Schwartz to Become President of Both Manheim and AutoTrader

ATLANTA - 

AuSM learned this morning that Sandy Schwartz not only will serve as the president of Manheim, but will assume the role of president of AutoTrader Group, which includes AutoTrader.com, Kelley Blue Book and VinSolutions.

Chip Perry, who has been with AutoTrader.com since its inception in 1997, will leave the company effective May 1, according to an announcement from Cox Enterprises.

Cox said Schwartz will continue reporting to Jimmy Hayes, president and chief executive officer of Cox Enterprises.

“I’ve had the privilege of being a part of the Cox organization for nearly three decades,” Schwartz said. “I’m excited to work alongside the talented teams at AutoTrader and Manheim, as we work together to more effectively collaborate on strategy, share industry knowledge and better serve our customers in the automotive sector.”

Schwartz rose to become president of Manheim in 2011. Prior to Manheim, Schwartz served as president of Cox Media Group where he was instrumental in bringing together newspaper, television, radio, direct mail and internet operations to create a more effective organization focused on growth.

Schwartz joined Cox in 1985 and served in various roles of increasing responsibility including president of Cox Arizona Publishing, executive vice president of the Austin American-Statesman, vice president and general manager of The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, executive vice president of Cox Newspapers and vice president of business development for Cox Enterprises.

“Sandy is a proven Cox leader, and uniquely qualified to lead both of our automotive subsidiaries,” Hayes said. “I look forward to working with him as he and his teams identify opportunities to grow our business in the automotive industry space.”

Schwartz’s automotive experience includes serving as president of Cox AutoTrader, comprised of both AutoTrader.com and AutoTrader Publishing. He also has served on the board of AutoTrader.com for many years.

Perry, who served as president and CEO of AutoTrader.com, was the company’s first employee in 1997 when asked by Manheim to launch the company. Since then, AutoTrader.com has grown to become the world’s largest automotive marketplace and Perry has become widely recognized as a pioneer of the online automotive industry.

During his tenure with AutoTrader.com, Perry has overseen the evolution of the sales, marketing, product development, information technology and customer service efforts of the company.

“Chip has been a primary, strategic architect of AutoTrader’s growth and I thank him for his vision, leadership and his years of service to the company,” Hayes said. “I wish him the very best.”

Continue the conversation with AuSM on both and .



CarMax Says It's Hiring More Than 1,200

RICHMOND, Va.  - 
CarMax is looking for more than 1,200 people to fill a variety of positions with the used-car retailer throughout the country. 
The company is conducting this recruitment to meet seasonal staffing needs and to be ready for its upcoming expansion. Most of the positions are for sales and services operations (detailers and experienced technicians), but CarMax is also looking for potential employees in its purchasing and business office.
The company is offering full-time and part-time permanent posts. Moreover, there are evening-shift posts being offered in a few areas.
“At a time when unemployment continues to be a concern and people are looking for career opportunities, we are proud to offer quality jobs that provide training, development and excellent benefits at a great company to work for,” stated CarMax president and chief executive officer Tom Folliard.
“Hiring excellent people is critical to our success,” he continued.
Pam Hill, the company’s director of selection and recruitment, added: “Integrity is at the core of our business, and it's a quality we look for in all applicants.
“CarMax is also looking for candidates who are dependable, team oriented, possess strong customer service skills and who have a willingness to work the varied hours of a retail work environment,” Hill shared.
To apply, visit .
Potential applicants can also check out videos of what CarMax sales consultants have said about their time with the company at the CarMax Career page.
The company will conduct an initial review of applications then applicants for interviews.
CarMax further noted that automotive experience is necessary for the technician positions. The majority of the posts, though, don’t call for auto experience.

