Bush defends bailouts, Toyota boosts profits and Mercedes dials 911 in the Dash
What we're reading this morning in the Motoramic Dash about a lack of regret from a former president, a bumper crop of profits from a foreign automaker and a start-up struggling to meet its targets:
Bush on auto bailouts: "I'd do it again" [Detroit News] In a rare public comment, former president George W. Bush told a convention of auto dealers that he's confident he made the right decision to loan money to Chrysler and General Motors to prevent their collapse at the end of his term. Bush said the call was influenced by top economic advisors and Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke, who warned that unemployment could spike if both companies faltered at the same time: "I didn't want there to be 21 percent unemployment."
Brisk U.S. sales lift Toyota's profit forecast [New York Times] Toyota says based on the strength of new models like the Prius V in the United States, it expects to make 200 billion yen, or $2.6 billion, in its fiscal 2012. It now has a Mississippi plant building Corollas running on two shifts — a tough harbinger for the small-car plans of Detroit automakers. Meanwhile, U.S. execs told Toyota dealers in Las Vegas to expect 19 new models this year.
Fisker stops work on factory as access to loans frozen [Bloomberg] Plug-in electric hybrid luxury car maker Fisker laid off 26 workers at its Delaware site and stopped work on the plant where it wants to build its next model, saying it hadn't met targets to receive additional money under its $529 million loan from the U.S.
UAW chief to join board of GM's troubled Opel unit [Reuters] General Motors is expected to put Bob King, the president of the United Auto Workers, on the board of its loss-riddled Opel unit in March, per German newspaper Handelsblatt. It's common for union leaders to have a board seat in Germany — but more importantly for GM, King would give the company a somewhat friendly face when dealing with a German union that would prefer to be working for a different company.
Merc to give 911 rival green light [Autocar] According to the British pub Autocar, Mercedes has approved plans for its AMG unit to build a smaller two-seat sports car that would directly target the Porsche 911, with power coming from a 500-hp, twin-turbo V8. Your move, BMW.
Top photo: Mark Webber drives the Red Bull Racing RB8, successor to last year's dominating Formula 1 car, onto a track in Spain for its first test. Getty Photos.