GM's European division had a net loss of $600 million in the final four months of last year.
GM, which emerged from bankruptcy in 2010, also announced plans to freeze traditional defined-benefit pensions for about 19,000 U.S. salaried workers hired before 2001 and move to more cost-effective defined-contribution 401(k) retirement plans.
The change takes effect in October, when the approximately 26,000 U.S. salaried white-collar employees get one extra week of vacation.
Obama mea culpa
When President Obama dropped by the Washington Auto Show a few weeks ago he spent all his time with U.S. manufacturers even though foreign carmakers were on hand.
Last week, Obama gave a nod to foreign companies that build millions of vehicles in the United States and employ tens of thousands of U.S. workers.
During a speech at Master Lock in Milwaukee Thursday, Obama praised Japan's Honda Motor Co. for investing $98 million in its Anna, Ohio, engine and transmission plant. In January 2011, Honda committed to nearly $800 million in U.S. investments to create more than 1,200 new jobs in Ohio, Alabama and Indiana.
The Obama administration -- which wants to see 1 million advanced technology vehicles on U.S. roads by 2015 -- has proposed hiking the tax credit for buying an electric vehicle to $10,000 from the current $7,500 maximum. The proposal would also expand the federal tax credit for purchasers of other advanced technology vehicles that run on alternative fuels.
The changes are part of Obama's fiscal 2013 budget plan, which is expected to meet tough resistance in Congress in an election year.
The tax credit would be gradually phased out by 2020.
Advance sales of Tesla Model X begin
Tesla, a Fremont, Calif., electric car maker, began taking orders for its all-new electric crossover, the Model X.
The vehicle, about the size of an Audi Q7 SUV, seats seven and is expected to be faster than a Porsche 911 Carrera sports car. Tesla estimates the performance version of the Model X will be able to hit 60 mph in less than 5 seconds.
Tesla hopes to build 10,000 to 15,000 of the sleek crossovers annually beginning at the end of 2013. Model X will feature dual all-wheel drive with the option of a 60 kilowatt or 80 kwh battery, but there was no estimate how far it can go between charges.
Gas mileage improving
With predictions of $4-a-gallon gasoline returning by summer, the University of Michigan Transportation Research Institute reports mileage of new vehicles sold in the United States in January averaged 23 mph, tying the record average monthly fuel economy for new cars, light trucks, minivans and SUVs set last March.
It was a 4 percent improvement from December.
Average sales per dealership as reported by the Detroit retail consulting firm Urban Science could reach 785 vehicles in 2011, up from 719 in 2011.
The company said the total number of U.S. auto dealerships rose by 100 last year, to 17,767, despite the loss of Ford's Mercury brand. Fiat added 135 dealers and Chrysler-Jeep-Dodge-Ram opened 50 more dealerships.
"To put this into perspective, in a normal year we see a 2 percent decline in the number of dealerships nationwide, which makes an increase, even a small one, very unusual," Urban Science Vice President John Firth told the Detroit Free Press.
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