Aston Martin has added a $1.7 million specialist paint facility at its Bloxham, UK, assembly plant. The five paint booths and drying ovens were supplied by PPG. 'The facility will be capable of creating a limitless range of colors - if necessary, a unique color for each and every car,' said Aston Martin Chairman Bob Dover. But most DB7 customers are conservative, he said: 35 percent choose green, 25 percent blue and 12 percent silver.
Performance edition V-8
Existing owners and new customers for the 5.3-liter, 550hp V-8 Vantage can upgrade to 600hp for an extra $73,000. The standard price is $323,000. Acceleration with the Driving Dynamics Vantage is 0-100kph in under 4.0 seconds and a maximum speed of over 320kph. The package includes five-speed manual transmission or modified automatic, sports suspension, magnesium-alloy road wheels and traction control.
BMW: Hot wheels
BMW is offering a heated steering wheel on the 5 and 7 series. A heating element warms the wheel to 30-35 degrees Celsius and maintains that temperature until switched off, or 30 minutes passes, whichever is sooner. The option will be available in all European markets. Price is $190.
Chrysler: Fast tow
A Dodge Viper two-seat sportscar set a new world towing record earlier this month. The 8.0-liter, V-10 Viper pulled a caravan along a former military runway near Cambridge, UK, at 205.7kph. The previous record was set in Australia in 1991 by a Ford Falcon. Sheep, rabbits and seagulls had to be cleared from driver Mark Walton's path before his speed attempt.
Daewoo: Export plans
Daewoo's Polish FSO plant aims to export 120,000 cars to other European countries from its planned 1999 production of 342,000.
Daewoo-FSO President Jin Chul Suk said the company planned to export 20,000 to 30,000 cars to Spain, Italy and Portugal in 1999, and the rest to central Europe. Daewoo started exporting the lower-medium Lanos to Slovakia earlier this month. Czech Republic, Hungary and Slovenia are next.
Reuters News Service
Daewoo will start engine production at its Warsaw plant in August 2000. The 0.8-liter and 1.2-liter T4 engines will power the Matiz supermini and F-100 minivan. The Matiz enters production in Poland at the end of this year.
No. 9 in Italy
Daewoo has beaten Hyundai in the Italian market for the first time. Daewoo sold 2,160 cars in Italy in August, thanks to heavy demand for the Matiz supermini. Daewoo was No. 9 in the market, with a share of 2.25 percent. Sales in the first eight months wee up 159 percent to 24,027 units compared with 1197, giving Daewoo a 1.39 percent market share. But for the year through August, Hyundai still leads Daewoo with 29,686 sales.
Dana joint venture
Daewoo-FSO and Dana Corp. will invest $40 million over the next four years in the production of rear axles, drive shafts and other car parts. Daewoo-FSO spokeswoman Krystyna Danilczyk said the parts would be for FSO's Polonez sedan and Daewoo's planned F-100 van. Daewoo-FSO will have 51 percent of the joint venture.
Daimler-Benz: Japan A-class
Mercedes-Benz Japan Co. launched the A160 version of the new A-class, priced at 2.65 million yen ($19,925). The company aims to sell 1,200 units in 1998 in Japan.
James B. Treece
Ferrari: Russian hopes
Ferrari now has an exclusive dealer in Moscow: Alarm Service. 'Right now in Moscow there are about 30 Ferraris on the road,' said Sergei Zemlianski, Alarm Service general manager. 'We plan to sell 10 by year end, and 20 Ferraris and 10 Maseratis in 1999.'
Fiat: Leading Italy's rich
Fiat SpA's new Managing Director Paolo Fresco is the highest paid executive in Italy. According to a survey by management magazine Class, his total compensation package is L11.5 billion ($7.2 million). No. 3 on the list is Marco Tronchetti Provera, the main shareholder, president and CEO of Pirelli, who gets L4 billion ($2.5 million). No. 4 is Fiat Auto Managing Director Paolo Cantarella, with L3.6 billion ($2.25 million).
Fiat's first-half global sales were almost level with 1997, despite the slump in Brazil. The group sold 1,347,000 units worldwide through June, 12,000 fewer than in the same period in 1997.
Fiat Auto Poland has ended production of the Cinquecento. The car was produced only in Poland at Fiat's Tychy plant. One million were built since production started in 1991. Production is switching to the Seicento.
Fiat Auto aims to raise the proportion of water recycled by its plants to over 70 percent in 2005, from 64 percent in 1997. Recent measures include: a L4.6 billion ($257 million) effluent treatment plant at subsidiary Iveco's factory in Suzzaro, Italy, where water consumption has been reduced by 60 percent; and a L5 billion water purification plant at Iveco's Foggia, Italy, plant. Fiat's European plants used 240 million cubic meters of water last year.
