Here's what we have our eye on today:
- Many automakers reported first-quarter profits today. Chrysler fared well, posting $473 million compared with $116 million in the first quarter of 2011. Last year the automaker posted the first annual profit since its 2009 bankruptcy, Automotive News reports. But on the strength of increased sales, Chrysler targets $1.5 billion in annual profits this year — more than eight times its 2011 net income. The automaker sold 523,000 cars worldwide in the first quarter of 2012, up 33% from a year ago. Three-fourths of those sales came from the U.S.
- Elsewhere, Automotive News reports that Volkswagen Group — which includes Volkswagen, Audi and seven other automotive brands — saw profits rise 10% despite a weak European economy, thanks in part to higher sales for Audi. Meanwhile, Hyundai Motor posted 30% higher first-quarter profits than a year ago, according to Reuters. Hyundai saw double-digit sales gains in Europe despite auto sales sliding 8% on the continent. The Korean automaker's once-explosive growth is slowing, however, as Reuters predicts profits to rise 9% this year — a fraction of last year's rise.
- Chrysler will likely sever ties with Ally Financial after its preferred lender contract expires in 2013, Bloomberg News reports. The automaker will shop other banks to finance a large portion of some $25 billion in annual auto loans it issues. Expect another bank to pick up the business, but car buyers shouldn't see any big changes.
- Finally, Chrysler has settled a lawsuit with clothier Pure Detroit for making T-shirts with Chrysler's "Imported from Detroit" slogan, Automotive News reports. Pure Detroit contends that most Chrysler vehicles — including all three Chrysler-brand cars — aren't actually built in Detroit city limits. The terms of the settlement haven't been disclosed.
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