Today's Automotive Industry News

Bob Pease and The Cord

New Vintage and Classic Car Column for Car People

Observations, Insights, and Ramblings about the “Old Car" Hobby from a Fellow Car-nut who's been involved in this crazy affliction for over 40 years!

“Pease" Be With You
A new column by Bob Pease, Collector Car Editor & Expert

Automotive Digest is excited to present Bob Pease, a leading edge advertising executive, vintage car owner, winemaker, and respected expert on collector cars for many years. Bob's most recent accomplishments include the design and production of the incredible Cord Complete Book, published last year. See and even buy the book at

Bob will be aggregating and editing significant news, developments, and events involving vintage and classic vehicles every two weeks with coverage from the U.S. and global marketing.

Click to read this week's feature!


The Battle for Lithium Battery Dominance

Lithium batteries is the place to be – according to Tesla Motors, BYD Co., and A123 Systems. But they’re not just being manufactured to power plug-in electric vehicles.

Chinese automaker BYD Co., backed by Warren Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway Inc., will be adding 18 gigawatt hours of global production for batteries over the next three years, putting it on par with Tesla Motor’s $5 billion “gigafactory” for electric vehicle battery manufacturing and energy storage capacity.

While Wanxiang Group is still working to relaunch the Fisker Karma, its recently acquired battery maker A123 Systems is moving away from electric cars, at least in the US.

A123 Systems’ two Detroit-area factories are producing lithium-ion starter batteries for Mercedes-Benz.

Read all about the challenges and opportunities companies like A123 Systems are facing in the car battery business……… _________________________________________________________________

Should Auto Dealers Be Called Auto Retailers?

“Why do you call yourself dealers?” Automotive Digest Publisher Chuck Parker asked during the American Financial Services Association (AFSA) automotive conference. “Right off the bat, it says someone is dealing.”

Was Chuck talking about dealing drugs – or being a wheeler-dealer type? Should dealers identify themselves as auto retailers?

AutoNation CEO Michael Jackson says, “We don’t have dealerships, we have stores.”

Should review website DealerRater change its name to StoreRater?

Read all about what panelists, including Charlie Vogelheim of Motor Trend, had to say about this question during AFSA ……… _________________________________________________________________

Art Spinella

A Tribute to Art Spinella and Contributions He’s Made to the Auto Industry

Automotive Digest staff and others in the auto industry were very sad to hear about the passing away of Art Spinella.

The president of CNW Research, based in Bandon, Oregon, died from congestive heart failure at the age of 68. Spinella has been well known in the auto industry for several years as an analyst tracking consumer car buying decisions and retail auto sales trends through CNW Research and its Retail Automotive Summary newsletter.

Spinella has been very much valued by colleagues in the industry – which has been well represented in how CNW Research content has been shared and cited in other industry reports – including Kontos Kommentary and Manheim Used Vehicle Value Index.

Here’s an overview of what Spinella has contributed to the auto industry and how much he’ll be missed.……… _________________________________________________________________

Audi Manufacturing

Automated Body Shop Shows How Audi Manufactures Cars

This is according to Hubert Hartmann, head of the A3 body shop at Ingolstadt, who describes the automated plant... “It is like a Swiss watch, with the same level of precision.”

Audi is said to have the most modern factory floor of its kind, where a high level of automation has been married with many other advanced manufacturing technologies. 

The result? Audi has realized a reduced demand for untrained workers -- while at the same time increasing their demand for more trained, more specialized workers.

How Audi drives innovation on the automated body shop line illustrates how German manufacturing is moving forward. In fact, Germany remains the global leader in many manufacturing sectors, with automation as one of the main reasons why Germany posted a record trade surplus last year.

Read this article from a recent issue of the MIT Technology Review clearly outlines what we can expect to see in the production of vehicles in the next 5 years.


The Internet of Everything

State of the Market: THE INTERNET OF THINGS 2015

If you are a “Big Picture” or Where are we going person- you going to love this report. .

This Report from Verizon is really really for you if you are involved or want to be think and deal with the bigger picture of what is going on with the Internet, energy, sustainability, and transportation. .

