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Thursday, January 17, 2013

BMW offers low-price version of the 3 series

DETROIT -- BMW of North America lowered the entry-level price of the 3-series sedan by $4,300 with the introduction of the 320i on Monday.


The four-cylinder 320i puts out 180 hp, 60 hp fewer than the 328i -- currently the lowest-priced 3 series offered in the United States. Both cars have a 2.0-liter four-cylinder twin-turbo engine. The 320i will start at $33,445, including shipping, when it goes on sale this spring.

The 328i begins at $37,745 for the sedan, $39,595 for the coupe, and $48,495 for the convertible. Prices include shipping.

"We wanted a clear offer to attract younger people to enter the brand," said Ludwig Willisch, CEO of BMW of North America.

Mercedes-Benz USA executives quipped that the new 3 series was a response to the front-wheel-drive CLA compact that was unveiled Sunday evening and goes on sale in September. At 182.3 inches, the CLA is longer than the C-class sedan. The rear-wheel-drive 3-series sedan is 182.5 inches long.

"They have nothing that can compete with us at the CLA price point," said a Mercedes-Benz insider. "That's why they are bringing in the 320i."

Willisch said the 320i will not be available with all of the equipment packages offered on the more powerful 3-series models, but says it is not a stripped model.

The 320i is sold in Canada and in Europe, where BMW offers the even less powerful 318i and 316i variants. BMW also plans to bring an all-wheel-drive 320i to the United States but no launch date was disclosed.

Willisch said even with the renaming of the 3-series coupe as the 4 series this fall, BMW expects 3-series sales to exceed 100,000 units this year. Last year, BMW sold 99,602 3-series units. A new-generation 3-series station wagon goes on sale this spring.

BMW's new generation of fwd cars will go on sale in the United States in 2014, said Willisch. In the summer of 2014, Mercedes-Benz will add a second fwd model, a compact crossover that likely will be called the GLA, followed by a B-class electric plug-in sedan in early 2015.

BMW's Z4 roadster also received a mild freshening that was revealed in Detroit. The changes include a new retractable hard top and two color options of red and silver.

The roadster has new exterior features, detailed inferior refinements, a new equipment package, a new entry-level engine variant and a new design pure traction option.

The car features 17-inch and 18-inch alloy wheels and an optional M sport package. There is also a new model variant, the Z4 sDrive18i powered by a 2-liter engine with turbo. The Z4 also has expanded driver assistance systems and BMW ConnectedDrive mobility services available.

"All can be customized yet one feature is standard: Sheer driving pleasure," BMW management board member Herbert Deiss said.

BMW also introduced the next-generation 4-series coupe and convertible - models that replace the 3 series coupe and convertible.

The 3-series line -- sedan, coupe, convertible and wagon -- makes up almost half of all BMW vehicles sold in the United States.

The 4-series coupe is expected to go on sale this fall, followed by the 4-series convertible in early 2014, Willisch said.



Read more: http://www.autonews.com/article/20130114/OEM04/130119900#ixzz2IGsf6ZN8

Thursday, December 13, 2012

GM's 2014 pickups bank on improved power, mpg, refinement to revive truck share

DETROIT -- General Motors' next-generation full-sized pickups offer "evolutionary" exterior styling changes but significant engine and interior improvements, in a bid by GM to cater to buyers who use their trucks to make a living.


GM officials touted the improved power, refinement and functionality of the redesigned 2014 Chevrolet Silverado and GMC Sierra pickups -- the company's top-selling model line and biggest profit source -- today at a film studio in suburban Detroit where the trucks were introduced.

While fuel efficiency should improve for each of three new engine choices, final mpg estimates will be released later, it's clear that GM believes its pickup customers value torque and toughness more than mpg.

"Our customers rely on their trucks to meet the day-to-day challenges of earning a living, running a business," Mark Reuss, president of GM North America, said in a statement. "Chevrolet is committed to giving truck customers the most refined, best-engineered pickups in the market."

GM's pickup strategy diverges from that of rival Ford Motor Co., which has enjoyed surprising success by touting the fuel efficiency of its six-cylinder EcoBoost offering on the top-selling F-150 pickup. GM won't chase Ford with its own turbocharged six-banger.

Instead, GM is relying on a family of three engines, versions of its next generation of small-block engines, to deliver better power and competitive fuel efficiency. It will no longer offer a hybrid truck because of low sales volumes, a spokesman said.

The new engines are "100 percent truck, specifically designed for the way customers use trucks in the real world," Jordan Lee, chief engineer for the small-block engine, said in a statement.

Core truck buyers

Dave Sullivan, a product analyst at consulting firm AutoPacific Inc., says GM's strategy is to "go after the traditional, core pickup buyer who doesn't want some newfangled powertrain or air-suspension system."

GM wants to keep its full-sized pickups as workhorses while giving fuel-conscious buyers another alternative, Reuss has said.

That's why, unlike Ford and Chrysler Group, GM decided to continue marketing the mid-sized Chevy Colorado and GMC Canyon pickups. Redesigned versions of those trucks are expected to go on sale by late 2013 or early 2014.

GM has much riding on the strategy. The Silverado and Sierra are the company's most lucrative vehicle lines -- bringing in around $12,000 in profit per unit, analysts estimate -- and together are GM's highest-volume U.S. products.

GM execs hope the summer launch of the trucks, delayed by the company's 2009 bankruptcy, will help reverse a steady slide in its share of the full-sized pickup market. It has declined from 42.2 percent in 2002 to 35.7 percent this year, its lowest level during that decade, according to the Automotive News Data Center.

The Silverado has been the perennial No. 2-selling vehicle in the United States, behind the Ford F series pickup. But it has dropped to No. 3 this year behind the F series and Toyota Camry.

Since the fall 2006 launch of the current Silverado and Sierra, GM has offered few enhancements. Over the past few years, the trucks have become long in the tooth relative to rivals and now are the oldest full-sized pickups on the market.

Ford and Chrysler have made more frequent and substantial improvements to the F series and Ram 1500, and gained share in the segment. Ford added EcoBoost and its MyFord Touch infotainment and control system to the F-150 in the middle of its life cycle, for instance.

GM said today it will begin producing 2014 Silverado and Sierra crew cabs, which account for more than 60 percent of its current truck volume, in the second quarter of 2013. Other cab styles will go into production later in the year, GM said.

The timing could be good for GM. Analysts and GM execs expect the nascent strength in the U.S. housing market over the next few years will aid pickup sales.

Through November, industrywide sales of full-sized pickups rose 10 percent, trailing the 14 percent sales growth for all light vehicles. Silverado sales were flat while Sierra sales rose 4 percent.

The Silverado's exterior styling "can be described as evolutionary, but the updates to the interior are dramatic," the pickup's design director, Helen Emsley, said in a statement.

The Silverado and Sierra sport taller profiles than their predecessors. Each has a more muscular look, with domed hood and more-sculpted body sides.

A wider, one-piece bumper wraps around the front of the trucks, from fender to fender, giving them a wider stance. Both feature bolder, squared fender flares; the Silverado's flares are wider, while the Sierra's are more creased.

The trucks are more aerodynamic, with doors that are inlaid to fit into the recesses in the side of the body, rather than wrapping over the roofline. The doors also are more tightly sealed to reduce wind noise.

GM used more high-strength steel, including some hydroformed steel, in the truck cab, main rails and cross members to reduce mass. The hoods are aluminum, saving about 17 pounds compared with the steel hoods on current models.

The 2014 Sierra will offer a new GM technology, launched first on the Cadillac XTS, that alerts the driver of a potential collision via a vibrating pulse in the left or right side of the seat.

Isolating the cabin

The pickups will offer a more comfortable ride, quieter cabin and better handling, GM says. A third hydraulic body mount was added to better isolate the cab from the frame to reduce noise and vibration, providing "a solid, refined feel with no loss in traditional truck capability," GM says.

In the front suspension, the use of lighter, stiffer aluminum control arms on some models, along with stiffer front springs, should provide more confident handling, GM says.

Electronic power steering was added to improve feel and save fuel because it doesn't require an engine-driven pump. For the brakes, GM will use its hardened, rust-resistant Duralife rotors, which can double the life of the rotors.

Other new features include a step on the corner of the rear bumper that, combined with new handholds in the box rail protectors, will make it easier to climb up into the bed. GM says an internal torsion bar in the tailgate will also make it easier to raise and lower.

LED lamps are installed under the bed rails. GM has added a 6-foot-6-inch box to crew cab models to join the 5-foot-8-inch box that's already offered.

GM also is borrowing several safety features recently introduced on Cadillac nameplates and other models. They include optional lane-departure warning and forward collision alert, which uses a camera to monitor the distance from another vehicle in front of the truck and warn the driver of an impending rear-end crash.

The Sierra will offer a new GM technology, first used on the recently launched Cadillac XTS, that alerts the driver of a potential collision via a vibrating pulse in the left or right side of the seat.


New powertrains

The next-gen Silverado and Sierra will be offered with three choices from GM's new family of EcoTec3 engines: a 5.3-liter V-8, which is expected to be the volume engine; a 6.2-liter V-8; and a 4.3-liter, naturally aspirated V-6.

A GM spokesman said that official federal mileage ratings won't be assigned until early next year. But GM is confident that each of the three engines will get better fuel economy than its predecessor.

The 2013 pickups offer a 4.3-liter V-6 that gets 15 mpg in city driving and 20 on the highway in a regular cab truck; a 4.8-liter V-8 that gets 14 mpg city/19 highway in a regular cab; a 5.3-liter V-8 that gets 15 mpg city/21 highway in an extended cab; and a 6.2-liter V-8 rated 13mpg city/18 highway in an extended cab. Fuel economy ratings are based on two-wheel-drive mode.

The 2014 pickups will be mated to six-speed transmissions. Sources say GM plans to eventually offer an eight-speed transmission, but it likely won't be added for at least a year.

