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Week of May 8, 2000


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THE BIG TWO WANT DAEWOO
PHOENIX BID RISES BMW
GOVERNMENT TO ADD AIRBAG TEST
INITIAL QUALITY FOR 2000
INFLATABLE SEAT BELTS POP UP
MAXX TO BE PRODUCED
BETTER GPS NOW
FORD BONUSES TO BE PAID BY CUSTOMER POLL
RENAULT JOINS FUEL-CELL EFFORT
APRIL SALES STRONG

 

THE BIG TWO WANT DAEWOO General Motors executives early in the week announced GM's intentions to take over South Korea's Daewoo Motor. That makes GM, who sold its 50-percent stake in Daewoo in 1992, the latest to join a bandwagon of bidders that includes Ford, DaimlerChrysler, Fiat, and Hyundai. Later in the week, Ford Motor Company was reportedly pursuing a partnership with South Korea's Hyundai Motor for a takeover of Daewoo Motor. The partnership would likely bump up the price for the other leading bidder, General Motors. A Ford-Hyundai alliance would likely be better accepted by Daewoo workers. Daewoo is set to be auctioned off to the highest bidder by September, but the company's workers want Daewoo to be nationalized, fearing a sale to a foreign firm would move manufacturing elsewhere.

For more on Ford and Hyundai’s eyes on Daewoo, click here


 

PHOENIX BID RISES BMW has announced that it is now reconsidering a deal for Rover with John Towers' Phoenix group, after talks with venture-capital group Alchemy Partners collapsed. BMW had previously turned down an offer from Towers due to inadequate finances. Since then, the British government has made an aid package available that may apply in part to the Phoenix consortium's offer, and according to Britain's The Sunday Times, the group has been backed by mortgage bank Abbey National. BMW has said that if it cannot find a buyer for Rover, then a closure is unavoidable.

 

GOVERNMENT TO ADD AIRBAG TEST In the next week, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) will likely announce a new, low-speed airbag test. The test is in response to recent concerns over child fatalities in low-speed collisions. Some consumer groups want to reinstate a 30-mph airbag test, like the one that the NHTSA lifted from the requirements in 1997, that would better measure the ability of an airbag to protect unrestrained occupants. Since the 1980s, government statistics have shown that airbags have saved about 5000 lives, whereas there have been 158 reported airbag fatalities.

For more on the airbag regs, click here

 

INITIAL QUALITY FOR 2000 J.D. Power and Associates released its annual initial quality survey last week. The 2000 Initial Quality Study, which surveys consumers about problems encountered in their first 90 days of ownership and chooses the most trouble-free models in fourteen categories, places Toyota on top, with thirteen models chosen. Other top ranking marques were Honda and General Motors, both with six models chosen, and DaimlerChrysler, Ford, and Nissan, each with four models chosen. The survey found five percent fewer problems overall than last year.

For more on the Power figures, click here

 

INFLATABLE SEAT BELTS POP UP BF Goodrich has introduced a new inflatable seat belt that may start showing up in cars in about two years. The inflatable belt, which works in conjunction with the airbag system, deploys just before the airbag in order to hold the occupant firmly in position. Normally, the belt looks similar to a traditional fabric seat belt, but when inflated the belt expands to a width of about six inches, helping to reduce the risk of injuries by distributing the force over a greater area of the occupant's chest.


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