News Briefs: Feb. 10, 2012

Here's what we have our eye on today:

  • Former Utah governor and Republican presidential candidate Jon Huntsman joins Ford's board of directors, Automotive News reports. Ford sought Huntsman, whose career includes ambassadorships to China and Singapore, for his experience with Asia trade issues. Elsewhere, the automaker announced CFO Lewis Booth and global product chief Derrick Kuzak will retire April 1. Regarded as the man behind Ford's global One Ford strategy, which places the majority of Ford's international portfolio on just five platforms, Kuzak has been at Ford since 1978. Booth, who saw Ford through consecutive profits from 2009 to 2011, joined the same year.
  • Based on strong Mercedes-Benz sales — they improved 16% in the U.S. in 2011, including sales of the Sprinter commercial van — parent company Daimler AG projects around 9 billion euros ($11.9 billion at current exchange rates) in 2012 profits, outpacing analysts' expectations of 8.17 billion euros, Bloomberg News reports. Mercedes sold a record 1.26 million cars globally last year and plans to introduce 10 new models by 2015. New investments should expand factory capacity in China, the U.S. and Hungary, Bloomberg says.
  • Although U.S. car shoppers bought only about 17,500 plug-in cars last year — just 0.1% of all sales — retailers like Walgreens are installing charging stations, with a handful of installations at Best Buy, Kohl's, Macy's and Ikea, The Detroit News reports. Subsidies still cover most of the cost to retailers, and electricity is still by and large free for drivers.
  • After a handful of consumer complaints that the power window switches could spark fires in the 2007 Toyota Camry and RAV4, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has opened a preliminary investigation, The Detroit News reports. A Toyota spokeswoman told The Detroit News that the automaker "will fully cooperate" with the probe.
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