GM powertrain engineers spent five years developing the engine family for the fifth-generation small block. A version also will be in the redesigned Corvette due out next year. The overhead-valve pushrod engine will be built in Tonawanda, N.Y.

The addition of direct injection was a key to an improved combustion system that allows the engine to consume fuel more efficiently. The system sprays fuel directly into the cylinders, which more precisely controls the fuel-air mixture. The new engine block is aluminum, which also reduces weight.

Cylinder deactivation, which shuts down four of the eight cylinders under light loads, will come standard on all models. Today, it's only offered on higher trim levels. GM engineers say the new engines will allow the vehicle to operate for longer periods in four-cylinder mode, which should wring out further fuel savings.

GM vastly improved the pickups' interiors, which are relatively spartan on current models, and says the new styling "sets a benchmark for full-sized trucks." Higher trim levels have plenty of soft-touch material and aluminum trim.

GM used more durable, "dual density" foam in the front seats for better comfort. Lower trim levels will come with cloth seats that use new "high-wear" material that resists staining.

The Silverado and Sierra will come with an optional 8-inch color touch screen displaying GM's infotainment offerings. Big knobs and interfaces were designed for ease of use, even for drivers wearing work gloves. A 4-inch information screen in the instrument panel, also optional, displays vehicle and infotainment data.

GM improved rear-seat access on both extended and crew cabs. The rear doors on the crew cabs are larger, while the doors on extended cab models now hinge at the front, allowing rear-seat passengers to enter and exit without opening the front door.

GM also addressed a problem spot on the current truck -- tight rear legroom compared with rival pickups -- by pulling forward the B-pillars slightly and narrowing the backs of the front seats, changes that added about 2 inches of rear legroom.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Join us October 20, 2012, for the 3rd Annual Susan G. Komen CenLA Race for the Cure®!


There are plenty of reasons to come to the Komen CenLA Race for the Cure: walk or run with friends and family, visit sponsor tents, kids’ activities – it’s a fun day. But we're asking you to join us for one reason: we need your help to save lives.

The Komen CenLA Race for the Cure is a special day to all. Survivors, family members, friends and dedicated community activists come together to help end breast cancer forever. Because of your support, Komen CenLa has raised over $600,000 over the last two years to fight breast cancer every day in our community. Thanks to people like you, we are able to reach under-served populations and women without health insurance with life-saving breast cancer education and screening programs.

Whether you run, walk, or Sleep In for the Cure®, we ask that you register today. Help us take a step closer to the cures.

ANYONE WHO REGISTERS BETWEEN NOW AND AUGUST 31 WILL GO INTO A DRAWING TO WIN A RACE FOR THE CURE ROLLING COOLER









Take it one step further by creating a team and asking your friends, family and co-workers to join you. Having a team on Race day increases your experience because you get to share the beautiful morning with people who mean the most to you. Don’t wait… create your team today!



To learn more about teams, click here.



We hope to see you on October 20, 2012, in Downtown Alexandria for the Race! For more Race information visit us online or email us at cenlarace@komen.org.

With Grateful Appreciation,

Komen CenLA Race Committee

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Honda's Redesigned Accord


LOS ANGELES -- The redesigned 2013 Honda Accord will go on sale this fall with a shorter length, a new engine family and a continuously variable transmission -- huge engineering changes for a signature car that has slipped against mid-sized rivals.

Honda released the first images of the production version of the Accord sedan and coupe today but provided few additional details about the cars.

The 2013 sedan -- weighing less than the outgoing model, but with more passenger and cargo room -- features nearly flush windshield glass, flush-mounted windshield wipers and available LED daytime running lights, headlights and taillights.

Honda -- clearly aiming for U.S. buyers attracted to the current Hyundai Sonata, Kia Optima, Toyota Camry and 2013 Ford Fusion -- calls it the "most sculpted and dynamic Accord ever."

Honda calls the ninth-generation sedan the most sculpted Accord ever with increased interior passenger and cargo space. The overall length has been shortened however Honda says to provide sportier driving and easier parking.

The side flanking and rear-window kink at the C-pillar resemble the styling of BMW's 3 series. But the front and rear fascias clearly signal a Honda product.

In addition to sportier styling, the 2013 Accord is being used to introduce several key pieces of Honda technology.

The first generation of the automaker's "Earth Dreams" engines -- offering improved fuel economy and lower emissions -- debut featuring direct injection and double overhead cams.

A hallmark of the Accord since its 1976 U.S. debut as a hatchback -- leading fuel economy -- is under attack by rivals such as the Sonata and Camry.

The base engine will be a 2.4-liter inline-four with more than 181 hp and 177 pound-feet of torque, Honda said in January. That would mean a slight horsepower increase but considerably more torque, with at least 10 percent better fuel economy, Honda engineers have said.

All four-cylinder versions of the Accord equipped with an automatic transmission -- a huge percentage of the model's sales mix -- will be equipped with a continuously variable transmission. The decision could prove to be a gamble because CVTs have not been widely accepted by American buyers and have been plagued with reliability issues in some vehicles.

Honda has also re-engineered the Accord's 3.5-liter V-6 engine and paired it with a new six-speed automatic transmission or an available six-speed manual gearbox .

Honda has said the V-6 will produce more horsepower than the current model while targeting class-leading fuel economy and an overall gain in fuel efficiency over the 2012 model.

The 2013 Accord will also be offered with a two-motor plug-in hybrid system that features three modes – all-electric, gasoline-electric and direct-drive.

But perhaps the biggest question looming over Honda -- in an era of cost-cutting necessitated by the strong Japanese yen -- is what the latest Accord looks like inside. A repeat of the current Civic's overly plastic interior will not work well with U.S. customers.

Honda did not release images of the 2013 Accord's interior today, but Honda sources say the cabin is an upgrade from the current generation.

While the coupe will remain similarly sized, Honda says the sedan will feature a more compact exterior footprint. Both models will feature "increased passenger and cargo space," Honda said today in a statement.

The automaker said previously the 2013 Accord would be offered with lane departure warning, forward collision warning technology, blind spot detection, and a standard rearview back-up camera.

In January, John Mendel, head of sales for American Honda, vowed the ninth-generation Accord would "raise the bar again through a tour de force of new Honda powertrain and safety technologies, geared to ensure that Honda and the Accord continue to lead in fuel economy, safety and fun-to-drive performance."

Sales of the Accord -- America's top-selling car in 1989-91 and again in 2001 -- have rebounded 28 percent this year through July to 183,817.

That is just ahead of the Nissan Altima, with sales of 183,703, but behind the top-selling Toyota Camry, with year-to-date sales of 243,816 units.

Last year, Accord was passed by the surging Altima in U.S. sales volume, partly because of inventory shortages stemming from the March 2011 earthquake in Japan.

The Accord's share of the mid-sized segment has slipped markedly over the past several years, from 17 percent in 2007 to 11 percent this year, according to data from R.L. Polk.

However, those numbers include fleet sales. If only retail sales are counted, the Accord's segment share has slipped from 21 percent to 14 percent, but it still holds a solid second place, according to Polk.

Both the Accord and the segment-leading Camry have ceded a few points of share apiece to the Sonata, Fusion and Chevy Malibu, which analysts say is a sign of growing parity in the segment.

The Altima's share of retail sales has actually slipped over the same period -- indicating big fleet sales for the Altima as Nissan sold down the old model before its redesign this summer.

George Peterson, president of the AutoPacific consultancy in Tustin, Calif., said Honda has more to worry about from the 2013 Altima than it does from the Camry that was redesigned last fall.

"With the weight Nissan has put behind Altima, can Honda keep Accord close to Camry?" Peterson asked. "The base Altima comes across as a credible car. There's a lot of stuff in that car."

Honda has said the 2013 Accord will offer more standard equipment compared to the current model, such as Bluetooth hands-free phone interface, a full-color intelligent multi-information display and SMS text messaging that reads received texts from compatible mobile devices aloud over the audio system.

Perhaps more worrying to Honda is that Accord residual values have slipped from 52 percent to 49 percent since 2007, according to ALG, formerly Automotive Lease Guide.

Meanwhile, the overall residual values in the mid-sized segment have increased. As a result, the Accord's price premium over the segment average has slipped from seven percentage points to two.

Honda also will have to get its dealers off the incentive juice. As part of its sell-down strategy, Honda spent $3,900 per unit in APR and lease incentives on the Accord in July, and $4,500 in April, according to TrueCar data.

Rival Toyota spent $2,180 apiece for APR and lease deals on the Camry in July.

Read more: http://www.autonews.com/article/20120808/OEM04/120809880#ixzz22yR0GotY

Friday, July 6, 2012

WALKER AUTOMOTIVE MOVES UP 19 SPOTS AND IS LISTED AS NUMBER 33 ON WARD’S DEALER MAGAZINE LIST OF NATION’S TOP DEALERSHIPS


This year marks the 10th consecutive year that Walker Automotive has placed on the Annual Automobile Dealer 500 rankings published by “Wards Dealer Business” Magazine.  The list is a comprehensive ranking of the 500 biggest automobile dealerships in the country ranked by total revenue.  According to the magazine, one constant among the ranked dealers is that they are “among the best of the best” in the business.  Collectively, the nation’s 500 largest dealers sold more than 1.3 million vehicles with revenues in excess of $45 billion. 

“We are pleased to have made the Wards 500 list for the tenth consecutive year.” W. Foster Walker III, President of Walker Automotive said. “Our dealership group is honored to have a team of professionals dedicated to our continued growth and success.  The sales team, managers and employees have proven time and again that they are nimble enough to adapt to changes in the markets so that our business has positive growth.”  Walker’s overall revenue grew by 12% over last year and units increased 13%.  “I cannot say enough about the management team that is assembled throughout the organization.  They are committed to customer satisfaction and it continually translates into increased revenue and unit sales.” 

