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Today’s FirstUp

April 17, 2014 

No Bashing This Time in U.S. Currency Report on Japan

The U.S. Treasury’s semiannual currency report is sometimes an occasion to scold Japan, but the latest Treasury report, released Tuesday, avoided overt criticism and merely cited an assessment by the International Monetary Fund that the yen was “moderately undervalued.” It was a contrast from a year ago, when the Treasury criticized aggressive monetary easing pursued by Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and Bank of Japan Governor Haruhiko Kuroda, a policy that resulted in a sharp weakening of the yen. “We will continue to press Japan…to refrain from competitive devaluation and targeting its exchange rate for competitive purposes,” the April 2013 report said. According to The Wall Street Journal, Treasury’s attention this year was trained on China, which has recently seen a slight weakening of its currency. The report blasted Chinese currency authorities, saying they were ”unwilling to allow an appreciation large enough to bring the currency to market equilibrium, opting instead for a gradual adjustment.” Elsewhere, the Treasury report reminded Japan of the need for domestic demand-led growth and the dangers of repairing Japan’s budget deficit too hastily. For more on the Treasury Department’s latest currency report, click here

Toyota Unveils 2015 Camry with 'Athletic' Exterior
Toyota Motor Corp. is giving the best-selling car in the United States a major mid-cycle refresh on the existing chassis, with a complete exterior redesign. The Detroit News reports that the automaker unveiled its 2015 Camry Tuesday at the New York International Auto Show. The Camry has been the best-selling car in the United States for 12 straight years. The Camry — designed and engineered at Toyota’s technical center in Michigan — will feature a new sporty XSE and Hybrid SE versions, joining the LE and XLE grades. Toyota calls the new exterior design more “athletic.” The new Camry goes on sale this fall. U.S. Toyota division chief Bill Fay said in an interview the automaker began working on the next-generation Camry in 2011 soon after it launched the current model, in response to customers who saw it as a little too bland. Fay said Camry owners told Toyota they “really like quality, dependability, reliability ... but we’d like a little more. We want a little bit of that emotional connection. We want it styled a little bit more dramatically. We want it to be a little nicer-looking.” To read more about the new Camry, click here

AutoNation Stepping Away From Third-Party Leads
AutoNation Inc., tired of paying high prices for online leads, plans to de-emphasize third-party lead providers such as TrueCar,, and, CEO Mike Jackson says. He says he will strengthen AutoNation’s Web site and digital presence to build traffic and sales. Beginning in late 2012, AutoNation started spending $50 million on new dealership Web sites, tablet computers in the service drive, and a so-called new digital storefront. The vision: To speed transaction time and let customers control their shopping experiences, whether online or in the store. Between the redesigned storefront and all of AutoNation's branding activities, Jackson said AutoNation will be spending $100 million. According to Automotive News, Jackson’s decision to build a strong digital storefront reflects growing tension between dealers and lead generators. The third parties, exploiting consumers’ desire to shop on the Web, have elbowed their way between dealers and shoppers. AutoNation won’t drop third parties immediately, though, particularly if they bend on prices. “We’re definitely not pulling the plug. You give me more attractive pricing and we’ll do business for a long time,” Jackson said in an exclusive interview with Automotive News. “You jack the rates, I have attractive alternatives.” For more on AutoNation’s plans for its use of third-party leads, click here

BMW Adds More Performance Cars to Growing Stable
At the New York Auto Show, BMW added a dizzying array of vehicles to its ever-growing lineup, including three all-new models, an exclusive supercar from Alpina, a diesel variant of the X3 crossover, and a concept plug-in hybrid SUV. USA Today reports that the main attraction was the all-new X4, a four-door "sports activity coupe" with the ground clearance of a crossover and the sloping roofline of a coupe. It's based on the existing BMW X3, and features a profile similar to the current X6 but in a smaller package. The X4 will debut in two flavors when it hits U.S. showrooms in July, both of which will feature eight-speed automatic transmissions and BMW's xDrive all-wheel drive system. The X4 xDrive28i comes with a 240-horsepower, 2-liter four-cylinder engine, and will retail for $45,625, while upgrading to the X4 xDrive35i will get you a 300-hp, 3-liter inline six, and will set you back $48,925. Also making its global debut was the M4 convertible, which adds a retractable hardtop to the two-door version of the M3 sedan. The drop-top is powered by the same 425-hp, 3.0-liter inline six as the M3 sedan. For the latest on BMW’s performance cars, click here.

Second-Generation Dealer Ties Success to Repeat Customers
Jenell Ross’s customer service strategy may be simple — provide quality service at a fair price within a reasonable timeframe — but the president of Bob Ross Auto Group and a member of Auto Remarketing’s 2013 Women In Remarketing class says this strategy never fails to create repeat business. For 40 years, the Bob Ross Auto Group has been one of the leading automotive businesses in the city of Centerville, Ohio, and the Miami Valley Region. Ross took on the role of president of Bob Ross Automotive Group in 2010 after her mother, Norma Ross, passed away, becoming the only second-generation African-American female automobile dealer. And just last year, Ross served as the second-ever female chair of AIADA. Ross explained that it takes more than a legacy to create repeat customers — it takes fostering loyalty and staying in touch with customers to ensure they keep coming in. Ross says repeat business is the most important used-vehicle sourcing avenue available to the dealership group. “Trades are a very valuable part of our business. We have programs and procedures I place to stay connected to these customers, whether it is sales or service,” Ross explained. For more on dealer Jenell Ross’s strategy to secure customers, click here

AIADA and Federated Insurance Present Free Webinar on Employment Litigation on April 23
Wage and hour claims continue to be one of the fastest growing areas in employment litigation, which may involve disputes over: overtime pay violations, exempt employee misclassification, and employees working off-the-clock. Join AIADA and its Affinity Partner, Federated Insurance on Wednesday, April 23 at 1 p.m. EDT for a free webinar titled “Wage & Hour: Employment Litigation” to understand the top wage and hour pitfalls to avoid in your organization. The webinar will be hosted by Truth Fisher, an attorney with Advisors Law Group, LLP. Ms. Fisher’s employment law background includes extensive experience defending corporations, organizations, directors, officers and handling claims ranging from wage and hour violations to harassment, retaliation and other alleged workplace misconduct. This webinar is ideal for dealer principals, general managers and human resource managers. Registration is open to the first 150 individuals who register. Participants do not need to be a member of AIADA to register. To register, visit:  

Around the Web
Official Photos: 2015 Acura TLX [Car and Driver]
No More Teasing: Alfa Romeo Finally Returns to U.S. [Forbes]
Land Rover Confirms Discover Sport Name for LR2 Replacement [MotorAuthority]
VW Teases Mini CC Four-Door Concept [Autoblog]


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