News Briefs: March 8, 2012

Here's what we have our eye on today:

  • BMW posted record annual profits for 2011, though fourth-quarter net income fell 12% as the German automaker spent cash to introduce global redesigns for the 3 Series and 1 Series, according to Bloomberg News. Global sales in 2011 improved 14%, as sales more than doubled for the X3 SUV. With the redesigned cars, BMW expects to beat its 2011 sales — a record 1.67 million cars — this year.
  • As demand for plug-in vehicles remains light, President Barack Obama proposed spending $3.7 billion for additional federal tax credits on electric vehicles, as well as those that use natural gas and biofuels, The Detroit News reports. That differs from a plan released in January 2011 that incentivized EVs only. Obama wants to spend $2 billion to expand credits on plug-ins to $10,000 — up from today's $7,500 — and expand the credit to cover highly efficient gasoline cars, too. Additional money would incentivize commercial-truck buyers to buy advanced-technology vehicles, and $1 billion to help up to 15 communities deploy advanced-technology vehicles "at critical mass," Obama said.
  • Bloomberg News reports Volvo wants to nearly double its global sales to 800,000 by 2020. The Swedish automaker, which is now owned by China's Zhejiang Geely Holding Group Co., sold 449,255 cars last year. Volvo hopes safety innovations like the world's first pedestrian airbag, which deploys from the hood of the not-for-U.S. V40, can spur sales. But Bloomberg says the automaker will need comprehensive updates for its aging lineup, which includes, in their current generations, a 6-year-old S80 sedan and a 10-year-old XC90 SUV.
  • On the heels of Ford CEO Alan Mulally receiving $58.3 million in company stock, crosstown contemporary Sergio Marchionne got zilch from Chrysler, the automaker said in its annual report. Marchionne, CEO of Chrysler and Fiat, received no compensation in 2011 from the Michigan automaker, The Detroit News reports. That doesn't mean he was paid nothing, though: Fiat has yet to release its 2011 compensation figures.
  • Honda wants to build compressed natural-gas pumps at various California dealerships, Bloomberg News reports. The automaker sells a CNG version of the Civic, but a lack of refueling stations remains an obstacle to greater adoption, even in CNG-friendly markets like California. The CNG-powered Civic GX averages about 31 mpg, versus 32 mpg for most gasoline trims, but natural gas cost just $2.13 per gallon-equivalent in January, Bloomberg cited from Energy Department data.
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