News Briefs: Jan. 30, 2012
Here’s what we have our eye on today:

  • Despite higher fuel-economy standards by 2016 and likely again by 2025, carmakers remain cold on diesel engines in the U.S. Diesel fuel’s higher energy density can render up to 40% better gas mileage versus a same-size gasoline engine, but the fuel remains pricey — $3.87 per gallon compared with $3.43 for regular unleaded, according to AAA. That leads hybrids to outsell diesels by more than two to one, Automotive News reports.
  • A restructured Chrysler may report its first annual profit since 1997, The Associated Press reports. The Fiat-owned company will report fourth-quarter results Wednesday, when CEO Sergio Marchionne expects the company to post a $600 million profit, excluding a midyear $551 million refinancing charge. That’s a huge shift from 2010, when Chrysler lost $652 million. The Michigan automaker employs 57,200 people, up 9,400 from 2009.
  • Nissan’s midpack performance in J.D. Power and Associates’ latest Sales Satisfaction Survey, which measures customer satisfaction when buying a new car, may not seem like anything to crow about. However, it has company officials celebrating, according to Automotive News. Nissan placed last among major non-luxury brands in the previous study, leading the automaker to commission a task force that orchestrated some 10,000 small improvements across some 1,100 Nissan dealerships.
  • Ford’s full-year earnings have each of its 41,600 hourly employees earning $6,200 in profit-sharing bonuses. But the company’s stock price dipped on Friday — and remains depressed this morning — on underperforming fourth-quarter results, plus uncertainty with commodity prices and a debt crisis in Europe, notes The Detroit News.
  • A lower-emissions version of the Chevrolet Volt will get carpool-lane access in California, as well as a $1,500 state tax rebate on top of up to $7,500 in federal tax credits, Automotive News reports. GM sold nearly 2,000 Volts in California last year, nearly 25% of national Volt sales. The specialized version goes on sale in March.

In The News Industry

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