News Briefs: March 23, 2012

Here's what we have our eye on today:

  • CNW Market Research's latest Retail Automotive Summary has total incentives, including dealer add-ins, at 16.3% off the average MSRP — $5,889 of $36,172. That's up from last month's 16.1% and reflects sweeping higher deals for new-car shoppers in 2012. A year ago, March incentives totaled just 13.5% off MSRP. CNW says March sales could be up 8%, an even rosier prediction than Thursday's J.D. Power and Associates' projection. Other nuggets: Home-equity loans, once a source for nearly 12% of auto purchases, crashed to just 4.4% with the recession, but they're creeping back up and could hit 5% by 2012. CNW predicts that used-car sales, meanwhile, will increase 5.6% versus year-ago levels on the backs of private-party sales, which the firm predicts to improve 24% versus year-ago levels.
  • More information about what vehicles, engines and vehicle technologies GM and PSA Peugeot Citroën will collaborate on is coming to the forefront. The companies say they may share large vehicles, dual-clutch transmissions and a small car for emerging markets, according to Reuters. The two carmakers also are studying the possibility of collaborating on minivans, crossovers, other small cars and hybrid technology, Reuters added. Last month, the two carmakers stated that they'll pool development and production of subcompact and midsize cars in Europe.
  • GM's Opel division is still dragging down the carmaker's global finances, despite the new alliance with PSA. The carmaker is devising a way to pull the operation back to profitability by possibly closing plants in Europe, says Automotive News. Opel managers say the division has excess capacity of about 500,000 vehicles, or about two assembly plants worth of excess.
  • GM has made a 10-year and $1 billion commitment to its Australian Holden division, according to Bloomberg News. In return for the commitment, the Australian government will give Holden a $288 million assistance package. The funding secures 12,000 jobs at two GM plants on the continent until 2022. GM also announced it's currently designing and engineering two all-new vehicles for the plant, which will go into production by the middle of this decade.
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