auto Show Love for U.S. Makers
As President Obama planned a visit to the Washington Auto Show for Jan. 31, international automakers including Honda Motor Co. and Toyota Motor Corp. hustled to show off for him. On about two days’ notice, they flew in executives from as far away as California. They trucked in their most fuel- efficient vehicles, as requested by White House staff. However, reports Automotive News, President Obama walked in, strolled past cars made in the U.S. by international companies, and spent much of his half-hour tour being photographed with a Dodge Dart, a Ford Mustang Shelby GT500, a Chevrolet Silverado pick-up, a Jeep Grand Cherokee, a Chevrolet Corvette ZR-1, a Ford C-Max Energi plug-in hybrid, and a Chevrolet Malibu. Representatives of Honda, Kia Motors Corp., Mercedes-Benz, and other automakers waited in a “bullpen” to be called upon to answer Obama’s questions about their vehicles. None were, said Michael Stanton, CEO of the Association of Global Automakers. The President’s visit to the show at the Washington Convention Center came one day before Honda announced a $100 million expansion at an Ohio transmission plant that will add 150 jobs. Click here to read more about President Obama’s visit to the Washington Auto Show this week.

Honda, Daimler to Expand U.S.
Honda Motor Co. and Daimler AG on Wednesday disclosed separate plans to increase production in the U.S., adding to a recent surge in job creation and capital spending in the U.S. by international automakers. Honda said it would invest $98 million to expand an engine plant in Ohio, a move linked to an earlier announcement of a $120 million expansion of its Russells Point, Ohio, transmission plant. Both additions are expected to create 150 jobs combined. According to The Wall Street Journal, Honda is in the midst of a massive North American expansion that will end with the region producing more than half of the auto maker's global vehicles. Daimler said it will invest $2.4 billion in U.S. facilities in 2012. A Daimler spokesman said the investments include the production of a new vehicle at Mercedes-Benz's plant in Tuscaloosa, Ala., from 2015. Last year, Daimler said investments at the Tuscaloosa plant would be "nearly $2.4 billion" between 2010 and 2014. On Tuesday Volkswagen AG said it was adding 200 workers to its new plant in Chattanooga, Tenn., to expand capacity. Read more on international automakers and their plans to expand their U.S. operations here.

2012 Best Cars for Families Awards
The 2012 U.S. News Best Cars for Families Awards help busy parents navigate the confusing new car market by highlighting cars, minivans, and SUVs that provide the best combination of features, utility, safety, and reliability. With 17 award winners across 18 automotive categories, the awards spotlight cars that will suit any family’s lifestyle and budget. Click here for a phogo gallery. Large families will appreciate the comfort and space of the seven-seat Honda Odyssey, the 2012 Best Minivan for Families. If families need rugged towing and foul-weather abilities, the Toyota Sequoia, the 2012 Best Affordable Full-Size SUV for Families, offers seating for seven and enough power to tackle what active families throw its way. Smaller families can find plenty to like in the Subaru Impreza, the 2012 Best Compact Car for Families, or the Honda Fit, which is both the 2012 Best Subcompact Car for Families and the 2012 Best Hatchback for Families. While features like rear-seat entertainment systems and wi-fi hotspots grab attention, truly family-friendly cars also offer safety, reliability, and utility. This year’s winning vehicles may not put an end to back-seat squabbles, but they should make life for parents just a little bit easier. Click here to read more on this year’s top family cars.

BMW Plants Seeds of Silicon Valley in the West Village
BMW iVentures, an investment arm begun in tandem with the automaker’s i subbrand, has established a start-up incubator on Morton Street in the West Village of New York City. The space was inaugurated with a party and panel discussion on Tuesday. According to The New York Times, the i subbrand is primarily oriented toward developing advanced-powertrain vehicles, like the i3 electric urban runabout, and more sustainable methods for producing them. BMW iVentures complements that image by nurturing or acquiring stakes in digital services related to efficient urban mobility. Projects under the tutelage of BMW iVentures include the German car-sharing outfit DriveNow, the city-guide app developer MyCityWay, and ParkatmyHouse, billed as the parking equivalent of Airbnb. MyCityWay is the only iVentures-backed business in the incubator, but ParkatmyHouse is expected to move in shortly, Kenn Sparks, a BMW spokesman, said this week. BMW iVentures also plans to work with the New York University‘s Rudin Center for Transportation Policy, as well as the high-tech academic venture recently announced by Mayor Bloomberg, involving Cornell University and the Technion-Israel Institute of Technology. For more on BMW’s iVentures, and its new start-up space in New York City’s West Village, click here.

CNA National: Celebrating 30 Years of the Highest Quality Products and Customer Service
CNA National Warranty Corporation—a wholly owned subsidiary of CNA, one of the nation’s oldest and largest insurers—is celebrating 30 years in business. Known in the automobile dealer industry as the leading provider of vehicle service contracts, CNA National (CNAN) was established as Western National Warranty Corporation in January 1982 as a family-owned business operated by Paul and Judy Askos. “Every day we feel entrusted to continue the dream that Paul and Judy started three decades ago,” says Joe Becker, president and chief executive officer of CNAN. “We have gone through many transitions and trends in the industry, but our commitment to providing the highest quality product and customer service has never changed. We enjoy the financial stability provided to us by CNA, while valuing the family-owned roots that built the foundation for our enduring success.” The company has seen exponential growth over the years, with nearly 2 million contracts in force today. “Our goal was never to be the biggest, but to be the best,” says Alan Miller, senior vice president of sales for CNAN. Is your dealership working with CNAN? If not, call (800) 345-0191 ext. 720 or click here to work with the best.

Around the Web 
Consumers Express Concerns About Electric, Plug-In Hybrid Cars [Consumer Reports]
Every Super Bowl Car Ad: Watch Them Here [Motoramic]
First Drive: 2013 Porsche Panamera GTS [Motor Trend]
BMW Sharpens Its Edge with First M3 DTM Livery [Autoblog]

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