Week of February 21, 2000

February 21, 2000

NISSAN’S NEXT "Z" TO BE NEW DESIGN
MORE RUMORS ON DC, PEUGEOT MATCH UP
A SUV FOR SAAB
NISSAN TO BUILD TEN NEW MODELS FOR NORTH AMERICA
TRUCKS GROW IN POPULARITY
YOU ARE CORDIALLY INVITED
DAIMLERCHRYSLER EXECS NAMED
LONGBRIDGE ROVER PLANT STAYS, SAYS BMW
SATURN L-SERIES PRODUCTION CUT
NERVOUS TT OWNERS GET DRIVING LESSONS
NISSAN FILLS COMMUNICATIONS VP SPOT
NEW BILL COULD FINE CELL PHONE USERS
GASOLINE-POWERED FUEL CELL CAR PROSPECTS NEARER
GROUP LISTS BEST, WORST "GREEN" VEHICLES

 

NISSAN’S NEXT "Z" TO BE NEW DESIGN Nissan’s next Z car will not be a retro-styled coupe, but a new design that is different from the Z concept shown last year at the Detroit Auto Show, Nissan designers told TCC. Both Nissan’s San Diego and Japanese studios are in an internal competition to determine which concept will move forward. Nissan plans to introduce the Z in the summer of 2001 as a 2002 model, according to Nissan Design International president Jerry Hirshberg.

 

MORE RUMORS ON DC, PEUGEOT MATCH UP New rumors surfaced in the London stock market about a partnership between DaimlerChrysler and PSA Peugeot Citroen. Officials from both companies indicated that the talk was pure speculation. DaimlerChrysler had said last fall that it was in talks with the French automaker about the possibility of using a Peugeot platform to build a slightly larger version of its Smart brand car. At the beginning of the year, it said that discussions with Peugeot were on hold while it made decisions about its strategy in the small car market.

 

A SUV FOR SAAB A SUV is in the future for General Motors’ Saab unit, according to Automotive News. An article in the weekly magazine said that Saab’s first entry into the ever-popular SUV market will be with a crossover vehicle built in Mexico, alongside the Pontiac Aztek and the Buick Rendezvous, which the Saab SUV will be based on. Although GM and Saab officials refused to comment, spokesman Kevin Smith told Reuters, "We do have an intention to reach out into new segments for Saab."

 

NISSAN TO BUILD TEN NEW MODELS FOR NORTH AMERICA A Japanese financial newspaper reported Nissan plans to bring 10 new models to the North American market as part of its goal to sell one million vehicles annually. The Nihon Keizai Shimbun newspaper, which cited sources at the automaker, said that the plans included redesigned versions of the Sentra, Altima, and Pathfinder. New versions of the Q45 and Z car sold in Japan as well as a sports sedan code-named XVL were also expected to be part of the North American plan. While a Nissan spokesperson acknowledged it wanted to boost its North American sales, there was no official comment about the 10 new models or the one million vehicle sales target.

 

TRUCKS GROW IN POPULARITY A recently study by The Polk Company found that trucks make up 39.4 percent of registered vehicles, an increase of four percent since 1994. Although the amount of trucks on the road continues to grow, the study found that the rate of growth is actually slowing. "This is an indication that U.S. households are adding vehicles at a much slower rate than in prior decades," said Ken Cherven, who attributed the slower rate to the fact that there is an average of one vehicle per adult currently.

 

YOU ARE CORDIALLY INVITED Daewoo Motor sent invitations to about 10 potential buyers, including General Motors, Ford, DaimlerChrysler and Hyundai, this week, inviting them to bid on the company, according to a company spokesperson. Ford acknowledged over the weekend that it intends to bid, while General Motors first expressed interest in buying the company when it offered about $6 billion in December. Hyundai, who has previously indicated it was interested in jointly bidding with a foreign partner, could play an important role due to its South Korean base. DaimlerChrysler has not yet said whether it would or would not partake in the bidding process.

 

DAIMLERCHRYSLER EXECS NAMED DaimlerChrysler announced two new appointments to its ranks. Thomas Marinelli has been named vice president of the Chrysler/Jeep Global Brand Center, replacing Martin Levine, who recently announced his retirement from the company. Steven Landry was named president, Chrysler/Jeep Automotive for Europe, taking over the position for Marinelli. Both appointments are effective April 1.

 

LONGBRIDGE ROVER PLANT STAYS, SAYS BMW After a German news magazine reported that BMW was considering selling the Rover Longbridge plant in Britain, the automaker stated that it would not shut down the factory. Separately, another magazine cited industry sources that said BMW was talking with VW about the possibility of using the factory to assemble the VW Golf. A BMW spokesperson also denied this report.

 

SATURN L-SERIES PRODUCTION CUT Business Week reported that Saturn will drop its production of the L-Series from 200,000 cars to 150,000 vehicles, according to its suppliers. On January 6, Saturn officials announced that it would stop production on the vehicle until January 18 because of production difficulties and a surplus of inventory.

 

NERVOUS TT OWNERS GET DRIVING LESSONS After negative publicity of the TT has made some owners nervous, Audi has decided to offer them driving lessons in an effort to reassure owners the TT is a safe car if handled properly. "A sports car, which is driven at high speed, always needs an experienced pair of hands," said Audi head Franz-Josef Paefgen in an article in the German weekly, Stern. The Audi TT has come under scrutiny after several serious high-speed accidents on German roads.

 

NISSAN FILLS COMMUNICATIONS VP SPOT Nissan announced that Debra Sanchez Fair, the current director of corporate communications, will be promoted to vice president, Corporate Communications. Sanchez Fair, a 10-year veteran at Nissan, replaces Jason Vines, who recently was named vice president of communications for Ford.

 

NEW BILL COULD FINE CELL PHONE USERS Senator George Hart (D-Dearborn, Michigan) introduced a bill yesterday proposing penalties to people talking on cellular phones while driving. The bill, which does not propose any specific penalties, would be enforceable only if the driver were pulled over for another reason. Other legislation on cellular phone use has been proposed in 15 states, but no states have passed laws. Drivers on cellular phones are four times more likely to be involved in a collision than those who don’t, according to a 1997 report in the New England Journal of Medicine.

 

 

GASOLINE-POWERED FUEL CELL CAR PROSPECTS NEARER DaimlerChrysler’s fuel cell subsidiary, Xcellis GmbH, and Shell Hydrogen have completed an 18-month research project, producing a prototype gasoline reformer that makes hydrogen for use in fuel cell cars. This prototype shows that fuel cell vehicles could use gasoline, allowing the existing filling stations to be used for refueling. The two companies will now begin the process of finding commercial sources for the research project.

 

GROUP LISTS BEST, WORST "GREEN" VEHICLES The American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy (www.greenercars.com) released its annual study of the environmental-friendliness of 2000 model year vehicles. The "meanest" vehicles (those deemed the least environmentally-friendly) were the GMC Suburban, Ford Excursion, Dodge Ram 2500 pickup, Chevrolet Silverado/GMC Sierra and Ferrari 550 Maranello – all tied with a score of 9. The "greenest" gasoline-powered vehicles by class were Toyota Echo, Saturn LS, Toyota Avalon, Dodge Caravan, Toyota Tacoma, Ford F-150, Toyota RAV4 and Jeep Cherokee. The greenest vehicle overall was GM’s EV1 with a score of 52 out of a possible 100.

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