Actually, the report is worthy of your download, study, routing, discussion and extraction of the core predictions of where “things” are going. .

You & your management team will be inspired and informed by what the report has to say about sensors, networking, cloud computing, and the potential of for us all in not just these three areas for transformation of the automotive market but with all of the Internet of Things. .

If you don’t have an” Internet of Thing” [IoT] strategy, you should. This report covers what organizations are doing and gives some recommendations on how to get the most out of it. .

Download this “Must Read” report……… _________________________________________________________________

V2V Cars

V2V Technology Update:

Automotive Revolution Coming As Cars See Each Other

Situation: Lapses in driver attention or bad judgment frequently cause car accidents.

The Solution that is coming:

In the future, drivers will still have ultimate control of their vehicle, using gas pedals and steering wheels ... and to help them drive better and safer,  cars that can “see” and respond to each other's movements will soon be on the road.

How?  GPS sensors in a vehicle will connect with matching programmed "nodes" on the street -- that will enable vehicles to constantly broadcast their positions and sound an alarm for impending collisions.  Vehicle to Vehicle (V2V) signals will occur through the use of WiFi like radios that warn drivers to take evasive action.

Also -- radar-scanning crosswalks will beam alerts to pedestrians and bus drivers.

Government estimates that the cost  of  V2V units to carmakers will be $329 per car.  The cost to run the communications network will cost around $60 Million per year -- which could be covered with a $3 fee  on each new car sale.

See this mindboggling article on page 21 of the December 2014 issue of Car & Driver.


Used Car Vehicle Value

Is There One Dominant Used Vehicle Valuation Report Among the Many?

In the 1990s, there certainly weren’t as many data metrics for analyzing used vehicle valuations as there are now.

Today, those fundamentals are still being tracked – but lately there’s also a lot more data reporting to consider. puts out a monthly used car report, and releases a quarterly – and there’s more.

Then there’s always the bread and butter – the market reports that have been published regularly for several years.

The editor of Used Car Market Reports offers perspectives on how to best utilize these resources without get­ting overwhelmed by informa­tion overload……… _________________________________________________________________

Hidden cameras inside dealerships

TREND WATCH: Dealership Hidden Cameras

[Note: You may have missed this informative article in the November 3 issue of Automotive News.]
Situation: Customers claim that the dealership damaged their car while it was in the service department.

What are dealers doing to deal with customer vehicle damage?

Dealers are installing hidden cameras as a defensive tool and saving thousands of dollars  -- and causing customers to realize or admit that the damage was already there.

Example: BMW of Catonsville sells about 1,300 new and used vehicles a year, installed a system for a monthly servicing fee of $700.  The system is used in the Loaner Department to show the condition before and after the loaner is returned. Cameras are also being used for both new and used car deliveries.

Eyewitness Surveillance’s live overnight monitoring systems protect everything outside the dealership, in the lots and parking areas.

Real Dealer Example:


Gumbel Courin in BMW 13

Boy, Things Have Changed!

A TV commercial for the BMW i3 shows NBC reporters Bryant Gumbel and Katie Couric in 1994 discussing this “newfangled” internet thing.

Fast forward to 2015, Gumbel and Couric are now confused about riding in a car with no engine, with its power somehow coming from a wind turbine.

It was one of the most popular TV ads shown during the Super Bowl game on Feb. 1.

WATCH THIS VIDEO. _________________________________________________________________

VIN Cloning on California plate

Used Car Dealers Beware: Watch out for VIN Cloning

You can view ABC news footage to hear about the “VIN cloning” crisis – and how Carfax and the National Insurance Crime Bureau (NICB) unmasked the clever scheme bringing in big bucks for thieves. The current owner of the previously stolen car is now without a vehicle.

Dealers can play an important role in educating customers about VIN cloning fraud. You can read this resource article on VIN checks protecting car shoppers and owners from VIN fraud. Another CARFAX article informs customers about what typically happens to their car if it gets stolen.

GET MORE DETAILS. _________________________________________________________________

Dealer lot with electric cars

ALG’s Eric Lyman on What to Expect in Green Car Sales and Residual Values

The Situation: Gasoline prices taking a dive has meant electric vehicle and hybrid sales have softened.

