JUNE SALES STAY HOT
BUICK CITY TURNS OUT THE LIGHTS
GM BUYS INTO HUMMER
EPA WANTS CLEAN-AIR RULES BACK
DC SAYS MINIVANS ARE SAFE
FEDS LOOK INTO GM TRUCKS
FORD RECALLS CONTOUR/MYSTIQUE
DC REVAMPS STYLING DEPARTMENT
IT'S CURTAINS FOR 3000GT, CUTLASS
GHOSN TAKES RENAULT TO NISSAN
KELLER GOES TO PRICELINE
AUTO DOCS CHARGED WITH FRAUD
ROVERS HEAD FOR KOSOVO
ROADKILL GETS LICENSE PLATE
JUNE SALES STAY HOT GM and Ford lead the roster of automakers reporting ever-higher sales in June. While DaimlerChrysler last week reported its car sales slowed in June by 13.9 percent, GM says its car sales jumped 1.6 percent. Ford cars surged ahead of last year's pace by 10.6 percent. The good news wasn't limited to the wholly American firms: every European automaker showed higher U.S. car sales increase in June as well. Japanese brands fared better when trucks were figured in: Toyota, Honda, and Nissan reported total vehicle sales gains of 4.9, 1.6 and 4.8 percent, respectively.
BUICK CITY TURNS OUT THE LIGHTS A 95-year history of carmaking came to an end last week as GM closed its Buick assembly plant in Flint, Michigan. In 1997, GM announced it would close the plant and either retire or transfer the plant's 1,400 workers remaining. Some 200 temporary workers were fired as a result of the closure. The Buick City plant assembled Buick LeSabre and Pontiac Bonneville sedans; those vehicles are being switched to GM facilities in Orion Township and Hamtramck, Michigan, in the wake of the closure. GM is currently negotiating with the city of Lansing, Michigan, to build a new luxury-vehicle assembly plant for future Cadillacs.
GM BUYS INTO HUMMER While its sedan business is tightening its belt, GM's truck wizards have tapped into the marketing mystique of the AM General Hummer by purchasing marketing rights to the civilian version of the military vehicle. Last week, GM and AM General announced that the world's biggest automaker would buy the right to use the Hummer brand name worldwide, while AM General would continue to build the vehicles at the Mishawaka, Indiana, assembly plant. GM will take over marketing and distributing the commercial version of the Hummer through its dealers next year. As recently as two weeks ago, AM General had purchased the rights and machinery for the Hummer's 6.5-liter diesel engine from GM.
EPA WANTS CLEAN-AIR RULES BACK The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency will appeal a recent federal court ruling that rolled back the next stage of cleaner-air legislation, which was due to be phased in starting in 2003. In May, a three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit ruled 2-1 that the EPA had been awarded overly broad powers in defining the new air-pollution rules, which would further restrict the soot and ozone-related emissions from cars and trucks. The courts are expected to respond to the appeal by the end of July.
DC SAYS MINIVANS ARE SAFE DaimlerChrysler is again defending its minivans as safe in the wake of a European study that gave the vans an "appalling zero rating" in a front impact crash test. In a test of eight "people carriers" under the European New Car Assessment Program (NCAP), the Chrysler Voyager received a two-star rating overall and a zero for frontal-impact protection. DaimlerChrysler responded that it will study the results, but also answered that the high-speed frontal crash — which less than 1 percent of drivers would experience on the road — did not reflect the vehicle's overall safety. The Renault Espace received the best safety rating of four stars in the test, along with the Toyota Picnic.