STRONG NOV. SALES — MINUS GM,
TOP 20 SELLERS
NISSAN TO CUT BACK IN NORTH AMERICA
IS THE SUV AFFAIR COOLING?
HONDA DENIES GM STAKE
GM STAKE IN SUBARU, TOO?
EPA BLASTS CITIES’ SMOG PLANS
NHTSA TO ADD BRAKE RATINGS?
DODGE DROPS SPIDERMAN
RENAULT TO REVAMP DEALERS
CADDY STS TO PACE LE MANS
MEXICAN CAR TARIFF GONE FOR NOW
THE SCARLET SIGN?
STRONG NOV. SALES — MINUS GM, DC The sales streak of 1999 continued mostly unabated in November save for disappointing results at General Motors and DaimlerChrysler. For the month, some 1,274,389 vehicles were sold for a 7.4-percent rise over last year. Ford was the big winner among the domestics, with sales of its Taurus and Volvo models leading a passenger-car boost of 18.5 percent; however, Ford light-truck sales shrank 2.4 percent from last year. Toyota rose 11.3 percent, Honda climbed 2.2 percent, Mitsubishi saw its best November ever with a 156-percent boost, and VW and Audi continued their double-digit increases. Meanwhile, sales at General Motors remained flat, and at DaimlerChrysler fell 2.7 percent.
For more on the sales figures, click
|1. Ford F-Series pickup||799,663|
|2. Chevrolet Silverado pickup||573,412|
|3. Toyota Camry||418,130|
|4. Dodge Ram pickup||395,065|
|5. Ford Explorer||391,636|
|6. Honda Accord||372,617|
|7. Ford Taurus||338,824|
|8. Ford Ranger pickup||328,941|
|9. Honda Civic||295,902|
|10. Jeep Grand Cherokee||275,958|
|11. Dodge Caravan||269,133|
|12. Ford Escort||255,365|
|13. Chevrolet Cavalier||251,682|
|14. Toyota Corolla||230,595|
|15. Pontiac Grand Am||217,788|
|16. Chevrolet S-Series pickup||216,702|
|17. Ford Expedition||213,525|
|18. Chevrolet Blazer||203,038|
|19. Chevrolet Malibu||198,639|
|20. Ford Windstar||198,202|
NISSAN TO CUT BACK IN NORTH AMERICA Nissan's operations in North America will be reshaped over the next several months as the Japanese automaker implements its broad plan to become profitable once again. As part of its contribution to the restructuring goals, Nissan North America will eliminate roughly 1,000 jobs. The company now has about 10,000 employees in the U.S. Nissan offered no estimates of how much it expects to save from the changes by the time the cutbacks are complete in March 2001, but worldwide, the restructuring put together by the Carlos Ghosn, the Renault executive put in charge of the turnaround effort, is expected to reduce Nissan's fixed costs by almost $2 billion annually.
For more on the Nissan cuts, click
IS THE SUV AFFAIR COOLING? Rising gas prices since last
winter may be putting some distance between Americans and their beloved
sport-utility vehicles, Reuters reports. The vehicles, which have captured
nearly 20 percent of the U.S. market, have seen a four-percent drop in sales
since August, when gasoline prices began a rise to the highest levels in nearly
four years. Reuters adds the SUV sales drop contrasts sharply against last
year’s 25-percent increase in SUV sales, when gas prices were at historic lows.
Gas prices have risen, the news service says, from an average of 96 cents a
gallon last winter to today’s $1.27 a gallon.
HONDA DENIES GM STAKE Once again, Honda is insisting
that it’s not the subject of takeover or equity-stake rumors. This time, the
supposed partner is General Motors; reports in several international papers last
week held that GM would purchase some 100,000 fuel-efficient engines from Honda
for use in North American products, and would cooperate further, possibly
purchasing an equity stake in Japan’s third-largest carmaker. GM is said to be
interested in "broad business links" with more Asian manufacturers as it seeks
to boost its market share in the region from 4 percent to 10 percent. A Honda
spokesman again reiterated that the company is not interested in
GM STAKE IN SUBARU, TOO? While pundits placed it in bed with Honda, GM was also busy declining comment that it would take a 20 to 25-percent share in Subaru. GM officials agreed that they had held talks with Subaru in October, but would not comment on the shareholding rumor put out by Japanese media. Giving some credence to Subaru’s search for a new partner, Nissan announced that it would sell its 4.1-percent stake in Fuji Heavy Industries, parent company of Subaru. Currently, GM has a 10-percent stake in Suzuki and owns 49 percent of Isuzu.
