Land Rover will open Brazil kit plant
BIRMINGHAM, UK - Land Rover will invest $150 million to start a kit assembly plant for the aging Defender sport-utility in Brazil. Assembly of Defender 90, 110 and 130 versions should begin this autumn. Initial volume is expected to reach 2,000 units a year. The Defender has been in production for 49 years.
Lada-Valmet plant slows down
UUSIKAUPUNKI, Finland - Production of EuroSamaras by the AvtoVAZ-Valmet joint venture in Finland is half the planned 20,000 units a year. Demand is low in western Europe, and cars are being sent back to Russia where demand is high. The Uusikaupunki plant used to get 75 truckloads of parts a week from AvtoVAZ's plant in Togliatti, Russia. Now it gets 25 trucks a week.
Tege Tornvall and Knut Moberg
Izjmasj may build Russian Favorit
MLADA BOLESLAV, Czech Republic - Skoda is negotiating with Russian company Izjmasj to assemble a Russian version of the Favorit starting next year when Skoda begins building the new version of the Favorit at its plant here.
Quest for China
TOKYO - A Chinese company will begin assembling the Nissan Quest/Mercury Villager minivan in China in a venture with Nissan and Ford.
Guangzhou JA Coulded Leopard Automobile, which is owned by the Guangzhou police department, plans to build 4,000 of the minivans over 12 months, starting this spring.
Nissan will supply engines and transmissions from Japan. Body panels and some other parts will come from the USA.
Guangzhou Automobile has assembled about 4,000 Nissan Bluebird sedans in China over the past 12 months, plus a few hundred Nissan Safari sport-utility vehicles, known as the Patrol in Europe.
James B. Treece
Voyager most popular
DETROIT - The Chrysler Voyager assembled in Austria was Chrysler's most popular vehicle outside North America in 1997. Chrysler's non-North America sales were a record 237,060 in 1997, up 7 percent from 1996. The Chrysler Voyager accounted for 26.2 percent, edging ahead of the long-time leader Jeep Cherokee, which had 24.2 percent.
Mazda's Thai pickup comes to Europe
OSLO - Imports of Mazda's medium-sized pickup built at its joint-venture plant with Ford in Thailand, begin after July, along with a new 323 and the Mazda Demio multi-purpose vehicle.