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Week of Jan. 25, 1999


HN sponsored by Nissan

HN sponsored by Nissan

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VOUCHERS FOR VENTURES?
BEST OF THE BEST
NOT ‘2002NOT’
GRADUATED LICENSING WORKING
CADILLAC HIGH ON SAFETY
FORD POSTS RECORD GAINS
WORKERS SCORE BIG PROFITS
GM SEES STRONG FOURTH QUARTER
EMPLOYEES SUFFER LOSS
DAIMLERCHRYSLER ITCHY TO DEAL
DC MERGES FINANCIAL UNITS
MERCEDES PLANT OPENING DELAYED
ALL-ALUMINUM AUTOS?
WATER POWER
CURBING DRUNK DRIVERS
BOLSTERING BENTLEY


VOUCHERS FOR VENTURES? A Louisiana judge has OK'd a settlement that sees 5.8 million owners of trucks with sidesaddle fuel tanks get $1,000 vouchers they can use toward the purchase of any GM vehicle, excluding Saturns. Owners of C- or K-series trucks built from 1973-87 or R- or V-series trucks built from 1987-91 are covered. Critics of the settlement claimed the side-mounted gas tanks were fire hazards in side-impact crashes (most tanks are mounted in the middle of the frame). But GM had proved that the trucks held their resale value, one reason for the relatively low per-consumer settlement. Attorneys were criticized for the level of their fees — originally $24 million — but have agreed to contribute to a fund to study ways to make the tanks safer.
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BEST OF THE BEST The re-made Volkswagen Beetle earned the “Best Small Car” and “Best of the Best” awards from the PBS weekly automotive show “MOTORWEEK.” Other “bests” announced by host John Davis: Family sedan: Volkswagen Passat V-6; Minivan: Honda Odyssey; Convertible: Mazda Mx-5 Miata; Luxury car: Volvo S80; Peformance Car: Ford Mustang GT; Sports Car: BMW M-Coupe; Family SUV: Jeep Grand Cherokee; Small SUV: Suzuki Grand Vitara; Pickup: Chevrolet Silverado and GMC Sierra; Dream machine: Mercedes-Benz E55.
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NOT ‘2002NOT’ Negative Olympic statements are definitely “poor form” as far as Utah’s Department of Motor Vehicles is concerned. The state agency governing vanity plates has nixed the application of a motorist who wanted "2002NOT" on his vehicle. This, even though the host state of the 2002 Winter Olympics has already issued several pro-Olympic plates, including "OLYMPX" and "5RNGS." The difference? A state official said the application for "2002NOT" was meant to be a protest and a vanity plate is “not a public forum.”
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GRADUATED LICENSING WORKING Graduated licensing —phasing in on-the-road driving privileges — is being credited for reducing fatal and injury crash rates for the youngest drivers. An insurance industry study showed there were 9 percent fewer incidents involving 15- to 17-year-olds in Florida in the first full year of graduated licensing. A type of apprentice system, graduated licensing in some form is in six Canadian provinces and 24 U.S. states.
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CADILLAC HIGH ON SAFETY GM said it will offer a package of high-tech safety options on the 2000 Cadillac DeVille, including an ultrasonic backup device that warns drivers of objects behind the vehicle. Edward J. Zellner, the company’s chief designer for luxury cars, said the device, developed by Robert Bosch, might be bundled with a night driving device previously announced. Cost was not disclosed.
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FORD POSTS RECORD GAINS Ford Motor earned $6.57 billion in 1998, nearly 10 percent more than the year before. It was the 11th consecutive quarter of improved operating earnings, a feat President and CEO Jac Nasser said was due to continuing quality gains, operating efficiencies and customer acceptance. Flattening sales may make future stratospheric gains a challenge. “The trick for us is to continue to improve earnings despite (rising marketing costs),” said John Devine, Ford’s chief financial officer.
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