Week of May 15, 2000

May 15, 2000

FORD'S SUV CONSCIENCE
CHANGES HIT HARD AT FORD'S UK OPERATIONS
NEW AIRBAG RULES MEET MIXED REVIEWS
NEW OLD BEETLES
TOYOTA TO MAKE AMERICAN V-8
GM HIRES RENAULT DESIGNER
ROVER SAVED!
FORD'S THINK GOES WEST
NORWEGIAN STRIKE ENDS
KANSAS HOME FOR NEW GM SMALL-CAR
GM: NO DAEWOO CLOSURES

 

FORD'S SUV CONSCIENCE Ford has for the first time admitted that its popular SUVs may cloud its desired image of environmental responsibility. Ford's current chairman, William Clay Ford, Jr., said that there are conflicts between company business practices, consumer choices, and views of sustainability, and that the automaker is trying to implement short-term measures and meet long-term environmental goals. Ford's Explorer is the best-selling SUV, and the Ford F-series is the best-selling pickup in the U.S. The even larger, recently introduced Excursion SUV has been criticized since its introduction as being too heavy and using too much fuel.

 

CHANGES HIT HARD AT FORD'S UK OPERATIONS Ford has announced that it will close its Dagenham assembly plant in early 2002. The closure, which will affect 1900 jobs, comes after Ford cut 1350 jobs at the Dagenham assembly plant in February, and recent industry rumors had suggested more job cuts. Ford will, however, spend more than $600 million to retool Dagenham for diesel engines. About 340 commercial vehicle personnel will be moved from the U.S. to Britain, and Ford will hire 240 diesel engineers. Ahead of Friday's announcement, CEO Jac Nasser only revealed that the Dagenham site will remain important to Ford's European operations.

 

NEW AIRBAG RULES MEET MIXED REVIEWS The NHTSA released new airbag regulations for the 2004 model year, primarily designed to increase protection for children and small adults. The new rules require a 25-mph barrier crash. Until 1997, when many manufacturers introduced lower-power airbags to prevent airbag-related injuries, the NHTSA required a 30-mph barrier test for airbags. Automakers and insurers say that the new, slower-speed airbag test will better protect children from overly forceful airbags, but consumer groups say that a 25-mph test will not show if the depowered airbags will adequately protect larger-size, unbelted adults in higher-speed impacts. The new test will be phased in over the next three years.

 

NEW OLD BEETLES Beginning this fall, an Arizona-based company will reintroduce old-style VW Beetles to the U.S. market. Nostalgia Motorcars plans to sell about 10,000 of the $12,500 Mexican-built Beetles, modified to meet U.S. crash and emissions standards, per year. The original Beetles have not been sold in the country since 1979.

 

TOYOTA TO MAKE AMERICAN V-8 Toyota has announced intentions to start building V-8 engines in North America within the next five years, according to Automotive News. Until last year, V-8 engines were only offered in niche models such as Lexus sedans and SUVs, but new demand from Tundra pickups and upcoming Sequoia SUVs makes a North American V-8 plant sensible.

 

GM HIRES RENAULT DESIGNER General Motors has hired a highly acclaimed Renault designer, 37-year-old Ann Asensio, as a new design director. Asensio is best known at Renault for her creation of the Renault Scenic small minivan, which has been a top seller and brand rejuvenator in Europe over the past several years.

For more on Anne Asensio, click here

 

ROVER SAVED! BMW late Tuesday accepted a bid from Britain's Phoenix consortium to sell its struggling Rover operations. Phoenix will pay ten pounds ($16) for Rover, and BMW, who has already lost $4.1 billion invested in Rover, will lend Phoenix $765 million to help restore Rover to profitability. The group says that it plans to build three Rover models, including the upcoming 75 mid-size luxury model. MG cars will likely be produced, too. Phoenix plans to lay off no more than 1000 of the 8500 workers at Rover's Longbridge plant, and said it is currently seeking collaborations with other automakers.

For more on the Rover deal, click here

 

FORD'S THINK GOES WEST Ford's electric-vehicle team, called the Think Group, will move to San Diego County, California, from Michigan later this year. The Think Group would join Mazda and Mercury as Ford's third division located in Irvine, California. Lincoln is also tentatively planning to move to the California offices, and pending a Ford purchase, Irvine may also be the new home of Land Rover's North American operations.

 

NORWEGIAN STRIKE ENDS Nearly 85,000 striking Norwegian workers returned to work after unions reached settlement on a national labor issue. The return to normal production for affected Norwegian auto parts makers will save several BMW and Volvo plants from shutdown, although Saab's Trollhattan assembly plant has already stopped production.

 

KANSAS HOME FOR NEW GM SMALL-CAR General Motors has chosen the Fairfax assembly plant in Kansas City, Kansas, for building its next-generation small cars. The new Epsilon platform will spawn new iterations of the Chevrolet Malibu, Pontiac Grand Am, Oldsmobile Alero, Saturn L-series, Saab 9-3, and Opel Vectra, although only the Malibu and Grand Am are set to be assembled at the Fairfax plant.

 

 

GM: NO DAEWOO CLOSURES In response to fears among Korean workers that a foreign purchase of Daewoo would lead to plant shutdowns and mass layoffs, General Motors has stated that it has no plans to close Daewoo operations, and that it wants to continue its operations as a separate marque. General Motors is one of several companies that have expressed interest in bidding for the troubled South Korean automaker in past weeks. Daewoo started as a GM joint venture in 1978, although GM sold its remaining share of the company in 1992.

2019
The Car Connection
See the winners »
2019
The Car Connection
Commenting is closed for this article
 
Ratings and Reviews
Rate and review your car for The Car Connection
Review your car
The Car Connection Daily Headlines
I agree to receive emails from the site. I can withdraw my consent at any time by unsubscribing.
Thank you! Please check your email for confirmation.