“I am proud to be a part of a group of dealers across the nation who employ so many people and contribute so much to local communities,” Walker Said.  According to the Louisiana Automobile Dealer’s Association, Louisiana has more than 320 franchised automobile dealers who employ more than 16,000 employees.  Two other dealers in Louisiana made the 2012 Ward’s Ranking list.  Walker moved up 19 spaces this year to number 33 and was further recognized as a leader in used units. 

Walker Automotive was recognized separately in the 2012 magazine as one of the 2011 Ward’s Dealer 500 used vehicle volume leaders.  Coming in at number 8 on the used units list, Walker delivered 3,455 used vehicles in 2011 which represents a 12% increase over the same time last year. 

Walker has continuously expanded its footprint in central Louisiana with new facilities and increased service.  “We are committed to our business, the Central Louisiana community, and our customers.  Our most recent commitment to this area is the addition of 20,000 square feet of expanded GM service area and a new stand-alone retail collision center.  Our growth comes from many areas and vehicle service and collision repair is vital to our continued success.  These two enhancements give our company additional capacity to repair our customer’s vehicles in an efficient manner while maintaining our focus on customer care” Walker said. 

The average age of passenger vehicles in United States is the highest in history according to research from Polk.  “Our entire organization is extremely proud of these two new enhancements and we expect the additions to assist us in meeting the additional service demand that is represented by the aging fleet of vehicles in the area.  People are keeping their cars longer and we want to be equipped to handle the additional service.” Walker Said.    

ABOUT WALKER AUTOMOTIVE

The dealership was founded in 1919 as Alexandria Auto Company, Inc. by Foster Walker Sr.  Walker Oldsmobile Company is now lead by Foster Walker III, as his father did before him.  Ninety-three years after its inception the dealership has expanded from its meager origins to four locations, 7 manufacturers, four service departments and a stand-alone collision center.  Walker employs more than 176 employees.  Over the last 9 decades, Walker has won numerous national and factory awards for all aspects of its business.  Walker Automotive offers new and pre-owned vehicles ranging from quality entry level models to German luxury vehicles.  

Mr. Walker also emphasized that as a fourth generation family company, Walker Automotive always tries to do what is in the best interest of its customers.  “We remain committed to serving our customers, being an active community partner, executing business strategies that allow for continued growth, and delivering new and used vehicles to satisfied customers.” 

Walker Automotive was named the 2010 Better Business Bureau Torch Award winner which recognizes local businesses for outstanding ethical practices.  This was the second time for Walker Automotive to win this prestigious award. 

ABOUT W. FOSTER WALKER III

W. Foster Walker III served as Chairman of the Board of the Louisiana Automobile Dealer’s Association for 2011-2012.  Mr. Walker has previously held the positions of Chairman Elect, Treasurer, and District 16 Representative for the Association. The board of directors for the Association is governed by 19 dealers elected from 14 districts across the state.   The Association represents approximately 320 automobile dealers in Louisiana and more than a hundred Associate and Subsidiary members. 

ABOUT WARD’S DEALER BUSINESS

Wards has covered the auto industry for more than 80 years, serving those within automakers, dealerships, suppliers and others serving or observing the industry with a wide range of information products. 

Monday, April 30, 2012

2011 KOMEN CENLA RACE FOR THE CURE® ANNOUNCES KICKOFF


The 2012 Susan G. Komen CENLA Race For the Cure® is excited to announce that the CENLA Race will be held in downtown Alexandria on October 20, 2012.  Race organizers are currently seeking 2012 race sponsors and volunteers. 

The 2011 race raised more than $400,000 with over 5,500 people registering for race day events. This year organizers are hoping to have more than 7,000 registered participants by race day.  Since seventy-five percent of all funds raised stay in the seven parish area surrounding central Louisiana, the 2012 Race will make an enormous impact for survivors, caregivers, and family members through local grants awarded from the money raised.

Laura Bryan has been selected as this year’s Honorary Survivor Chairperson.  Each year local race organizers choose an honorary chairperson who has battled breast cancer and can bring awareness and passion to the fight to end the disease forever. 

Laura was born and raised in England to a military family with one brother and one sister. After living throughout the U.S., she settled here in Louisiana 15 years ago. She has been married to Jacob Bryan
who she describes as her “rock”, for the past nine years, and they are the “parents” of 2 furry children, their Great Pyrenees, Sampson and Golden Retriever, Buck. Laura works as a Mortgage Specialists who enjoys food and music, traveling to attend music festivals throughout the country each year. She is also a very active community supporter and volunteer serving in leadership positions in the Junior League of Alexandria, Chamber of Commerce, Alexandria Zoo, and Krewe of Mariposa. She is also an active member of Cabrini Hospital’s Pink Ribbon Club Breast Cancer Support Group. Laura is a 3 year breast cancer survivor having triumphed through mastectomy, reconstruction, chemotherapy, radiation, and lymphedema.  Laura states, “During everything…I never stopped smiling and never blamed God. Life is always full of challenges and God never promised us tomorrow. So my thought is that if you live every day like it’s your last here on earth, then there are no regrets!”  

Susan G. Komen for the Cure®
Nancy G. Brinker promised her dying sister, Susan G. Komen, she would do everything in her power to end breast cancer forever. In 1982, that promise became Susan G. Komen for the Cure® which launched the global breast cancer movement.  Susan G. Komen for the Cure is the global leader in the fight against breast cancer through the funding of innovative research and community-based health programs.  

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Walker Honda Earns Honda’s Highest Dealership Honor

Alexandria, Louisiana, March 30, 2012 – American Honda Motor Co., Inc., is proud to announce that Walker Honda of Alexandria has earned the Honda President’s Award. This annual award is presented to top-ranking Honda dealerships across the country, based on their achievement of excellence in all areas of operation – customer service and satisfaction, sales, training, and facility operation for the prior calendar year.



The President’s Award was established in 1995 to challenge dealerships to provide a superior automotive experience. Each year the objectives are modified to stay ahead of current market trends. A major component of the program focuses on the customer experience and is measured via customer satisfaction surveys. To earn this distinction, Walker Honda met the lofty program objectives established for the 2011 calendar year.



“Earning the President’s Award is a yearlong commitment that requires the dedication of every dealership team member,” said John Mendel, executive vice president of Automobile Sales for Honda. There are currently more that 1,000 Honda dealerships in the United States. Walker Honda is one of only 144 to earn this distinction for 2011.



“Honda is proud to recognize the accomplishments of its top dealers. You will recognize their success by the President’s Award trophy and mementos displayed throughout the dealership. I invite you to experience for yourself the advantage of doing business with an award-winning Honda dealership.”



Foster Walker III, said “I am so proud of all of our employees who worked so tirelessly to serve our customers and win this great award.”

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Honda Accord Concept Gets Bolder Looks, Better Drivetrains

DETROIT -- Honda Motor Co. today unveiled an Accord Coupe Concept that foreshadows the styling of the production car set to arrive this year against stiffening competition.

The concept, shown at the Detroit auto show, sports a creased beltline, muscular rear fender and aggressive lower fog lights. Powertrain improvements will be a key selling point for the 2013 Accord, Honda says.

After the Accord's 17 percent drop in U.S. sales last year, Honda is counting on the next Accord to take on freshly redesigned mid-sized rivals, including the Toyota Camry, Nissan Altima, Hyundai Sonata, Ford Fusion and Chevrolet Malibu.

The coupe will be the same size as the current model. But the sedan will have a smaller footprint than today's version, with a shorter wheelbase and lower curb weight for better handling and enhanced fuel economy.

Interior space will stay the same, Honda pledges.

The timing of the sedan's U.S. launch hasn't been released.

The Accord's U.S. sales decline last year, to 235,625, stemmed largely from supply shortages following Japan's March 11 earthquake.

That dropped it to fourth place in the segment, behind the Camry, Fusion and Altima. The Camry held onto its No. 1 spot despite dropping 6 percent to 308,510 units, also because of supply shortages after the earthquake.

Honda needs a strong showing from the Accord after its redesigned Civic small car received a chilly reception last year for what critics said was a cheap-looking interior.

American Honda's total U.S. sales fell 7 percent in a market that increased 10 percent.


New powertrains


The Accord will feature three new drivetrains.

The first will feature the initial U.S. use of the next-generation, direct-injection engine that Honda unveiled in late November at the Tokyo Motor Show. The so-called Earth Dreams engine, a 2.4-liter, 16-valve, DOHC i-VTEC four banger, will be combined with a new continuously variable transmission.

The engine delivers 181 hp and better fuel economy than the Accord's current base powerplant, an inline four. Honda did not release fuel-economy figures but said the engine aims to achieve class-leading mileage.

The second drivetrain will consist of a re-engineered 3.5-liter, 24-valve, SOHC i-VTEC V-6 engine paired with either a new six-speed automatic transmission or an existing six-speed manual. The automatic will achieve better fuel economy and horsepower than the outgoing model, Honda says.

The final variant is the first use of Honda's two-motor, plug-in hybrid system. In all-electric mode, the system's lithium ion battery and motor can power the car for up to 15 miles of city driving at speeds as high as 62 mph. The battery can be fully recharged in four hours using a 120-volt outlet or in 90 minutes with a 240-volt charger, Honda says.

For longer drives, the hybrid operates in gasoline-electric mode, drawing from a 2.0-liter, four-cylinder, Atkinson-cycle engine combined with a CVT. For high-speed cruising, the car can run in gasoline-only mode with the engine directly powering the front wheels.

The Accord Plug-in Hybrid will go on sale in the winter of 2012, Honda says.

Honda canceled the previous Accord hybrid at the end of its 2007 model year.



Safety features

Honda says the next Accord also will sport several new safety features.

It will have Honda's first lane-departure warning system and first forward-crash warning technology. Both use cameras mounted behind the windshield to alert drivers of dangers.

It also will get Honda's first use of its LaneWatch blind spot display, which uses a camera mounted on the passenger mirror to keep tabs on that side of the car.

A multiangle rearview camera also will come standard.

Other new standard features in the next Accord:

• Bluetooth hands-free phone interface.
• Full color information display.
• An SMS texting function that reads messages aloud.
• iPhone-compatible Pandora Internet radio.


