SATURN DUBS NEXT COMPACT “ION”
As TheCarConnection.com reported last week, the next compact sedan and coupe from the Saturn division will be called ION. The ION compacts are to arrive in the fourth quarter of 2002 as 2003 models. The sedan will make its debut before the coupe, and both will be larger out and inside, with new powertrains, GM officials said on Monday. Why the new nomenclature? Jill Lajdziak, vice president of Saturn sales, service and marketing, says that "consumers associate the name with concepts such as energy, movement and smart engineering,” and that the name will signify the cars will be more than makeovers of the current eleven-year-old cars. The ION will be the first vehicle to be spawned by GM’s global Delta platform, a small-car chassis that will also spin off a new Saab 9-3, several Pontiacs and Chevrolets, even some Alfa Romeos.
Spy Shots: '03 Saturn S-Series by Brenda Priddy (10/1/2001)
TCC’S MCCLUGGAGE IN HALL OF FAME
Tonight’s inductions in the Automotive Hall of Fame will usher in another small group of giants into the ranks of the storied, but this year there is a twist to the proceedings: among the inductees, who traditionally have been inventors, engineers, industry giants, executives, and innovators, there will be for the first time a journalist. And that journalist will be a woman to boot, TCC’s own Denise McCluggage. The ceremony takes place in Dearborn, Mich., this evening.
McCluggage in Hall of Fame by Jim McCraw (10/8/2001)
WILL GAS PRICES STAY STABLE?
TCC Tip: Sipping Fuel by Marty Padgett (10/1/2001)
GM TO TAKE IT SLOW WITH DAEWOO
General Motors is anxious to see results from its proposed investment in South Korea’s Daewoo Motors — but it won’t move forward to sign a final deal until it completes due diligence and other investigations into the ailing automaker, the company said on Monday. Last month, GM signed a memorandum of understanding with Daewoo to create a joint venture that would absorb some of Daewoo’s carmaking assets, including four assembly plants with a total capacity of 500,000 units per year. GM Asia Pacific President Rudolph Schlais, Jr. told Reuters on Monday that "their interest level, from a creditor's standpoint especially, is to go fast, and from a company standpoint and a brand standpoint is to go fast." Prior to GM’s interest in the company, Ford offered to acquire the company for $6 billion but backed out of the deal after digging through Daewoo’s books. Along with Daewoo, GM also holds stakes in Japanese automakers Isuzu, Suzuki and Subaru (Fuji Heavy Industries), as well as a stake in Italy’s Fiat Auto.
GM-Daewoo Make a Deal by Joseph Szczesny (9/24/2001)
FORD BRIT BRANDS WORKING ON MERGER DETAILS
Ford owns a big chunk of Britain’s motoring brands — and now it’s busy finding ways to make them work together. Bob Dover, chairman of the newly minted Aston Martin Jaguar Land Rover North America group, says the brands are now looking into sharing engineering and testing resources as a way to produce vehicles more efficiently. The three brands, combined into one business unit and officially relocated to California in August, are said to be reviewing their purchasing, manufacturing and marketing efforts, and looking for ways to reduce development and marketing costs for each of the three nameplates. One of the first joint efforts could be a new Aston Martin now being penned in Land Rover’s technical center in Solihull, England.
Ford Pools Brit Brands by TCC Team (8/13/2001)
FORD SLOWS DOWN OHIO MORE
Sluggish sales of the Mercury Villager/Nissan Quest minivans and Econoline full-sizers have forced Ford to schedule more down time for its Avon Lake, Ohio, assembly workers. Last week Ford announced that it would shut the Villager line down for two weeks due to slumping demand; on Monday, Ford said it would also temporarily halt work on one of two shifts that build the big Econoline vans. Econoline sales are off 20 percent from last year’s numbers, while the Villager is slated to expire next year when Ford’s production contract with Nissan to build the Quest ends.
WEIRD WiLL SHELVED
One of Toyota’s gutsier styling statements is being put to rest. The WiLL Vi compact, shown at the 1999 Tokyo Motor Show and sent to production soon after, is being pulled from the company’s Japan-only lineup due to slow sales. According to wire reports, the fashionable WiLL sold only about 2900 copies in the first eight months of this year, compared to a 1500-a-month estimate by Toyota at the car’s January 2000 launch. The WiLL concept, tied to an innovative marketing campaign that also produced WiLL beverages and other consumer gear, will continue, as will a VS version of the car aimed at male buyers.
FORD GIFT TO AUDUBON STIRS ANGER
A $5 million gift from Ford to the Audubon Society has put a burr under the saddle of ranchers, loggers and miners out West, reports Automotive News. Those groups say that the Audubon Society — and Ford, by association— aims to end a way of life in the American West through aggressive environmental policies. “These environmental groups are spending a lot of money putting timber, livestock grazing and everything else out of business in the West,'' said Doc Lane, a director of the Arizona Cattle Ranchers Association. Ford is staging a series of meetings around the West, including recent ones in Montana and Arizona, to address the concerns of the groups.
FROM THE SOURCE
Subaru Rally Team USA's Open class driver Mark Lovell finished first overall and clinched the 2001 SCCA Open Class Driver's Championship at this weekend's Prescott Forest ProRally…NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series rookie… Brian Rose will be donating his share of all prize money from the Las Vegas Motor Speedway’s Orleans 350 on Oct. 14th to the New York Firefighters Disaster Relief Fund and the American Red Cross.
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