PT CRUISER MIXED BAG IN CRASH
FORD TO CLEAN UP SUVS
FOCUSING ON THE WORLD
LEASE LENDERS LOSING
BECKER TO HEAD BMW SMALL CARS
GM AND FORD INTERESTED IN PROTON
AUTOMAKERS PROPOSE DISTRACTION GUIDELINES
HYUNDAI CONFIRMS PLANS FOR N. AMERICA AND EUROPE
MERCEDES-BENZ TO EXPORT CARS FROM S. AFRICA
INTEREST IN ROVER
BP TO PHASE OUT AMOCO
CHRYSLER PROFITS DOWN
FIRESTONE HOT SUIT
AUTONATION EARNINGS LOWER THAN EXPECTED
PT CRUISER MIXED BAG IN CRASH TESTS The DaimlerChrysler PT Cruiser received mixed ratings for crash protection in a recent National Highway Traffic Safety (NHTSA) test, said the agency. The PT Cruiser scored (on a five-star scale, with five being highest) two stars and four stars, respectively, for driver and passenger protection in frontal collisions. In the side-impact test, the PT Cruiser received four stars for front occupants and five stars for rear occupants. The frontal tests are conducted at 35 miles per hour into a fixed barrier, while the side tests involve a 3015-pound barrier moving at 37.5 miles per hour crashing into a stationary test vehicle.
For more information on the PT Cruiser’s crash-test rating, click here.
FORD TO CLEAN UP SUVS Ford Motor Company announced a commitment to increase the fuel economy of its sport-utility vehicle models by 25 percent over the next four years. The 2005 calendar-year goal covers the Land Rover, Ford, Mercury, and Lincoln brands. Chairman Jac Nasser said that the program, termed "Cleaner, Safer, Sooner," is a positive strategy in a market that is reflecting more consumer-driven environmental responsibility. The automaker plans to achieve the fuel economy increases through powertrain revisions, lighter-weight materials, and improved aerodynamics.
For more information on Ford’s green plans, click here.
FOCUSING ON THE WORLD By
Ford's calculations, the Ford Focus has now become the world's best-selling car.
However, industry analysts say that Americans will not be hearing Ford touting
its achievement in ads because it conflicts with the selling points of the
Focus, such as individuality and attitude. Ford sold about 228,000 Focuses
during the period from December through April, a figure that beats the
previously top-selling car in the world, the Volkswagen Golf, by about 24,000
LEASE LENDERS LOSING Banks
and leasing companies are reportedly reporting massive losses due to the slowing
economy and overly optimistic estimates on residual values of leased
sport-utility vehicles, although automakers themselves are not reporting such
losses. The reason is attributed to the fact that while automakers make money on
the vehicle, lending institutions must make money on the lease. Recently, the
used-car market has become flooded with off-lease SUVs.
BECKER TO HEAD BMW SMALL
CARS Germany's BMW AG has appointed its purchasing chief, Wilhelm Becker, to
be the new strategic manager for the 3-Series line and the upcoming smaller car
likely to be called the 2-Series. The new model, to go on sale in 2004, will
likely be assembled at a new plant in Eastern Europe.
GM AND FORD INTERESTED IN
PROTON According to Bloomberg News and the newspaper Utusan Malaysia,
both Ford Motor Company and General Motors have expressed interest in Malaysia's
Perusahaan Otomobil Nasional, known as Proton. Mitsubishi currently owns 16
percent of the Malaysian automaker.
DISTRACTION GUIDELINES In response to recent government recommendations on
driver distraction, automakers have voluntarily proposed uniform limitations on
the type of interfaces for high-tech devices that are installed in cars. The
Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers has stressed the importance of guidelines,
although the group says that consumers want more of these high-tech devices,
such as navigation systems and personal computers. Although the automakers
solutions tend to suggest a move to voice-activated devices, the NHTSA claims
that the cognitive distraction is just as bad as a manual one.
HYUNDAI CONFIRMS PLANS FOR N.
AMERICA AND EUROPE Hyundai Motor Company has confirmed that it intends to
build assembly plants in both North America and Europe. The automaker said that
it is currently investigating possible plant locations and trade conflicts. The
Korean automaker aims to double sales in both markets over the next five years,
but in order to achieve that goal the company will need more production
capacity, preferably in the markets.
MERCEDES-BENZ TO EXPORT CARS
FROM S. AFRICA According to Ward's Automotive International,
Mercedes-Benz will soon start assembling right-hand-drive C-Class sedans, for
the Asian and U.K. markets, in East London, South Africa. The automaker already
assembles a limited number of C-Class cars for the local market and for
Australia, although the company has been hesitant about quality, which now
appears on par with other plants. Starting in September, production will be
boosted to 40,000 vehicles per year.
INTEREST IN ROVER
According to Bloomberg News, a car company outside of Europe has proposed a
partnership with Britain's Rover Cars. London's Financial Times reported that
the partnership would result in replacements for its current model range. Rover
is currently in search of a partner to help reduce costs and share platforms,
and the automaker has set a March 2001 deadline to find a suitable alliance or
BP TO PHASE OUT AMOCO
London-based British Petroleum Amoco Plc plans to drop the 90-year-old Amoco
name completely. Most of the network of Amoco retailers will be given the BP
name, although about 4000 will be eliminated due to duplicate locations. BP is
also revising its marketing strategy at retail outlets to concentrate even more
on the sale of non-petroleum items such as groceries.
CHRYSLER PROFITS DOWN
DaimlerChrysler revealed that, although second-quarter net income is up, overall
operating profit for this year will be down from last year. The company blamed
the losses on product incentive programs and new-model introductions at the
Chrysler division. Although overall company revenue was up 17 percent, operating
profit in Chrysler fell 12 percent, to $1.1 billion, while Mercedes-Benz posted
a 22-percent rise, to $719 million. In response to the disappointing figures, DC
will introduce a cost-cutting plan that will cut administrative costs by about
25 percent by 2003. The plan would call for the elimination of about 5000 jobs
over the period.
FIRESTONE HOT SUIT Two
Florida families have sued both Ford Motor Company and Goodyear, alleging that
tread separation on their Ford Explorer's original-equipment Firestone tires
caused fatal accidents. The lawsuit accuses both companies of negligence. The
National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) reports that it opened an
investigation on the matter in May, after getting about 90 complaints from
consumers in hot southern states about the tread separation.
AUTONATION EARNINGS LOWER
THAN EXPECTED Despite improved efficiency, better earnings, and strong
sales, AutoNation announced a fall in second-quarter earnings. Overall income
fell from $97.1 million a year ago to $96.6 million this year, with revenues up
slightly. The company predicts that it will sell 60,000 vehicles this year—50
percent more than 1999.