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Week of October 4, 1999


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FUEL ECONOMY FALLS
GM, DELPHI SETTLE
SALES SPECTACULAR
ZARRELLA FORECASTS
GM TO BUY DEALERS
CARORDER.COM ALSO BUYING
AUTONATION SPINOFF
MAZDA FINED
GM FIRE SETTLEMENT
AUTO TRADE DEFICIT GROWS
TOYOTA ON NYSE
ROVER BACK IN THE BLACK?
FIAT STILL DENYING RUMORS

 

FUEL ECONOMY FALLS The Honda Insight, the first gasoline/electric hybrid sold in the United States, topped the list as America’s most fuel-efficient automobile, according to a new report by the Environmental Protection Agency. The Insight, which goes on sale in December — and which is reviewed in this week’s edition of The Car Connection — gets 61 mpg in the city and 70 mpg highway. It was the most fuel efficient of 800 vehicles tested by the EPA. But overall, the agency noted that the fuel economy of the typical American motor vehicle has fallen to the lowest level since 1980, during the last energy crisis. The agency blamed that on bigger, more powerful motors, and America’s love of the light truck. The Land Rover Range Rover anchored the bottom of the EPA’s SUV list, getting just 12 mpg city, 15 mpg highway. The Ferrari 550 Maranello came in at 8/13 mpg, and was one of 20 vehicles subject to the federal gas-guzzler tax.

For more on what the plunge in fuel economy could mean for the future, click here.
For a list of the Best and Worst vehicles, by category, click here.
For a review of the Honda Insight, click here.

 

 

GM, DELPHI SETTLE Just one more to go. The United Auto Workers union wrapped up an unusually docile round of bargaining with General Motors Corp. last week, lining up an unusual four-year contract patterned after the settlement with DaimlerChrysler AG. The swift settlement at GM came as something of a surprise in light of last year’s 54-day walkout, which virtually shut down the automaker’s North American automotive operations. GM Chairman "Jack Smith and the people who run this company have been making a concerted effort to improve the relationship," declared UAW President Stephen Yokich. The average assembly line worker can expect an extra $29,900 in wage increases, bonuses and holidays over the next four years, as a result of the settlement. The new GM contract was rubber-stamped by Delphi Automotive Systems, the parts subsidiary spun off by General Motors last spring. The UAW had pressed both companies hard for job guarantees, and they both agreed not to spin off any operations or close factories over the life of the contract. The union will now try to make that language stick as it focuses its attention on Ford Motor Co. The No. 2 automaker intends to press the UAW to let it sell off its Visteon auto parts subsidiary. That dispute could make this round of talks the most difficult, many observers fear.

 

For a closer look at the GM and Delphi settlements and the talks at Ford, click here.

 

 

SALES SPECTACULAR The auto industry is still on track to set a record year. Though several automakers had yet to report their latest numbers, sales for September appeared to be running at close to an 18 million annualized rate. Most industry analysts expect the final tally to reach a bit over 17.2 million, well above the previous record set back in 1986. "These are good times, declared Roy Roberts, General Motors Corp. group vice president of North America vehicle sales, service and marketing. GM posted an 8.5-percent overall gain last month, with a big surge in light-truck sales offsetting a decline on the passenger-car side. Sales on the Chrysler side of DaimlerChrysler AG rose 7 percent overall, with both cars and trucks posting gains. Toyota set a record for the month, while Nissan, Mitsubishi and Subaru, among the other Japanese makers, also posted double-digit increases. On the European side, Mercedes-Benz sales rose 9 percent, while Volkswagen continued scoring with its hot lineup. With Beetle sales nearly double for the month, VW’s overall sales for September increased 52 percent.


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