News Briefs: Feb. 29, 2012

Here's what we have our eye on today:

  • GM will buy 7% of French automaker PSA Peugeot Citroën, Bloomberg News reports. The purchase, which GM confirmed minutes ago, will cost the Detroit automaker around 1 billion euros, or $1.34 billion at current exchange rates. As GM looks for ways to address a flagging Opel division in Germany, Peugeot needs to raise cash after its debt doubled in the second half of 2011. Following sales losses in 2011, Opel and Peugot are running below factory capacity, England-based LMC Automotive told Bloomberg — just 62% at Peugot and 74% at Opel. The deal could include job cuts and restructuring on both sides, but it will result in some shared engines and vehicle platforms beginning in 2016.
  • Meanwhile, Chrysler may also pursue a deal with Peugeot, sources tell The Detroit News. Talks on a possible Fiat-Chrysler-Peugeot alliance collapsed in 2009, but Fiat and Chrysler may consider reviving them. Peugeot and Fiat already work together on commercial vehicles, but further collaboration could give Fiat a bigger presence in China and Latin America, The Detroit News says.
  • President Barack Obama told a United Auto Workers gathering that he'll buy a Chevrolet Volt after his presidency. Reuters reports that Obama's Secret Service prohibited him from driving a Volt when the president toured a Detroit assembly plant in 2010 — strange, given President Bush drove on the job. But Obama said he enjoyed sitting in a Volt and plans to pick one up after his tenure is over, naturally, "five years from now."
  • U.S. regulators will delay a requirement for backup cameras until Dec. 31, Bloomberg News reports. The rule, which would have required backup cameras for all passenger vehicles by the 2014 model year, originally was to be issued today. It's unclear when the Dec. 31 ruling will phase in the requirement.
  • Although all four GOP presidential candidates oppose the federal government's $85 billion bailout to GM and Chrysler, former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney took the hardest line — and his victory in Michigan's primary last night comes despite that, Automotive News reports. Romney's view differs from the American public: Fifty-six percent now view the bailout as good for the economy, according to a Pew poll last week.
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