Dealers Poised for Price-Fix Payments

First Up 11/13/17

NAFTA Cloud Hangs Over Toyota's Plant Plans
Toyota's surprise plan to build a U.S. factory with Mazda solves several challenges for Japan's biggest automaker but increases risk for a company mostly known for being careful, reports Automotive News. On the upside, the joint venture gets Toyota 150,000 Corollas a year with a relatively modest initial investment of $800 million. And it frees up a plant under construction in central Mexico to build the capacity-constrained Tacoma pickup rather than the Corolla as first planned. On the downside, the plan depends on the survival of a North American Free Trade Agreement. If talks to renegotiate NAFTA fail and the agreement unravels, Toyota will have committed nearly $1 billion to Mexican-made pickups at two plants — trucks that could be subject to a 25 percent tariff when they come across the border into the U.S. Toyota North America CEO Jim Lentz said that in the unlikely event of a return to the chicken tax, the company could move some capacity around. But he thinks too much is at stake for the North American auto industry to radically change or kill off a trade accord that has functioned for nearly a quarter century. Read more here

Which Used Cars Are Deals Right Now, and Which Are Pricey 
Used-vehicle prices haven’t dropped this year as many experts predicted, but there still are deals to be had. Shoppers can take advantage of depressed prices on sedans of all sizes, which have fallen out of favor over the past few years as consumers opt for SUVs and pickup trucks. According to The Wall Street Journal, prices on compact cars like the Ford Focus and Toyota Corolla are about 7 percent lower than they were two years ago on average, according to auto-auction firm Manheim. Used prices on midsize cars, such as the Honda Accord and Chevrolet Malibu, have fallen about the same amount. “Used buyers looking for value for their money are finding it in compact and midsized cars,” said Anil Goyal, a senior vice president at Manheim. Buyers of used luxury cars can get in on the action, too. Prices on luxury sedans, such as the BMW 3 Series and Audi A6, were down about 12 percent in October compared with their average two years earlier, according to Manheim. Sport-utility and truck buyers trolling the preowned lot won’t be so lucky. Read more here

Dealers Poised for Price-Fix Payments 
Thousands of U.S. dealerships that overpaid for vehicles because of price fixing by suppliers are poised to receive a payoff, reports Automotive News. The dealerships will share in the settlements of an international investigation that snared 47 suppliers for rigging bids on parts over nearly two decades. But not all stores harmed by the scheme — which led to the largest antitrust investigation in U.S. history — will reap the benefits. About 8,000 dealerships in 29 states and the District of Columbia, representing every franchise, are eligible for compensation. More than 4,350 have filed claims to share in more than $335 million from about 50 supplier settlements, according to lawyers representing the dealerships. And with 20 settlements pending, dealerships in those states may still stake a claim. But stores in 21 other states will get nothing, because laws in those states prohibit recovery of damages for indirect victims of price fixing. Dealerships can get "injunctive relief" — through which a court would order suppliers to stop fixing prices — but no money, even though they suffered the same financial injury as stores being compensated. For more, click here

Supersize SUVs Fund EV, Self-Driving Car Development
The death of giant, truck-based SUVs has been greatly exaggerated. In Los Angeles last week, Ford introduced an all-new, bigger-than-ever $49,000, 181/2-foot-long Ford Expedition — a fraternal twin to the $72,000 Lincoln Navigator SUV that the automaker released earlier this fall. According to The Detroit News, their introduction points out a duality for carmakers: On one hand, companies like Ford promote a narrative of the future with advanced EVs and robotic piloting. On the other hand, they are turning out ever-bigger SUVs. The reason is simple: Big SUVs are hugely profitable. And those profits finance development of advanced battery systems and robotic cars. But those profits may be in danger as green activists and governments like California — following the lead of France and the United Kingdom — target big SUVs again with threats of gas-engine bans over the next 20 years. “There is a clash coming between what the regulators are pushing for, and what consumers want,” said IHS Markit auto analyst Stephanie Brinley. “You don’t want to electrify these things, because you make them unprofitable. And that’s a challenge.” Read more here

Is Your Vehicle Under a Recall? Some Ideas for Getting the Word Out to Owners
Vehicle recalls are regularly in the news, warning of inadvertent airbag deployments, faulty door latches, even risks of fire, not to mention the ongoing Takata airbag recall that dwarfs all others. But, reports USA Today, the steady stream of recalls masks the fact that about 30 percent of recalled vehicles remain unrepaired on America's roads, according to federal statistics. Last year was a record for U.S. vehicle recalls — more than 53 million in 927 separate recalls — but those numbers are only the latest, with the total number of recalls increasing in each year back to 2011 when the number stood at 13.6 million, according to information from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. There are numerous reasons recalled vehicles go unrepaired even though getting them fixed does not cost the vehicle owner. These range from perceptions about the severity of the recall to a lack of available parts, but often vehicle owners may simply not know that their vehicle is under recall. For more, click here

Around the Web

The Electric Cars Coming Soon [iNews]

Here is Why '90s German Cars Had Stubby Passenger Mirrors [Jalopnik]

Study: Cars Can't Yet Match EVs on Efficiency [USA Today]

Faraday Future Continues to Struggle [Autoblog]