Hoselton Projects October SAAR Close to 12M; 4Q SAAR Likely to Hit 12.6M

CLEVELAND - 
It is likely that October’s new-vehicle sales pace will have been little bit stronger than anticipated, according to KeyBanc Capital Markets senior automotive analyst Brett Hoselton. He said the industry remains on track to reach a fourth-quarter seasonally adjusted annualized rate of 12.6 million units.
Judging by the monthly results gathered as of Wednesday, Hoselton said the new-vehicle SAAR was likely close to 12 million units for the month, compared with a pace of 11.7 million units in September and 10.4 million in October 2009.
“The SAAR appears slightly better than expectations, as in recent weeks analysts and automakers were signaling October results that were improving from the previous month and likely approaching 12 million units,” Hoselton indicated.
“Stocks have been strong over the past several weeks driven in part by strong earnings as well as anticipation of an improved SAAR, so we would not be surprised to see a sell the news reaction,” he continued.
New-vehicle sales have been steadily gaining ground, he noted, pointing out that there has been seven straight quarter of sequential new-vehicle SAAR gains (if the third quarter of 2009 — which was inflated by CARS — is taken out of the equation).
The SAAR during the third quarter of 2010 was at 11.6 million, and it is believed that rate increase during the final quarter of the year.
“As a result of this month’s SAAR, we believe that 4Q10 production schedules are likely to remain firm and going forward have increased confidence in our 2011 SAAR and production estimates of 12.6 million and 12.1 million, respectively,” Hoselton shared.

 

Toyota Files for Dismissal Saying Unintended Acceleration Class-Action Suit Doesn't Hold Water

SANTA ANA, Calif.  - 

Earlier this week, Toyota filed a Reply Brief in Support of its Motion to Dismiss the consolidated class action that the company is facing over claims of an alleged electronic defect causing unintended acceleration.

Toyota contends that no defects in its Electronic Throttle Control System have been brought to light by the plaintiffs, and the automaker further argues that several plaintiffs said they haven’t had any unintended acceleration problems.

Thus, the automaker is calling for the dismissal of the multidistrict lawsuit.

In the reply brief — which was filed in federal court in California — Toyota argues against the plaintiffs’ legal theory, which the automaker claims “defies common sense.”

In a statement, Toyota said: “According to the filing, plaintiffs would have the court permit the cases to go forward on behalf of virtually all Toyota owners with ETCS-i, while their own portrayal of unverified data alleges that, at most, only a tiny fraction of the vehicles in question have ever experienced any sign of unintended acceleration.”

Cari Dawson, an attorney for the automaker, noted: “Toyota is confident that its cars provide safe, reliable transportation and that the plaintiffs have no credible claims of loss or defect. More than a year after filing their first complaint, plaintiffs have not identified a defect and are grasping at straws to make their case.

“Although the plaintiffs have recently filed a new complaint that attempts to remedy deficiencies in their earlier claims, this new complaint offers no more support for their positions and contains a number of inaccuracies and mischaracterizations,” Dawson added.

Toyota explained that this particular filing was just to delve into the original amended complaint and argue against what it called the “various legal flaws”

The plaintiffs filed the most recently amended complaint last week, according to the automaker, which said there will be another chance for Toyota to state its case regarding that particular item.

Sharing an example of what it believes to among the “various legal flaws” in the original amended complaint, Toyota pointed to what it called “fabricated warranties” presented by the plaintiffs.

The automaker said in the statement that “rather than base their economic loss claim on Toyota’s Express Warranty located in its Warranty Manual — the place where any reasonable customer would look — plaintiffs have fabricated their own so-called ‘Express Warranties.’

“These fabricated warranties consist of random statements cobbled together from a handful of routine advertisements for various vehicle models from the past 15 years. No plaintiff even alleges to have specifically viewed any of these materials,” Toyota continued.

Toyota further emphasized that “no evidence” of ETCS-i defect that would lead to unintended acceleration has been discovered by Toyota or third parties during “exhaustive technical investigations.” Additionally, the independent examinations being conducted currently will provide more proof that Toyota's vehicles are safe, the automaker argued.