Read more: http://www.autonews.com/article/20120110/OEM04/120109807#ixzz1jGPKvmZd

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Dealer Sells Luxury Cars in Louisiana Truck Country

W. Foster Walker III sells German luxury cars and a lot of Hondas in Louisiana’s truck country.


Premium-car business is good enough that Walker Automotive Group in Alexandria, northwest of Baton Rouge, recently opened Mercedes-Benz and BMW showrooms and a service center.

The 35,000-sq.-ft. (3,251-sq.-m) construction project totaled $6 million. It is the latest expansion for the 4-store, 7-franchise organization.

Walker, a third-generation dealer, acquired the Mercedes franchise in 1974, followed by Honda in 1975 and BMW in 1985. He says he “got lucky” after expanding to import brands to shore up his General Motors-brand representation.

“There was just this awareness I had of something new and growing, so I went after it,” Walker says of the brand additions. “We had the room to expand, and we did.”

It has turned out well for him. He notes his GMC and Buick brands also are going strong. Kia and Mitsubishi brands round out his franchise portfolio.

Following in his father’s and grandfather’s footsteps, Walker is president of the 92-year-old dealership group bearing the family name.

“This new location and building will enable us to reach more customers with increased visibility,” he says.

For years, the dealer chain has built a reputation as a prominent Honda seller. The auto maker is the No.1 seller in the region for 23 of the past 24 years, Walker says, calling his organization central Louisiana’s largest-volume dealer group.

A regular on the WardsAuto Dealer 500, Walker Automotive ranks No. 52 on the 2011 list.

The group posted more than $131 million in revenues in 2010, with the Honda franchise accounting for $36.6 million of that. Overall sales and revenues this year are about 5% higher.

Besides the new Mercedes and BMW showrooms, Walker in the past two years has expanded the Honda service department, opened a new collision center and added 10,000 sq. ft. (929 sq. m) of GM service-department space.

Still, Walker knows about handling adversity. He’s seen plenty since joining the family business in 1970 after college and Army service.

Recent challenges include GM’s bankruptcy and this year’s earthquake and tsunami in Japan, a natural disaster that crippled auto production in that nation. Walker went from selling 75 to 20 Hondas a month, due to slashed allocations.

Adapting to a crisis “takes constant effort, organizing and ability to manage change,” Walker says.

He takes pride in not laying off employees during the GM downsizing and overall market declines. He expanded the import lineup to cover his bases, acquiring the growing Kia franchise in 2010 to replace a Saturn dealership after GM killed that brand.

He employs 176 staffers and plans to hire more service technicians.

Mike Barbera, a 26-year veteran, is group general sales manager. Walker’s son, Foster Walker IV, oversees Honda operations, including customer relations and sales, service and parts activities. Daughter Amy Walker Searcy manages marketing, non-dealership assets and market analysis.

Sales managers Donald Ayo (Honda) and Ray Leggio (used cars) have been with the group for 24 and 20 years, respectively. Nearly 40% of employees have been with the company at least 10 years.

Future expansion is a possibility, says Lawrence Searcy, Walker’s son-in-law, who serves as operations manager and legal counsel.

“We do not have any specific parameters for opportunities, other than to say we want to make well-thought-out decisions and acquire franchises that add to the value of the corporation.”

Walker credits much of his group’s success to exceeding customer expectations. His company repeatedly has won the Better Business Bureau Torch Award for ethical practices.

“If I am going to err, I will do so in favor of the customer,” he says.


PROFILE

Company:Walker Automotive Group, Alexandria, LA
President: Foster Walker III
Employees: 176
Market: A region of more than 350,000 residents in central Louisiana.
Elected: Chairman of the Louisiana Automobile Dealers Assn., representing 325 dealers.

Mission statement: “Walker is 100% committed to honesty, integrity, quality and excellence – ingredients that define lasting customer relationships.”

Full Article:  http://wardsauto.com/dealerships/dealer-sells-luxury-cars-louisiana-truck-country

Thursday, January 5, 2012

BMW and Mercedes-Benz Finish 1st and 2nd in Luxery Sales

BMW fended off a late-year surge by rival Mercedes-Benz to win its first title as best-selling luxury brand in the United States.

BMW said today that U.S. sales rose 15 percent to 26,834 in December, for an annual total of 247,907. Mercedes said its sales last month climbed 28 percent to 25,701, pushing its tally for the year to 245,192.

The results officially end Lexus' 11-year reign atop the U.S. luxury rankings. The Toyota Motor Corp. brand reeled after the March earthquake in Japan disrupted production, finishing the year down 13 percent at 198,552. Mercedes won the title once, in 1999, before ceding the U.S. crown to Lexus.

Today's announcements also capped an unusual end to the reporting of annual auto sales. BMW of North America and Mercedes-Benz USA were the only companies that failed to release U.S. totals along with the rest of the industry on Wednesday, drawing more attention to the luxury race.

The results exclude Mercedes Sprinter vans and Smart cars as well as BMW's Mini brand, which aren't luxury vehicles.

BMW sales advanced 13 percent for the year in an overall market that rose about 10 percent. Mercedes' U.S. deliveries also climbed 13 percent, aided by a refreshed C-class sedan and redesigned M-class SUV.

Mercedes advanced after BMW ended the third quarter leading its German rival by 7,621 U.S. sales. The lead narrowed to 1,582 by the end of November.

Both automakers increased incentives in November and carried forward customer discounts into December, according to Ivan Drury, an industry analyst with Edmunds.com.

Mercedes increased incentive spending in November by 39 percent compared with a year earlier, and BMW's incentives rose 25 percent, according to Autodata Corp. Many of those discounts and incentives are on the C class and 3 series, which are the automakers' top sellers.

Rivals have noticed the discounting.

"They've been outspending us -- even with some relatively newer products," Kurt McNeil, Cadillac's vice president of sales, said in a telephone interview. BMW has offered $400 to $600 a car more than the General Motors brand, he said, and Mercedes' discounts exceeded Cadillac's by more than $1,000. "They've been bringing it from an incentive standpoint," he said.

While some automakers in the past have delayed releasing monthly results, "this is unusual," Jesse Toprak, an industry analyst with TrueCar.com, said Wednesday. "I don't really recall this happening from two automakers who are clearly going head-to-head against each other. It's too much of a coincidence."

Read more: http://www.autonews.com/article/20120105/RETAIL/120109953#ixzz1ibtXFMdd

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Insurance Institute Gives 115 Vehicles Top Safety Rating.

The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety today releases its list of Top Safety Picks – the 2012 model-year vehicles with the best crash-test ratings. The auto-safety research group, which is funded by the insurance industry, said 115 vehicles made the list this time around.
The results reflect efforts by car makers to strengthen the roofs of their vehicles to perform well in a roof-crush test that simulates the stress put on the roof in a rollover crash. The Institute added the roof test to its crash-test program that includes front, side and rear impact collisions. To get a top overall rating a vehicle has to perform well enough to receive the group’s best grade of “good” in the crash and in the roof test.
Here is the full list of top-rated models sold by Walker Automotive:

Honda Fit, Honda Civic, Honda CR-Z, Honda Insight, Honda Accord, Honda CR-V, Honda Pilot, Honda Odyssey, Honda Ridgeline, Kia Forte, Kia Soul, Kia Sportage, Kia Sorento, Mitsubishi Lancer, Buick Verano, Buick LaCrosse, Buick Regal, Buick Enclave,  Mercedes C-Class, Mercedes E-Class, Mercedes GLK, Mercedes M-Class, BMW 5 series, BMW X3, GMC Terrain, GMC Acadia.

Full article http://blogs.wsj.com/drivers-seat/2011/12/15/insurance-institute-gives-115-vehicles-top-safety-rating/

Friday, December 9, 2011

Making the Difference Award

This past week, John Wrubel received the Making the Difference Award from JRTC& Fort Polk on behalf of Walker Honda.  We would like to congratulate John and Walker Honda and thank them for all the work they do with Fort Polk.

"Walker Automotive for you loyal dedication and unwavering commitment.  Thank you for your outstanding contribution toward our goal, and for making our organization stand above the rest." - JRTC & Fort Polk

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

WALKER AUTOMOTIVE PARTNERS WITH LOCAL CHARITIES TO HELP THE NEEDY THIS HOLIDAY SEASON

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE


November 14, 2011

ALEXANDRIA, LOUISIANA


FOR MORE INFORMATION CONTACT: LAWRENCE S. SEARCY, JR.

WALKER AUTOMOTIVE

318-445-6421


WALKER AUTOMOTIVE PARTNERS WITH LOCAL CHARITIES TO HELP THE NEEDY THIS HOLIDAY SEASON

Walker Automotive is pleased to announce its partnership with several organizations this holiday season to provide food, clothing and toys to the needy.


FOOD BANK AND TOYS FOR TOTS

Walker is happy to support both the Food Bank of Central Louisiana and Toys for Tots this upcoming holiday season. To encourage Central Louisiana residents to make a donation of an unwrapped toy or a non-perishable food item, all five Walker Automotive service locations will offer a 10% discount on parts and service for each donation made at a participating Walker location.

“We understand that there are many people in Central Louisiana in need and are faced daily with providing for their families. Christmas is particularly difficult for the children, and we hope to put a few smiles on some kid’s faces with the items we collect. We hope that by offering the discount, customers will be encouraged to come in for service and make the donation,” Said Lawrence Searcy, Operations Manager at Walker. “This is the third year we have participated and we are thrilled each year to be able to give back to our community.

The “official drop sites” are in the service departments at Walker Buick / GMC, Walker Mercedes, Walker BMW, Walker Honda and Walker Kia. Customers are asked to bring a new and unwrapped toy for the Toys for Tots program or five (5) non-perishable food items for the Food Bank. The drop boxes will be clearly marked in the service aisles in all stores.


