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Week of July 24, 2000


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REPORT SAYS SOME SUVS HIGHLY LIKELY TO ROLL OVER
FORD AND SHELBY GO AFTER REPLICAS
SAAB ROADSTER GETS GO-AHEAD
GM BUYS HONDA ENGINES FOR SATURN
BELVIDERE MAY MAKE CRUISER
NAVIGATION SYSTEMS DISTRACTING
GM EARNINGS UP
DC GOES AHEAD WITH NEXT-GENERATION A-CLASS
FORD POSTS LOSS DESPITE HIGHER REVENUES
DC BUYS DETROIT DIESEL
NISSAN EXPANDS TENNESSEE PLANTS

 

REPORT SAYS SOME SUVS HIGHLY LIKELY TO ROLL OVER A scalding report in USA Today last Monday provided mathematical analysis of U.S.-market sport-utility vehicles, and alleges that some of the SUVs are dangerous due to inherent instabilities. USA Today used the analysis of management consultant Joe Kimmel, called the K Index, to calculate rollover risk for 189 year-2000 vehicles. The Center for Auto Safety has called the system better than what the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has proposed to calculate rollover risk. Kimmel's analysis, which takes into account the vehicles dimensions and weight, found the Chevrolet Tracker, Suzuki Vitara, and Toyota RAV4 to be most likely to roll, with an expected rollover in four out of every ten accidents. Rollover crashes kill one out of every four people who die in auto accidents.

 

FORD AND SHELBY GO AFTER REPLICAS Ford Motor Company and Shelby American have launched a lawsuit against Massachusetts-based Factory Five Racing. The lawsuit alleges trademark infringement, dilution, and unfair competition, stemming from Factory Five's unlicensed sales of more than 1000 Shelby 427 S/C replicas. Shelby accuses the company of presenting the models as originals, without enough variation from the original model to be considered different. This lawsuit, according to Shelby American, is the first of several aimed at knock-off manufacturers.

 

SAAB ROADSTER GETS GO-AHEAD General Motors has approved a new Saab roadster, says Ward's Auto Reports. The car will probably share its platform, based on the upcoming Epsilon platform, with the next-generation 9-3. Saab's new design head, Michael Mauer, will be responsible for the car's look.

 

GM BUYS HONDA ENGINES FOR SATURN General Motors has signed a powertrain-purchasing agreement with Honda Motor Company. Under the agreement, starting in 2003 Honda will supply GM with 90,000 low-emissions V-6 engines with automatic transmissions per year. Under a previous agreement, in return Honda will purchase diesel engines from Isuzu, a GM affiliate. Honda will reportedly supply the engines to GM for a five-year period. GM plans to use the Honda engines in an upcoming Saturn model.

 

BELVIDERE MAY MAKE CRUISER Ward's Auto World reports that DaimlerChrysler is considering its Belvidere, Illinois, Assembly Plant for additional PT Cruiser production, so that the company can better satisfy demand for the car. The plant currently assembles the Neon, which shares the same basic platform as the PT Cruiser. DC currently assembles all PT Cruisers at its plant in Toluca, Mexico, although next summer its Graz, Austria, plant will start to produce an additional 50,000 units per year.

 

NAVIGATION SYSTEMS DISTRACTING The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has spoken out against the use of in-car navigation devices in moving vehicles because the systems are too distracting. The federal agency says that systems with visual displays and keypads are especially dangerous. A study by the agency showed that nearly 90 percent of drivers swerved out of their lane while using keypad-operated navigation systems, as compared to 20 percent while tuning a radio and seven percent while using a cell phone. The NHTSA has recently released figures that attribute about a quarter of all crashes in the U.S. to driver distraction, and the group warns about the distraction hazards of a growing number of in-car, high-technology gadgets.


 
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