Dawson added: “Toyota looks forward to the time when plaintiffs will finally be compelled to specify exactly what is defective in Toyota’s Electronic Throttle Control System. That will have to be backed up by scientifically reliable, admissible proof of a defect as opposed to the speculative statements of counsel at the pleadings stage.”
 

Hertz Posts Another Income Jump in 3Q

PARK RIDGE, N.J. - 

Hertz Global Holdings extended its string of quarterly increases in adjusted pre-tax income to five in a row during the third quarter.

Company executives said Wednesday that their third quarter adjusted pre-tax income totaled $253.6 million. That amount constituted increase of $58.3 million or 29.9 percent from the income level the company generated in the third quarter of last year, which was $195.3 million.

Meanwhile, Hertz also mentioned its income before taxes on a GAAP basis was $158.3 million in the third quarter. Management determined that figure more than doubled the amount from the third quarter of 2009, which came in at $75.8 million.

Furthermore, the company reported corporate EBITDA for the third quarter was $437.2 million, an increase of 12.7 percent from the same period in 2009.

Executives calculated that its worldwide third-quarter revenues totaled $2.2 billion, marking a year-over-year increase of 7.1 percent.

Elsewhere, Hertz indicated that it took $15.2 million in restructuring and related charges in the third quarter. Executives explained the charges were primarily attributable to costs associated with the closure of equipment rental locations and process reengineering. The company expects the restructuring and related charges to continue to diminish throughout the remainder of 2010.

Management also determined Hertz ended the third quarter with total debt of $12.05 billion and net corporate debt of $3.78 billion. The company compared those figures with a total debt amount of $11.69 billion and net corporate debt figure of $3.64 billion as of June 30.

Officials pointed out their total debt increased primarily due to the private offering of $700 million of 7.5 percent senior notes that closed on Sept. 30 and were partly offset by a decrease in fleet debt related to seasonality.

Also, Hertz highlighted that net cash provided by operating activities was $904.7 million in the third quarter compared with $608.8 million during the year-ago period.

Hertz chairman and chief executive officer Mark Frissora offered his commentary about how the company performed.

“In the third quarter, we increased adjusted pre-tax income year-over-year for the fifth consecutive quarter and doubled GAAP pre-tax income compared with the third quarter of 2009,” Frissora began.

“These third quarter, year-over-year improvements are attributable to 11.4 percent revenue growth in U.S. car rental, our largest business, strong performance by our European car rental unit and efficiency improvements, including lower fleet costs,” he continued.

“Also, HERC generated revenue growth in the third quarter for the first time in two years, and recorded a 33.7 percent year-over-year improvement in adjusted pre-tax income as well as a corporate EBITDA margin of 40 percent,” Frissora went on to say. “Despite continued investments in our global car rental network, especially in the Advantage and U.S. off-airport businesses, we anticipate generating strong adjusted pre-tax income results for the fourth quarter.”

More Details on Vehicle Rental Activity

Executives shared that the worldwide average number of Hertz-operated vehicles for the third quarter was 487,100, an increase of 8.8 percent over the prior year period.

Hertz reported that its worldwide car rental revenues totaled $1.9 billion for the third quarter. That amount represented an 8.3-percent increase from the year-ago quarter.

Executives stated transaction days for the quarter increased 8.2 percent from the prior-year period. They added U.S. off-airport total revenues for the third quarter increased 15.8 percent and transaction days increased 10.4 percent year-over-year.

The company also mentioned third quarter rental rate revenue per transaction day edged higher by 1.1 percent over last year.

Those advances allowed Hertz to post a 19.7-percent increase in third quarter worldwide car rental adjusted pre-tax income to $309.3 million. A year ago, the company generated $258.3 million.

As a result, Hertz said it achieved an adjusted pre-tax margin, based on revenues, of 16.2 percent for the quarter versus 14.7 percent in the prior year period.

“The result was driven by increased volume and strong cost management performance,” company officials noted.

Equipment Rental Performance Update

Hertz determined its third quarter worldwide equipment rental revenues came in at $281.2 million. The amount was a 0.2-percent increase from the third quarter of last year.

