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Week of January 31, 2000


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DC CHAIRMAN EATON TO RETIRE
DC DOESN’T EXPECT TOP RATING FOR MINIVAN
JEEP CHEROKEE PRODUCTION EXTENDED
DC, FIAT RUMORS SPROUT ANEW
AIRBAG TESTING CHANGES LIKELY
AMERICAN LUXURY LOSING POPULARITY
GM, DEALERS KISS AND MAKE UP
ABT: NO MORE MIDDLEMAN
DEALERS FIGHTING ONLINE SALES
GM MERGES CARS, TRUCKS
KOREANS READY FOR BATTLE
FORD REPORTS 1999 EARNINGS

 

DC CHAIRMAN EATON TO RETIRE DaimlerChrysler Co-Chairman Bob Eaton announced his retirement at a meeting of the company’s top management in Auburn Hills, Mich., on Wednesday. When the two companies merged in 1998, Eaton said that he would retire within three years. The announcement comes just four months after Eaton’s protégé Thomas Stallkamp was shown the door by Co-Chairman Juergen Schrempp. Eaton, 59, departs on March 31 after seven years with the company. Prior to joining DaimlerChrysler, Eaton spent 29 years at General Motors, most recently as president of GM Europe.

For more on Eaton’s retirement, click here

 

DC DOESN’T EXPECT TOP RATING FOR MINIVAN DaimlerChrysler doesn’t expect its new minivan, unveiled at the Detroit Auto Show, to receive the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s (NHTSA) five-star crash-test rating. John MacDonald, senior VP of sales and service, told dealers at the NADA Convention that not receiving NHTSA’s top rating represents a "huge miscalculation" by the company, according to Tuesday’s Wall Street Journal. Steve Rossi, a DC spokesman, said that the company had yet to perform crash tests on the new minivan, but that it will "represent an advancement in safety" over the current model. The current minivan received four stars in front crash-tests, while side tests yielded five stars for front occupants and just three stars for rear seat passengers. NHTSA said it would not test the new minivan, due out in September, until this fall at the earliest.

For more on the minivan’s safety issues, click here

 

JEEP CHEROKEE PRODUCTION EXTENDED Record 1999 sales have resulted in an extended production run for the Jeep Cherokee at DaimlerChrysler’s Toledo, Ohio factory. "We have a unique opportunity to continue product of the current Cherokee while we ready a new plant for production of a future Jeep model," said Martin Levine, head of the Jeep division. The new Cherokee, slated for production in spring 2001, will be built at the brand new Toledo-North facility. Some are speculating that the extension gives Jeep some time to consider the carlike look and feel of the Cherokee’s replacement, and whether it should be sold under a different nameplate.

For the story behind the nine-lives Cherokee, click here

 

DC, FIAT RUMORS SPROUT ANEW Merger mania isn’t over yet — or, at least, the speculation isn’t. An Italian newspaper reported Wednesday that DaimlerChrysler and Fiat were nearing a stock-swap agreement that would leave DC in control of Fiat’s auto group. Neither company would comment on the report, although DaimlerChrysler has said previously that it has talked with Fiat, PSA Peugeot Citroen and Honda about the possibility of a joint venture to offer its new small car.

 

AIRBAG TESTING CHANGES LIKELY The National Transportation Safety Board has recommended that a lower-speed crash test be used to certify airbags. A 30-mph crash test with unbelted dummies was previously used. The test has not been required for the last two model years, after concerns that it was forcing manufacturers to install airbags so powerful that they were causing deaths in unbelted children and short adults. The board’s recent comments basically agree with those of automakers, which say that airbags should be designed first to ensure no harm to children and second to protect occupants who are wearing seat belts.


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