Alfa Romeo: No 166 wagon
There will be no station wagon version of the Alfa Romeo 166. The replacement for the 164 will be launched in September. Alfa's only station wagon will be the 156 Sportswagon, which will be launched at the end of 1999.
Audi: Mexico sales
Audi expect to sell 200 of its newly introduced A3 models in Mexico this year. That is all the German parent will be able to deliver. Audi expects to sell 1,200 cars in Mexico this year. More than half will be A4s.
BMW: Profits up
First-half net profits rose 17 percent to DM511 million ($280 million) on sales that were up 6 percent to DM31 billion, compared with a year earlier. BMW earned a net profit of DM1.3 billion in 1997 on sales of DM60 billion. Unit sales in the first six months included 341,320 BMW cars and 260,353 Rover and Land Rover models.
Chrysler: Mexico sport-utilty
Chrysler Mexico is developing a sport-utility for Mexico, based on the Ram pickup. Production will begin late 1998 or early 1999.
Citroen: Saxo facelift
A facelift of the Saxo supermini is scheduled for 2000. Changes will be mainly to the hood, radiator grille and the shape of the headlamps. The car is produced at Citroen's Aulnay plant near Paris.
Daimler-Benz: Truck deal
Daimler-Benz AG and Nissan Motor Co. have agreed to develop a light truck together for Japan and emerging markets. No decision had been taken on whether Daimler would invest in Nissan's struggling truckmaking affiliate, Nissan Diesel Motor Co.
The joint project will begin development work this year. It aims to produce the first truck by 2002.
The trucks will be made at a Nissan Diesel plant in Japan and at a Daimler factory in Brazil. They will be sold separately under the two companies' brands. The trucks will have a gross vehicle weight of three to nine tonnes.
The companies hope for global sales of 100,000 to 150,000 units a year by 2005. The Nissan group sold about 50,000 vehicles in that class in 1997.
Reuters News Service
Daewoo: French sales target
Daewoo targets 11,500 sales in France this year, compared with 8,750 in 1997. But the 1998 figure is down from an earlier forecast of 15,000 sales.
Keun Lee, chairman of Daewoo Automobile France, said the figure includes 2,000 units of the new Matiz mini. Keun said Daewoo expects to reach sales of 15,000 in 1999, including 6,000 units of the Matiz.
A Daewoo spokesman said the French market had been more competitive than the company expected.
Sales start in Ireland
Daewoo has appointed a distributor in Ireland, where it will start selling cars in January 1999.
Among Daewoo Ireland's principle investors is Gerard O'Toole, who is also executive chairman of Nissan Ireland. Unlike in the UK, where the manufacturer sells direct to customers, Daewoo will sell through independent dealers in Ireland.
Daewoo Ireland will sell the Lanos, Nubira, Leganza and Matiz. It will join 36 other marques currently competing for a share of Ireland's small but growing new-car market. This year's sales are expected to surpass 143,000, up from 136,600.
Fiat: No. 1 in Brazil
Fiat has pushed Volkswagen aside as the No. 1 seller in Brazil for the first time. In the first six months of 1998, Fiat Automoveis sold 185,793 units; VW sold 183,476. GM was No. 3, with 146,530 sales, followed by Ford with 81,764.
Fiat Auto has replaced Purchasing Director Guglielmo Capra with Tommaso Le Pera, who has been commercial director for Fiat, Alfa and Lancia in the Italian market.
Capra will run a subsidiary of Magneti Marelli, the group's components division.
Le Pera will be replaced as commercial director for the Italian market by Paolo Massi, who had been reporting to Le Pera as commercial director of the Lancia brand for Italy.
Fiat Auto is laying off 1,800 workers at a transmission plant for the first week of September. Workers at the Termoli engine plant will also been laid off for the week.
Ford: Production cut
Ford Brazil will work a four-day week through August, cutting production from 4,800 units per week to 3,840. The company has 28,000 unsold vehicles stockpiled. Workers will get full pay and make up the hours later, when the market picks up.