As a result, Hertz’s adjusted third quarter pre-tax income for worldwide equipment rental totaled $33.7 million, marking a 33.7-percent rise the year-ago period when the company generated $25.2 million.

Executives revealed worldwide equipment rental achieved an adjusted pre-tax margin based on revenues of 12.0 percent, a 300 basis point improvement over the prior year period. Their corporate EBITDA margin based on revenues came in at 40.0 percent for the quarter.

Like on its vehicle rental business, Hertz said the gains were “primarily attributable to the effects of increased volume and cost management initiatives.”

The company shared that the average acquisition cost of rental equipment operated during the third quarter decreased by 5.0 percent year-over-year and net revenue earning equipment as of Sept. 30, was $1.68 billion, an 11.2-percent decrease from the amount as of the date last year.

Overall Outlook

Back on Oct. 20, the company announced it had reaffirmed its full-year 2010 revenue and corporate EBITDA guidance, provided on April 26. The range was $7.5 billion to $7.7 billion and $1.080 billion to $1.095 billion respectively.

Nissan Updates Dealer Progress for LEAF Rollout

FRANKLIN, Tenn. - 

Nissan North America management offered an update this week on the number of franchise dealers who have completed electric vehicle readiness training and are among the first to add EV charging infrastructure to their store operations.

As the automaker prepares for Nissan LEAF deliveries in December, company officials indicated that by the end of this week more than 40 Level 2 (240 volt) chargers will be installed at dealers. By January, the company said more than 150 dealers will have chargers installed in the targeted launch markets of California, Oregon, Washington, Arizona and Tennessee.

Nissan explained each dealer will install four charging docks: two for operational support and two in customer-access areas. The company added more than 90 percent of LEAF reservation holders located in the primary launch markets reside within 10 miles of a franchise dealer.

The OEM emphasized that all dealers who sell the LEAF first must attain zero-emission certification. Officials pointed out the certification includes extensive training, both online and in person, as well as investing in the tools and charging to support the sale and service of the LEAF.

The automaker insists approximately 20,000 U.S. consumers have reserved a LEAF since reservations opened on April 20. Brian Carolin, senior vice president of sales and marketing for Nissan North America, cheered the efforts of franchise dealers who are preparing to handle this expected sales level.

“We’re proud to have strong partners in our dealer group who, like Nissan, are investing in affordable, sustainable mobility,” Carolin declared.

“Congratulations to them for recognizing the opportunity to invest in a zero-emission future, and for providing Nissan LEAF drivers with a convenient, alternative charging point,” he continued.

The dealer charging stations are supplied by AeroVironment, Nissan’s home charging partner. 

“We are pleased to make Nissan dealers among the first in the nation to become EV-ready as we move forward building comprehensive coverage for the successful introduction of the Nissan LEAF,” stated Kristen Helsel, vice president of EV Solutions for AeroVironment.

ADESA Acquires Six Auctions & Breaks Ground on New Facility

CARMEL, Ind. - 

While also breaking ground on a brand new site, ADESA revealed a significant acquisition late Wednesday as the auction company secured six facilities from the Premier Auction Group.

Included in ADESA’s acquisition are Bay Auto Auction in Bay City, Mich.; Dealers Auto Auction of Michigan in Clare, Mich.; East Tennessee Auto Auction in Fall Branch, Tenn.; Montpelier Auto Auction in Montpelier, Ohio; Premier’s Las Vegas Auction in North Las Vegas; and Wisconsin Auto Auction in Lomira, Wis.

To strengthen the transition, ADESA executives indicated Bob Hubregsen, president of the Premier Auction Group, will serve as a vice president for ADESA.

“I look forwarding to joining the ADESA team and continuing to offer the highest level of service possible to current and new customers alike,” Hubregsen stated.

Company officials insist this acquisition of PAG’s auctions strategically complements ADESA’s dealer consignment initiative and strengthens the company’s footprint in Michigan, Tennessee, Ohio and Wisconsin.

