After Harvey Deluge, a Sales Surge

First Up 09/11/17

After Harvey Deluge, a Sales Surge 
As Florida dealers braced for Hurricane Irma late last week, battered stores in southeast Texas shifted into super-selling mode, reports Automotive News. Desperate for transportation in the aftermath of Hurricane Harvey, Houston-area residents suddenly became car buyers. Local dealerships are handling the "abnormal" traffic consumers are bringing to stores as residents look to replace their vehicles, says Steven Wolf, chairman of the Houston Automotive Dealers Association. Wolf, who is also vice president of Helfman Motors, says he expects sales at his five stores this month to outpace the year-earlier period by 40 to 50 percent because of the post-Harvey rebound. Helfman stores sell Fiat Chrysler Automobiles and Ford Motor Co. vehicles. While coastal Texas recovers from Harvey, Floridians were tracking Hurricane Irma. AutoNation Inc. planned to close 76 stores in the state late last week and rushed inventory to safe spaces. Many other dealerships in the region did likewise. For more on how natural disasters are impacting auto sales, click here

Ross Reiterates U.S. Threat to Withdraw from NAFTA 
The Trump administration reiterated its threat to withdraw from the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) if a new deal favorable to the U.S. can’t be reached with Mexico and Canada, reports Bloomberg. “The president has made clear if they don’t work, he’s going to pull out,” Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross said Friday during an event at the Washington Post. “That shouldn’t be a shock to anyone, and really that’s the right thing. We need fixes to this deal. It has not worked the way it was intended.” Ross’s remarks come just days after the three nations wrapped up their second round of negotiations on overhauling the 23-year-old accord, which governs more than $1.2 trillion in annual trade. U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer and his Mexican and Canadian counterparts struck an optimistic tone after the round, highlighting that talks are moving forward, while adding that so far there have been no major breakthroughs. For the latest on NAFTA, click here

Senators Draft Bill to Allow Thousands of Robot Cars 
Automakers would each be allowed to operate more than 100,000 self-driving cars per year on U.S. roads, and states would be prevented from passing laws to prevent them from doing so under a proposed bill being drafted by lawmakers in the U.S. Senate. According to The Detroit News, the measure, drafted with input from U.S. Sen. Gary Peters (D-Mich.), would allow the Secretary of Transportation to grant exemptions to federal motor vehicle rules that require cars to have human operators. Initially, 50,000 cars per automaker could be operated if companies can prove they meet existing safety standards for traditional cars. After a 12-month period, the number of exemptions per manufacturer would increase to 75,000, and it would go up to 100,000 in the third year. Automakers would be able to apply for exemptions to operate more than 100,000 self-driving cars after five years under the proposed legislation. The current limit for such exemptions to federal auto standards is 2,500 cars for two years at a time. For more, click here

Hyundai, Kia to Shut Down Plants as Hurricane Irma Approaches 
Hyundai Motor Co. and Kia Motors Corp. said on Monday they planned to temporarily shut down plants in the South to avoid potential damage from Hurricane Irma. According to Automotive News, the shutdown comes at a time Hyundai's U.S. sales have fallen more than the market average, and after it recently announced plans to expand its crossover lineup and launch a pickup in the market in an attempt to reverse the slide. In a statement, Hyundai Motor said it would suspend operation of its Alabama plant for two days – between Monday and Wednesday – while Kia Motors will stop operation of its Georgia plant for one day – between Monday and Tuesday. Hurricane Irma took aim at heavily populated areas of central Florida on Monday as it carved a path of destruction through the state with high winds and storm surges that left millions without power, ripped roofs off homes, and flooded city streets. For more, click here

China Wants to Ban Gas and Diesel Cars 
China is preparing to put the brakes on gasoline and diesel cars, reports CNN Money. The country, home to the world's largest auto market, is working on a plan to ban the production and sale of vehicles powered solely by fossil fuels, officials say. The Chinese government is following in the footsteps of countries like India, France, Britain and Norway, which have already announced plans to ditch gas and diesel cars in favor of cleaner vehicles in the coming years. Regulators haven't decided yet when the Chinese ban would take effect, but work has begun on a timetable, according to China's vice minister of industry, Xin Guobin. Authorities will offer subsidies of as much as half the retail price of electric and some hybrid vehicles to help buoy production, Xinhua reported, citing an official from the Chinese Finance Ministry. Dozens of models are already on sale in the world's second-largest economy. International auto giants like Ford and Volkswagen are aiming to develop fully electric cars in China. For more on China’s plans, click here

Are Your Fraud Protection Efforts Keeping Pace as Fraud Evolves? 
The fraud threat landscape continues to evolve, with attacks increasing in frequency and sophistication and becoming more difficult to prevent, resulting in billions of dollars in financial losses annually. Cybercriminals  are using advanced techniques to steal data and siphon funds from businesses. By 2019, it is estimated the worldwide  cost of cybercrime will top $2 trillion.1 As cybercriminals get smarter and more adept at covering their tracks, it makes  a multi-layered approach to security and fraud protection vital to safeguarding your company’s assets and information. To learn more about the wide range of authentication methods available today,  click here.

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AMG Celebrates 50 Years as it Relives Mercedes' Motorsports History [USA Today]

Mercedes-Benz to Offer Electric Option for Every Car by 2022 [Reuters]

Ferrari LaFerrari Aperta Built for Charity Fetches $10M [MotorAuthority]

Hurricane Harvey's Wake of Damaged Cars and Trucks [LA Times]