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Week of December 13, 1999


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1321_image

GM GETS 20 PERCENT OF SUBARU
THE URGE TO MERGE
FEDS WANT TRUNK HANDLES BY 2001
SAFETY IS TOP CONCERN WITH CONSUMERS
AUTOMAKERS AWAIT AIRBAG RULING
CHRYSLERS CRASH BADLY AT NHTSA
ONLINE BUYING NOT ALWAYS A BARGAIN
FORD WANTS TEXAS RULE OVERTURNED
GM SHARE HIT HISTORIC LOW IN NOVEMBER
GM REVAMPS TRUCK PLANT
FORD SAYS GLOBAL WARMING IS REAL
CHILD TRAUMA POSSIBLE AFTER ACCIDENTS
CHRYSLER MINIVAN RULING UPHELD
RUB-A-DUB-DUB (VEE-DUB?)

 

GM GETS 20 PERCENT OF SUBARU General Motors Corp. will spend $1.4 billion to acquire a 20-percent stake in Fuji Heavy Industries, the Japanese manufacturer of Subaru automobiles. The long-rumored move is the latest in a series of steps GM, the world’s largest automaker, has taken to expand its presence in the promising markets of Asia. The acquisition gives GM access to Fuji technology, while offering the Japanese carmaker access to GM’s capital, marketing and technical resources. Fuji will create 164.5 million new shares of stock, making GM its largest single stockholder. In something of a surprise, the deal did not put a General Motors representative on the Fuji board. And, at least for now, the two companies have agreed to limit GM’s equity stake to a maximum 20 percent, to "allow us to maintain management independence," said Fuji President Takeshi Tanaka said during a news conference in Tokyo.

For more on GM and Subaru, click here

 

 

THE URGE TO MERGE As U.S. automakers scramble to gain share in the fast-growing Asian market, both General Motors and Ford are looking at taking over Korean manufacturer Daewoo Motor, which may end up on the auction block soon. Although GM signed a statement of intent to cooperate with Daewoo earlier this year, no agreement has been signed. And last week, Ford executives paid what they termed a friendly visit to Daewoo. GM says it will not sign an agreement with Daewoo until a restructuring plan is in place.

 

 

FEDS WANT TRUNK HANDLES BY 2001 New cars would be required to have release handles inside trunks by 2001 to prevent deaths from entrapment, under a proposal by federal regulators, Reuters reports. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration plan would mandate trunk release mechanisms in new cars by Jan. 1, 2001, but allow automakers to choose what type of handle or device to use. Both General Motors and Ford have announced and have begun installing the handles in several mainstream sedans, including the new 2000 Ford Taurus. Since 1970, at least 1,250 people have been victims in more than 1,100 trunk entrapments, says a coalition pushing for the handles.

 

 

 

SAFETY IS TOP CONCERN WITH CONSUMERS Safety does sell, according to a recent study released by the Insurance Research Council. The council noted that nearly 80 percent of the respondents who purchased vehicles in the last three years rated vehicle safety as important to their purchase. Some 54 percent sought information about specific safety features, such as airbags and anti-lock brakes, while 23 percent checked on crash test data.

 

 

 

AUTOMAKERS AWAIT AIRBAG RULING Automakers are holding their breath as an airbag lawsuit against Honda is being studied by the U.S. Supreme Court. The case alleges that Honda was at fault for not installing airbags that could have prevented injuries, and charges that Honda is at fault for not using airbags at a time when automatic restraints were just beginning to be phased in by the federal government. At risk for the automakers: whether consumers can sue manufacturers under state laws for not installing airbags before the federal government made them mandatory. A ruling is due by the end of June.


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