COATS FOR KIDS AND CARS AND COATS

Walker has partnered with KLAX TV to sponsor Coats for Kids. Customers are asked to bring a new or gently used coat or other outer clothing item to any Walker Automotive location to be donated to local charities. Randall’s Cleaners will launder each item before it is donated.

Additionally, Walker Honda is sponsoring its own coats program with Cars for Coats. A new winter coat will be delivered to children and their mothers currently residing at the Hope House with a donation of $10.00 for every car sold at Walker Honda from November 14 through November 30. The coats will be delivered to the Hope House on December 1, 2011.


ABOUT WALKER AUTOMOTIVE

Walker Automotive was named the 2010 Better Business Bureau Torch Award winner for 2010 which recognizes local businesses for outstanding ethical practices. This was the second time for Walker Automotive to win this prestigious award. Additionally Walker was recently named to the Wards Dealer Business Dealer 500 in June 2011 which ranks dealers nationally based on total revenue. Walker Automotive is currently ranked number 52 by this trade publication. .Walker has consistently made the list for the last decade.

Walker was founded in 1919 as Alexandria Auto Company, Inc. by Foster Walker Sr. Walker Oldsmobile Company and is now run by Foster Walker III. Ninety years after its inception the dealership has expanded from its meager origins to four locations, seven manufacturers, four service departments and a collision center. Walker Automotive offers new and pre-owned vehicles ranging from quality entry level models to German luxury vehicles. Walker employs more than 175 employees. Over the last 9 decades Walker has won numerous national and factory awards for all aspects of its business.


For more information on Toys for Tots, contact Linda Harris at 318-481-1686.
For more information on the Central Louisiana Food Bank contact Jayne Wright-Velez

Executive Director at 318-445-2773.
For more information about the Hope House, call Ariana 318-487-2061.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Toyota Recalls 420,200 Vehicles, Including Camry, Highlander and Lexus RX 400h

TORRANCE, California — Toyota is recalling 420,200 vehicles, including the 2004-'05 Camry, Highlander Sienna and Solara and the 2006 Lexus RX 400h, because of a defective crankshaft pulley on the V6 engine, the company said on Wednesday.

Other vehicles involved in the recall are the 2004 Toyota Avalon and 2006 Highlander Hybrid and the 2004-'05 Lexus ES 330 and RX 330.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has not yet posted any information about this latest Toyota recall on its Web site.

"There is a possibility that the outer ring of the crankshaft pulley may become misaligned with the inner ring, causing noise and/or illumination of the discharge warning light," said Toyota in a statement. "If this condition is not corrected, the belt for the power steering pump may become detached from the pulley and the driver may notice a sudden increase in steering effort."

Toyota said there are no reports of accidents or injuries related to the defect. The recall does not include Toyota vehicles with four-cylinder engines.

The recall is expected to begin in January.

"In the meantime, if an abnormal noise is heard coming from the engine compartment, the owner is asked to make an appointment with any Toyota or Lexus dealer to have the vehicle inspected for this condition," Toyota said.

Owners can contact Toyota at 1-800-331-4331 or Lexus at 1-800-255-3987.

Inside Line says: If you own one of the aforementioned Toyota or Lexus vehicles, be aware that a recall is in the works.

http://www.insideline.com/toyota/camry/toyota-recalls-420200-vehicles-including-camry-highlander-and-lexus-rx-400h.html

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

New Kia Rio Gets Rave Reviews

Kia Rio Fun-to-Drive Premium Subcompact


By Christie Schweinsberg

WardsAuto.com, Sep 21, 2011 11:56 AM

SEOUL � Chalk up another win for Kia with the '12 Rio subcompact, one of the last models to be restyled under a product renaissance that has seen the brand transformed from cheap to chic in just 2.5 years.

Starting with the quirky Soul in 2009 through the Sorento and Sportage cross/utility vehicles in 2010 and this year's launch of the Optima midsize sedan, Kia has been on fire.

The auto maker claims the Rio leads the segment in many categories, albeit some shared with its Hyundai sister-brand's Accent, including class-leading horsepower and torque, fuel economy and interior quality.

The differences between the two subcompacts are more pronounced today than in the past, each with its own sheetmetal, interior styling and on-road demeanor.

The Rio has an uncluttered European look, reflecting the influence of chief designer Peter Schreyer, most recently with Audi/Volkswagen.

Where the Accent has vertical taillights, the Rio�s are horizontal, emphasizing the width of the vehicle. Stepping up to the Rio's SX sport grade nets buyers dual chrome exhaust tips. A spoiler is standard across all grades, including the base LX.

The new Rio sports Kia's signature tiger-nose grille, now found on all models except the aging Sedona minivan. The nose is small and thin, with the large lower grille the visual focus in front. Notched headlamps are trapezoidal  quickly becoming the shape du jour for that component  and contributes nicely to the styling.

The Korean auto makers appear to be taking a page from Volkswagen's old playbook by swathing all interior surfaces with soft-touch material.

The Rio is a convincing premium subcompact, with a cushioned dash cover; sturdy, airplane-cockpit-inspired switches; and thoughtfully patterned speaker grilles on the interior doors, which match well with the dot-dash-patterned seat fabric.

However, the hard-plastic pillars don't match up to the Accent's fabric-look pillars. The Accent also wins with its instrument-panel design, compared with the Rio's relatively plain IP.

The Rio proves fun to drive on the expressway en route to Seoul from the summer playground of South Korea's eastern coast. The '12 EX hatchback, riding on 15-in. low-rolling resistance tires, is impressively stable, with German sport-sedan-like composure not seen in an earlier Accent test spin.

However, the engine strains above 2,000 rpm as the small 4-cyl. struggles up the steep hills of the mountainous terrain here. A wimpy tip-in that requires flooring the hatchback's gas pedal for even mild acceleration doesn't help.

Making ample use of the 6-speed automatic's manumatic function and downshifting to fifth gear makes up for this frustrating calibration. Perhaps Kia was stung by criticism of the super-touchy gas pedal in the Forte Koup.

The auto maker says it will introduce stop/start technology on all Rio models early next year. Rios offered in Europe already have the technology, but it proves of little use here, even during Seoul's rush hour.

The few occasions where it was necessary to come to a full stop, the engine turned off as expected, but the restart came with a noticeable shudder. That's in contrast to Japanese hybrids with stop/start that transition smoothly thought the modes.

Still, for a sub-$20,000 car, it's nice to see Kia offering this technology, which should raise the Rio's fuel economy 1 mpg (0.4 km/L). Pricing still is being debated, but executives here say the system, which Kia calls Integrated Stop-Start, should add about $350-$400 to the �'2 Rio's price.

The Rio has a rigid ride thanks to the cost-conscious torsion-beam rear suspension. The front uses a MacPherson strut, with coil springs and a stabilizer bar. Smooth roads here are not so jarring. But imperfect pavement likely will make for a rough ride, especially for buyers who opt for the more athletic SX model, fitted with 17-in. wheels.

The Rio's standard electric power steering has a heavy feel at highway speeds, loosening up slightly in city driving, in keeping with the sporty character of the car.

The Rio returned 37 mpg (6.4 L/100 km) over a 116-mile (187-km) mostly highway route, with an average speed of 43 mph (69 km/h), according to the trip computer. Heavy city traffic near the end of the trip knocked back our observed high of 40 mpg (5.9 L/100 km).

The 5-door Rio is a few inches shorter than the Accent hatchback, almost 1 in. (2.4 cm) wider and a bit taller. Front passengers get a couple inches more legroom in the Rio at the expense of those seated in the second row, the opposite of the Accent.

Both cars share a 101.2-in. (257-cm) wheelbase that is longer than that of the Ford Fiesta but slightly shorter than the best-selling Nissan Versa.

The Rio 5-door goes on sale in the U.S. this month, with the sedan coming later this year, a testament to the growing popularity of hatches in the States. Kia expects the 4-door to appeal more to young women, while the hatch should attract active men.

The LX grade is relatively spartan in terms of amenities but does offer steering-wheel-mounted audio controls and a 60/40 split rear seat. The EX nets buyers power windows and door locks and keyless entry, while the sporty SX grade has power-folding, heated side mirrors with turn-signal indicators.

Options for the EX include stop/start and Kia�s new UVO infotainment system. The SX offers a special package with navigation, a 7-in. (18-cm) touch screen, push-button start, heated front seats, moonroof and leather seat trim.

Thanks to its European good looks, high-quality interior, good performance and fuel economy, the '12 Rio should quickly find itself on buyers' shopping lists, much like the Optima sedan and Sorento CUV have done.



cschweinsberg@wardsauto.com

Walker Collision Center Receives two Compliments


Thanks to Ms. Easterling and Mr. Horsman for these comments.  Congratulations to Collision Center employees Beth Hoff and Ray Lucas.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Treats in Trunks

Walker Automotive announces its Fifth Annual “Treats in Trunks” event - Saturday, October 29, 2011 at Walker Kia in Alexandria.

October 29, 2011 Walker Automotive and Walker Kia are celebrating the 5th annual “Treats in Trunks” Fundraiser benefitting Hayden’s Heroes. All donations and proceeds from the event will be donated to Hayden’s Heroes:

ABOUT HAYDEN’S HEROES

Hayden Parker is a bright, healthy, and active 12 year old boy who lives in Alexandria, Louisiana. Hayden was diagnosed with a rare genetic condition, phenylketonuria, ten days after his birth. Hayden is required to have monthly blood draws, numerous genetic clinic visits, and daily medication. Hayden’s Heroes, LLC was created to raise funds for PKU research for a cure and raise awareness of this condition in the community. Eventually, the organization hopes to create a local PKU pantry which would provide low protein foods to under privileged families of Louisiana. Hopefully one day there will a cure for this condition, making Hayden and many others have a better quality of life.