Turkish Prime Minister Mesut Yilmaz survived a parliamentary censure vote over his government's decision to give 1.6 million square meters of state-owned land for a new assembly plant to Ford's joint venture with Koc Holding.
Ford Otosan promised to fund an educational facility to be built at a local university in return for the land. Parliamentary deputies and labor unions criticized the deal as an unfair burden on Turkish taxpayers.
Reuters News Service
New Brazilian company
Ford America do Sul, a new holding company, will take responsibility for all of Ford's manufacturing facilities, parts-buying and distribution in South America. The company will be headquartered in Sao Bernardo do Campo, near Sao Paulo. The chief executive will be James Padilla.
Paint quality rises
Ford's Transit van and bus plant in Southampton, UK, has updated primer paint application equipment by Durr UK of Warwick. Ford plants across Europe are now studying the modifications.
The changes have brought 'a dramatic difference in paint transfer performance, achieved greater savings than estimated, and are reducing maintenance and body repair costs,' says Roland Goepfert, Ford Southampton paint area manager.
Heuliez: Microcar contract
Heuliez will assemble 4,000 small-engined Jeanneau cars a year that do not require a license to drive under French law. Cars and motorcycles with engines of less than 50cc can be driven on public roads without a license in France.
Jeanneau, the car's manufacturer, already makes 8,000 units of its Microcar a year at its Les Herbiers plant, 30km from Heuliez' Cerizay plant in western France.
Honda: Zero-emissions cars
Honda announced plans to introduce as early as 2001 gasoline-engine cars that qualify as Zero-Level Emission Vehicles under California's emissions legislation. Honda aims to price the cars no more than 10 percent over its Low Emission Vehicles. LEVs accounted for 61 percent of the Honda Accord and Civic models sold in the USA in the first half of 1998.
Hyundai: European sales up
First-half sales of Hyundai cars rose almost 30 percent compared with the same period in 1997.
'Hyundai sells more cars throughout Europe than all the other Korean manufacturers combined,' said Hyundai Motor Europe Director Lee Chi-sam. 'It sells almost 60 percent more cars than its closest Korean competitor.'
Mazda: 2nd Familia recall
Mazda announced the second recall in Japan in less than two weeks for its Familia sedan, which was launched in June.
Mazda said it would recall 2,859 Familias to repair possible defects in computerized transmissions and a rubber part used in the car's fuel system.
The announcement came only one week after 8,460 were recalled to repair defects that could cause engine fires.
Reuters News Service
Nissan: No small SUV?
Nissan has reportedly stopped work on a compact sport-utility that was due to be launched in Japan in the first half of 1999.
According to Japanese press reports, a prototype with a 2.0-liter engine and four-wheel drive had been built.
Code-named NQ, it would have competed with Toyota's RAV4 and the Honda CR-V. In Japan, demand has been shifting away from sport-utilities toward minivans and sport wagons.
Opel: Battle with Ford
Opel Italia and Ford Italia are battling to become Italy's leading non-Italian car company. They each want to claim the second spot in the market behind Fiat.
Both companies predict they will register 190,000 units in 1998. Opel led Ford by 8,000 units in the first seven months of the year. Ford said it plans to take the lead in the fourth quarter, thanks to the new Focus.
Porsche: Green Flag ends
A two-year-old contract with UK roadside assistance provider Green Flag has ended.
'The decision to part was not taken lightly as Green Flag is a strong player in the market,' said Nicola Burchell, Porsche service marketing controller. 'But we both felt that our respective goals differed enough to make separation appropriate.'
Porsche spokesman James Pillar said a replacement roadside assistance company would be announced soon.
Toyota is negotiating to buy PSA diesel engines for its UK-built Corolla. Japanese sources said that Toyota has asked for 10,000 2.0-liter diesels a year. Last year PSA sold diesels to Nissan for the Micra built in Sunderland, UK.
Renault: Kangoo output rise
Renault will hire 400 new employees in October for its Maubeuge plant in northern France, which makes the Kangoo van.
