News Briefs: Jan. 26, 2012

Here's what we have our eye on today:

  • Toyota aims to boost Lexus global sales to around 500,000 cars a year, up from last year's 404,000, Automotive News reports. Sales for the luxury division topped out at 518,000 in 2007, but supply shortages from natural disasters in Asia hampered sales in 2011. Lexus lost the title of best-selling U.S. luxury brand last year — something it had enjoyed for 11 years — as BMW and Mercedes-Benz outpaced its U.S. sales.
  • Following comments from CEO Alan Mulally that suggested Ford wants the Fusion to outsell its Toyota Camry rival, Ford executives are throttling back expectations, the Detroit News reports. The Camry, whose redesign hit dealerships in late 2011, retained its longstanding crown of America's best-selling car. The outgoing Fusion placed third. One analyst said Ford may not have the capacity to match Toyota's North American Camry production, and company officials want higher profits per car. That will mean lower incentives on the Fusion, which topped out at $2,500 per car in December 2011, and selling more high-trim cars.
  • Automakers and suppliers could add up to 15,000 auto jobs in Michigan this year, the Center for Automotive Research told the Detroit Free Press. That could help the state’s 9.3% unemployment rate versus 8.5% nationally, though it puts just a small dent in the 203,800 auto jobs lost in Michigan from 2000 to 2009, the Free Press reports.
  • Citing record sales of nearly 130,000 EcoBoost-equipped cars and trucks in 2011, Ford aims to triple its production of the turbocharged drivetrains this year. The automaker announced it will offer 11 nameplates with EcoBoost, up from seven last year.
  • Fiat-Chrysler may build Jeeps in China, the Detroit News reports. The world's largest auto market since 2009, China has enjoyed Jeeps as far back as 1984, but tariffs and shipping costs make foreign-produced autos expensive. Fiat-Chrysler may address that: "Intense negotiations" are taking place with Guangzhou Automobile Group on a joint venture to assemble vehicles in China.

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