Furthermore, they believe it also provides ADESA with the addition of a specialty sale less than two miles from the construction of the company’s new greenfield auction, ADESA Las Vegas.

Over time, ADESA pointed out these six locations will be integrated into its current infrastructure and resources. Ultimately, management said these six sites should offer the full scope of ADESA’s product and service offerings.

“The acquisition of the Premier Auction Group demonstrates our commitment to increasing our dealer consignment business and enhancing the scale of our offerings to our national consignors,” noted ADESA president and chief executive officer Tom Caruso.

“This acquisition, along with the construction of a new auction in Las Vegas, highlights ADESA’s focus on growing our position in the North American market,” Caruso added.

ADESA Breaks Ground on New Auction Facility in Las Vegas

In other breaking news coming out late Wednesday, ADESA announced that it is beginning work on a major construction project in Las Vegas with a brand-new whole car auction facility.

Named ADESA Las Vegas, officials said that the site is located just 10 miles North of the famous Las Vegas strip. It is being designed to firmly establish ADESA in the nation’s 28th largest metropolitan area.
Along with a prime location, the company emphasized this greenfield auction is expected to have full detailing capabilities, a complete reconditioning shop, body shop and mechanic shop. ADESA also mentioned all auction lanes should be equipped with digital and audio s for online auction capability and Automotive Finance Corp. is set to be located on-site.
Other customer amenities are to include a full-service cafeteria and dealer lounge equipped with online workstations for easy access to inventory on LiveBlock and DealerBlock.
ADESA is currently scheduled to begin marshalling vehicles for a major consignor at ADESA Las Vegas later this month.
Officials believe the new facility should be open for business in the spring of next year.
“The addition of ADESA Las Vegas will allow us to expand our geographic footprint in a major market that ADESA previously did not have a presence,” Caruso stated.
“This facility will enable us to enhance our offerings to both our national consignors as well as local dealers in this region,” he concluded.

Manheim SVP talks $400 million tech makeover

CARY, N.C. - 

At 78 auction locations, Manheim has invested $400 million to bring its dealer clients simpler transactions and processes.

The auction company announced Monday that, with these upgrades, dealers now have access to tools and self-service options for their businesses that are designed to help them work more efficiently and make smarter decisions.

“The whole heartbeat of what we were doing was to make things, simple, easy and fast,” Doug Keim, Manheim's senior vice president of client experience, told AuSM during a phone interview.

Not only can dealers switch easily between physical and digital services while in the lane, new transaction-focused improvements allow them to view and pay single, multiple and/or consolidated invoice reports while at their dealership or on Manheim.com from any device.

Keim stressed that access to those reports allows clients to look at their accounts in real time, so they can make the quickest decisions.

“What had happened in our business is, we operate 78 different auctions and we really had not invested in our technology platform for several decades; so, what that meant was we weren’t able to take advantage of automation, we weren’t able to really offer our clients what I would call, any kind of current efficiency,” Keim went on to say. “We really re-engineered all of the major systems and processes, so every way that we transacted with our clients, the way that our team members did their jobs really, literally changed very, very dramatically.”

With Manhien new technology enhancements, clients can buy vehicles and services from Manheim via electronic payment or a line of credit.

“Somebody could actually order a car on their phone to buy the car, pay for the car, finance the car, order services … so pretty much any part of that car buying process really got automated,” Keim said. “We made our clients what I call 'hyper-efficient' and we made them efficient by making things very simple, easy and fast.”

Use of electronic payment or a line of credit represented 40 percent of dealer transactions on Manheim.com from January to May, according to the company's Monday news release.

To show how things were different before the new technology,  Keim pointed out that, previously, dealers “would have to stand in a line to pay us for a car, they would stand in a line to buy a car; but that’s crazy in this day and age, so we automated the payments process.”

In another upgrade, along with automated payments  Manheim data and insights, dealers have access to bills of sale, titles and gate passes.

