Toyota Cuts Production Costs to Fund Research

First Up 11/09/17

Auto Suppliers Should Press Congress to Defend NAFTA, Experts Say
Automotive News reports that a panel of trade experts on Wednesday urged auto suppliers to mobilize politically and rescue the North American Free Trade Agreement as negotiations with Canada and Mexico continue to sour over hard-line U.S. positions. "The U.S. productive sector – from agriculture to technology to autos – has to raise its voice together and just say this agreement works for our benefit and it needs to be maintained," Kellie Meiman, managing partner at Washington, D.C.-based McLarty Associates and a former U.S. trade negotiator, said during a breakfast discussion here organized by Automotive News. The message needs to be simple and clear, leaving rules of origin and other details to be hashed out later, she added. The automotive supply chains that have evolved over the past 23 years under duty-free shipping rules that encourage cross-border investment are in jeopardy from a Trump administration focused on economic nationalism and reducing the manufacturing trade deficit. For more, click here

Daimler Will Launch 'Ask Mercedes' Customer Service App
Daimler will combine a range of digital customer support experiments into a single voice-activated "chatbox" app that will be available whether users are driving their cars or sitting at home, reports Automotive News. Chief digital officer Sabine Scheunert said on Tuesday that Daimler will soon introduce the digital assistant called "Ask Mercedes" that ties together previous trial projects on platforms such as Google and Facebook. Scheunert said "Ask Mercedes" will be available in several markets and languages immediately before being rolled out globally, without providing further details. "Ask Mercedes is a new cognitive assistant available any time to support customers in exploring all the functions of their Mercedes-Benz vehicles," Scheunert said during a presentation at the Web Summit conference in Lisbon. Read more here

Toyota Cuts Production Costs to Fund Research
The knives are out on costs at Toyota Motor Corp. Asia’s biggest automaker saved 100 billion yen ($875 million) in the half year ended September through measures including the continued roll out of a new manufacturing process. That’s more than $3,300 every minute in those six months. According to The Detroit News, the money saved will help bolster spending on research and development to a record $1.06 trillion yen ($9.3 billion) this year as President Akio Toyoda pushes the company deeper into new electrified powertrains and artificial intelligence, areas he says the automaker needs to lead. Aggressive cost cutting, a weaker yen, and continued dominance of the Japanese market led Toyota to raise its full-year profit Tuesday and announce a share buyback. Read more here

Nissan CEO Emphasizes Profits Over Volume
Nissan Motor Co. Chief Executive Hiroto Saikawa said fierce competition in the U.S. has been eating into margins, meaning the company needs to prioritize profits despite his boss Carlos Ghosn’s ambitious growth targets for the company. Mr. Saikawa’s comments came as Nissan said Wednesday that operating income in North America fell nearly 50 percent in the three months to September. According to The Wall Street Journal, the company lowered its full-year profit forecast after it recalled 1.2 million vehicles in Japan. The alliance of Nissan, Renault SA and Mitsubishi Motors Corp. aims to sell 14 million vehicles annually by 2022, a 40 percent increase. Mr. Ghosn has said large volumes are important to drive down costs and fund investment in next-generation technologies, such as autonomous driving. But Mr. Saikawa said that growth shouldn’t come at the expense of the health of the business. For more, click here

Seasonal Sway: With 'December to Remember,' Lexus Keeps Defining Holiday Auto
Lexus pioneered the end-of-the-year automotive "event" sale, and the brand started last week trying to keep the tradition going. Its biggest-ever months for U.S. sales were December in each of the last two years, and as the industry levels off overall, Lexus would like to try for a third record month on the strength of its 2017 "December To Remember" sales event and an accompanying new advertising campaign. Forbes reports that over the last several years, December also has become a big time of focus in the premium segment because, typically, three brands are involved in a year-end horse race to see which can be the best-selling in the U.S. "We never set out to be No.1," Brian Bolain, general manager of Lexus marketing, told me. "We want to be in the conversation and that's the most important part of it... I'm not sure we need to be No. 1 in sales but we don't want to be forgotten... We'll certainly exceed 300,000 units this year and that's quite an accomplishment." Read more here

Steering Flood Cars Away From Your Dealership
Floodwater from hurricanes Harvey and Irma likely damaged at least half a million cars, prompting warnings to consumers coast to coast about the dangers of buying a waterlogged wreck. News stations like KTRK in Houston are teaming up with Carfax to demonstrate how flood cars can be cleaned up and easily mistaken for safe, reliable used cars without proper research and expert inspections. With 325,000 flood vehicles currently in use nationwide, according to new Carfax research, and more expected from Harvey and Irma, buyers and sellers alike need to be on the lookout. AIADA dealer members have trusted Carfax information and resources to help protect their businesses and customers from flood cars. Carfax Advantage dealers can run as many Carfax Reports as they need – on their desktop, through the Carfax for Dealers mobile app and more – to spot them. And, with your inventory on Carfax Used Car Listings, people can shop with confidence seeing the Carfax Reports you’ve run for them. Put the Carfax Advantage dealer program to work for your dealership by calling 888-788-7715 or visiting

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