Here's what we have our eye on today:
- After overcoming "unspecified part" issues, the Dodge Dart will begin rolling off the line in Chrysler's Belvidere, Ill., assembly plant May 3, Bloomberg News reports. Chrysler CEO Sergio Marchionne said in a conference call last week that "if I told you the preparation for the launch has been a walk on the park, I'd be lying through my teeth," Bloomberg notes. An Aero package, which includes aerodynamic enhancements to push the car's EPA highway mileage to 41 mpg, will come only on the base SE trim. The Aero goes on sale this fall.
- The auto industry's benchmark Seasonally Adjusted Annual Rate, or SAAR, could face some doubt over the next few months, Bloomberg News reports. Why? Last year's earthquake and tsunami in Japan cut inventory for most Japanese automakers, reducing the SAAR to less than 12.5 million through most of the summer. SAARs typically are calculated using recent sales history. Analysts expect April sales to hit 14.3 million SAAR, keeping even with 2012's sales rate but outpacing any figure in 2011. Nissan and Chrysler may post the biggest gains, while GM and Honda may decline, analysts told Bloomberg.
- Nissan's Infiniti luxury division expects to sell 200,000 cars globally in its next fiscal year ending March 31, Automotive News reports. That would be up 50,000 cars from the prior year. The brand expects much of the growth to come from China, where Infiniti plans to build more cars beginning in 2014. Nissan CEO Carlos Ghosn told us earlier this month that the automaker wants to move more Infiniti production to the U.S. and China to reduce exposure to a surging yen, but the next-generation Infiniti G — the brand's biggest U.S. seller, built in Japan — will stay there, Infiniti chief Andy Palmer told Automotive News.
- GM and Isuzu could re-enter an alliance, Reuters reports via LeftLane News. GM is interested in buying a 10% stake in the Japanese automaker, which left the U.S. market after the 2008 model year. Toyota and Mitsubishi are among Isuzu's current stakeholders, and VW has an alliance as well.
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