Headlines for Wednesday, April 25, 2012

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NEW PRODUCT REVIEW

Scion unveils lightweight FR-S sporty coupe

12:01 am U.S. ET | April 25, 2012
Toyota's new compact coupe will be marketed in the United States as the Scion FR-S. The initials stand for “front engine, rear-wheel drive, sport.” In other words, it's a small sporty coupe for drivers who appreciate speed and good driving dynamics.

Big banks seek to build on auto loan gains

12:01 am U.S. ET | April 25, 2012
Some of the biggest banks in auto lending continue to aggressively pursue retail loan business after first-quarter surges. Wells Fargo Dealer Services, for example, reported record auto originations of $6.2 billion for the first quarter this year.

2012 BEIJING AUTO SHOW

BMW plans 'stretched' 3 series to tap China's expanding luxury market

4:24 pm U.S. ET | April 25, 2012
BMW is making a bigger version of its popular 3-Series sedan in a bid to tap into Chinese car buyers' taste for larger cars and lure them away from the likes of GM. The stretch 3-Series, made uniquely for the Chinese market, is 11 centimeters (4.

2012 BEIJING AUTO SHOW

Jeep hopes to exploit China's appetite for SUVs

3:16 pm U.S. ET | April 25, 2012
Chrysler Group introduced a concept Jeep vehicle at the Beijing auto show this week designed especially for the Chinese market.

VIDEO: First Shift: AutoNation's look ahead

12:01 am U.S. ET | April 25, 2012
Biggest U.S. car retailer posts bigger profit, sees growth continuing; why BMW is stretching its 3-series; using toy cars to inspire future engineers.

Dealer groups report gains in Q1 profits

11:42 am U.S. ET | April 25, 2012
The nation's largest auto dealership groups, boosted by U.S. customers buying fuel-efficient vehicles in response to high gasoline prices, are reporting gains in first-quarter profits. AutoNation, the largest U.S.

Automakers expect to avoid losing output amid resin shortage, AutoNation says

2:45 pm U.S. ET | April 25, 2012
AutoNation, the largest U.S. retailer of new vehicles, said automakers expect to avoid losing output amid a shortage of a key resin used in fuel and brake parts.

'Imported from Detroit' T-shirt suit is settled

5:02 pm U.S. ET | April 25, 2012
Chrysler Group and a Detroit clothing company have reached a settlement in a lawsuit over the use of the "Imported from Detroit" slogan on T-shirts. Terms of the settlement haven't been released.

Nick Reilly, former GM exec, tapped to head MSX's Asia Pacific region

4:51 pm U.S. ET | April 25, 2012
Nick Reilly, who retired as president of GM Europe earlier this year, has been named by MSX International as chairman of its Asia Pacific region. MSX, a leading technical staffing and dealership process consultancy, expects major growth in Asia, said MSX CEO Fred Minturn.

Lithia Motors has the cash to snap up more stores

4:15 pm U.S. ET | April 25, 2012
Lithia Motors' strong first-quarter earnings and a new five-year, $650 million line of credit have given it the financial muscle to shop aggressively for more dealerships.

Sales recovery pushes AutoNation Q1 profits up

6:50 am U.S. ET | April 25, 2012
AutoNation, the nation's largest dealership group, posted higher net income for the first quarter as U.S. consumers replaced their aging vehicles at an increasing clip. AutoNation reported net income from continuing operations of $73.

EV startup Coda withdraws request for $334 million U.S. loan

4:11 pm U.S. ET | April 25, 2012
EV startup Coda Automotive said today it has withdrawn its $334 million loan request from the federal Department of Energy after waiting two years for a response.

VIDEO: AutoNews Now: Post-quake progress

12:01 am U.S. ET | April 25, 2012
As other Japanese automakers fell, Toyota, Nissan boosted global production in year after quake; Penske, Lithia post gains; Mitsubishi's 'tempting' offer.

How a dealership group overhauled F&I

12:01 am U.S. ET | April 25, 2012
Looking for solutions to your F&I challenges? Your peers might have answers that will work for you. Mike Hanks, general manager of Bob Hall's Automotive Group in Yakima, Wash., will be one of three dealership officials presenting during a session called “Dealers Share Their Best F&I Practices.

Penske’s luxury sales, aggressive Internet presence boost Q1 results

7:46 am U.S. ET | April 25, 2012
Penske Automotive Group, the No. 2 U.S. dealership group, saw the sale of new vehicles rise nearly 12 percent and the sale of used vehicles jump 27 percent in the first quarter compared with a year ago.

Risk-taker Musk joins group of asteroid prospectors

3:49 pm U.S. ET | April 25, 2012
Tesla Motors co-founder Elon Musk, well known in the auto industry and U.S. business for his risk-taking startups, has joined a group of investors in a company that plans to send robotic spacecraft to mine asteroids.

MIKE COLIAS

Trail of clues leading to Chevrolet SS nameplate

3:27 pm U.S. ET | April 25, 2012
Connecting the dots that lead to Chevrolet's as-yet-unnamed new model seems to lead back to one storied name: SS.

JOHN K. TEAHEN, JR.

With 3 months down, can 2012 deliver more than 14M?

2:29 pm U.S. ET | April 25, 2012
Many, many years ago, my favorite college professor drilled into us that there are three degrees of liars: liars, damn liars and statisticians.

JAMIE LaREAU

How military personnel can pose a credit challenge

12:01 am U.S. ET | April 25, 2012
Some military personnel suffer dings to their credit rating when they serve overseas.

