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Daily News Briefs: May 14, 2012

plans to take the last $104.5 million of its federal loans and start repaying them by the end of this year, Bloomberg News reports. It's some much-needed good news for the Obama administration's problematic Advanced Technology Vehicle Manufacturing Loans program, which authorized up to $465 million for the California automaker in June 2009. Last week Tesla announced the Model S sedan, a follow-up to the Roadster, will hit dealerships a month ahead of its original launch date. Tesla will build the Model S at a former Toyota/GM factory in Fremont, Calif., and employ 1,200 to 1,500 employees by year's end, company officials said. The loans, whose rates range from 0.9% to 3.4%, will need to be repaid in the next 10 years, Tesla's chief financial officer told Bloomberg.

In other news:

  • A government study shows 5% of vehicles in a crash had tire problems — and cars with low tire pressure were more than three times as likely to experience a crash linked to those problems, according to The Detroit News.
  • The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration opened an investigation last Thursday on the 2012 Hyundai Elantra after the agency received a complaint of an injury associated with the deployment of a side curtain airbag, Automotive News reports.
  • President Barack Obama may be touting the resurgence of Detroit automakers in his re-election bid, but GM CEO Dan Akerson told graduates at Columbia University that the U.S. political system "is broken," The Detroit News says.
  • With combined U.S. sales up 15% in the first four months of the year, German luxury brands are on the rise, The Detroit News notes — and Detroit luxury brands are losing ground.

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