Leading Dealership Groups for Fixed Ops Tell How They Stay on Top

First Up 10/05/17

U.S. Wins South Korea's Agreement to Amend Free Trade Deal
The U.S. has won South Korea’s agreement to amend their trade deal, overcoming previous reluctance to change the five-year-old pact, which the U.S. blames for increasing its trade deficit. According to Bloomberg, South Korea plans to start the necessary process for amendment, the nation’s trade ministry said in a statement after the second round of talks concluded in Washington. U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer said he will work to "resolve outstanding implementation issues as well as to engage soon on amendments that will lead to fair, reciprocal trade.” No announcement was made regarding how the deal might be amended. The first set of talks ended in stalemate in August, with the U.S. calling for revisions to the agreement and the South Koreans balking and instead proposing a study on its economic impact. For more on plans to amend KORUS, click here

Leading Dealership Groups for Fixed Ops Tell How They Stay on Top 
The most successful groups on the Automotive News list of leaders in parts and service revenue rack up more than $10 million a year in parts and service revenue per dealership. They pursue varied strategies to maximize fixed ops profits, from offering superquick service to driving shop customers to the airport, reports Automotive News. NADA Data 2016 notes that parts, service, and body-shop revenue accounted for 47.3 percent of the typical dealership's gross profit in 2016, up from 45.4 percent the previous year. Hitchcock Automotive Resources, in City of Industry, Calif., outside Los Angeles, operates just three franchised dealerships. Yet those stores each averaged more than $16.5 million in service and parts sales last year, a 13 percent increase from 2015. Howard Hakes, the group's president, requires his service managers to conduct careful reviews of missed service appointments and sales to try to bring customers back. The group also aims to give customers good reasons to spend more time at its dealerships. Find out more about what leading dealership groups are doing to improve their fixed ops revenue here

Carmakers Ready Robot Cars as Federal Rules Advance
Automakers would each be allowed to sell thousands of self-driving cars under a bill advanced Wednesday by a panel in the U.S. Senate. According to The Detroit News, the approval came despite the objection of consumer safety groups who argued that car companies are presenting unrealistic promises about the readiness of the technology, although lawmakers reached compromises on some provisions intended to address their concerns — including a ban for now on selling self-driving trucks. Critics argue that the period when partially self-driving cars are put in traffic with cars driven by people is more dangerous than when cars are fully robotic. The action came as several automakers roll out cars that already are capable of at least some hands-free driving. The self-driving measure is one of the few pieces of bipartisan legislation that is moving in Washington this year. A similar measure was approved by the U.S. House of Representatives last month. For more, click here.

New Cars Have More Distracting Technology on Board Than Ever Before 
The Washington Post reports that new-model cars are loaded with more driver distractions than ever before, including navigation systems that take an average of 40 seconds to program, according to a study of more than two dozen 2017 vehicles. “It’s a staggering increase in the technology and complexity of the vehicle in the last two to three years,” said David Strayer, lead scientist in the study by the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety. Distracted driving is underreported because many drivers don’t admit to their distraction, but in 2015, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration recorded that 3,477 people were killed and 391,000 were injured in motor vehicle crashes involving distracted drivers. The AAA foundation tested the distraction factor in 30 different new car models, concluding that 23 of them had technology on board that demanded the driver pay a high or very high level of attention to it while the car was moving. Read more here

Here's Where to Find the Nation's Worst Traffic Tie-Ups
The City of Angels is hardly angelic when it comes to traffic jams, as Los Angeles motorists suffer five of the 10 most congested stretches of road in the nation, and no fewer than 10,385 “hot spots” spread across its extensive freeway network. Meanwhile, reports Forbes, it will come as no surprise to New Yorkers that the Big Apple actually leads the nation in traffic hot spots with a stultifying 13,608 clogged passages, though its potential cost by 2026 is projected at “just” $64 billion. But the most consistently clogged stretch of road in the nation belongs can be found in our nation’s capital, specifically the stretch of I-95 south from Exit 133A to Fairfax County Parkway. That 6.5-mile chunk of roadway typically takes motorists 33 minutes to negotiate, and has the potential to cost commuters as much as $2.3 billion 10 years down the road. Find out where the nation’s worst traffic tie-ups occur here

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