Roll Over Beethoven! The Kia Hamsters are Back

First Up 09/04/12

September 4, 2012

Lenders to Dealers: We'll Take the Deal
After the collapse of credit in the recession, lenders have returned strongly to financing auto sales. Car dealers are finding lenders eager to finance their deals, including subprime loans. After the financial collapse of 2008, lending dried up and credit standards tightened. Buyers couldn't be financed, so dealers lost deals. Now, low rates for losses and delinquencies gradually have convinced auto lenders that it's safe to open the spigot. Wall Street analysts say investors are lining up to pump funds into the auto lenders, which means lenders have plenty of money to lend. The result is a return to almost prerecession levels of credit availability for prime consumers. Automotive News reports that credit availability for subprime customers is way up but still not at prerecession levels. When the recession began, auto lenders achieved lower losses by imposing tighter lending standards. And today people are doing a better job of paying their bills on time, according to credit bureau data. The average credit score on new-car loans originated in the first quarter of 2012 was 760, down from 766 a year earlier and 776 the year before that. Click here to read more about loosening credit and how it is impacting the auto industry.

2013 Nissan Sentra is Sleek, Stylish, and Streamlined
Nissan will wrap up a year of ambitious vehicle introductions when its all-new 2013 Sentra sedan goes on sale this fall. The compact Sentra follows the launch of Nissan’s new Altima midsize sedan and Pathfinder crossover SUV. Nissan says Sentras, with the optional continuously variable automatic transmission, will rate a best-in-class 34 mpg in the EPA’s combined city/highway fuel economy test. According to The Detroit Free Press, the 2013 Sentra will be 2.3 inches longer, 0.6 inches lower, and 1.2 inches narrower than the current model. Combined passenger and luggage room decreases slightly, from 111.0 to 110.8 cubic feet. The passenger compartment shrinks 2.2 cubic feet, while the trunk expands 2.0 cubic feet. The 2013 Sentra is 150 pounds lighter than a comparably equipped, current model. The body shares some styling, including the grille, with the Altima sedan Nissan. The styling, introduced earlier this year on the Altima, reduces aerodynamic drag considerably. Click here for a picture. The Sentra’s optional interior features include a navigation system, hands-free phone connectivity, hands-free text messaging, and connectivity for services like Pandora internet radio. Read more about Nissan’s newly restyled compact here.

Obama will Showcase Auto Industry as Democrats Meet
Democrats are going to bring different kind of message about Detroit's auto industry when they meet for their national convention in North Carolina this week. The rescue of General Motors and Chrysler – started with seed money from President George W. Bush but was managed, and funded, in earnest by President Obama's administration – will be a featured at the convention, top campaign strategist David Axelrod confirmed Friday. "It's certainly something that we want to talk about it," he said. According to USA Today, Axelrod didn't release specifics, but he said there will be remarks in Charlotte starting Tuesday from people "from top to bottom" who were involved in the auto rescue. GOP presidential nominee Mitt Romney, who grew up in metro Detroit, has been hit throughout the campaign season for writing a New York Times op-ed piece in November 2008 headlined "Let Detroit Go Bankrupt." He argued for a structured bankruptcy, too, but counseled against using taxpayers' dollars to prop up the companies. He has since said he believes union workers got a better deal than shareholders or dealers from Obama. Click here to read more about how the 2009 auto bailout will play a role at this week’s Democratic National Convention.

Roll Over Beethoven! The Kia Hamsters are Back
Roll over Beethoven, make room Mozart. reports that the Kia hamsters are back and they’re turning a serious, 17th Century ballet into a wild, 21st Century electronic dance party in their newest ad campaign for the popular Kia Soul. Few official spokes . . . er . . . rodents have clicked with the car buying community as effectively as what the Korean carmaker likes to call its “hamstars.” And their previous commercials have generated tens of millions of views on and elsewhere as they have gone viral like few other automotive ads. The latest spot made its debut last week on 18,000 movie screens across the U.S. and will appear on the MTV Video Music Awards on September 6th. The newest campaign has been titled “Bringing Down the House,” and is set in an 18th Century European opera house. Set to the Axwell remix, “In My Mind,” it shakes up the staid surroundings by turning them into a very 21st Century electronic dance party. Click here to watch the ad. Read more about the latest installment from Kia’s dancing hamsters by clicking here.

Hyundai Union Backs Pact, Ending a Prolonged Strike
Hyundai Motor Co.'s labor union voted to approve a revised wage and working-conditions deal Monday, putting an end to prolonged strikes that have hurt sales at South Korea's biggest car maker. The agreement comes after many rounds of negotiations since early May as a new union leadership took a harder line in annual talks following three years without stoppages caused by labor action. Hyundai workers have staged 28 strikes since July 13, cutting production by more than 82,000 vehicles valued at 1.705 trillion won ($1.5 billion). Hyundai posted a 30 percent year-to-year slump in domestic sales in August, while exports from the company's domestic plants plunged 31 percent. At the core of this year's talks was the issue of night shifts. After the company agreed in principle in 2005 to end night work, the union demanded Hyundai move to end a round-the-clock shift system that has been in place since 1967. The Wall Street Journal reports that the company will replace the current system of two 10-hour shifts with eight- and nine-hour shifts, both finished by 1 a.m. The change is effective from March. For recent developments in a strike by Hyundai employees, click here.

One of the Best Predictors of the Future? A Driver’s MVR
A driver with three at-fault accidents on his or her motor vehicle record (MVR) over a three-year period is four times more likely to get into a future accident –when compared to a driver with no at-fault accidents over the same period. It’s important that employers stop to think about this. Businesses can be and are held responsible for vicarious liability as the result of harm caused by employees while driving for business purposes. To help protect your business from vicarious liability, perform due diligence before hiring an employee whose job description requires driving more than twelve times per year. A driver’s MVR is a reflection of that individual’s driving behavior, attitude, and habits. Reviewing MVRs is a vital step in the hiring process, and it is important to review current employees’ MVRs at least every three years. AIADA’s Affinity Partner, Federated Insurance, offers their driver insurability service at no cost to clients, which includes a review of MVRs for prospective drivers. Want to learn more about Federated’s dedication to serving AIADA members? Contact your local Federated Insurance Representative or click here to have someone contact you directly.

Around the Web  
BMW Says M5 Sedan, M6 Coupe Finally in U.S. Showrooms [Autoblog]
10 Best Mid Engine Sports Cars for $25K or Less [Edmunds Inside Line]
10 Ways Automakers are Helping You Spend Less on Gasoline [Forbes]
12 Fun Cars for the Ages [CNN Money]