April 25, 2012
Senate Rejects Measure to Nullify Union Rules
The Associated Press reports that the Senate rejected a Republican attempt Tuesday to overturn new regulations designed to give unions quicker representation elections in their effort to organize more workplaces. The 54-45 vote against a resolution of disapproval leaves intact National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) rules that are scheduled to take effect April 30. Unions had sought the rules changes while business groups opposed them. Senate Democrats unanimously supported the new regulations. Alaska Sen. Lisa Murkowski was the only Republican supporting them. Under the existing regulations, workers typically vote within 45-60 days after a union gathers enough signatures from workers saying they want to hold an election. The new rules could cut that time by days or even weeks by simplifying procedures and putting off some challenges until after the election is held. Unions call the changes a modest fix to prevent companies from using stalling tactics to delay a vote. Opponents argue the new rules will lead to "ambush" elections that barely leave company managers enough time to respond or counsel against forming a union. Read more about efforts to halt new NLRB regulations here.
The 'Near Luxury' Car Buyer: Myth or Reality?
The Acura ILX, and rivals such as the Buick Verano and Lexus CT 200h represent a bet by some automakers that demand is pent up for cars that are small and frugal like economy models, but come equipped with some of the comfort features, flourishes, and badges of a luxury brand, reports The Wall Street Journal. Acura executives say they believe the "near premium" segment in which the compact ILX will compete could grow by as much as 16 percent a year, on average, through 2017 – faster than any other luxury-market segment. And Honda isn't the only company taking aim at consumers looking for status on a budget. German luxury brands have said they plan to bring to the U.S. more economical compacts and subcompacts they sell in Europe. Acura wants the ILX to lure members of Generation Y, the buyers between 18 and 34 years old who have landed decent jobs, want a luxury-brand car with a distinctive design, but don't really care how fast it goes – or so Acura executives believe. This target customer lives in or near a big city such as New York, Los Angeles, or Chicago. Click here to read more on the demand for “near luxury” vehicles.
U.S. Extends Comment Period on Proposed Distracted Driving Regs
According to Automotive News, U.S. regulators have decided to extend the comment period on distracted driving guidelines by 24 days after The Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers (AAM) asked for more time to review the feds’ proposal, according to a notice to be published Wednesday in the Federal Register. AAM, which represents 12 automakers, asked for the extension to give it more time to respond before the voluntary guidelines are firmed up. In February, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration released the long-awaited recommendations, which call on manufacturers to avoid built-in features that are dangerously distracting to a driver while a vehicle is in motion. They include center-stack features that require a driver to punch-in numbers or text while driving. At the time, the agency provided a 60-day comment period that was to end Tuesday. The comment period has been extended to May 18. The nonbinding guidelines also call on automakers to disable internet browsing, 10-digit phone dialing, and the ability to enter addresses into built-in navigation systems unless the driver has put the car in park. For the latest on proposed distracted driving regulations, click here.
J.D. Power & LMC Auto: Retail Recovery Still Better Than Expected
Although their seasonally adjusted annualized rate has slowed down in April, retail new-vehicle sales are still likely to enter the spring selling season with some steam and continue to beat expectations, according to the latest forecast from J.D. Power and Associates’ Power Information Network and LMC Automotive. It is projected that new-vehicle retail sales will total 894,100 units this month, reports Auto Remarketing. This sum would be up 8 percent year-over-year when adjusted for selling days. The retail SAAR would end up being 10.2 million units, compared to 11.7 million in March and 10.8 million in April 2011. “The daily selling rate in April is projected at 37,000 units, which is higher than the 34,000-unit average in the first quarter,” explained John Humphrey, senior vice president of global automotive operations at J.D. Power. “While April is typically a challenging month to draw comparisons with because the Easter holiday some years falls in April and other years in March, the signs of sustained growth are evident.” LMC has upped its forecast and believes there will be 14.3 million total new vehicles (retail and fleet) sold this year. Previously, its forecast was for 14.1 million. For the latest predictions on the recovery of the auto market, click here.
6 Green Cars That Don't Live Up to the Hype
The variety of cars that are gas-electric hybrids or run on batteries is greater than ever. There are many good reasons to purchase such a vehicle, from pumping out fewer emissions to feeling good about doing one's part. But saving money – even at a time of sky-high gas prices – isn’t always one of them. According to CNN Money, while many models can save owners money compared to the equivalent gasoline-powered versions, others can cost quite a bit more, depending on the sticker price, depreciation rate, and, naturally, the price of gasoline. Of course, the opposite can be true. The latest Prius model from Toyota proves its thrifty claims faster than most alt-fuel models, when compared with a similar model that runs on gasoline. Consumer Reports, which extensively tests automobiles and also rates them on the basis of real-world experience from surveyed owners, has analyzed the metrics that help determine which alternative-fuel vehicles are the least desirable to own, purely from a cost of ownership standpoint. The results were noteworthy, especially if you're shopping for a green vehicle. Click here to check out the slideshow and accompanying information on the green cars that Consumer Reports deemed less than stellar.
Securing the Future: Register Today for AIADA’s International Auto Industry Summit
Join fellow international nameplate dealers who are Securing the Future of their businesses May 23-24 at the Mayflower Renaissance Hotel in Washington, D.C. for AIADA's 6th Annual International Auto Industry Summit. The two-day event will bring together auto industry leaders and Washington insiders to equip dealers with the tools they need to successfully advocate on behalf of their businesses, brands, and employees. Some of Washington’s top insiders, an industry executive Q&A panel moderated by Automotive News editor Jason Stein, and the chance to visit with your Congressional members and their staff are just a few of the items on this year’s Summit agenda. Dealer involvement is crucial to securing the future of the international auto retail industry, especially in this election year. Please note that the deadline for reserving your hotel room with the Mayflower Renaissance Hotel under AIADA's reserved rate is May 1. Don’t wait. Register today by clicking here or by calling 1-800-GO-AIADA.
Around the Web
Listen to BMW's New M5 Active Sound System [Autoblog]
Cool Cars from the Beijing Auto Show [CNN Money]
Audi Unveils Plug-In Version of A6 Sedan [DriveOn]
How to Avoid Getting a Parking Ticket [Forbes]