September 14, 2012

Nissan to Move Murano Production to Tenn., Report Says
Nissan Motor Co. plans to shift output of the Murano crossover to its Smyrna, Tenn., plant from Japan, as it overhauls production amid the soaring yen, according to Automotive News. The changeover will come around 2014, when the Murano is expected to undergo a full model change, Japan’s Nikkan Kogyo business daily reported yesterday. Nissan churned out 85,000 Muranos in 2011 at plants in Japan, Russia and China. But 90 percent were made at the company’s Kyushu plant in southwestern Japan, the report said. About 70 percent of that plant’s output was exported to the United States. Moving the Murano to Smyrna would put production at a plant already making two vehicles off the same platform, the Altima and Maxima sedans. It would also counter the exchange rate hit taken by vehicles exported from Japan. Nissan has already announced that it will move production of the Rogue compact crossover to Smyrna from Japan when that vehicle is redesigned for the 2014 model year. U.S. sales of the Murano climbed 4.2 percent to 35,637 vehicles through August. Click here to read more about Nissan’s plans to move Murano production to its Tennessee plant.

CAW to Accept Lower Starting Wage
The Canadian Auto Workers (CAW) are willing to accept a new labor contract with the Detroit Three that would include a new lower starting wage and add four years to the time it takes a new worker to reach the union's full hourly pay. The proposal, offered to General Motors, Ford, and Chrysler late Wednesday, would save the companies about the same amount of money as the UAW's two-tier wage deal in the U.S., said Peter Kennedy, the CAW's national secretary-treasurer. According to The Detroit Free Press, the CAW has been under pressure from the Detroit Three to accept a two-tier wage structure similar to the UAW's contract with the automakers. "We are fundamentally opposed to a two-tier system," Kennedy said. "We don't think that does any good for the union or the company for the long run." Currently, CAW members are paid about $34 per hour after they work for the Detroit Three for six years and are hired at about $24, or 70 percent of the full wage. In the U.S., a new worker starts at $15.78 per hour but tops out at $19.28 per hour. Click here for more on a deal between Detroit’s automakers and the CAW.

8 Ill-Fated Auto Deals
Veteran Morgan Stanley auto analyst Adam Jonas caused a recent stir when he suggested that General Motors reverse course and sell its Opel affiliate rather than try to save it. Reason: its potential damage to the rest of GM. Seeing what he described as "a significant deterioration in the European car market and widening operating losses," Jonas called Opel "the single biggest threat to GM's long term financial health and sustainability." Selling Opel would be harsh medicine, but other automakers have prospered after dumping money-losing operations. Jonas cites two similar transactions in his report, but there have been a half dozen others in the past 30 years. CNN Money takes a look at them and examines how they turned out. The feature cites 1994’s deal between BMW and Land Rover. In 1994, British Aerospace sold its 80% majority share in Rover Group for $1.35 billion to BMW, which was looking for a lower-end brand to complement its luxury performance cars. But despite budgeting $2.8 billion to invest in new models, it never fully confronted Rover's inefficient and antiquated practices, and the acquisition turned into a sinkhole. In 2000, BMW broke up the group. Click here to read about other ill-fated auto deals.

NHTSA Releases Crash-Test List for 2013
On Wednesday, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) announced the 54 passenger cars, light trucks and S.U.V.’s from the 2013 model year that it would subject to crash tests. According toThe New York Times, the agency conducts the annual tests as part of the federal government’s five-star safety ratings program, which is leveraged into a major selling point for automakers whose products perform well. The 33 passenger cars named include entirely new or redesigned models like the Acura ILX, Cadillac XTS, Chevrolet Malibu, Honda Accord, and Nissan Altima. The 16 crossovers and SUVs include the Ford Escape and Mazda CX-5, while among the four pickups is the refreshed Ram 1500. Though it did not receive major updates for 2013, the Toyota Sienna is the lone minivan on the list. NHTSA estimates its list covers 85 percent of the 2013 models sold in the United States, while its rollover tests provide information on 92 percent of the light-vehicle fleet. Ratings based on the crash-test results are posted on the NHTSA Web site. The vehicles the agency chooses to rate are those it predicts will sell in high quantities, vehicles that have been structurally redesigned, and those with improved safety equipment. Click here for more on NHTSA’s new crash test list.

Dealers Find Service Lane an Effective Source of Used Units
With dealers having to get creative to find enough used vehicles these days, it’s becoming clear that many are turning to the service lane as a prime resource for these hard-to-find units. While there are often strategic intricacies involved, the concept, simply put, is this: a customer comes through the service lane with a vehicle that meets a dealer’s used-car inventory needs, and the dealer puts together an offer to acquire the vehicle. Hendrick BMW is one that has successfully bolstered its used inventory by employing this method. That said, Steve Stricklan – pre-owned director at Hendrick BMW – acknowledges that, typically, shoppers don’t immediately jump at the offer. Sometimes this approach requires a bit of teaching or negotiating on the part of the dealer, and sometimes there are vehicles that might not make sense to acquire. But, all in all, Auto Remarketing reports that approaching the service lane customer has proven to be fruitful for the Charlotte, N.C., dealer. The dealership was one of two profiled in a recent case study provided to Auto Remarketing by FirstLook about this technique and how the inventory management company’s offering can help dealers in this regard. Click here for more on how dealers are looking to service lanes to acquire used vehicles.

Around the Web  
The Paceman is Mini's Tall, Two-Door Countryman [Jalopnik]
Jay Leno Drives World's Highest Mileage Lamborghini [Autoblog]
New Range Rover Makes Swanky U.S. Debut [DriveOn]
Lamborghini Recalls Early Gallardos for Potential Fire Risk [Driver's Seat]

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