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Hey Mac What's Up? - New-Model Surge Speeds 2014 Rollout

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By Mac Gordon
Editor at large
Michigan Bureau
The Auto Channel

Detroit MI February 25, 2013; An almost unprecedented mid-model-year product surge is shaping up in 2013, promising to speed up reveals of 2014 models and accelerate leasing ratios to near-record rates.

Emerging from the Chicago, Milwaukee and Cleveland auto shows, the industry is pressing dealers to spur early returns of off-lease vehicles so as to accommodate the ongoing spike in sales. It's a tide that U.S. automakers have not experienced since the downhill bankruptcy and recession years of 2008-2010. What's more, nearly all makes are benefiting from the surge, leading to a boost in 3-shift production schedules and boosting new-model rollouts from year-end to midyear time frames as never before. Assessing the impact:

Elena Ford, 46, takes charge of a new global-dealer standards upgrade operation. She's a cousin of executive chairman Bill Ford and since 2009 has headed Ford's global marketing operations. Ford dealers, the industry's longest-running, are facing top-level mandates to “shape up or ship out.”

Ford offers to invest up to $750,000 in facility renovations-all 3,100 U.S. dealers are eligible to match funds via Ford Credit, as interest-free loan deal is KO'd.

More Lincolns will reward compliant Ford dealers as luxury brand adds body styles and powerplants, goes on sale in China . Cadillac and Chevrolet point for segment sales leadership in markets, nationally. Chevy model count grows to 13, with 2014-model Impala due in April, fullsize Silverado in June.

Chrysler once again runs short on factory inventory of Jeep Wranglers, Grand Cherokees, promises 10 new Fiat and Alfa Romeo nameplates by 2016, with 4C 2+2 sportster due at NY auto show this spring.

How will imports respond?

Alfa Romeo sending new models to top Fiat stores first?

VW is building 3,500 retro yellow-and-black Beetles, phasing out Golf.

Kia's restyled Forte sedan now on sale, using Hyundai Elantra platform; dealers urged to expand facilities.

Audi is on target to sell 150,000 units in the U.S. this year, up 8,000 from 2012.

MINI's 115 U.S. dealers told 2013 will bring record sales of over last year's 66,123 units; adding a plant in the Netherlands this year.

Acura-Boosting sales 19 percent in U.S. this year as dealer count hits 265.

Mazda's strong multi-import dealers up sales from loyal owners for restyled Mazda6, CX-5.

VW is clinging to million sales goal in U.S. by 2018-(800K VW, 200K Audi)

Mitsubishi a near-miss in U.S. several years ago pledges comeback as 2014 Outlander takes off. No pullout a la Suzuki on tap.

Hyundai's U.S. Sales goal boosted to 730,000 this year despite absence of buyer rebates or stair-step dealer incentives-owner loyalty program substituted. MPG rating flub fades as issue, owing to speed in sending owners free-fuel cards.

BMW facility overhauls urged-factory plans to help dealer profits boosts (where's all the money going?)

Infiniti a surge in inventory is planned for top sellers QX 56, FX by new leader, ex-Audi Chief Johan de Nysschen.

Honda's Honda credit raising leasing share as low inventory banks refill under dealer pressure.

Jaguar is adding AWD version to all models, including new $60K F-Type-roadster choice of 4-cyl/6-cyl engines.

Mercedes- Benz quarterly conference calls set to ameliorate dealers, who sold 274K cars in U.S. last year (no smarts?)

Volvo's flattening sales tackled as no new or refreshed cars appear- (only 68,117 sold in U.S. last year)

Subaru is up to 400K sales on tap this year, including (100K built in Lafayette, IN). First Subaru hybrid coming at NY show.

VW en-route to 1M mark in U.S. sales, VW eyes 480K this year, up 11 percent from 2012. Dealers asked to boost profit margins from 2.3 percent low.

Nissan's new models on stream, but dealers object to shipping delays. Coming up: Versa hatchback, Rogue crossover, full size Titan pickup in 2015.

Range Rover seeks more cars from U.K. Plant, with prices starting at $88,545. Exec Chris Marchand says factory still sold out for six months to a year. Top-priced Autobiography model is $130,995.