Week of September 11, 2000

September 11, 2000

 

FIRESTONE FACES FEDS ON WEDS
FIRESTONE MAKES PACT WITH WORKERS
FORD CRITICIZES FIRESTONE IN TESTIMONY
FORD LOOKS TO GOODYEAR
DC MAY RENEGOTIATE DC DEAL
MITSUBISHI BLUNDERS
JAGUAR CONSIDERS ALUMINUM
VOLVO, AUTOLIV BECOME EMS
TOYOTA GOES ONSTAR FOR LS
GM CUTS ELDORADO PRODUCTION
PORSCHE PLANS LATIN INVASION
SUBARU WILL BUILD NEW BRAT
TENNECO JOINS NETWORK

 

 

FIRESTONE FACES FEDS ON WEDS Bridgestone Firestone last Wednesday defended its actions to a pair of House subcommittees regarding their involvement in the recall of 6.5 million Firestone tires. Though Ford CEO Jac Nasser initially said he would not attend the hearings, Nasser says he changed his mind after the line of questioning changed from a technical orientation to one about the company's reputation. "Now that there are allegations about whether we were open enough or acted quickly enough, I feel I need to go," Nasser said at a recent press conference. "The questioning has changed being more technical in nature."

 

FIRESTONE MAKES PACT WITH WORKERS In one small glimmer of good news, Bridgestone Firestone Inc. and its workers’ union officials reached tentative agreement on a new work contract last Monday, averting a strike that might have shut down the tire maker as it tries to meet recall demands. The company’s 8000 union members, spread over nine manufacturing plants, will vote on the undisclosed tentative agreements over the next two weeks.

 

FORD CRITICIZES FIRESTONE IN TESTIMONY During congressional testimony, Ford Motor Company CEO Jac Nasser criticized Bridgestone Firestone's handling of the recall, and announced plans for the automaker to share tire-company data so as to provide an "early warning system." Although Ford will still not warranty tires (as GM does), the automaker will keep its own statistical data on defects and overseas recalls.

 

FORD LOOKS TO GOODYEAR Ford Motor Company is considering Goodyear Tire and Rubber to supply tires for its best-selling, redesigned 2002 Ford Explorer sport-utility vehicle. Such an arrangement with Goodyear would likely affect Ford's long-standing relationship with Bridgestone Firestone, tainted by the recent 6.5-million tire recall.

 

DC MAY RENEGOTIATE MITSUBISHI DEAL In the wake of Mitsubishi's Japanese recall scandal, DaimlerChrysler AG is reportedly seeking renegotiation of the partnership between the two automakers. DC may now take a stake as high as 40 percent in the struggling Japanese automaker. An entire renegotiation of the arrangement would be required, as the original agreement secured Mitsubishi's independence for ten years. Mitsubishi recently admitted to covering up consumer complaint data for more than twenty years, and Japan's Ministry of Transport is asking Tokyo Police to criminally charge Mitsubishi for falsifying reports.

For more information on the Mitsubishi scandal and how it affects the deal with DC, click here.

 

MITSUBISHI BLUNDERS Mitsubishi Motors Corporation in Japan has announced another embarrassing recall, this time for defective fuel caps. The automaker recalled about 45,000 Minicab trucks about two weeks ago to get replacement fuel caps, but found that the replacement caps did not fit. Mitsubishi has admitted to covering up Japanese consumer complaint data dating back more than twenty years.

 

JAGUAR CONSIDERS ALUMINUM Britain’s Birmingham Post says almost-hometown carmaker Jaguar may build an aluminum-bodied successor to the XJ sedans. A new plant for aluminum structures would be built near existing Jaguar factories, possibly for the 2003 model year. If correct, the vehicle would become a technological kin of the Audi A8, with an aluminum space frame and perhaps a similarly lean curb weight. Jaguar officials could not be reached for comment on the report.

 

VOLVO, AUTOLIV BECOME EMS Volvo and safety-system supplier Autoliv say they’ve introduced a new system that automatically calls emergency services after a crash. Called "Volvo On Call," the new system gives local emergency medical services the exact location of an accident, using GPS and a cell-phone link, after an airbag deployment. Operators then try to contact passengers while services speed to the scene. The system also has an SOS button for emergencies where the driver is able to call. The system will be offered on the S60, S80, V70 and Cross Country models.

 

TOYOTA GOES ONSTAR FOR LS GM’s now ubiquitous OnStar communication system will appear in the 2001 Lexus LS430, Toyota has confirmed. OnStar uses GPS and cell phones to track a vehicle in real time, and interfaces with a human-manned call center that offers concierge and emergency response services. The LS430, the top-line Lexus sedan, goes on sale Oct. 12. Honda also plans to add OnStar to some Acura vehicles in the coming model year.

 

GM CUTS ELDORADO PRODUCTION General Motors has announced that it will lay off 200 Lansing, Michigan, workers and cut production of the Cadillac Eldorado by half, due to slow sales. The Eldorado has been built at the Lansing Craft Center since earlier this year, when production of the car was relocated from Detroit. GM plans to drop the Eldorado after the 2001 model year.

 

PORSCHE PLANS LATIN INVASION Porsche AG plans to more than double its sales in Latin America over the next three years, reports Reuters. Growth in the region could be especially fueled by the introduction of the Porsche Cayenne sport-utility vehicle. Porsche will sell about 250 vehicles in the region this year, although the automaker expects sales to pass 800 per year by 2003.

 

SUBARU WILL BUILD NEW BRAT Subaru has announced that it plans to build a "pickup car" truck/car hybrid, similar to the ST-X concept car that was unveiled in January at the Los Angeles auto show, starting in late 2002. The vehicle, which shares some similarities with Subaru's former Brat pickup car, will be built at Subaru's Indiana assembly plant. The model will have annual target sales of 24,000 vehicles. Fuji Heavy Industries, Subaru's parent company, also announced the construction of a new four-cylinder engine plant adjacent to the existing Indiana facilities. The engine plant is expected to add 255 jobs.

 

TENNECO JOINS NETWORK Tenneco Automotive will join a new, yet-unnamed Internet-based parts-distribution network. Other companies involved in the venture are Dana, Delphi, TRW, Timken, Valeo SA, and Bosch GmbH. Tenneco products include Walker mufflers and Monroe shocks. The supplier-based online exchange will operate in a similar manner to Covisint, the automaker-based online exchange that should be in operation later this fall.

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