Automakers Want to Make Mark in U.S. with Flash, Fuel Efficiency

First Up 01/16/13

January 16, 2013

Automakers Want to Make Mark in U.S. with Flash, Fuel Efficiency
Four years ago, no one would have imagined the U.S. as the global auto industry's hot spot, but, reports The Detroit Free Press, the 2013 North American International Auto Show offers convincing evidence that designing and making flashy, fuel-efficient, and fun vehicles is cool again. All competitors are investing in U.S. plants and workers. Japan-based supplier Denso said Tuesday that it was weighing a plan to add 400 jobs in Battle Creek and Southfield, and another 800 elsewhere in the U.S. Automation and the array of global options mean the industry probably never will employ as many people as it did 25 years ago, but this is still where every automaker wants to make its mark as fuel-efficiency standards increase and demand for vehicles rises with the improved economy and housing market. "We are seeing firsthand that the auto industry is back after some tough years," said Larry Dominique, executive vice president at "It's important for manufacturers to continue to innovate and build products that consumers will buy. Many of the concepts we saw this year prove that." Click here for full coverage of the optimism at this week’s Detroit Auto Show.

Subaru to Expand Indiana Capacity, Introduce New Model
Subaru will expand production capacity at its existing assembly plant in Indiana, rather than build a new factory, and will start making a new model there in 2016, the company said on Tuesday. At a press conference to unveil the plans, Yasuyuki Yoshinaga, president of Subaru-maker Fuji Heavy Industries Inc., said Subaru expects U.S. sales to climb 9 percent to 365,000 units in 2013. "We'll be selling 1,000 cars every day," he said. Global sales will rise 6 percent to 750,000. Yoshinaga said details of the capacity expansion will be finalized by March 31 and announced after that. According to Automotive News, the company is considering several ways to boost output at its Lafayette, Ind., factory, its only overseas assembly plant. It could add a line to the two already there, extend the line that is currently dedicated to Subaru, or possibly glean capacity from the second line, which makes Camry sedans for Toyota Motor Corp. The decision comes as Subaru seeks ways to boost North American output to meet booming demand for its cars there after a fourth year of record sales. Read more about Subaru’s plans for its Indiana plant.

Kia Brings Out a Luxury Ride; Lexus Retools IS Line for 'Fun'
Asian automakers unveiled small cars, SUVs, and luxury vehicles Tuesday, the second and final day of press previews at the Detroit Auto Show. According to The Detroit News, Kia revealed the Cadenza, an upscale sedan addition to its U.S. lineup designed to appeal to a more affluent audience. Kia introduced no new models in 2012, but will debut seven in the United States this year. Tom Loveless, executive vice president of sales, called the Cadenza "the most advanced Kia yet, with the most luxurious cabin and the most powerful engine. It signals a new era for the brand," he said. Japan's Acura brand showed its all-new 2014 RLX luxury-performance sedan. The RLX, flagship of the Honda subsidiary, has a new direct-injection gasoline engine, a lightweight body and the first application of Acura Precision All-Wheel Steer to deliver what Acura calls a new and dynamic driving experience unlike that of any other luxury performance sedans. The next-generation cloud-based connected car system debuted on the RLX, offering a broad range of convenience, entertainment, and security features. Click here to read about Tuesday’s events at the Detroit Auto Show.

10 Best Car Commercials In 25 Years
The One Club, which promotes excellence in advertising, has, for the first time, released its list of the top 10 auto commercials from the past 25 years. The non-profit group officially handed out the awards at a ceremony during the press days of the North American International Auto Show in Detroit. The winners were selected from the best of more than 60 award-winning entries, judged by a panel of 70-plus ad creatives and journalists. According to Forbes, Wieden + Kennedy’s London office took home two awards for Honda commercials it created for outside the U.S. The commercial with the most votes was W+K’s :90 spot, called “Grrr,” part of a 2004 blitz for Honda’s i-CTDi diesel engines in the United Kingdom. Deutch in Los Angeles was in the number three slot for its 2011 Super Bowl commercial, called “The Force” for Volkswagen of America. The humorous spot for Passat’s remote start showed the surprise of a small boy dressed as Darth Vader using the Force to start the car. The spot has had nearly 56 million views on YouTube. Read more about the car commercials that took top honors at this week’s Detroit Auto Show here.

Dried Out and Title-Scrubbed, Flooded Cars Lure the Unwary
Vehicles floating in a parking garage in the Wall Street area in October were covered with a layer of fuel after the hurricane. One buyer at the Manheim car auction last Wednesday, Hakim Shittu, kept his hands in his pockets. He was looking for totaled vehicles to export to Nigeria, where they would be fixed up and resold; but these, he said, were too far-gone. Saltwater destroys cars, he explained, and even when rebuilt they can be unsafe. “I never buy the flooded ones,” he said. However, the flooded cars sold briskly. Some were to be dismantled into salvageable parts; some were to be melted down for their rubber and steel. And yet, while all have titles branding them flood cars, many were headed to out-of-state resale markets where, because of inconsistencies in state laws, buyers will have no inkling that the vehicles were so damaged by floodwater that insurance companies deemed them a total loss. The New York Times reports that the brisk trade in flood-damaged cars since Hurricane Sandy highlights how legislative efforts at the state and federal levels have failed to stem the resale market. Read more about the issue and what dealers and car buyers must be on the lookout for 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.

Acura Shows Sleeker Look of its New MDX [USA Today]
Happy 100th Birthday, Aston Martin! [TopGear]
The Music You Listen to Impacts Your Driving Safety [Autoblog]
Can European Carmakers Continue to Count on U.S. Demand? [Driver's Seat]