VW Credit to expand operations in Chicago area, hire 150 people

12:01 am U.S. ET | April 25, 2012
Volkswagen's financing arm, VW Credit, is expanding its offices in suburban Chicago to meet what the company describes as an “upsurge in growth in recent years.”

COMMENT: DAVID ROBERTSON

Why dealer reserve is just part of the deal

10:09 am U.S. ET | April 25, 2012
A fair and accurate discussion about dealer reserve must hinge on the tasks and expenses underlying the installment lending process, not the specific benefits of in-store funding to customers, lenders and dealers.

LUCA CIFERRI

VW keeps cool in Beijing by planning ahead

12:01 am U.S. ET | April 25, 2012
Regardless of the weather, the temperatures inside most halls at the Beijing auto show are either uncomfortably hot or absolutely oppressive. An exception was VW's new pavilion, where the well-prepared Germans avoided broiling visitors by making an excellent decision.

Q&A

F&I spiffs are 'huge step'

12:01 am U.S. ET | April 25, 2012
Ohio dealer Mike D'Amato says he's fired up about the redesigned 2013 Nissan Altima. That's because the sedan, set to launch in late June, will come out of the gate with special loan and lease deals.

Nissan plans F&I deals to launch new Altima

12:01 am U.S. ET | April 25, 2012
Nissan plans to use F&I incentives to push the redesigned 2013 Nissan Altima when it goes on sale in June. The automaker will offer discount financing on lease and loan deals plus a limited-time free scheduled maintenance offer.

JIM HENRY

Spot deliveries likely to take heat

12:01 am U.S. ET | April 25, 2012
There's a growing sense among vendors and industry lawyers that federal regulators will “do something” about spot delivery -- though no one seems to know which regulators will do what, or when.

2012 AUTOMOTIVE NEWS CHINA CONFERENCE

Next GM CEO should come from within, Akerson says

April 25, 2012 14:14 CET
GM CEO Dan Akerson says he's not talking succession with the board, but that he prefers it tap an internal candidate when it is time for him to move on.

2012 BEIJING AUTO SHOW

Ferrari will launch first hybrid in 2013

April 25, 2012 11:18 CET
Ferrari will offer its first gasoline-electric hybrid system in 2013. The technology, derived from its Formula One hybrid program, will be featured in the as-yet-unnamed car that will replace the limited-edition Enzo.

PSA first-quarter revenue drops 7.3% as European market shrinks

April 25, 2012 08:04 CET
PSA said first-quarter revenue fell 7.3 percent as the region's vehicle market contracted. Sales dropped to 14.3 billion euros ($18.9 billion) from 15.4 billion euros a year earlier. PSA repeated that it expects the auto market to shrink 5 percent this year in Europe.

Mazda Europe names veteran company engineer as new r&d chief

April 25, 2012 10:16 CET
Mazda Europe has chosen Ichiro Hirose, a veteran executive and leading engineer on the automaker's development team, to run its research and development center in Europe.

2012 BEIJING AUTO SHOW

Bertone may sell Nuccio concept to Chinese collector

April 25, 2012 06:01 CET
Italian design and engineering firm Bertone is in talks with a Chinese car collector to sell its one-off Nuccio supercar. The asking price for the Nuccio, which took about 15,000 hours to design, engineer and build, is about 2 million euros.

2012 BEIJING AUTO SHOW

Peugeot previews 208 crossover variant

April 25, 2012 06:01 CET
Peugeot has previewed an SUV-styled variant of the brand's recently launched 208 subcompact hatchback with the Urban Crossover Concept. The concept is likely to go into production for sale in Europe and Asia as a competitor in the growing market for small SUV-styled cars.

Dana swings to 1st-quarter profit on higher commercial truck volume

8:01 am U.S. ET | April 25, 2012
Auto parts supplier Dana swung to a quarterly profit as demand for commercial and off-highway vehicles boosted sales. Commercial vehicle companies such as Navistar and Paccar -- some of Dana's largest customers -- have enjoyed a rebound in U.S.

2012 BEIJING AUTO SHOW

Ferrari to add dealers in China

April 25, 2012 11:38 CET
Ferrari plans to grow its Chinese dealer network to 15 stores from 10 by the end of next year to keep pace with demand in the world's largest market. Last year, sales of the supercar grew 66 percent to 777 units, Ferrari China boss Edwin Fenech told Automotive News Europe.

2012 BEIJING AUTO SHOW

Bentley aims to sell 3,000 SUVs in 2015

April 25, 2012 06:01 CET
Bentley aims to sell 3,000 of its planned SUV annually when production starts in 2015. The brand is confident of getting approval from parent Volkswagen to produce the SUV by year-end, said Bentley CEO Wolfgang Duerheimer.

CAR CUTAWAY

ZF, Bosch help make the new BMW 6 series agile, efficient

12:01 am U.S. ET | April 25, 2012
The new BMW 6 series has a standard eight-speed automatic transmission supplied by ZF Friedrichshafen that provides additional gear ratios and an increased transmission ratio spread without any increase in size, weight or effect on the system's efficiency.

LUCA CIFERRI

VW keeps cool in Beijing by planning ahead

12:01 am U.S. ET | April 25, 2012
Regardless of the weather, the temperatures inside most halls at the Beijing auto show are either uncomfortably hot or absolutely oppressive. An exception was VW’s new pavilion, where the well-prepared Germans avoided broiling visitors by making an excellent decision.

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