A RECORD-BUILDING YEAR FOR
TOYOTA MAKES A MILLION
DC EARNINGS HIT A PEAK
GAS HITS DECADE HIGH
FORD, CHEVY GET 70+MPG
MERCURY, VOLVO TO GET QUASI-UTE?
HONDA, SATURN GET FOUR STARS
RENAULT FANCIES SAMSUNG
MAZDA EYES EURO OUTPUT
NEW CENTURY, NEW RECALLS
A RECORD-BUILDING YEAR FOR AUTOMAKERS Last year’s North American vehicle output was the best ever, according to figured released by the industry data kings at Ward’s Automotive Reports. North American automakers put together 17.62 million vehicles in 1999, up 9.9 percent from last year. In the U.S. alone, production of more than 13 million units bested the 1978 record of 12.9 million cars and trucks. With 1999 sales figures coming in later this week, the industry is charging into the 2000 Detroit auto show having sold nearly 17 million vehicles in the U.S. last year, beating the old record of 16 million units in 1986.
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TOYOTA MAKES A
MILLION Vehicles, that is. For the first time ever, Toyota built more than 1
million cars, trucks, minivans and sport-utes in North America. Japan’s
number-one brand assembled just slightly more than 1,061,000 vehicles this year
in its four plants in Canada and the U.S. Just last week, Toyota confirmed that
it will expand its nearly-new Gibson, Indiana, facility to add even more
capacity — bringing its total in Indiana to 300,000 vehicles each
DC EARNINGS HIT A PEAK DaimlerChrysler AG says it
generated $149 billion in revenue in 1999, boosting its annual gain from 1998 by
12 percent. Most of the gains were made from better sales at Mercedes-Benz and
Chrysler, with even the costly Smart project beginning to show signs of life. DC
sold 80,000 Smart cars last year, far below initial projections of 130,000
vehicles, but the new Mercedes-Benz S-Class (and its much higher profit margin)
is off to a strong start.
GAS HITS DECADE HIGH Just in time for the holiday’s
record travel, gasoline prices hit a record as well. The average price for a
gallon of unleaded was $1.273 a gallon, the highest in a decade for the holiday
season — and some 33 cents a gallon more than last year during the same time.
While the Department of Energy, which released the figures, showed that the
price of gas had only gone up about a penny since the previous week’s $1.269 a
gallon, it noted last year’s price per gallon was only 93.7 cents. Take heart,
East Coasters: on the West Coast it’s even worse, with drivers paying about a
dime more per gallon.
FORD, CHEVY GET 70+ MPG Both Ford and Chevrolet are hopping on the ultra-fuel bandwagon for the upcoming Detroit auto show. Last week, both brands announced concept vehicles that, through the miracles of lightweight construction and diesel-powered hybrid drivetrains, get more than 70 mpg. The Ford Prodigy checks in at just 2387 lb, but rivals the size of the 2000 Taurus, which weighs about 1000 pounds more. It’s expected to lend some technology to Ford’s first all-aluminum vehicle, slated for a 2002 debut (read more on the Mercury/Volvo crossover vehicle below). For its part, Chevrolet is prepping the Precept, a more radical high-fueler that has attained nearly 80 mpg in testing. Both vehicles will be unveiled during press days at the auto show, which begin Jan. 10.
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