News Briefs: Jan. 27, 2012

Here’s what we have our eye on today:

  • Fourth-quarter profits are trickling in. Ford's pretax profits declined to $1.1 billion in the fourth quarter of 2011, down from around $1.3 billion in the year-ago quarter. Pretax profits for all of 2011, however, totaled $8.8 billion, up 5.6% over 2010 — the third consecutive year of improving annual profits, Ford says. Meanwhile, Hyundai's fourth-quarter profits climbed 38% to $1.8 billion at current exchange rates, Automotive News reports.
  • J.D. Power and Associates' Avoider Study, now in its ninth year, found 43% of new-car shoppers avoid certain brands or models because of perceived quality or reliability issues rather than actual data. Thirty-eight percent of shoppers based avoidance on ratings and reviews, while 14% avoided certain cars because of past ownership experience. The import-domestic wars are taking an interesting turn, too: Fourteen percent of shoppers avoid import brands because of their origin, the highest number since the study began. By contrast, just 6% avoid Detroit brands for the same reason, a "historically low level," J.D. Power says.
  • Honda CEO Takanobu Ito predicts a bullish 2012, with full-year profits for the automaker in the fiscal year ending March 2013 recovering to pre-recession levels. Ito told Bloomberg News he expects North American sales to lead the recovery, with U.S. sales for Honda improving 24% in 2012. Ito has high hopes for the redesigned Accord, which hits dealers this fall. Accord sales fell 19% in 2011, but it remains Honda's best-selling model.
  • California, the nation's largest auto market, may require almost all automakers in the state to sell enough electric, fuel-cell or plug-in hybrid vehicles so that they make up 15.4% of total sales by 2025, Automotive News reports. The California Air Resources Board's proposal would ramp up starting in 2018. The Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers, a group representing much of the auto industry, says the CARB proposal represents "a disconnect with the marketplace."

Senior Consumer Affairs Editor Kelsey Mays likes quality, reliability, safety and practicality. But he also likes a fair price.  Email Kelsey

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