What does it mean?

Green Auto Market spoke with an expert on the subject – Eric Lyman, VP, industry insights at ALG – to gain insight on key market indicators to follow.

Beyond the early adopters and new-technology first-in-line buyers, ALG finds the interest is there for EVs and hybrids, but car shoppers today are not that willing to pay for it.

For residual values, Tesla has been the only solid EV performer so far. “They’ve done an amazing job of building the brand with early adopters, achieving a cult status,” Lyman said.

Maintenance is a strong selling point for EVs compared to internal combustion engine vehicles.

GET MORE DETAILS. _________________________________________________________________

Kerrigan Advisors 2

Dealerships are the New Investment Darlings of Wall Street & Each Other

The Situation:  The number of deals involving the sale or acquisition of U.S. automotive dealerships doubled in 2014 to over 200.

How do we know?

Listening, watching, and connecting with Erin Kerrigan of Kerrigan Advisors.

To see for yourself, start HERE by checking out her comprehensive presentation at the J D Power Summit in San Francisco last week.

What seems to be the characteristics of a Dealership Sale?

  • * Lots of Negotiation
  • * Not easy to get a deal “done”
  • * Approval of the manufacturer franchisor takes as long as two month
  • * The volume of sale transactions is robust and deals are increasing

What is triggering all this interest and investment?

  • * Dealer Sales are booming -- but may leveling off in 2015
  • * The average dealership made $1 Million in profit in 2014
  • * 92% of the dealerships are still in private hands of aging patriarchs
  • * Warren Buffett bought VanTyl; Lithia bought DCH
  • * Average dealership has double in value in the last 10 years to $36M
  • * One in five dealership were sold or in process in 2014
  • * Low cost money is available to make any deal a consideration
  • * Deals can be structured to handle a lot of Blue Sky

GET MORE DETAILS. _________________________________________________________________

NADA Sandwichboard Woman

Upbeat, Satisfied Dealers Jam Exhibitor Aisles at NADA 2015

Ten Notable Take-Aways :

  1. 1. Several conferences were scheduled around NADA, which helped boost dealer attendance for all, including J.D. Power Summit, the AFSA Vehicle Finance Conference, & Automotive News.

  2. 2. Going Global -- On the NADA exhibit floor, there were lots of attendees from China, Canada, and Europe spotted in the NADA International Lounge.

  3. 3. In general, dealers seemed to be confident about business in 2015 & their use of technology -- are you?

  4. 4. Workshop content was substantive & many sessions had standing room only, and Autobytel was so popular they had to run an unplanned additional session.

  5. 5. Mobility apps were marketed heavily as consumers migrate to cell phone shopping

  6. 6. Easy to use video technology was featured as a new platform for dealers to sell cars

  7. 7. And speaking of video, video presentations were everywhere in booths demonstrating products and services.

  8. 8. Big Box suppliers like Reynolds & Reynolds, ADT, and Google were offering more complete suites of sales & service programs

  9. 9.The NADA Exhibit for NADA itself was huge & loaded with products and services like training and software that were competitive with exhibitors.

  10. 10. And even though new innovative systems & apps did not have exhibit booths, they made a big impression in the more informal  selling environment  of hospitality suites. Most Notable & innovative were:

    • *LotLinx -- Deeplinks consumer internet vehicle inventory searches
    • * -- Vehicle search intelligence similar to Google
    • *Surecritic -- Provides verified consumer reviews of dealers
    • *Octane -- Automotive app developers for dealers
    • *DMEautomotive -- Direct marketing systems like mobility tools
    • *3 Birds -- Fixed Ops demand and retention marketing
    • *Telogis -- Next generation connected vehicle software



self driving car

Before Self-Driving Cars: Four Tech Challenges the Auto Industry Faces Today

According to Dykema Automotive Practice, as the industry continues to evolve toward vehicles without drivers, there are four main challenges to watch including:

The Culture Combination: If vehicles are going to integrate the most advanced technologies, car companies need to work with the brightest tech minds. But so far, it hasn't always been a comfortable collaboration. . Silicon Valley and Detroit are two very different places.  But while the stalwarts of Silicon Valley might not want to move to Detroit, many see the auto industry’s potential. Apple has partnered with Ferrari, Volvo and Mercedes on CarPlay, which will deploy the iOS operating system to let drivers control navigation and entertainment from their iPhones. Intel is working with Ford on things like an interior camera that will recognize the driver and a system that unlocks cars with smartphones.

