Congress Cleared to Review CFPB Auto Loan Guidance

First Up 12/06/17

Congress Cleared to Review CFPB Auto Loan Guidance
The investigative arm of Congress said Tuesday that guidelines issued by the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) to prevent discriminatory pricing in auto lending are subject to Congressional review. According to Automotive News, the guidance amounts to a formal rule and should have been submitted to Congress, the Government Accountability Office said. The CFPB introduced the guidance in 2013 to hold lenders that offer auto loans through dealerships responsible for discriminatory pricing based on factors such as race, sex, or national origin. It targeted so-called dealer mark-ups, or additional interest auto dealers can charge over loans they originate for third-party lenders. Dealers can receive compensation from the lenders if they manage to charge the borrowers a higher interest than the lender had offered. But critics argue that the cost of compliance has been a burden for financial institutions. Read more here

Mexican Ambassador Says NAFTA Has 50-50 Chance of Being Terminated
Mexico’s ambassador to the United States said Tuesday that there is a 50-50 chance that the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) will be terminated. The Hill reports that Gerónimo Gutiérrez said that despite tensions and a cloud of uncertainty hanging over the negotiations among the three trading partners — Mexico, the United States, and Canada — he thinks that an updated NAFTA agreement can be reached sometime next year. "In spite of important differences, we're communicating fluently, we're engaging, and that's important," Gutiérrez told CBS News. "I'm moderately optimistic we can, in fact, reach an agreement in the next few months,” he said. The United States, Mexico and Canada completed their fifth round of renegotiations last month in Mexico City on the nearly 23-year-old free trade agreement with plenty of issues outstanding. Read more here

More SUVs Coming From Maserati? 
Maserati global head Reid Bigland, who also runs the FCA sister division Alfa Romeo, is enjoying the best sales year in the Italian car company’s 100-year history. According to The Detroit News, that’s largely on the back of the newly introduced Levante, Maserati’s first and only SUV. The performance-oriented car has helped drive unit sales to record highs, Bigland said in an interview at the AutoMobility LA portion of the Los Angeles Auto Show. Levante will account for more than 50 percent of Maserati global sales, which this year will likely top 50,000 cars, up from 42,000 last year. So it’s only natural to wonder whether, or when, Levante might be joined by another SUV in the Maserati family. Bigland said he does not foresee any larger Levante on the horizon, but he did not rule out the possibility of something smaller than the current version, something that might join the Alfa Romeo Stelvio in the smaller-SUV stable. Read more here

Toyota Will Decide on New U.S. Plant Location in Early 2018
Toyota Motor Corp should decide by the first quarter of 2018 on a location for a new U.S. vehicle assembly plant it will build with Mazda Motor Corp, the head of Toyota’s North American operations said on Monday. “The final decision has not been made,” Jim Lentz, chief executive of Toyota North America, told Reuters in an interview in Detroit. More than one state remains in the running for the $1.6 billion plant, Lentz said. Reuters reports that Toyota and Mazda’s plan to build a new U.S. factory is part of a broader wave of investment in North American production capacity by European and Asian automakers. The increased vehicle-making capacity is coming despite forecasts that U.S. vehicle demand is hitting a plateau. The new factory is part of a broader realignment of Toyota’s production and supply chain in North America. The new plant is expected to build an SUV for Mazda, and Corolla compact cars for Toyota. For more, click here

Lexus Readies Crossover Flagship Concept 
Lexus is readying a crossover concept that it's calling a new "flagship," perhaps mimicking a move with its car lineup where it created the new LC flagship coupe priced above $100,000, reports Automotive News. The concept will debut at the 2018 Detroit auto show next month. "The Lexus LF-1 Limitless is a flagship crossover that redefines the boundaries of luxury and performance," the company said Tuesday in a statement. The LF-1 concept was created by Lexus' Calty design studio in Southern California, which was also behind the LF-LC concept revealed at the Detroit auto show in 2012 that later morphed into the striking LC coupe. A teaser photo of the LF-1 reveals a heavily stylized rear hatch with a mix of curves and angles that suggest a crossover interpretation of the LF-LC, which was considered a design breakthrough for Lexus. Such a vehicle, if produced, could better take on the high-end crossovers and SUVs rolled out and planned by rivals, such as the BMX X7, Range Rover Autobiography and Jeep Grand Wagoneer. Read more here

December Webinar: 2017 in Review and Projections for 2018
Join AutoTalk on December 19th at 10:00 a.m. or 4:00 pm. EST where we will join an outstanding team of panelists that are returning for December’s year-end webinar. They include, Tom Kontos, Senior Vice President and Chief Economist for KAR; David Lim, Chief Auto Analyst at Wells Fargo; and Jonathan Smoke, Chief Economist at Cox Automotive. Listen in as they discuss important 2017 trends and market performance, and what to expect for 2018.  To register for one or both sessions, click here

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