Within the first five months of the year, clients have printed a record number of just about 500,000 gate passes, according to Manheim.

“We made it look like people’s everyday lives and how they kind of transact today, whether that’s online banking, the reports that they can generate or pull up on their phone at any time,” Keim said.

Zeigler Automotive Group buys 26th store

RIVERSIDE, Ill. - 

With a purchase set to close Monday, Zeigler Automotive Group has acquired its fourth Ford store and 26th dealership overall.

The Midwestern dealership group said Friday it has officially bought McCarthy Ford of North Riverside from the LeFevour family, which purchased the store in February 2017.

The dealership had been Joe Rizza Ford for nearly 40 years.  

Its new name will be Zeigler Ford of North Riverside.

The companies made the deal in May.

The closing date is Monday and the store is scheduled to reopen on Tuesday as part of the Zeigler group.

Privately owned Zeigler Automotive Group was founded in 1975, and has 71 franchises and 26 locations throughout Illinois, Indiana and Michigan.

“We feel that this store has great potential. With everything we know about this business and with the community's support, we can really make this a successful store,” Aaron Zeigler, the group’s president, said in a news release.

McCarthy Ford’s current staff will be retained, Zeigler said. However, Val Kholodovsky will come in as general manager.
 

Roundup: NAAA calls for service award nominations, auction reaches 80 years running

CARY, N.C. - 

The National Auto Auction Association (NAAA) has invited auctions to take part in this year’s NAAA Auction of the Year Award for Excellence for Community Service contest.

Auctions can now nominate themselves or auction group members for honorable volunteer efforts easily from NAAA’s website.

In addition to winning $25,000 to gifted to any charity of choice, the recognized auction will get a cover photo and feature story in both NAAA’s On The Block magazine and 2019 membership directory, along with a crystal trophy.

Auctions can enter to win the award or nominate a member up until July 13.

Click for more details about the award and how to submit a nomination entry.

Rawls AA boasts 80 years in business

In celebration of reaching 80 years in business, Rawls Auto Auction held a special anniversary sale last month.

NAAA recognizes the business as the beginning of the auto auction industry, Rawls AA owner and general manager Jimmy Rawls said in a news release.

About 80 years ago, Rawls’ father J. M. “Martin” Rawls held the first auto auction in Leesville, S.C.

From 1938, Rawls AA has grown to house seven auction lanes, as well as both full mechanic and reconditioning facilities.

This year, the auction received upgraded Auction Edge Simulcast high definition cameras and renovated lane flooring, according to Rawls AA.

Xcira Cubed platform turns 1

Xcira has offered its Cubed Platform that is designed to help auctions easily facilitate and manage transactions for a full year now.

The platform is made up of an integrated auction management system, a dealer community, a floor plan loan management system and the OnLine Ringman system.

The company announced on Wednesday that the Xcira Cubed Platform is currently in use by Flint, Michigan’s Fastlane Auto Exchange.

Early last year, Fastlane Auto Exchange began looking for available technology options that can help the company grow when it found Xcira, according to the company.

“Tonya, Greg and the Fastlane Auto Exchange team have been wonderful partners for the Cubed Platform, bringing outstanding auction operational insights and valuable dealer back,” Xcira vice president Bill Cieslak said in a news release. “I am thrilled that Xcira and Cubed has been part of Fastlane Auto Exchange’s growth, and I look forward to our collective successful journey together.”

Fastlane Auto Exchange started full-scale production use of Xcira’s Cubed Platform without the floor plan component last May.

“The new auction management system component of the Cubed Platform has made our auction process much more efficient,” said Tonya Price, Fastlane Auto Exchange’s business manager.

“Administratively and operationally, the single-clerk, paperless system is seamless. As well, we have received positive back regarding its ease of functionality from our online client base.

“Financially, Cubed provides daily accounting balances, which offers us the ability to quickly reconcile and review our financial status and has reduced our overall technology expenses affording us the ability to invest in our growth,” explained Price.