VW Asia plans
BEIJING, China - VW Shanghai will make a stretch version of the Passat in 2000 to fight GM's Buick sedan in China, said Volkswagen Board Member Robert Buechelhofer. VW will close its two-year-old Asia-Pacific office in Hong Kong and manage China operations from Beijing.
Also, said Buechelhofer, VW will assemble its Passat in Thailand, 'while our competitors are putting their projects on ice.'
VW has 53 percent of the Chinese passenger car market.
David Murphy and Peter Seidlitz
Japan exports fall
TOKYO - Four of Japan's top five carmakers had lower exports in May because of the collapse in demand in Asia. Nissan's exports fell 10.7 percent. Toyota, Mazda and Honda fell, but Mitsubishi's exports grew 4.1 percent, helped by strong sales of its Galant sedan in Europe.
STUTTGART - Daimler-Benz will develop a 'city van' weighing less than two tonnes, based on the A-class. Daimler said it plans to build 40,000-50,000 units a year at a plant in either Germany or Poland.
Reuters News Service
Opel loss for 1997
FRANKFURT - Adam Opel AG made a net loss in 1997 of DM228 million ($128 million) on sales that rose 5.9 percent to a record DM30 billion. The company said the loss was caused by the cost of an early retirement plan for workers. Opel has guaranteed no compulsory lay-offs for its 43,500 workers in western Germany before 2002.
Reuters News service
FRANKFURT - Volkswagen and Toyota are discussing opportunities for future cooperation, including environmental technology and distribution. VW wants to increase sales in Japan, from a planned 67,000 cars this year to 100,000 in the medium term.
Mitsuru Sato, 55, will retire as president of Volkswagen Group Japan KK at the end of June. No replacement has been named.
VW wants 420 dealers in Japan within three years. It now has 250 dealers, of which 150 are Toyota dealers.
Volkswagen hired Sato from Honda in March 1994. He promptly led VW on a major sales expansion. In 1997, VW's Japan sales totaled 49,340, up 139.4 percent from 1993.
During his term, Sato, set up VW's independent retail network and sold Volkswagens to Toyota.
Beatrix Israel and James B. Treece