VW Touts 'Huge Progress' in Plan to Roll Out 4 Affordable EVs
Volkswagen AG’s namesake brand is gearing up to roll out four affordable electric vehicles in the coming years, reports Automotive News. The German company has made “huge progress” in reducing production costs of its all-electric vehicles, Christian Senger, head of the VW marque’s electric-car project, told reporters Tuesday in Shanghai, where the nameplate is unveiling its first battery-powered crossover. The models, to be sold under the I.D. sub-brand, will be partly developed in China and also include a midsize crossover, a hatchback and a sedan. “Offering our electric cars for prices similar to combustion engine vehicles really is a game changer,” Senger said. “We’re using the need to step from combustion engine to electric cars to reinvent VW brand.” said the executive, a former developer of BMW AG’s project the battery-powered i3 model. For more on VW’s EV plans, click here.
Pence Says South Korea-U.S. Free Trade Agreement to be Reviewed, Reformed
U.S. Vice President Mike Pence told business leaders in Seoul on Tuesday that the Trump administration will review and reform the five-year-old free trade agreement between the two countries. Reuters reports that Pence said the U.S. trade deficit has more than doubled in the five years since the U.S.-South Korea free trade agreement began and there are too many barriers for U.S. businesses in the country. Pence's meeting in Seoul with business leaders comes before he heads to Tokyo later on Tuesday, where he will meet Japan's Finance Minister Taro Aso and kick off talks that Washington hopes will open doors for U.S.-made products. "That's the hard truth," Pence told an American Chamber of Commerce meeting in Seoul. "We have to be honest about where our trade relationship is falling short", said Pence, adding the Trump administration would work with businesses on reforms. For more on Vice President Pence’s trade stance, click here.
Trump's 'Reciprocal Tax' Seen Affirming His Love of Tariffs
Americans might want to brace themselves for political arguments about the “reciprocal tax,” the “matching tax,” or the “mirror tax.” But, reports Bloomberg, if President Donald Trump has anything to say about it, they won’t be hearing much more about the “border-adjusted tax.” Trump made clear last week that he’s not fond of that name – nor the controversy that has sprung up around the BAT, a key feature of House Speaker Paul Ryan’s plan to rewrite the U.S. tax code. Retailers, automakers, and oil refiners that rely on imported materials have all complained that Ryan’s proposal to tax U.S. companies’ domestic sales and imports while exempting their exports would mean higher prices for consumer goods. Economists and tax experts who parsed Trump’s remarks say the president appeared to be calling for import tariffs – that is, taxes levied on specific goods or countries at varying rates. In describing his vision, Trump called for taxing imports from other countries at the same rates those countries impose on U.S. products. For more on President Trump’s potential tax plans, click here.
Complete Digital Car Buying Year Away, Says Cox Automotive Exec
The ability to do car deals 100 percent online is about a year away, says Cox Automotive Chief Operating Officer Mark O’Neil, who urges dealers to board the digital train today. It’s a matter of giving customers what they want – or else, he tells WardsAuto. “When customers want something, they always get it. Fundamentally, the consumer has learned to engage digitally in every other retail category: shoes, pizza, mortgages, electronics, books; pick any category. But the auto industry has held back in letting them do it. My message is: Now’s the time to embrace digital retailing. If the industry doesn’t, someone will create a disruptive technology that will put the current dealer or manufacturer at risk.” Consumers spend too much time on activities that are not a fun part of the car-buying process, he says, going down the list of available digital tools auto retailing can use to expedite car buying. For more from Cox’s Mark O’Neil on digital car buying, click here.
Dealership Group Gains an Edge From ESOP
In mid-2015, Van Horn Automotive Group's leaders discussed how to attract and retain talent, increase store count, and keep family control of the business. They decided to become the first partially employee-owned car dealership group in Wisconsin, said COO Teresa Van Horn. According to Automotive News, the group's 400 full-time employees own 30 percent of the company as part of an employee stock ownership plan launched Dec. 31, 2015. "The ESOP really adds a personal touch in how your employees are treated and how your customers are treated," said Van Horn. "We never want to become that faceless corporation." The ESOP quickly benefited the group in two areas: hiring and company growth. Van Horn was able to hire a top service technician by touting employee ownership. An ESOP can be a form of a retirement plan that follows rules similar to an employee 401(k) plan, except the assets must be primarily invested in the securities of the employing company. It can borrow funds to buy those assets. For more on one dealership group that has benefited from an ESOP, click here.
Webinar TODAY: 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 today, 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.
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