November 28, 2012

Post-Sandy Demand to Boost November Auto Sales, Toyota Says
According to Automotive News, Toyota Motor Corp.'s top U.S. sales executive said consumers purchasing new vehicles to replace those lost during Superstorm Sandy will mean strong November U.S. auto sales. On a seasonally adjusted annualized basis, November U.S. sales will be between 14.8 million and 15.2 million new vehicles, Jim Lentz, president and chief executive of Toyota Motor Sales USA, said Tuesday. Lentz said Toyota believes 400,000 cars and trucks were destroyed by Sandy, and that 100,000 of those were new vehicles. Sales will be robust in November throughout the United States and particularly strong in the New York area where consumers are replacing cars destroyed by Sandy. John Mendel, executive vice president of American Honda Motor Co., also said he expects November sales at an annualized pace of "right around 15 million." In November 2011, the seasonally adjusted annualized sales rate was 13.5 million new vehicles, and last month was 14.3 million, according to TrueCar.com. The site on Tuesday forecast U.S. November auto sales up 13 percent from a year ago, with a seasonally adjusted annualized rate of 15.2 million new vehicles. Read more about expectations for November car sales here.

BMW Builds Buzz for Electric i3 Coupe Concept
At a designer house in the Hollywood Hills, BMW provided a stunning backdrop for the debut of its latest concept car, the i3 electric coupe. According to USA Today, the car, introduced ahead of the press preview of the Los Angeles Auto Show, is meant to underscore the German brand's new fascination with electricity as a way of powering cars. BMW is building an i3 five-door electric sedan for sales in cities around the world, to be followed by an i8 electric sports car. For the moment, the i3 coupe is just a design exercise. Click here for a photo. The design of the concept is no slacker. With an aluminum frame and carbon fiber body, the car is so light that it has a throwback construction method, bolting the body to the frame rather than make a single unibody. Body-on-frame, as it's called, allows for rear-wheel-drive without all the mileage-robbing extra weight that has killed the dwindling number of models around the world. The car's battery and electric motor is vigorous enough to get the car about 100 miles. A gas engine can be added to double the car's range to 200 miles without a refill. Read more about the i3 coupe concept here.

A Car That Takes Your Pulse
Could a car that knows when you are stressed or ill save you from having an accident? Automakers are stepping up efforts to find out, reports The Wall Street Journal. A number of big car manufacturers are accelerating research into equipping vehicles with so-called biometric sensors that would keep tabs on a driver's vital health signs, including pulse, breathing and "skin conductance," aka sweaty palms. When that information is fed into the computers that manage a car's safety systems, it could enable a vehicle to better react to whatever challenges the road and traffic dish out. Click here to see how the Mercedes S-Class and Lexus GS are using technology to warn drivers when they are getting drowsy. The move comes amid major advances in mobile medical-monitoring technology, as well as growing concerns about meeting the needs of an aging and increasingly distracted population of motorists. It also reflects another step in the industry's broader move toward self-driving cars, a brave new world in which computers could all but eliminate the potential for driver error – whether it's due to a distracting phone call or a sudden drop in blood sugar. Click here to read more about how automakers are incorporating biometric sensors into their vehicles.

Family Ties Still Rule the World's Big Automakers
A recent disclosure came as reminder that – at a surprising number of the world's most prominent automakers – family comes first. Ferdinand Piech, chairman of Volkswagen's supervisory board, announced that he was planning to remain on the job for another five to seven years, and that his protégé, Martin Winterkorn, chairman of the management board, would do the same. That wouldn't have been so surprising since VW has enjoyed a very successful run lately – except that Piech is 75 years old, and Winterkorn is 65, and the decision had apparently been reached with no prior discussion with any other board members or shareholders. Since Piech appointed his wife to the VW supervisory board last summer, members of the Piech and Porsche families now control five of the ten management seats. Other automakers, like PSA Peugeot Citroën, rely on family ties as well, reports CNN Money. Another example is the Agnelli family that controls Fiat with a 30.4 percent stake. The company was founded in 1899 by a group of investors including Giovanni Agnelli. His grandson, Gianni Agnelli, was Fiat's chairman from 1966 until 1996, and his grandson, John Elkann became chairman in 2010 at age 30. Click here to read more about family ties that influence many automakers.

The Ugliest Cars of 2013
In the latest James Bond film, Skyfall, 007 drives a silver Aston Martin DB5 through the Scottish countryside, to grand effect. The DB5 has become a staple in Bond films – Skyfall was the fifth in the series to feature the iconic coupe. And in the film this year it looked as stunningly cool as ever. It’s the exact opposite from, say, the Mercury Bobcat, whose sheer bad looks caused it to be reviled by critics and consumers alike almost as soon as it hit the lot in 1974. Sure it drove okay, if you didn’t count a couple reliability issues, but the odd angles and unfathomable mien caused it to look like a camel of a car. It was discontinued after just one generation. “Beauty first and foremost is the No. 1 factor in evaluating a car,” says David Gooding, the founder of the Gooding & Co. auction house. He says style is an essential component of a car’s overall worth: “If it is beautiful, it always captivates people.” To that end, Forbes has compiled its list of the ugliest cars of 2013. Click here to check out the list. To read more on the role looks play in a car’s success or failure, click here.

Join Dealers in Orlando for AIADA’s 43rd Annual Meeting and Luncheon
Each year, AIADA’s dealers gather to consider where the international nameplate auto industry stands and prepare for what the future holds. Join fellow dealers and industry insiders in Orlando, Florida on February 11, 2013 for its 43rd Annual Meeting and Luncheon. This year, we’ll discuss how the economy is Driven by the international nameplate auto industry and what dealers can do to maintain their edge. Featuring keynote remarks by Mercedes-Benz USA President and CEO Steve Cannon, the presentation of the David F. Mungenast, Sr. Lifetime Achievement Award, and the passing of the gavel from 2012 Chairman Ray Mungenast of Missouri to 2013 Chairwoman Jenell Ross of Ohio, the 43rd Annual Meeting and Luncheon is a can't-miss event for international nameplate dealers, as well as their employees. Register today by clicking here or by calling 1-800-GO-AIADA.

Around the Web  
Is Premium Fuel Better Than Regular? [AutoGuide.com]
This is the First Picture of the Brand New, Super Hot Porsche Cayman [Jalopnik]
Top Gear's Watch Guide [Top Gear]
Subaru Sells 6 Millionth Vehicle in U.S. Market [Motor Trend]

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