A third shift, started in March 1998, will be extended until June 1999. The shift was originally planned to stop in October. When the new recruits are fully trained, Renault says weekly capacity will reach 6,750 units - up from 4,900 today.
Renault will also start assembling the Kangoo at its Cordoba, Argentina, plant, next year. The company targets sales of 15,000 in Argentina and Brazil in 1999, and 30,000 in 2000.
Rover: New logistics center
Excel Logistics will operate a $16 million, 22,000-square-meter logistics center and small supplier park next to Rover's Oxford, UK, plant.
The center will support production of Rover's new luxury car, code-named R40, which will replace the 600 and 800 models later this year. The logistics center will be linked to the plant by a tunnel.
Seat: Best Factory award
The plant in Martorell, Spain, won Volkswagen AG's internal Best Factory of the Quarter award for the April-June period.
Martorell had the fewest faults per vehicle of any VW European plant.
Martorell has a capacity of 500,000 vehicles annually, making it the second largest plant in the VW Group after Wolfsburg. Martorell produces 11 vehicle ranges. The Ibiza is the highest volume product, and the Arosa is the newest.
Skoda: Sales rise
Skoda Auto's first-half sales rose 11.4 percent to 180,000 units, compared with 1997. Skoda had a 57 percent share of the Czech market, or 44,353 units, compared with 51,945 cars and a 55 percent market share in the first half of 1997.
Sales in Germany, Skoda's largest export market, were up 55 percent to 20,000 units. Sales in Italy rose 83 percent to 17,500, and in Poland by 19 percent to 15,000. Total West European sales were up 46 percent to 84,500.
Suzuki: India model
Maruti Udyog Ltd., a 50-50 joint venture between Suzuki Motor Corp. and the Indian government, will decide later this month which Suzuki model to adapt next for production in India.
The car could be launched within two years. Maruti Udyog's best-selling car, the Maruti 800, is a rebadged Suzuki. Maruti sold 345,303 units in the year ending 31 March.
Toyota: Production cut
Planned production in Japan this year will be cut to around 3.2 million units from 3.4 million units, said Toyota Motor Corp. President Hiroshi Okuda.
He also said the company's sales target for Japan has been cut to 2.0 million units from an earlier figure of 2.1 million.
All five major Japanese carmakers built fewer cars in the first half than in the same period last year.
Toyota will start selling a rebadged Daihatsu Storia 1.0-liter mini this autumn in Japan. Sales of minis have held up better than other market segments in Japan. Toyota will call the car the Duet, and plans to sell 3,000 units a month.
Volkswagen: Brazil price cuts
Volkswagen cut prices by an average of 10 percent in Brazil for July and August. June sales were down 35 percent to 34,000, compared with a year earlier.
In the first five months, Volkswagen do Brasil's after-tax profits fell to 0.4 percent of sales, from 2.7 percent in the same period last year.
Passat for Argentina
Volkswagen will build the new Passat in Argentina, rather than in Brazil as previously planned. The company will now make only the VW Golf and Audi A3 at its new $750 million plant in Sao Jose dos Pinhais in Parana state, when it opens next year.
A spokesman said the Passat would now go into production about a year earlier than if production were in Brazil. Production will start in mid-1999.
In 1999, Sao Jose dos Pinhais will produce 20,000 Audi A3s and 100,000 VW Golfs.
Volvo: Feather touch
Volvo uses ostrich feathers in the middle of its high technology Torslanda paint plant.
The feathers are statically charged and lowered to sweep across car bodies before they enter the spray booths, to remove the last particles of dust without risk of scratching.
After the sweep, the feathers rise and strike a deionisation rod, which releases the dust for extraction. The feathers are obtained by natural shedding or painless plucking, says Volvo.
2nd quarter income up
AB Volvo reported second quarter income up 47.6 percent, year on year, to $360 million. Figures were boosted by a one-off asset sale. Revenue rose 10.8 percent to $6.6 billion.
Volvo trucks doubled operating income in the quarter to $100 million. Volvo Car operating income fell 14.8 percent, year on year, to $115.2 million. The firm cited start-up costs of the new S80.