October 18, 2012

The Death Tax is Killing Small Businesses
AIADA Chairman Ray Mungenast writes in this week’s blog that small business owners in America all face one giant threat – but it goes by two names. In some circles, it’s the Death Tax. In others, the Estate Tax. Supporters of the tax call it the Estate Tax to disguise the fact that it is a heavy tax levied on families after a death. It’s a big part of the reason that family businesses are going extinct in this country. It is also a tax that doesn’t pay out. While the individual income tax brings in $829 billion annually, the Death Tax brings in only $24 billion, or 1.1 percent of total federal revenue. The upcoming election will determine the future of the Death Tax. Depending on the results, in 2013 the tax could either be eliminated or it could get much worse - ramped up from a 35 percent rate to 55 percent rate and applied to estates of $1 million and up. Mungenast writes that for sake of his kids, employees, and community, he knows how he’s voting in November. Please do your part, and get out and vote! Read the rest of this weeks’ Ray on Point on what the Death Tax means for dealers by clicking here.

Jaguar Plano named 'Best Dealership to Work For'
Jaguar Plano, a Texas auto dealership that backs up its "help the client" mantra, has won the top ranking in the first Automotive News' list of the "100 Best Dealerships To Work For." The honor was announced Wednesday night at an event at the Ritz Carlton in Chicago. The 100 dealerships were selected by the Best Companies Group, which screened extensive surveys filled out by U.S. and Canadian stores that applied for the distinction. "It's important to take care of your people because they're the ones who get the job done every day," says Kenneth Schnitzer, chairman of Jaguar Plano parent Park Place Dealerships, a 16-store chain of luxury franchises in Texas and Nevada. "They interface with the clients; they repair the cars." Profiles of Jaguar Plano and the 99 other honored stores – as well as rankings, videos and feature stories – can be found here. "This is an amazing accomplishment," Mike Cuzzo, general manager of the dealership, said late Wednesday while crediting the store's success "to a good owner and good people." Click here to read more about Jaguar Plano and the other dealerships named to Automotive News’ list of the “100 Best Dealerships to Work For.”

Nissan to Roll Out ‘Drive-By-Wire’ Steering Within a Year
According to The Wall Street Journal, Nissan Motor Co. unveiled a steering system which, as the car maker puts it, “allows independent control of a vehicle’s tire angle and steering inputs.” The new setup, which some might call drive-by-wire steering, uses electronics to interpret the driver’s steering movements and controls the wheels based on electronic signals. The company said it will equip certain Infiniti vehicles with the computer-controlled steering within a year. While Nissan says the steering system is the first of its kind, it follows the spirit of “fly-by-wire” controls in aircraft pioneered by the General Dynamics F-16 Fighting Falcon in the 1970s. What Nissan calls its next generation steering technology “transmits the driver’s intentions to the wheels even faster than a mechanical system and increases the direct driving performance feel by quickly and intelligently communicating road surface feedback to the driver,” the carmaker said. Click here for a picture. Nissan also developed a stability system to help vehicles maintain on-center steering by making small adjustments to keep the car in its lane. If the vehicle changes direction because of road surface irregularities or crosswinds, the steering acts automatically to minimize the adverse effects. Click here for more on Nissan’s new steering system.

Luxury Automakers Offer 'Sport' Power Aura on the Cheap
When it comes to fulfilling performance enthusiasts' dreams, luxury automakers think they have found a way to offer all the panache – without all the cash – reports USA Today. They are invoking the names of their hallowed performance models when it comes to "sport packages" that can be tacked on to regular models for a few thousand dollars more. Call it performance light. Lexus has only one true performance sedan – an "F" model – built off its lineup: the IS F compact sedan with a big V8 engine. But the new LS full-size sedan that just went on sale at $72,885, including shipping, can be ordered with an F Sport Package available for another $10,000. The result is a car that's not a true F model but which has some of the elements of one. In Europe, BMW has begun introducing models that stop short of the traditional M Series sedans, both in performance and price. They are called "M performance" and "they are not the traditional M core model," says BMW spokesman Matthew Russell. They carry an M designation, but with the regular name of the model attached. The 135i, for instance, becomes the M135i. Click here to read about luxury automakers’ new “sport packages.”

BMW Shifts Thousands of Cars to U.S. from Battered Europe
According to Automotive News, BMW AG has shifted "tens of thousands" of cars that were originally targeted for Europe to the United States and Asia this year as sales weaken in the crisis-hit region. "Challenges in Europe are getting greater," Ian Robertson, sales chief for the world's largest luxury-car brand, told reporters Wednesday at a company event in Munich. The region faces "a lot of bumps on the road" before it stabilizes and an auto-market recovery could take years, he said. Europe's car industry is poised to suffer its biggest annual sales drop in 19 years in 2012. BMW has avoided the brunt of the European sovereign-debt crisis thanks to demand in the United States and China for models like the new 3-Series sedan. The brand sold 14 percent more cars and SUVs in September globally, helping boost nine-month deliveries up 8.6 percent to 1.11 million vehicles. Robertson said he expects "good" growth in the United States in October and November, and China is still attractive, even if growth has slowed since the beginning of the year. Read about BMW’s reshuffling of some of its vehicles to the U.S. and Asia here.

Be an Advocate for Quality Repairs
The government recently announced that as many as 250,000 counterfeit airbags were used in vehicle repairs over the last few years. Used car buyers nationwide now are on high alert for cars with prior accidents and airbag deployments that may have one of these faulty units. This is a major opportunity for OEM-approved collision repair facilities to alleviate consumer fear about this issue and promote their quality work. The Carfax Repair Advantage Program makes it possible for authorized collision repair shops to include their VIN-specific repair details on Carfax Vehicle History Reports. Car shoppers will feel more confident buying a repaired vehicle knowing that genuine manufacturer parts – including replacement airbags – were used. Ken Eagleson, vice president of Carfax says, “Used car buyers and sellers want to see details about accidents and any subsequent repairs to help complete the story. Carfax and our Repair Advantage Program members are committed to providing vital information that helps protect vehicle values and build confidence in quality repairs.” Certified collision repair centers for Audi, BMW, Volvo and Volkswagen dealers are among an elite group of repairers already reporting their repair information to Carfax. Get more information and your free membership to the Carfax Repair Advantage program at www.carfaxrepairadvantage.com.

Around the Web  
Best Luxury Tech Cars [CNET]
First Drive: 2013 McLaren 12C Spider [Edmunds Inside Line]
Watch The Greatest R/C Car Chase Ever [Autoblog]
7 Amazing Performance Driving Experiences [Forbes]

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