Jeep expanding in China
Chrysler Group LLC and its majority owner Fiat SpA of Italy reached a preliminary agreement with joint venture partner Guangzhou Automobile Group Co. to make Jeep sport utility vehicles in China for sale in that market.
The accord would require Chinese national and regional government review, and Jeep would aim to begin sales within two years of approval, said Mike Manley, head of the Jeep division.
Sergio Marchionne, chief executive officer of Chrysler and Fiat, is positioning Jeep as one of the main global brands for both automakers. Marchionne plans to expand Jeep by adding production of its SUVs in China, Russia and Italy.
Jeep is Chrysler’s top-selling worldwide brand. The company is updating three models this year to build on 2012’s global sales record. The 2014 Grand Cherokee, Patriot and Compass SUVs will add newly available transmissions that help boost fuel economy for all three models to as much as 30 miles per gallon in highway driving, Chrysler has said.
Jeep worldwide sales last year climbed 19 percent to 701,626 sport utility vehicles. The brand topped its previous record of 675,494 set in 1999. U.S. deliveries totaled 474,131 in 2012, accounting for 68 percent of total Jeep sales.
Renault plans to lay off 7,500
French automaker Renault will eliminate 7,500 positions through 2016 to reduce costs as Europe’s auto market is forecast to sink for a sixth straight year.
Renault will cut 5,700 of the jobs during that period through attrition, the company said.
Renault Chief Executive Officer Carlos Ghosn said the European market will drop 3 percent this year. Renault isn’t planning any factory closings in France, Ghosn said.
U.S. inflation under control
Wholesale prices fell for the third month in a row last month, pushed down by falling food and gas costs. The drop is the latest evidence inflation is tame.
The producer price index dropped 0.2 percent in December, the Labor Department said Tuesday. That follows a decline of 0.8 percent in November.
The index measures price changes before they reach the consumer. Wholesale prices rose 1.3 percent in 2012, much lower than the 4.7 percent increase in 2011.
Excluding the volatile food and energy categories, core wholesale prices ticked up 0.1 percent in December. They rose 2 percent in 2012, below a 3 percent increase in 2011.
Food prices fell 0.9 percent in December, the biggest drop in 19 months.
Walmart vows to hire vets
Wal-Mart Stores Inc. pledged to hire all honorably discharged U.S. veterans and buy an additional $50 billion in U.S. products in the coming decade. The initiative to offer jobs to veterans within a year of coming off active duty could result in about 100,000 hires in the next five years.
Krispy Kreme goes on defense
Krispy Kreme Doughnuts Inc., whose shares have jumped this year amid speculation it’s an acquisition target, adopted measures to discourage investors from buying 5 percent or more of the company’s stock.
The plan is meant to protect against an inadvertent change of ownership, which would limit the way the company’s previous operating losses and other credits could be applied to future taxes, Krispy Kreme said. The company said it had about $240 million of federal net operating loss “carry-forwards” as of January 2012.
Krispy Kreme has become a potential takeover target since Chief Executive Officer James Morgan boosted sales with an expanded menu that includes oatmeal, fruit juice and smoothies.
The plan, which would dilute the stake of potential acquirers, amounts to a so-called poison pill to help protect against takeovers, Conrad Lyon, an analyst at B. Riley & Co., said.
The chain’s quarterly sales have risen for more than two years. Sales could increase 7.6 percent to $434 million in the fiscal year ending this month, which would be the highest since fiscal 2007.
Consumer agency has deputy
Melissa Yost, senior counsel with the Office of the Ohio Consumers’ Counsel, was appointed Deputy Consumers’ Counsel on Tuesday. OCC is the state residential utility advocate. Yost joined the OCC as an attorney in 2005. In her current position, she had administrative responsibilities that included service as OCC’s ethics officer and providing advocacy in cases and advice to Consumers’ Counsel Bruce Weston, who was named to the lead post in March 2012 and kept his role as deputy.
Compiled from staff and wire reports