The Long Lead TimeOn average, it takes three years to design and build a new car and that car will stay on the road for roughly 11 years. The industry needs to find a way to bring new car technology more quickly to market -- as consumers have come to expect all technology to move as fast as the updates we get for the devices we carry in our pockets — and as reliable as a car itself.

Keeping Data PrivateIn the not-too-distant future, we'll be able to take road trips and depend on our cars to tell us when we are near our favorite chain restaurants, how much gas costs at the approaching stations and whether the sprinkler system has turned on at home. According to Steve Tupper, the leader of Dykema’s Privacy, Security and E-Commerce practice, "Carmakers can give drivers a very rich experience if drivers allow the use of their data. The critical thing is to help drivers understand and control that data access. The carmaker that does this better than any other will win lots of hearts and minds.”

Keeping Data Secure: As technology improves auto safety, the industry must find ways to keep those systems secure. According to the McKinsey study, 43 percent of new car buyers say they are worried that hackers will tamper with their brakes or safety systems.  “You can't have vehicles communicating reliably with one another if you don't have a secure network,” says Paul Laurenza, a Dykema attorney who focuses on transportation safety.

MORE >> WHITE PAPER -- To drill down and gain more assessment and insight on driverless cars  from the Dykema Law Firm.


Future Salesperson Looking Smart

How to Look Smarter

No question, if you want to project intelligence and really appear to be smarter than you actually are, then you have got to not just read and study this great WSJ article in the Personal Journal section, you got to memorize, visualize, and utilize the “How to Project Intelligence” chart embedded in this article.

Here just a few of the “gems” in this really “smart” articles that you can pick up on and adopt as soon as your read the entire article from the link below .

  • First Impressions – Remind yourself about how best to create good first impression
  • Put down the cell phone – Look people straight in the eye when you talk to them
  • Listen, Sit up straight and put on a serious face
  • Avoid certain gestures like touching your face or hair
  • Show a self-assured expression rather than a poker face

  • Know that making attempts at impression management can give away low intelligence
  • Wearing eye glasses make people think you are intelligent
  • Do try to use big words or complicated phasing
  • Don’t talk too long or too loud
  • If you don't know or if wrong, say so

To make you look and sound smart, be enthusiastic

Watch Video and read article here.


Thirteen Traits of a Truly Innovative Organization (Dealership)

This listing is linked to the complete article that was authored by Luke Johnson of Risk Capital Partners and published in a late December issue of Financial Times. Please go the link at the bottom of this listing and spend some time ingesting the entire article including the complete content of each of these traits.

Here are the 13 Traits derived by the author after 25 years observing organizations:

1.  Serendipity: New ideas do not always happen through relentless application.

2.  Openness to suggestions: Accidents can breed quantum leaps if we see them.

3.  Teams: Scientific advances are normally made by group.

4.  Kaizen: Japanese management theory which promotes continuous improvement.

5.  Iterations: Not always big breakthroughs.

6.  Application: Not theory or purely academic concepts.

7.  Small not giant: Now more nimble, dispersed groups are winning.

8.  Many disciplines: Few products are developed by one group of specialists.

9.  Youth and diversity: As we age, we become cynical and resistant to change.

10. Talent: Creative individuals are essential.

11. Frugality: Lavish budgets do not necessarily guarantee better results.

12. Patience: Most important advances take years, involve much work & heartache.

13. Allowing failure: Dead ends are inevitable.

Summary: Inventing and innovating are the most exciting and risky activities in business and absolutely necessary if companies are to thrive. Culture matters when inventing ideas and delivering products and services.



Tesla vs. Nissan

So Who is Actually Leading the EV Sales Race – Tesla or Nissan?

Not long ago, you might have assumed that the Nissan Leaf took top spot in US electric vehicle (EV) sales during December. However, nobody knows for sure.

