NEWS News Briefs: March 29, 2012

  • Fighting a strengthening yen, Honda will build its Fit hatchback in Mexico for the U.S. and other markets, Automotive News reports. The automaker plans to build the Fit, whose sales improved 9% in 2011, near Celaya, Guanajuato; it’s about 165 miles northwest of Mexico City. U.S. Fits are currently built in Japan. Honda broke ground on the facility last year but didn’t disclose which car it would build. Honda expects operations to begin in 2014, with 3,200 employees and an annual capacity of 200,000 cars.
  • Bloomberg Businessweek reports Chrysler dealers want to continue financing car loans through Ally Financial amid reports the automaker may consider dropping Ally as its preferred lender in 2013. Chrysler generates more than $25 billion in auto loans each year, sources told Bloomberg. GM may consider buying Ally to make it a captive lender. That’d be a full-circle return, given Ally used to be GM’s own GMAC. The move would require Chrysler to look elsewhere for a preferred lender, dealer council president David Kelleher told Bloomberg. Ally financed 29% of cars bought at Chrysler dealerships last year and nearly two-thirds of dealer inventory.
  • Smartphone streaming navigation has arrived with GM’s GogoLink. The Detroit News reports the automaker will offer the smartphone application, which we reported earlier, in Spark and Sonic subcompacts equipped with its MyLink touch-screen. GogoLink will cost less than $50 and include traffic alerts, GM said. Drivers can download the app to stream navigation from their smartphones to MyLink’s 7-inch screen.
  • Chrysler President Sergio Marchionne said the automaker’s failure to secure Department of Energy loans for retooling, which it announced last month won’t affect its business targets, cost progress and jobs. Marchionne told The Detroit News the Energy Department offered terms that would require him to “mortgage my future, and it wasn’t worth it.” Chrysler still plans to hire more than 2,000 employees in Michigan during the next two years, however.

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