ABOUT PKU

PKU is a rare condition (1 in 10,000 births) in which a baby is born without the ability to properly break down an amino acid called phenylalanine. Phenylalanine is a substance that is found in foods that contain protein. PKU is commonly included in the newborn screening panel at birth. Affected children who are detected and treated early are less likely to develop neurological problems. There is no cure for PKU at this time, but patients who are diagnosed early and maintain a strict diet can lead a normal life. The “diet for life” eliminates all of the very high protein foods since all protein contains phenylalanine. This means that the diet does not allow consumption of meat, fish, poultry, milk, eggs, cheese, ice cream, legumes, nuts, or many products containing regular flour.

Treats in Trunks will be at the following location:

10/29/2011 Walker Kia 4:00 – 6:30 p.m.

1515 Dorchester
Alexandria, La 71301
This year’s event will offer a safe alternative for children of all ages to enjoy Trick or Treating in a fun and safe environment. The event is free to the public and candy will be given out to Children 12 and under from the trunks of the vehicles. Walker employees will sponsor a Cake Walk, game booths, and other fun events. The Alexandria Fire department will be there with a fire truck as will the Rapides Parish Sheriff’s Office and the S.W.A.T. Team. All of the money raised at Treats in Trunks will go towards Hayden’s Heroes, LLC.
For more information contact Lawrence Searcy at the numbers listed above.

Friday, October 21, 2011

Fall 2011 Total Sale

Our Fall 2011 Total sale is now under full swing.  Check out the deals available at all our locations on our youtube page http://www.youtube.com/user/TheWalkerauto?feature=mhee

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

FBI Warns Online Shoppers of Auto Sales Scams

New York — It's another case of "if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is."
The FBI is warning online auto shoppers to watch out for deals that offer cars at very low prices, then direct unwitting buyers to phony websites designed to separate victims from their money. The agency says more than $44.5 million was stolen through such scams from 2008 to 2010.

The scam

The agency said there are variations on the scheme, but the basic version involves a seller placing an ad on a legitimate website like Craigslist for a car at a below-market price. However, when an interested buyer responds via email, the return email often includes a story of hardship explaining why the price is so low — the seller lost his job, there's a health care emergency or even that the seller is being deployed by the military.

The email also includes a request to move the transaction to another website for security reasons, yet at the same time offers fake "buyer protection" through another company, often identified as eBay Inc. The seller may also pose as a representative of a legitimate company in a live online chat, and will send a real-looking invoice that purports to be from eBay or another major site.

The return email will also ask the consumer to wire the money to pay for the vehicle, and sometimes to fax a receipt showing when that transaction has taken place. The parties then agree on a time and place to deliver the vehicle — but it never arrives.

The red flags

The FBI lists a series of warning signs that the sale is a scam on its website, www.fbi.gov.

Car shoppers should watch out for deals with ultra-low prices, sellers who want to switch websites, claims that buyer protection is available from a website not involved in the transaction, and sellers who won't meet in person to allow the buyer to see the car ahead of time.

Also beware of hard-luck stories that seemingly explain why the car is such a good deal.

And any sale that requires funds to be wired ahead of time should be a big warning sign. Once funds are wired, there is no way to retrieve them.

A bluntly worded warning posted on the "Cars & Trucks" page on Craigslist warns consumers against having a vehicle shipped to them. "Offers to ship a vehicle are virtually 100 percent fraudulent," the site states, and adds that customers should "never use Western Union or a wire transfer to pay for goods — only a scammer will ask for this, and any funds sent will be lost."
The victims

There were nearly 14,000 complaints submitted to the FBI by consumers who have been targeted or fallen for this type of scam between 2008 and 2010.
Jack Christin, associate general counsel at eBay Inc., said the online auction company sees the scammers as "hijacking the eBay name." The company has placed an alert on the top of www.ebaymotors.com warning consumers that their vehicle purchase protection only covers transactions completed on their site. If a seller from another site promises eBay protection programs, the warning says, "Walk away. It is fraudulent."
The eBay Motors Security Center also offers tips for safe online car buying and links to report suspected fraud to the company and the Internet Crime Complaint Center, which is operated by the FBI and other government agencies.
From The Detroit News: http://detnews.com/article/20110912/AUTO01/109120397/FBI-warns-online-shoppers-of-auto-sale-scams#ixzz1Xr3oc21i

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Buick Verano pricing to start at $23,470

DETROIT -- The price for the upcoming Buick Verano, the brand's first compact in decades, will be $23,470, including shipping charges, General Motors said today.
The price is considerably lower than the Japanese compact sedans that GM is pitting the Verano against in the entry-luxury segment: the Acura TSX ($30,495 with shipping) and the Lexus IS 250 ($34,170 with shipping).
"Given some of the great features the car is going to have, that's about the price we expected," said Sam Slaughter, dealer principal at Sellers Buick-GMC in suburban Detroit, which was the nation's top-selling Buick store last year. "We don't want it to be the el cheapo car that's going after the beer-can market."
Still, the Verano price is "going to be a little tight" with that of the Regal mid-sized sedan, the next car up in Buick's lineup, said Lynn Thompson, a Springfield, Mo., dealer who sells Buick, GMC and Cadillac. The base Regal has a sticker price of $27,530, including shipping.
The Verano, which goes on sale by year end, will be offered in three models. The top model will have a sticker price of $26,850 including shipping. All three models will get a 2.4-liter, four-cylinder engine combined with a six-speed automatic transmission that delivers 180 hp.
The Verano is hitting the market at a time when more U.S. consumers are shifting to smaller, more fuel-efficient vehicles.
GM has touted the Verano's quiet cabin and standard features not typically found on a car in its price range, such as a 7-inch color-touch radio display with IntelliLink, the infotainment system for Buick and GMC.
Higher-end Verano models will receive the same leather used in Buick's flagship LaCrosse sedan, and touches such as push-button start, a heated steering wheel and heated seats that activate automatically in colder temperatures.
The Verano "expands the brand's reach," Tony DiSalle, Buick's U.S. vice president of marketing, said in a statement. "We're inviting new customers into the Buick family, giving us the opportunity and privilege of building longtime Buick loyalty."
GM hopes to build on the success of the Chevrolet Cruze compact, which is built on the same platform as the Verano. The Cruze, which replaced the Cobalt in Chevy's lineup last fall, was the top-selling U.S. compact sedan in July and August.
The Cruze starts at $17,470, including shipping.

Read more: http://www.autonews.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20110906/OEM04/110909908/1490#ixzz1XCyQjjJn

Monday, August 8, 2011

Honda Recalls 2.5 million Vehicles Globally for Software Issue

DETROIT (Reuters) -- Honda Motor Co. said today it will recall 2.49 million cars, small SUVs and minivans worldwide, including its popular Accord sedan, to repair a software problem that could damage the automatic transmission.

The recall includes 1.5 million vehicles in the United States, 760,000 in China and 135,142 in Canada, the automaker said in a statement.

Globally, the recall affects four-cylinder Accord sedans for the model years 2005 to 2010.

The company is also recalling vehicles in parts of Europe, the Middle East, South America, Mexico and Puerto Rico. The recall did not affect vehicles sold in Honda's home Japan market.

In the United States and Canada, the recall also includes the CR-V crossover for the model years 2007 to 2010 as well as the small SUV Element from 2005 to 2008.

In China, the recall also includes more than 160,000 Odyssey minivans from 2005 to 2009 and about 4,000 Spirior cars, which are based on the European version of the Accord, for the 2010 model year.

Without updating the software, the automatic transmission in these vehicles could be damaged if the driver quickly shifts between gears. That might cause the engine to stall or make it difficult to put the car into park.

This week, Consumer Reports said it was not recommending the 2012 Honda Civic. This has led some industry analysts to ask if that is a symptom of larger problems at the automaker, which ranks fifth in U.S. sales this year.

The company has said it disagreed with the influential U.S. consumer advocate's assessment.

Chris Martin, Honda spokesman at the company's U.S. headquarters in California, said today the recall was not a sign of deeper difficulties.

Martin said the current recall was the result of "extremely unusual circumstances. The far majority of our consumers would never really encounter this. It's software programing. It's not a weakness in the transmission per se."

No injuries or deaths have been reported from this problem, Martin said.

Honda said the problems might arise if the transmission were quickly shifted between the reverse, neutral and drive positions. A driver might do this in an attempt to dislodge a vehicle in mud or snow.

The automatic transmission secondary shaft bearing could be damaged in this scenario.

An update to transmission control module software will ease the transition between gears and reduce the possibility of damage.

Honda will begin informing U.S. consumers at the end of August. It did not disclose expected cost of the recall.

The software update will take about a half-hour, but customers may have to leave their cars at Honda dealerships for a longer period, Martin said.

Read more:   http://www.autonews.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20110805/RETAIL05/110809880/1493#ixzz1URuUG0fU

Friday, August 5, 2011

Ford told the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration it will recall more than 1 million trucks to replace fuel tank straps.

The recall includes these units:
—Ford F-150 from 1997 through 2004 model years.
—Ford F-250 with a gross vehicle weight rating of less than 8,500 pounds from 1997 through 1999 model years.
—Lincoln Blackwood from 2002 and 2003 model years.

NHTSA explained these vehicles were manufactured from June 20, 1995 through Aug. 4, 2004.
—Connecticut
—Delaware
—Illinois
—Indiana
—Iowa
—Kentucky
—Maine
—Maryland
—Massachusetts
—Michigan
—Minnesota
—Missouri
—New Hampshire
—New Jersey
—New York
—Ohio
—Pennsylvania
—Rhode Island
—Vermont
—West Virginia
—Wisconsin
—District of Columbia

In a note to Auto Remarketing, Ford spokesperson Wesley Sherwood said the recall that includes a total of 1.22 million units also covers models in Canadian provinces where road salt corrosion is most common.

Both NHTSA and Ford acknowledged that prolonged exposure to road de-icing chemicals may cause severe corrosion of the fuel tank straps that secure the tank to the vehicle.

“The straps can corrode after operation for extended periods of time in high corrosion areas and allow the fuel tank to drop and potentially leak, which could lead to a fire,” Sherwood stated.

“Ford is aware of three vehicle fires and one injury associated with this condition,” he continued.

