General Motors Offers Dealer Incentive Plan for Pontiacs, Saturns

The post-Christmas season is typically a time for retailers to clear out their old items to make room in their stores for new product. For General Motors at the end of 2009, this is especially true as its dealerships are looking to clear out the remaining inventory of the discontinued Pontiac and Saturn models as quickly as possible. To facilitate this, the New York Times reports that G.M. is giving its dealers incentives to sell as many cars as possible within the next week.

G.M. is offering dealers $7,000 for every Pontiac and Saturn vehicle they move into their rental or service fleets, allowing them to be sold to customers. However, the incentive might not trickle back to customers in terms of discounts on the cars. In addition, any vehicle bought through this program is considered to be a “used” vehicle, meaning that buyers will not be eligible for incentives of up to $6,500 that G.M. is offering for buyers of new cars. People who are financing their purchase will also have to pay the higher interest rates typically placed on used car loans.

Chrysler to Showcase Fiat Products at Detroit Auto Show

Chrysler’s appearance at the Detroit Auto Show in January 2010 will showcase the fruits of its recent purchase by Fiat. Automotive News reports that Chrysler will exhibit two new cars at the show: an electric version of the Fiat 500 mini and the Lancia Delta, a midsize hatchback with a Chrysler grille.

But don’t expect to see either car on American roads any time soon – anonymous sources told Automotive News that there are no plans to make either car available for purchase in the U.S. market.

Chrysler’s show space will also be used to highlight other brands owned by Fiat, including the Ferrari 458 Italia and the Maserati GranCabrio.

Automakers Set for Sizable Gains in December 2009

The U.S. automotive industry is set to end what has otherwise been a dreary 2009 on a positive note, with a report from J.D. Power and Associates projecting a 15 percent increase in revenues from last December. According to Automotive News, this would mark the biggest year-over-year sales increase for any month in 2009.

“The market is continuing to improve, with the relative strength of December sales supporting a year-end rally,” Gary Dilts, senior vice president of global automotive op

erations at J.D. Power, said in a statement.

Based on the first 17 days of the month, total December sales are projected at 1.03 million vehicles, up from 895,152 a year earlier. J.D. Power expects December retail sales to jump 20 percent to 83

9,600. Fleet sales should drop by 2.5 percent, or 5,000 vehicles.

Ford Boss Praises Obama’s Handling of Auto Bailout

Ford Motor Co. Executive Chairman Bill Ford Jr. praised President Barack Obama‘s handling of the auto bailout, the Detroit News reported on Tuesday. Ford said that he had met briefly with Obama in the Oval Office, and had expressed his belief that the $62 billion bailout of GM and Chrysler was necessary and handled fairly.

“I complimented him on the way he’s handled the industry,” Ford said. “Preventing the collapse of the supply base was something that they did swiftly and forcefully, and it worked.”

Ford characterized the meeting as “casual” as he was primarily in town to meet with Commerce Secretary Gary Locke to discuss results of the National Summit convened by the Detroit Economic Club in Detroit in June.

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Car Dealers Slated to Close Reject Appeals Process

General Motors and Chrysler offered on Thursday to reconsider closing more than 3,000 car dealerships after pressure from Congress, but according to the Detroit Free-Press, car dealers called the announced plan little more than window dressing.

The auto manufacturers would allow dealers whose stores are slated for closing to appeal their case to an independent panel, which would hear why the dealership decided to reject particular dealerships. However, dealers such as Jeffrey Tamaroff, who was forced to close his family’s Southfield Dodge dealership, say the move will do little to help.

“I want to throw up,” said Tamaroff. “They want us to sit in front of a review panel, all of whom will be sitting there with folded arms waiting for us to finish, then they will say ‘Next.’ It is really cruel.”

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LA Auto Show kicks off today

It’s almost Christmas, especially for automotive enthusiasts on the West Coast as the Los Angeles International Auto Show kicks off today at the Los Angeles Convention Center. One of the largest car shows in the world, the LA Auto Show is a place where several car makers debut their latest models, and this year is no different: seven different car lines with make their world debut at the show, including two concept cars.

On the high end, Porsche will debut its new Boxster Spyder at the LA Auto Show. This is the lightest car that Porsche has ever produced, weighing in at just 1,275 kg while still boasting a powerful 3.4-litre six-cylinder engine creating 320 horsepower. This lets the new Boxster Spyder go from zero to 100 km/h in 4.8 seconds.

One the other end of the spectrum, Toyota will roll the the third generation of its Sienna minivan line while VW is releasing what it claims will be the “Final Edition” of the New Beetle.

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