East Coast Dealers Shut Stores, Relocate Cars as Hurricane Sandy Hits

First Up 10/30/12

October 30, 2012

East Coast Dealers Shut Stores, Relocate Cars as Hurricane Sandy Hits
As the Atlantic's largest-ever tropical storm hit the U.S. East Coast, Automotive News reports that auto dealers closed showrooms, moved cars to higher ground, and calculated the effect on October sales. As of 8 p.m. EDT, the storm reached land near Atlantic City on the New Jersey coast. The storm's impact reached far inland as blizzard warnings went up in Maryland and West Virginia. Holman Automotive Group closed all seven of its dealerships in southern New Jersey today in preparation for the storm, said Bill Cariss, vice president of dealership operations for the group in Maple Shade, N.J. In Pennsylvania, most dealerships had planned to close by noon on Monday as the brunt of the storm was predicted to hit in the afternoon, said Kevin Mazzucolo, executive director of the Automotive Dealers Association of Greater Pennsylvania. The Greater New York Automobile Dealers Association advised Long Island dealers to move vehicles upland in storage. TrueCar analyst Jesse Toprak said the hurricane has not changed sales predictions yet. He said he still predicts an annualized sales rate of 14.9 million vehicles for October – which would tie September for the highest mark since early 2008. For more on the impact of Hurricane Sandy on east coast dealers, click here.

Consumer Reports Names Most Reliable Cars
Consumer Reports' latest survey of auto reliability reveals that Ford, which had been steadily rising in the magazine's dependability rankings for years, has shifted into reverse. Ford now ranks second-to-last among all automakers. Meanwhile readers say that Japanese automakers – Toyota in particular – are once again making the most dependable cars and trucks, reports CNN Money. The small Toyota Prius C is, in fact, the most dependable car of all, according to Consumer Reports. While that's good news for Toyota and despite being dependable, the magazine just doesn't think it's a very good car and is thus not recommending it. Consumer Reports "predicted reliability" survey covers about 1.2 million individual vehicles. The Wall Street Journal reports that Japanese brands continued their long dominance of the top positions in the magazine’s reliability rankings, with Toyota Motor Corp.’s Scion, Toyota, and Lexus brands in the top three spots with the lowest numbers of complaints. Buyers of European luxury brands, especially Audi, reported fewer problems with their expensive cars. Read more of The Wall Street Journal’s coverage of Consumer Reports’ latest findings here. For CNN Money’s coverage of the publication’s most reliable cars, click here.

Honda's Ohio Plant Changed Competitive Landscape in America
Thirty years ago, the first Accord rolled off the line at Honda's Marysville, Ohio, plant, the first car a Japanese automaker assembled in the U.S., changing the competitive landscape of American automaking forever. From an underdog carmaker known in Japan as a cadre of engine geeks, The Detroit Free Press reports that Honda established a trust with young American consumers not unlike the way today's Millennial generation flocks to Apple stores. Honda's North American manufacturing network now spans seven auto plants in the U.S., Canada and Mexico with more under construction. Honda has invested $12.3 billion in the U.S. – $8 billion in Ohio – employs more than 26,000 Americans and has never laid off a worker. Workers were retained and paid for months when Ohio plants cut production following the tsunami in Japan. "It has had the most profound effect on the industry," said Michael Robinet, managing director of IHS Automotive Consulting in Northville. It wasn't just the introduction of Japanese culture, but philosophies and practices that helped establish new benchmarks for engineering, manufacturing, and quality. Read more about Honda’s arrival in the U.S. and how it changed the face of U.S. auto industry here.

Sweet Year-End Deals Available on Some Popular Cars
For buyers looking for a new car, an outgoing 2012 model may be the way to save money, reports NBCNews.com. With most of the 2013 model-year cars rolling onto the lots, dealers are anxious to clear their stock of this year's models by offering great 2012 car deals. Still, even with the discounts, not every deal may be the wisest financial choice. The site features some of Bankrate's choices of cars that have steep enough discounts to make the 2012 models strong contenders for buyers’ auto dollars. The list includes the Nissan Sentra, a serious contender for those who want to buy a 2012 car for less than $20,000. Buyers of the 2012 Sentra can save up to $2,500 with the following: a $1,000 cash-back rebate, a free special edition package valued at $1,000 and an additional $500 if the buyer finances through Nissan. Alternatively, buyers can get the $500 financing bonus and zero percent on a car loan for 36 months through Nissan. Also on the list is the Kia Sedona, offering a $2,500 cash rebate, which can be combined with 1.9 percent financing for 36 months to well-qualified buyers. Read about the other vehicles boasting the best year-end deals here.

The Cars We Miss Most
The maker of London’s famous black cabs is failing after losing an injection of cash from one of its largest shareholders. Manganese Bronze’s taxi cabs have been losing money for years, the company said, despite the iconic image they’ve created on British streets. It had been requesting financing from Geeley, the Chinese company that owns a 20-percent stake, but talks fell through. Manganese is not the first to make cars with popular acclaim that ultimately fail. Datsun enjoyed popular success during its heyday but faltered under Nissan ownership years later and was discontinued in 1986. Then there’s the Saab 900, the two- and four-door hatchback sedan that won numerous design awards and was popular among aficionados even after its second-generation discontinuation in 1998. In 2010 General Motors sold the intellectual property rights of the 900 to Chinese company BAIC. To that end, Forbes writer Hannah Elliott took an unscientific poll among her Twitter followers to see which cars are missed the most, Facebook subscribers, and Forbes staffers – Michael Noer wants the 1941 Packard back; Dan Bigman wants a Volkswagen Karmann Ghia; Joann Muller misses her Mazda 6 wagon – to determine the famous cars we all seem to miss. Click here for a slideshow to see which ones popped up.

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Mazda Teases SEMA-Bound CX-5s [Autoblog]
Mercedes-Benz Launching 11 New Models in the U.S. [USA Today]