EPA BLASTS CITIES’ SMOG PLANS Of
the 10 U.S. metro areas required to crack down on air pollution, only one has a
plan that the Environmental Protection Agency deems sufficient, the agency
announced last week. The ten areas mandated to come up with ways to reduce ozone
under the Clean Air Act include Houston, Atlanta, Baltimore, Chicago, Hartford
(Conn.), Milwaukee, New York City, Philadelphia, and Washington, D.C.; the one
city in the group to come up with an "acceptable" plan to reduce pollution by
power plants, cars and heavy industry was Springfield, Mass. Most of the cities
included planned to cut emissions from traditional sources, but New York had
proposed to switch its city buses from gasoline to natural gas.
NHTSA TO ADD BRAKE RATINGS? The
National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) may be adding braking
ratings to its list of crash-safety tests, the agency said last week. NHTSA
announced last week that it was working on test methodology that could be
repeated at other test facilities. Last year, the agency tested 10 vehicles for
straight-line braking effectiveness on wet and dry surfaces from 62 mph to a
complete stop. The vehicles included five passenger cars, two passenger mini
vans, on full-size cargo van, one full-size sport utility vehicle, and one
full-size pickup truck. NHTSA has been doing crash tests since 1983; the agency
recently added side-impact tests.
DODGE DROPS SPIDERMAN Less
than a year after taking on a marketing partnership with Universal Studios in
Orlando, Fla., Dodge says it’s dumping the home of Spiderman and other cartoon
characters so it can devote more money to its revived NASCAR effort. A
DaimlerChrysler spokesman said the company had decided against doing both
programs, and that its Winston Cup return would receive all of its attention.
General Motors has a long-standing marketing agreement with Walt Disney World
that, like the Dodge agreement, is meant to boost the company’s image among
RENAULT TO REVAMP DEALERS Still working on the fine details of its partnership with Nissan, France’s Renault SA may overhaul its European dealer network as a result of its new alliance, the London Financial Times reported last week. Nissan COO Carlos Ghosn told the paper in an interview that Renault would partly integrate its dealerships with those of Nissan, and would seek out purchasing savings from the combination.Renault paid $5.4 billion for a 37-percent stake in Nissan in May.
CADDY STS TO PACE LE MANS Cadillac is getting deeper into Le Mans: the brand says that a specially equipped STS sedan will pace the 24-hour race next June. The hopped-up STS, called the Cunningham edition, will commemorate the 50th anniversary of the cars entered by racer Briggs Cunningham. The cars will include a 320-hp version of the 300-hp Northstar V-8, an updated version of Stabilitrak, High-intensity discharge headlamps with Night Vision, 18-inch wheels and 40-series tires, and larger brakes.
MEXICAN CAR TARIFF GONE FOR NOW Mexico’s government
has done an about-face and rescinded a tariff of as much as $800 for
U.S.-registered cars crossing its borders. Mexican President Ernesto Zedillo
demanded the fee be rescinded until further notice after just two days in
practice; the former fee of up to $10 will remain in place until further notice.
The government had been trying to stop the illegal importation of U.S. vehicles,
which accounts for as many as 2 million cars and trucks in Mexico.
THE SCARLET SIGN? Rebecca Escobar, of Wilkesboro, N.C. is guilty of the drunk-driving accident that killed 52-year-old Faye Schnablegger — but she doesn’t think she should have to wear a sign indicating it. Escobar, who drove into Schnablegger’s car on Jan. 27, killing the other driver, pleaded guilty to felony death by vehicle in June, and was sentenced by a Wilmington judge to wear a sign that reads "I am a convicted drunk driver and as a result I took a life." Escobar, when asked if her punishment fits the crime, told wire services, "No, I don’t."