News Briefs: Feb. 6, 2012

Here's what we have our eye on today:

  • Automakers joined beer and soft-drink companies for top billing among Sunday's Super Bowl ads, The Wall Street Journal reports. The publication polled consumers and ad experts, proclaiming ads from Chrysler, Volkswagen, Acura and Chevrolet the winners. Chrysler's two-minute Clint Eastwood spot wasn't available on USA Today's AdMeter — it ran during halftime, rendering it ineligible to be rated, the publication says. But the AdMeter ranked commercials of the Volkswagen Beetle, Kia Optima, Audi S7 and Chevrolet Silverado among its top 10 out of 54 ads rated.
  • Hyundai will see growth constraints because too many cars from affiliate Kia overlap Hyundai's products, Bloomberg reports. Indeed, the two Korean brands build a litany of nameplates that compete for U.S. shoppers' attention: the Kia Optima and Hyundai Sonata family sedans, for instance, or the Kia Sportage and Hyundai Tucson SUVs. Bloomberg notes the two companies, which have separate stock, combined for 38% more operating income in 2011. The partnership dates back to 1998, when Hyundai purchased a majority stake in then-bankrupt Kia.
  • At last weekend's annual National Automobile Dealers Association convention, Kia promised dealers 20 percent more cars this year, or about 100,000 new units, Automotive News reports. Many of those will come from the brand's West Point, Ga., facility, where Kia invested $100 million last year to add 60,000 units of capacity. Kia sales increased 36% last year, leaving the brand with just 33 days' supply — versus the auto industry's 52-day average — in dealer stock on Jan. 1, Automotive News estimates.
  • Mitsubishi remains a bit player in sales these days, but the automaker's North American president told dealers at NADA that the brand remains on track to increase sales to around 100,000 annual units — up from last year's 79,020 — by 2014, Automotive News reports. Among the products to propel it will be the carmaker's first plug-in hybrid SUV, due in 2013.
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