News Briefs: March 20, 2012

Here's what we have our eye on today:

  • Low interest rates and high trade-in values have helped auto leasing mount a comeback, The Dallas Morning News reports. Before they collapsed in 2008, leases used to account for about 25% of all new-car sales, but analysts said leasing could go as high as 30% as car shoppers warm up to lower monthly payments and automakers set more realistic residual values. Should fuel prices crest well past $4 a gallon this summer – today, the national average price is $3.85 – leasing also hedges against the falling residual value of a not-so-efficient car since automakers set lease payments at the time of sale.
  • Mitsubishi will double production at its Illinois plant to export the Outlander Sport crossover to Latin America and Russia, Japan's Nikkei business daily said via Reuters. Slowing sales in the U.S. have shrunk capacity at Mitsubishi's only U.S. assembly plant, which began as a shared Chrysler-Mitsubishi facility in 1985.
  • GM CEO Dan Akerson received less than $2 million in company stock last week, The Detroit News reports. Last year, GM paid Akerson $9 million under a compensation package approved by the U.S. Treasury, which still owns 26.5% of the automaker. The stock fully vests in early 2015. Akerson took the job as GM's chief executive in September 2010 and was the fourth CEO in just 18 months.
  • Rising basketball star Jeremy Lin will hawk cars for Volvo, according to Advertising Age. Earlier reports said the Swedish automaker, owned by China's Zhejiang Geely Automotive Holding Group Co., would sign the New York Knicks point guard to an endorsement deal in China, but Advertising Age reports Lin will endorse Volvos around the globe.

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