AutoNation Shutters 35 Florida Stores as Hurricane Irma Approaches

First Up 09/08/17

AutoNation Shutters 35 Florida Stores as Hurricane Irma Approaches
AutoNation Inc. is among the retailers bracing for Hurricane Irma's impact in South Florida this weekend, reports Automotive News. The company told employees Thursday that it's closing all 35 of its stores in Dade, Broward, and Palm Beach counties, as well as Fort Myers, at 5 p.m. ET Thursday. The notice says the stores also will be closed Friday, but it's possible that the closures will last through the weekend, said AutoNation Chief Marketing Officer Marc Cannon. AutoNation's Fort Lauderdale headquarters closed Wednesday at 6 p.m. ET and will be closed for the rest of the week. Cannon said the company has a detailed disaster plan in place. Some stores are moving inventory to the multi-story parking garage at The Galleria at Fort Lauderdale shopping mall. AutoNation's corporate headquarters is also housing vehicles in its garage, which has more than 400 spots. "We take every opportunity," Cannon told Automotive News. "That's part of our plan. Those are things that we secure in advance and that's why we can react so quickly to those things." For more on AutoNation’s plans as Hurricane Irma heads toward Florida, click here

Car Dealers Are Rushing to Ship Vehicles to Houston After Harvey
In central Ohio, the wholesale market for cars is suddenly picking up. New players are showing up at auctions and bidding is becoming more intense. The reason: Hurricane Harvey. According to Bloomberg, with the storm potentially having damaged 1 million vehicles in Houston, the rush is on in states near and far to acquire and ship new ones into the city. The mad scramble is an arbitrage opportunity of sorts. The bet dealers are making is on voracious consumer demand from Houston to find substitutes for lost or destroyed cars, coupled with a void of vehicles in inventory there. Harvey may have done more vehicle damage than any storm in U.S. history, destroying as many as 500,000 autos, according to Cox Automotive. Car-market researcher Black Book estimates the toll was even greater, saying up to 1 million might have to be replaced. For more, click here

CPO Share of Franchised Used-Car Sales Up Slightly
This year marked the best second quarter ever for the used-car market and the first time there has been more than 10 million used-car sales in Q2, according to Edmunds. Auto Remarketing reports that franchised dealers sold 2.95 million used cars during the quarter, and slightly more of those were certified pre-owned than in the same period of 2017, based on data in the company’s latest Used Vehicle Market Report. Overall, there were 10.05 million used-vehicle retail sales in the second quarter, a figure that includes sales from dealers and between private parties. That’s a 1.7-percent year-over uptick. Franchised dealers, whose overall used retail sales were up 1.4 percent, sold 693,802 certified vehicles in the quarter, according to Edmunds. Not only is the CPO sum a 2.3-percent year-over-year gain, but it also represents a bit larger piece of franchised dealers’ used-car operations. For more on CPO sales, click here

Volkswagen Not Planning to Delay Restructuring, CEO Says
Volkswagen AG is actively working on deals for its noncore assets as well as acquisitions, but discussions of a possible merger with Fiat Chrysler Automotive NV was “speculation,” Chief Executive Matthias Müller said in an interview. Speaking to The Wall Street Journal at the carmaker’s headquarters late Wednesday, Mr. Müller said the company is open to talks and a new team is working to sell a businesses no longer considered critical. These noncore assets account for as much as 20 percent of the company’s current annual revenue, he added. Mr. Müller declined to comment directly on talks the company is believed to be holding with Fiat Chrysler about developing light utility vehicles. He did say the company is now routinely engaged in such exploratory talks with many manufacturers, but it isn’t likely that Volkswagen is going to get involved soon in a merger of mass volume carmakers, as Fiat Chrysler’s Chief Executive Sergio Marchionne has been preaching for the past two years. For more on Volkswagen’s plans, click here

Environmental Groups Sue U.S. Over Delayed Fines for Gas Guzzlers 
According to Automotive News, three environmental groups in the U.S. filed a lawsuit against the federal government on Thursday for delaying the rollout of higher “gas-guzzler” penalties for automakers producing new vehicles that fail to meet minimum fuel-economy standards. The Center for Biological Diversity, the Natural Resources Defense Council and the Sierra Club filed suit in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit, challenging the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s decision in July to suspend a 2016 Obama administration regulation that more than doubled penalties. Automakers had protested the hike, saying it could increase industry compliance costs by $1 billion annually. Congress in 2015 ordered federal agencies to adjust civil penalties to account for inflation and, in response, NHTSA proposed to raise fines to $14 from $5.50 for every 0.1 mile per gallon of fuel that new cars and trucks consume in excess of required standards under the Corporate Average Fuel Economy program. For more, click here

Webinar: The (Near) Future of the Auto Industry
The automotive industry is changing fast, and the future is feeling more and more like the present. Join AIADA’s September AutoTalk webinar on Tuesday, September 19, at 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. EDT, for an update on the future of the industry and a look at the top questions auto dealers are faced with today. Tim Zierden, Vice President of Enterprise Dealer Partnerships, will be on hand to discuss big happenings in the industry, ranging from credit availability to digital retail. Click here to register

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