“We will notify affected owners in mid-September and ask them to take their vehicles to their local dealers who will repair the vehicles at no cost to customers,” Sherwood went on to say. “Customers should work with their dealers to schedule an appointment.”

In the meantime, potentially effected owners can contact Ford at (866) 436-7332 and reference recall campaign No. 11S21

Wednesday’s announcement continues a string of recall campaigns Ford has conducted since the beginning of the year.

Back in March, the automaker revealed it wanted to bring in more than 140,000 trucks and CUVs because of possible fuel odor or leaks from a fuel line in the engine compartment. Auto Remarketing’s recap of that announcement is available here.

Then a month later, Ford ramped up a previous recall of the F-150 stemming from an airbag deployment issue. After voluntarily recalling 144,000 F-150s from the 2005 and 2006 model years in late February, Ford brought back the remaining population of F-150s built between 2003 and 2006, a total of 1.19 million units.

Sherwood reiterated Ford’s stance on any recall.

“Ford is committed to safety and responding quickly to vehicle concerns for our customers,” Sherwood stressed.

“We believe that handling recalls in an open and transparent manner is important to them and a key component of delivering top quality,” he concluded.

Please see an autohrized service center for more details.

Read more: http://www.autoremarketing.com/content/retail/ford-recalls-more-1-million-trucks-replace-fuel-tank-straps?utm_source=Listrak&utm_medium=Email&utm_term=http%3a%2f%2fwww.autoremarketing.com%2fcontent%2fretail%2fford-recalls-more-1-million-trucks-replace-fuel-tank-straps&utm_campaign=Ford's+Newest+F-150+Recall%2c+July+Used+Sales+Spike+%26+Manheim's+Mid-Year+Report

Chrysler recalls 300,000 minivans for airbag defect

WASHINGTON (Bloomberg) -- Chrysler Group LLC is recalling about 300,000 Dodge and Chrysler brand minivans in North America, citing a risk of airbags deploying when not needed and without warning.

The vehicles in this recall are the same ones involved in an earlier recall to replace a heating and cooling system drain grommet, the automaker said in a document posted today on the U.S. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration Web site.

Chrysler is recalling model-year 2008 Chrysler Town and Country and Voyager minivans and Dodge Caravans, it said on the NHTSA site. Because of the earlier defect, moisture may have leaked into the air-bag controls, the company said today in a statement on its Web site.

Chrysler said it doesn't know of any accidents or injuries related to the airbag defect.

"Despite the lack of field reports, we believe it is in the best interest of our customers to replace these modules to ensure the proper functionality of the minivan's advanced safety system," David Dillon, Chrysler's head of product investigations and campaigns, said in the statement.

For more information please visit an authorized service department for detials.

Read more:  http://www.autonews.com/apps/pbcs.dll/articleAID=/20110804/RETAIL05/308049852/1492

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Even Car Purists Can Appreciate New M-Class

GREENOUGH, MT – Many years before the term “Carmageddon” warned of an epic traffic jam in southern California, it could have referred to a trend that was sweeping through the ranks of luxury auto makers.
Purists figured the end was near when BMW, Lexus, Audi, Lincoln, Cadillac, Volvo and later on Porsche decided their car-only portfolios needed something more in the way of utility and off-road capability.
It all started with Mercedes-Benz and the M-Class, which went on sale in September 1997 (codename W163) with great fanfare, produced in a shiny new plant outside Tuscaloosa, AL.
The market hasn’t been the same since.

Porsche, for instance, sells nearly as many Cayenne cross/utility vehicles as it sells cars – that’s 911, Cayman, Boxster and Panamera, combined. The X3 and X5 CUVs are among BMW’s four best-selling vehicles. The Cadillac SRX CUV is threatening the CTS for top-selling honors within the brand this year.
Car loyalists might consider luxury utes an affront to civilization, but CUVs and body-on-frame SUVs can be incredibly profitable (especially when produced domestically), and the suits can’t be blamed for wanting part of the action.
And Mercedes-Benz, the German giant that made it OK to capitalize on America’s emerging interest in spaciousness, versatility and a high seating position, arrives in September with an all-new M-Class destined to uphold both its legacy and place in the market.
What makes the new ML special are two new or significantly improved engines; advanced suspension controls to enhance ride and handling; upgraded interiors; and acute attention to chassis engineering.
The M-Class has never been a repository for warmed-over technology, and this latest generation carries on that tradition.
But at first glance, the ’12 ML350 and diesel ML350 BlueTEC don’t appear to be significantly different from their predecessors, based on the second-generation M-Class that arrived in 2005 (codename W164).
The new model (W166) picks up the identical design of the tapered C-pillar and applies a similar beltline that descends toward the front. The shape of the greenhouse and roofline and raking of the windshield and side windows appear to be unaltered.
Changes to the front end would be considered subtle, if not for the smoother 3-bar grille replacing three large perforated slats in the old ML. The new grille is slightly more shallow, but the tri-star emblem remains in the same location – smack in the middle.
The new “eagle-eye” headlamps also are more dramatic, narrow and angular and integrate stylish amber light bars. LED daytime running lamps are packaged within the bumper. The new wheel wells are smaller and less flared and hug the handsome standard 19-in. alloy wheels much more tightly than the previous body style.
From the back side, the ML looks completely new and much more sporty, thanks to a clever bumper design and brushed-aluminum skid plate that hide the dual exhaust. The backlight is angled more steeply, and the beltline flows neatly around the back.
The sheet metal on the liftgate is less bulbous and now is creased in just the right places to lend a clean, horizontal design that nicely frames LED taillamps that wrap tightly around the corners.
Under the hood, Mercedes offers two engines that perform admirably: an all-new 302-hp 3.5L direct-injection gasoline V-6 and 240-hp 3.0L BlueTEC turbodiesel, available in all 50 states.

No hybrid is in the plans, although the ML450 Hybrid was available previously. The potent 4.6L BiTurbo V-8 will be offered in 2012.

Both gas and diesel V-6s are more powerful and fuel-efficient than their predecessors and integrate new technology. So the question ultimately is: which is better? Whether accelerating hard on an uphill grade to pass a gravel hauler or cruising steadily along, both engines get the job done well. Both are amazingly smooth and quiet, yet responsive and emotive when pressed into service, and can sprint from 0-60 mph (97 km/h) in 7.3 seconds.
But having spent the majority of our time driving the diesel on highways and 2-lane roads that weaved through the Rocky Mountains and the Continental Divide, the diesel is better for four reasons:
•It clobbers the gas engine nearly 2-to-1 in available torque, which is what matters most to drivers. Its 455 lb.-ft. (617 Nm) peak arrives early, at 1,600 rpm and holds on until 2,400 rpm. Dialing up 120 mph (193 km/h) on a remote Montana highway is no problem at all.

•The new gas engine is sophisticated and all, but the bottom-line output is not all that impressive on paper, at 302 hp. Engines of similar size in less-expensive vehicles made that much, or more, several years ago.

•Combined fuel economy comes in at 22.5 mpg (10.4 L/100 km) for the diesel and 19.5 mpg (12 L/100 km) for the gas V-6. During a 181-mile (291-km) loop, we averaged 23.5 mpg (10 L/100 km) with the diesel, according to the trip computer. It’s worth noting diesel fuel is priced currently in line with premium unleaded gasoline.

•If the ML truly is being used as Mercedes intended – for road trips and adventures and hauling lots of stuff, maybe even a small trailer – the diesel will handle the load more capably. As a low-miles grocery getter, the $1,500 premium for the diesel is probably wasted money, so the gas V-6 would be better.
With either engine, an excellent 7-speed automatic transmission (carried over from the previous ML) sends power seamlessly to all four corners via 4Matic all-wheel drive, which has been standard on all three generations of M-Class.



The transmission integrates a new torque converter with an advanced lock-up clutch and improved damper de-coupling for better fuel efficiency.
Understanding the 4-wheel independent suspension offerings requires total concentration, although the basic setup carries over: double-wishbone geometry up front and 4-arm multi-link at the rear.
Upgrading to the optional Dynamic Handling Package costs $5,150 and includes AirMatic air suspension, which uses air bladders instead of coil springs, as well as air springs, to lower the vehicle at high speeds for better handling.
Off-road, the suspension can be switched to raise the vehicle about 3 ins. (7.6 cm) for more ground clearance.
The package includes an adaptive damping system that can change compression and rebound damping every 0.05 seconds in adjusting to road conditions. The driver can switch between a “sport” setting for a firm ride and “comfort” for more compliance.
Another feature of the air-suspension package is the new Active Curve System, which uses electronic sensors, an engine-driven hydraulic pump and electronically controlled hydraulic valves to reduce body lean.
The stabilizer bars with this package are “split” in the center and connected to rotary hydraulic actuators that are inactive when the vehicle is traveling in a straight line.
In curves, the actuators are pressurized to counteract lateral pitching, reducing the natural tendency for the body to lean in curves.

