Here's what we have our eye on today:
- Niche manufacturer Coda will partner with China's Great Wall Motors to build the least expensive electric car available in the U.S., company officials say. That means it would undercut the current bargain(ish) EV, Mitsubishi's $29,125 i. USA Today reports Great Wall, which has lagged on EVs, hopes to bring the car to the U.S., China and Europe within two years. Officials hope to price the car similar to a conventional car. It would expand Coda's lineup to two vehicles; the California automaker's current electric sedan costs more than $37,000.
- Speaking of California, America's largest auto market saw Chrysler-brand sales boom 222% through March, The Detroit News reports. New-car sales in the Golden State have increased 17.7% this year, outpacing the country's 13.3% gain. Chrysler has been a bit player in the state, however, with just 1% of auto sales in 2011. On the strength of the 300 sedan, 200 sedan/convertible and Town & Country minivan, the brand outpaced Kia (up 83.4%) and Jeep (up 39.4%) for the top sales increase. Still, The Detroit News notes that Detroit automakers account for less than a third of all auto sales in California, compared to 44.3% nationally.
- Ford touted yesterday that it has halved its waste to landfills between 2007 and 2011. The automaker wants to cut waste another 10% by the end of 2012, leaving 20 pounds of waste per vehicle — "roughly the weight of one tire," Ford says — and reduce the water used to manufacture each vehicle by 30% between 2009 and 2015.
- Auto industry veteran Bob Lutz is fighting disdain among conservatives over plug-in vehicles. Lutz, who retired from GM in 2010, is working as an adviser to Via Motors, a company that retrofits GM pickups and SUVs with range-extended electric drivetrains like those found in the Chevrolet Volt. The Detroit News reports Lutz, an outspoken Republican, met last week with conservative think tanks and publications in support of the Chevrolet Volt — which one conservative group called an "exploding Obamamobile" — and EVs in general.