Automakers Take Aim at SUV-Loving Millennial Buyers

First Up 04/14/17

Retail Group Launches New Ads Against Border Tax 
The National Retail Federation (NRF) on Thursday said it is stepping up its campaign against House Republicans' border-adjustment proposal, with a new series of ads. According to The Hill, the ads, which feature small-business owners who say they would be hurt by the tax, are part of a two-week television and digital buy and will appear in the congressional districts of several House Republicans, the NRF said. The border-adjustment proposal would subject imports to U.S. taxes and exempt exports. Earlier this year, NRF released an ad opposing the border-adjustment proposal that parodied infomercials. Two free market groups, the Club for Growth and Americans for Prosperity, have also aired TV ads urging people to oppose the tax. The American Made Coalition released a TV ad in support of the proposal. Find out why AIADA is opposed to the tax here. For more on the NRF’s latest ad campaign against the tax, click here.

NADA Report Shows Dealers Are Hiring as Sales Plateau, Costs Rise
Dealerships are hiring, at good wages, even as new-vehicle sales plateau and pretax profit margins remain flat. Those trends are shown in the National Automobile Dealers Association’s NADA Data 2016 released Thursday, reports Automotive News. “The industry is continuing to recover and that recovery means that you are continuing to hire,” said Steven Szakaly, NADA’s chief economist. That hiring, of course, costs dealers, he said. Still, “You’ve got a lot fewer dealers, relative to the last time the industry sold 17.5 million vehicles, who are doing a lot more volume. They are expanding and you have to hire more people.” NADA’s report showed that despite strong new- and used-vehicle sales, rising average selling prices on new and used vehicles, and increased customer-pay and warranty work in service, the average light-vehicle dealership’s pretax profit margin – profits as a percentage of total sales – eased to 2.5 percent in 2016, from 2.7 percent in 2015 and 2.6 percent in 2014, mostly because of rising costs. For more on NADA’s latest dealership data report, click here.

UM's Autonomous Operations Renamed Mcity 
The University of Michigan’s hub for research in the field of autonomous and connected vehicles has been renamed Mcity, reports The Detroit News. Founded in 2013 as the Mobility Transformation Center northwest of Ann Arbor, the hub is a public-private partnership and, until now, its testing facility has had the name Mcity. Now that name will be used to refer to the entire transformation center. “The re-branding was undertaken to better call attention to who we are and what sets us apart in a rapidly changing mobility environment,” said Huei Peng, director of Mcity and the Roger L. McCarthy Professor of Mechanical Engineering. “To a large extent, it embraces a transition that was already under way.” Mcity will now serve as the umbrella identified for the transformation center, testing faciilty and the University of Michigan Transportation Research Institute. The testing site will now become the Mcity Test Facility. For coverage of Mcity, click here.

Automakers Take Aim at SUV-Loving Millennial Buyers 
Whether it's hot performance models or practical small crossovers, executives gathered here for the big auto show are staking their company's future on a crucial target: millennials. According to The Detroit Free Press, the New York Auto Show is brimming this year with vehicles developed with younger buyers in mind. Even if that age group can't afford the pricier cars yet, it's all about where the market is headed. "They are the biggest generation in terms of buying power," said Jessica Caldwell, senior analyst for, the online car buying site. The good news for automakers is that despite early worries about their interest in cars, millennials are becoming buyers. As the most digitally connected generation ever, fears arose that millennials might shun cars in favor of social media and smartphones. But they've come around. "It shows when you build an appealing product, you actually can attract a younger customer," Joe Eberhardt, CEO of Jaguar Land Rover North America, said in an interview. For more on how automakers are wooing millennials, click here.

Honda Starts a 'Green Car' Family 
Honda has been selling – or, rather, leasing – the Clarity hydrogen fuel cell car in California for years. But lately it's been offering a new, roomier five-seat version, reports CNN. And it's about to be joined by two new Clarity cars that don't run on hard-to-find hydrogen fuel What's more, one of those other Clarity cars, the Honda Clarity Plug-in Hybrid, will be available in all 50 states, which will make it a lot more accessible than the California-only hydrogen car. To push the Clarity, Honda is offering a $369-a-month three-year lease that includes a credit for $15,000 toward hydrogen and a $5,000 rebate from the state of California. (Customers who want cutting-edge cars strongly prefer to lease rather than buy, Honda says.) Various companies are working on building more "hydrogen infrastructure" in places like the Northeast. For more on Honda’s green car family, click here.

Webinar: Fast Track to Hiring the Best 
Employee turnover costs a dealership with 55 employees about $400,000 a year due to search and training expenses and potential lost sales and service business. Join AIADA and Cox Automotive for an informative 30 minute webinar on Tuesday, April 18, at 10:00 a.m. and 4:00 p.m. EDT to learn about best practices for hiring and retaining your dealership employees. In this AutoTalk webinar brought to you by AIADA and Cox Automotive, featuring Nicole C. Ashe, Vice President of Talent, Diversity, and Culture at Cox Automotive, dealers will learn how to hire the best in class through recruitment and staffing, employ a fast track to sales and service with an onboarding/new hire program, and more. 

To register for the 10:00 a.m. EST session, click here.

To register for the 4:00 p.m. EST session, click here.

Around the Web

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Here Are the Secrets to the Insane Car Scenes in Fate of the Furious [Bloomberg 

The Most Exciting Cars From the NY Auto Show [New Atlas