UAW Making Friends, Luxury Brands Battling and Chrysler Financial Pushing in the December 27 Issue of Automotive News

Dec 23, 2010, 15:14 ET from Automotive News

DETROIT, Dec. 23, 2010 /PRNewswire/ -- Three page one stories from the December 27 issue of Automotive News are previewed below.    

Automotive News Reporter David Barkholz writes that when UAW President Bob King launches the union's organizing drive of Asian and German automakers next month, he is counting on help from his friends.

Civil rights leader Jesse Jackson said last week that he was eager to hear from King on how his Rainbow PUSH coalition can serve the cause. The organization has thousands of members and supporters in 50 major U.S. markets.

King said the best way to rebuild the American middle class is to rebuild the union movement and the best way to do that is for progressive groups to work together.

At the same time, he is recasting the UAW's pitch. Gone is confrontation with management. Now he's touting the UAW's effective partnership with rebounding Ford Motor Co., General Motors Co. and Chrysler Group.

Transplant workers in the South will want to be part of this "winning team," King said.

Automotive News Senior Writer Jesse Snyder and Reporter Diana Kurylko reveal that at Lexus, BMW and Mercedes-Benz headquarters, the 2010 U.S. luxury sales title isn't officially a race. But don't tell that to the dealers, who are using big wads of factory cash to move the iron as the year winds down.

Lexus has been the top-selling U.S. luxury brand for 10 straight years, but this year both BMW and Mercedes-Benz are close. Through November, Lexus leads with sales of 201,769 — 4,936 units ahead of BMW and 5,393 ahead of Mercedes, when Mercedes' Sprinter vans are excluded.

And this month all three brands are making dealer cash a bigger part of their incentive mix. That's in addition to some customer cash, low-interest financing on every model and huge lease-subsidy deals such as a Mercedes C300 for $339 a month for 36 months.

"There's heavy utilization of dealer cash this month," said Jesse Toprak, vice president of industry trends for

Finally, Automotive News Contributor Jim Henry reports that Chrysler Financial, under new ownership, will be looking to sign up dealers at the National Automobile Dealers Association convention in San Francisco in February to propel its new-vehicle financing business from next to nothing today to a goal of $1 billion per month by 2013.

To do that, Chrysler Financial will need about 5,000 dealers in the United States and Canada, the company said, implying it will look beyond Chrysler-brand dealers.   Chrysler Group has about 2,300 dealers in the United States. Because of holiday vacations, Chrysler couldn't immediately provide a count for Canada.

Last week, Toronto's TD Bank Group said it will buy the former captive finance company from Cerberus Capital Management for about $6.3 billion in cash.

Tom Gilman, 59, Chrysler Financial CEO, said the company wants to hit the ground running after largely sitting on the sidelines since April 30, 2009, when Chrysler Group filed for Chapter 11 reorganization.


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