U.S. Treasury to Sell All Remaining GM Stock

First Up 12/19/12

December 19, 2012

U.S. Treasury to Sell All Remaining GM Stock; Automaker Buying Back 200 Million
The U.S. government plans to sell 40 percent of its General Motors stock within weeks and to sell the rest of its shares within 12 to 15 months. According to The Detroit Free Press, GM said today that it would buy back 200 million shares from the U.S. Treasury Department by the end of 2012 in a $5.5 billion deal. That would reduce the government stake from 26 percent to 19 percent. The U.S. plans to exit its equity stake in GM over the next 12 to 15 months by selling its remaining 300 million shares in a move that will end the government’s ownership position of the automaker. “This announcement is an important step in bringing closure to the successful auto industry rescue, it further removes the perception of government ownership of GM among customers, and it demonstrates confidence in GM’s progress and our future,” CEO Dan Akerson said in a statement. GM said it would pay $27.50 per share in the buyback deal, reflecting a 7.9 percent premium over Wednesday’s closing price of $25.59. For the latest on the government’s plan to sell its GM shares, click here.

NHTSA: Data Recorders 'Essential' to Auto Safety
The Obama administration's top auto safety regulator said automotive black boxes are essential to auto safety and said the government will protect motorists' privacy. In a Detroit News interview, National Highway Traffic Safety Administrator (NHTSA) David Strickland said he also opposed on/off switches that could allow motorists to turn off event data recorders, saying it would be a "horrible thing for safety." Earlier this month, NHTSA proposed requiring all vehicles built after September 2014 to have event data recorders that capture information before and after a crash. NHTSA estimates that approximately 96 percent of 2013 cars and light-duty vehicles are already equipped with data recorder capability, and at least 91 percent have the devices. A crash or air bag deployment typically triggers the data recorder, which collects data in the seconds before and during impact. "The EDR information tells us so much about what's going on with a vehicle," Strickland said, calling the information "essential" to understanding auto safety issues and "to allow us to figure out what went wrong so we can fix it or we can ask the manufacturers to fix it." Click here for more on NHTSA’s new black box mandate.

Accord Helps Honda Rebound From Civic Jeers
Honda Motor Co., hit by Consumer Reports' stinging review for its Civic small car last year, got high marks for the revamped 2013 Accord that the magazine said ranks among the market's best mid-sized cars. According to Automotive News, among sedans with four cylinder engines, the new Accord that went on sale in September tops Hyundai Motor Co.'s Sonata and Toyota Motor Corp.'s Camry, the magazine said in a statement this week. The four-cylinder and V-6-poweded Accords both earned the recommended status that eluded the 2012 Civic. The mix of interior room, high fuel economy, ride and handling, features, and price underpin Accord's appeal, the magazine said. The upbeat assessment of Honda's top-selling vehicle by the magazine that calls itself the world's largest independent product-testing organization coincides with a rebound for the carmaker in its biggest market. Honda in November released its modified 2013 Civic, with a restyled interior, new front hood and grille, new rear taillights, quieter cabin, and strengthened front-end to boost crash safety to address the 2012 car's shortcomings. Click here for more on the new Accord’s accolades.

VW Returns to Super Bowl
USA Today reports that Volkswagen of America, one of the most valuable (off-the-field) players in the past two Super Bowls is returning for more. The automaker, whose Star Wars-themed commercials were huge hits with viewers on TV and online, will announce today that it will be back in 2013 with a 60-second commercial that will air during the second quarter of TV's most-watched event. For VW, it's all about mojo. Since its Super Bowl debut in 2010, the brand has seen its U.S. sales rocket and its image shine. The brand's year-to-date sales are up about 35 percent. "It's a momentum starter for us every year," says Justin Osborne, general manager of marketing communications. Last February, after Volkswagen's Super Bowl appearance, VW.com saw a 45 percent increase in unique visitors. USA Today reached out to brand marketing gurus for their opinion on the direction of VW’s 2013 Super Bowl ads. David Stewart, marketing professor at Loyola Marymount University, recommends focusing on kids and dogs, saying, "Kids and dogs get attention and could generate a lot of water cooler talk and earned media." Click here for more on VW’s Super Bowl ad plans.

The Hottest Luxury Cars of 2013
Forbes’ list of the hottest luxury cars of 2013 foretells a year of polite aggression when it comes to supercars. Supercar, of course, referring to such tension-relieving vehicles as the Lamborghini Aventador LP700-4 Roadster and all-new seventh-generation Chevrolet Corvette. When it comes to the polite part, think of a more refined, polished aesthetic than the angular look of recent years. The cars will be more efficient, too, than basically everything last year. These days, looks only get you so far. “Our success is built on a fresh, diverse range of products,” says Rupert Stadler, the chairman of Audi AG, noting that Audi has “systematically” improved fuel efficiency across all model lines. “We have realized efficiency improvements of up to 80 percent for our new Audi A4 and A6 models.” They’re doing the same at Porsche and BMW. In fact, BMW’s Jacob Harb says improvements in fuel efficiency are the biggest drivers for developing new models. They’ll eventually become as functionally beautiful as iPhones, he says, and as easy to maintain (Tesla’s Elon Musk has said that for years). Think less Nissan Leaf, more Tony Stark. Check out the hottest luxury cars of 2013 here. Read more about them 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.

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