With so much going on within the suspension, it’s hard to tell which feature is doing what, even while paying close attention. Suffice to say the ML stayed firmly planted during our highway jaunts, but we did not experience the base suspension.
An On & Off Road Package will be available next year that uses six transmission modes to optimize driving dynamics.
The M-Class also is the latest in a long list of newly launched vehicles to use electric power steering. The electro-mechanical rack-and-pinion unit integrates speed-dependent power assist and enables fuel savings by requiring electrical power only when the wheel is turned.
The steering feel is precise, firm and comfortable, whether on the highway or in parking maneuvers.
The interior of the M-Class reflects iterative rather than wholesale changes. There’s more real-wood trim (eucalyptus or burl walnut), colors are richer and the 7-in. (17.7-cm) central display screen has been moved up in between two air vents, rather than below them in the old model.
Cupholders have been reconfigured; seats offer better bolstering; and air vents now are square or rectangular instead of round.
But the overall layout of controls, switches and gauges is virtually identical to that of the outgoing model. Fit-and-finish in the pre-production models evaluated was excellent.
Three adults fit comfortably in the back seat, which folds flat to make room for loads of cargo.
The previous interior wasn’t so bad, and Mercedes was right not to rip it up.
What’s not to like about the new ML?
The Comand human-machine interface is not very reconfigurable and can’t display both audio and navigation information simultaneously. This HMI has been in Mercedes vehicles for several years now and feels dated at a time when consumer electronics change every month.
Adaptive cruise control is not standard, neither are cooled front seats or heated rear seats. Heck, the Hyundai Elantra is a third the price and offers rear heated seats.
Which brings us to pricing. The M-Class might be priced competitively against the X5, but the SRX and Lexus RX remain better values. The cheapest model at the media event here stickered at $56,825; the most expensive was $77,115.
Value-conscious buyers, even at this level, are paying attention. Through the first six months, the RX and SRX, respectively, are the best-selling vehicles in Ward’s Middle Luxury CUV segment.
No.3 is the X5, which received a facelift last year, followed closely by the M-Class. Not bad for a vehicle at the end of a 6-year cycle.
The X5 offers an optional third row, but M-Class does not – yet. It’s in the works, Mercedes says.
Job One in Alabama for the new M-Class, which is exported worldwide, was July 20, and Mercedes marked the occasion by announcing a $2 billion investment to expand for the launch of the next-generation GL CUV, as well as the C-Class sedan, which begins assembly in 2014.
Admittedly, the level of excitement about a new M-Class is a rung or two below that generated by a new Mercedes SLK roadster or CLS 550 4-door coupe.
But the M-Class is the third best-selling vehicle in the Mercedes stable and deserves recognition.
After all, in the world of luxury CUVs and traffic jams, “Carmageddon” hasn’t been all that bad.

http://wardsauto.com/testdrive/car_purists_appreciate_110801/

Monday, July 11, 2011

WALKER AUTOMOTIVE AND BMW USA TEAM UP TO SUPPORT THE UNITED STATES OLYMPIC TEAM

On Monday, July 11, 2011 Walker BMW and BMW USA will host a special event to raise money for Team USA. This event is a test drive campaign that invites Americans to support Team USA by test driving one of several new BMW models. For every person who drives a vehicle at the event, Walker BMW will donate $10.00 to the United States Olympic Committee to fund Team USA.

As a special treat, attendees of the event will be able to meet Miguel Pate, a track and Field Olympian from St. Francisville, Louisiana. Mr. Pate participated in the 2008 Olympic Games and ended the 2008 season ranked #1 in the U.S. by Track and Field News. Mr. Pate’s biography is attached and he will be available for interviews at the event.

During the event, participants will have the option of driving several different vehicles including the BMW 328xi sedan, 535xi sedan, 750Li xDrive, X3 xDrive35i, the beautiful 650i convertible and competitive models from Mercedes and Lexus. In addition, each attendee who completes a post-event survey will receive a BMW / Olympic hat branded with the BMW Roundel and the 5-Olympic Rings.

Walker BMW is especially proud to be hosting this event at its all-new 30,000 square foot state-of-the-art building on Coliseum Boulevard. This is the first event to be held at the building and Walker welcomes anyone who may be interested in looking inside.

Walker Automotive was named the 2010 Better Business Bureau Torch Award winner for 2010 which recognizes local businesses for outstanding ethical practices. This was the second time for Walker Automotive to win this prestigious award. Additionally Walker was recently named to the Wards Dealer Business Dealer 500 in June 2011 which ranks dealers nationally based on total revenue. Walker has consistently made the list for the last decade.

Walker was founded in 1919 as Alexandria Auto Company, Inc. by Foster Walker Sr. Walker Oldsmobile Company and is now run by Foster Walker III. Ninety years after its inception the dealership has expanded from its meager origins to four locations, 7 manufacturers, four service departments and a collision center. Walker employs more than 175 employees. Over the last 9 decades Walker has won numerous national and factory awards for all aspects of its business. Walker Automotive offers new and pre-owned vehicles ranging from quality entry level models to German luxury vehicles.

BMW: A Driving Obsession

CNBC goes inside one of the most successfully managed brands and companies in the world — BMW. Its familiar blue and white logo stands as the symbol of prestigious, high-performance, luxury cars. A one-time aircraft engine manufacturer that eventually moved to motorcycles and offbeat sports sedans, BMW today commands brand recognition and respect that is the envy of the commercial world.


CNBC Correspondent Carl Quintanilla takes viewers inside BMW’s secretive Tech Center, where teams of engineers obsess over the technical and mechanical details that the company says justify its cars’ high prices. Acoustic specialists consider every sound in the car, from the exhaust note to the window motors; ergonomic engineers labor over the stunningly complex mechanical labyrinth that is a modern seat; and crash specialists deliberately wreck a parade of high-dollar vehicles to improve safety.

BMW is a company enjoying success, but also facing significant challenges. Growing environmental and political pressures are making it increasingly tough to market high-performance cars, but BMW is staking its future on its ability to build vehicles that are both sustainable and fun. BMW also faces daunting competition, not only from other German manufacturers like Audi, but also from carmakers in Japan, Korea — and soon, China.

BMW: A Driving Obsession is the fascinating story behind a once small, struggling company that transformed itself into a global luxury car powerhouse, and is now going flat out to maintain its edge.
 
For Video's and more information check out the link at:
http://www.cnbc.com/id/43395673?__source=vtyinsidebmw&par=vty

Friday, July 8, 2011

STUDY: 56 MPG Standard by MY2025 to Cost 220,000 jobs

FENTON, MI (July 7, 2011)—A white paper from the Michigan-based Defour Group finds that a significant number of auto sector jobs would be lost if the federal government’s proposed fuel economy mandates for Model Year (MY) 2017-2025 vehicles were implemented. Federal regulators, currently meeting with automakers behind closed doors, are considering increasing the standards to as high as 56 mpg to 62 mpg over that time period.


Dean Drake, the paper’s author, confirmed a U.S. Energy Information Administration estimate that automakers would sell 2.4 million (approximately 14 percent) fewer new vehicles if standards are set to hit 62 mpg by 2025.

“Clearly, sales losses of this magnitude could be expected to lead to job losses in the industry,” Drake said.

Drake bases the study’s job loss numbers on the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration (NHTSA) analysis of the 2012-2016 MY CAFE standard that said that one job would be lost by the OEMs and their suppliers for every 11.3 new vehicle sales which fail to sell. The study also calculates dealerships job losses as a result of fewer new car and truck purchases.

PROPOSED TARGET (MY17-25)    LOST SALES        LOST JOBS (OEM, Supplier, Dealership)

62 mpg (6% per year)                         2.4 million                 293,100
56 mpg (5% per year)                         1.9 million                 220,000

“These projected job losses will NOT be offset by the development of new technologies creating so called ‘green jobs’ as many contend,” Drake added. “The advanced technology vehicles such as electrics will only make up a small part of the new vehicle fleet. Plus there is no guarantee that these new jobs would stay in the United States.”

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

WALKER AUTOMOTIVE LISTED AS NUMBER 52 ON WARD’S DEALER MAGAZINE LIST OF NATION’S TOP DEALERSHIPS

This year marks the 25th Annual Dealer 500 rankings published by “Wards Dealer Business” Magazine. The list is a comprehensive ranking of the 500 biggest automobile dealerships in the country. According to the magazine one constant over the last quarter century is that the dealers who make the list are “among the best in the business. They are pros who use time-tested best practices, yet are nimble enough to adapt to changing times and markets.” Walker Automotive is on the list for the fifth straight year and ranks number 52 for 2010.
The annual list ranks dealerships according to departmental revenue, sales and total dealership revenue. Only one other dealership in Louisiana was recognized and Walker was the only dealer in central Louisiana named.
“We are pleased to have made the Wards 500 list again this year”, said W. Foster Walker, President of Walker Automotive. We certainly had to adapt to changes in our business last year, but we still managed to grow our business in almost all departments.” Walker said. Overall, revenue grew 2% over last year which is great considering the turmoil that marked the industry in 2010 as several major manufacturers struggled to come back from bankruptcy. “Our most significant increase came in pre-owned vehicle sales where we saw an increase of 37% in total units over the year before. Likewise, our Service, Parts, Body Shop and Accessories increased 4% over the same period last year. New cars grew modestly, but that is not surprising considering the lack new inventory. We simply adapted to sell more quality late model or certified used vehicles. I credit a tremendous management team in all departments that figured out how to grow our business in a tough selling environment.” Walker said.
Walker was also recognized separately in the 2011 magazine as one of the 2011 Ward’s Dealer 500 new and used vehicle volume leaders. Walker delivered more than 3,000 new and pre-owned vehicles in central Louisiana. Walker has also been recognized by Ward’s as a leader in helping customers finance their vehicles and as a used vehicle leader in 2009.
“We are committed to our business, the Central Louisiana community, and our customers. Our most recent commitment to our business is the new Walker Mercedes and BMW building on Highway 28 West next to Walker Honda.” The new facility is a state of the art 30,000 square foot sales and service location for both Mercedes-Benz and BMW. “Our entire organization is extremely proud of this new facility and we expect this addition to assist us in our continued growth in Alexandria.” Walker said.
Mr. Walker also emphasized that as a fourth generation family company, Walker Automotive always tries to do what is in the best interest of its customers. “We remain committed to serving our customers, being an active community partner, executing business strategies that allow for continued growth, and delivering new and used vehicles to happy customers. "
Walker was founded in 1919 as Alexandria Auto Company, Inc. by Foster Walker Sr. Walker Oldsmobile Company and is now run by Foster Walker III. Ninety years after its inception the dealership has expanded from its meager origins to four locations, 7 manufacturers, four service departments and a collision center. Walker employees more than 175 employees. Over the last 9 decades Walker has won numerous national and factory awards for all aspects of its business. Walker Automotive offers new and pre-owned vehicles ranging from quality entry level models to German luxury vehicles.