Tesla CEO Elon Musk wouldn’t give those numbers when he spoke at the Detroit Auto Show.

Stock market analyst service MarketWatch reported that the Model S became the best-selling electric car in the US during December 2014, beating the Leaf for the first time.


Ed Herrmann

Ed Herrmann Remembered: Dodge Spokesman and Pebble Beach Enthusiast

In case you missed it: On the last day of 2014, we lost Edward Herrmann, longtime spokesman for Dodge and avid car enthusiast.

There were many tributes on all the major news wires, in newspapers, Pebble Beach publications, and Automobile magazines.

See links to some of the comments and tributes to this big man who made over 45 pictures and did much for the automotive industry, including classic cars and enthusiast events and marketing.

You will want to pay particular attention to the tremendous contribution and impact that Herrmann made at the Pebble Beach Concours d'Elegance and in recent years on the History Channel's Automotive magazine program.

The size of this gentleman and the resonance of his voice-overs left an immediate impact along with his elegance, stature, and image. He made a difference on the screen and in the automotive industry.


Takata airbag recall

Major Auto Retailers See Revenue and Profits Grow from Used Car Sales

Used car sales have been hot lately for auto retailers, surpassing new car sales in third quarter earnings reports.

Finding easier credit and increasing prices seen on new car window stickers have been drivers of used vehicle sales.

Growing popularity in CPO vehicles is also helping. Here are the latest results from several large, publicly traded dealers.


Takata airbag recall

New Mobile App Helps Car Owners During Takata And Other Open Recalls

Honda Motor Co. has added to the Takata recall as it becomes what’s already one of the biggest recalls of the year spanning 10 automakers – and may eventually eclipse General Motors’ massive recall.

However, the issue with recalls goes well beyond the Takata recall – Carfax says that one in six vehicles on U.S. roads have a faulty part recalled by the automaker, but the vehicle has yet to be taken in for repair by the vehicle owner.

The good news is that Carfax has several solutions to help dealers easily find out about open recalls. As a Carfax® Advantage Dealer®, you can run all the Carfax® Vehicle History Reports™ you need to know about open recalls at acquisition and disclose them to buyers at retail by showing them the Carfax.


Spireon collateral management platform

A New Way for Dealers to Speed Up Loan Process

A new collateral management platform has been introduced that will help vehicle finance companies reduce the time and costs related to funding and servicing automobile loans through dealer operations.

This loan systems has a unique intuitive interface feature that goes beyond simple vehicle tracking within the loaning process for dealers and lenders, allowing them to process more loans more quickly.


Car show exhibit hall

Green Car Shows to Attend – Even if You Hate Going

It’s that time of the year again – time to plan for next year.

For those of you selling and servicing electric vehicles, hybrids, fuel cell vehicles, and other green machines, there are a few events to know about.

Here’s a list of car shows and conferences to consider attending. Plus, at the end of this event list there’s yet another list: Ways to make the most of events and conferences, even if you hate going to them!


Brilliant social media campaigns

The 30 Most Brilliant Social Media Campaigns of 2014 (So Far)

Automotive marketers, particularly dealers, continue to use social media more and more and are learning the most effective and impactful ways to use this new marketing communications tool.

The editors at Automotive Digest recently found a great resource for apps and creative resources for social media ideas, content, and campaign resources called Refresh []

The first resource we found on Refresh was a listing of the best social media campaigns in 2014.

This listing may inspire, ignite, and be a catalyst to create new social media campaigns for your dealership or company for 2015.

Sourced from Salesforce Marketing Cloud

Word of Mouth

Word of Mouth Still Pivotal in Selling New and Used Cars

While new and used vehicle sales methods rely heavily on new media tactics (Youtube videos, Facebook likes, Twitter hashtags, e-newsletters, texting, etc.), a new Foresight Research study shows that classic marketing methods haven’t died off.

Word of mouth recommendations on what car to buy is still the most valuable resource out there.

As certified pre-owned vehicle sales become more important for dealers, having the best word of mouth strategy in place makes a lot of sense – including participating in channels where influencers are commenting on their vehicle purchases and sharing recommendations online.