Ford: Focus variants
There are no immediate plans for a van version of the Focus, said Robin August, Ford of Britain director of commercial vehicles. The existing Escort van will remain in production at Halewood, UK, at least into the year 2000, he said. Ford is studying a number of possible variants based on the Focus, including a sport-utility and mini-MPV.
Ford set a record for Transit sales in August in the UK: 9,000 vans were registered, giving Ford 37.4 percent of the medium commercial vehicle market, and outselling the combined total of its five nearest rivals. Sales were assisted by incentives: buyers were offered a second year's warranty and two years' free servicing. A concept of the Transit's successor was shown at the Hanover Fair in August. The van will go on sale in 2000.
Ford of France is sponsoring a new Chair of Manufacturing Science at the French business school, Institut National d'Administration Economique, 'to get some new ideas into manufacturing,' said Claude Brunet, the chief executive officer of Ford France. Brunet is a graduate of Fontainbleu, which is near Paris.
Trucks on Internet
Ford has become South America's first maker to sell trucks via the Internet. If it works, the company will extend it to pickups and cars. The site is titled www.ford.com.br.
GM: Dual-fuel incentives
GM's Vauxhall is the first carmaker to qualify for a new UK government sales incentive for liquefied petroleum gas-powered vehicles. Vauxhall has launched dual-fuel versions of the 2.0-liter Vauxhall Vectra and Omega that use either gasoline or liquefied petroleum gas. The models normally cost $3,250 extra. Three-quarters of the $3,250 will be paid by the government-sponsored energy-saving program, Powershift. The new 2.0-liter Astra gets a dual-fuel version in the UK this month.
Maserati: 2-year warranties
Maserati will offer a two-year warranty on its 3200GT. So far Maserati and parent Ferrari have offered only one-year warranties. Next year the Quattroporte Evoluzione will also be sold with a two-year warranty.
Nissan: Millennium guarantee
Nissan Europe has guaranteed all its current vehicles and their components against faults caused by Year 2000 computer failures. Andy Palmer, general manager, vehicle design and test, at Nissan's European Technology Center in the UK, said: 'We are confident that all Nissan products will be unaffected by Y2K problems.'
Peugeot: Fireworks for the 206
The new 206 will rival the 306 as Peugeot's UK best-seller next year with sales of up to 60,000, said Peugeot UK Managing Director Dick Parham. Fleet buyers will account for 30 percent of these sales. Last month Peugeot took 80 leading fleet buyers to a launch event 3,500 meters up the Schilthorn mountain in the Swiss Alps. During a fireworks display, the 206 arrived in a sling under a helicopter. The 206 will be launched in the UK on 5 November - the country's annual fireworks day remembering bomber Guy Fawkes.
Dual-fuel 306 and 406
Dual-fuel versions of the 1.8-liter Peugeot 306 and 406 will go on sale in the UK next spring. The models are already available in France, Belgium and Italy. The UK only started offering incentives for LPG/gasoline vehicles this summer through the Powershift government-funded energy-saving program. John Taylor, Peugeot's UK fleet and leasing director, said: 'A lot of companies that want to adopt an environmental stance have spoken to us about LPG.'
Pininfarina: Production record
Industrie Pininfarina raised production 68 percent to 25,449 units in the first half, compared with the same period in 1997, setting a January-to-June record for the company. Pretax profits for the first six months doubled to L33.5 billion ($20.9 million) on sales that rose 47 percent to L711.7 billion.
Renault: Polish sales record
Renault sold a record 19,112 cars in Poland in the eight months to August, 7.8 percent more cars than in the same period in 1997. Most popular was the new Clio, with 3,183 sales since its launch in May. The Kangoo was No. 2 with 2,558 sales.
Rover: Racing limited edition
Rover launched a limited edition Rover 200 model at the beginning of October to celebrate the carmaker's relationship with British Racing Motors in the 1960s. Rover will build 1,850 units of the 200BRM; 750 will be for sale in the UK.
Price is $25,575 in the UK. Most left-hand-drive versions will go to France and Italy.
British Racing Motors produced the world's first gas turbine racing car, which competed at Le Mans in 1963 and 1965.
Seat: De' Silva job confirmed
Walter de' Silva, Alfa Romeo's celebrated chief designer, has joined Seat. De' Silva will take charge of Seat's styling center, based in Martorell, Spain, in January.
Toyota: New Italian HQ
Distributor Toyota Motor Italia SpA will build a new headquarters on a greenfield site in Rome. The company will increase its capital to L75.5 billion ($47.2 million) to fund the new building. Toyota currently rents an office building just outside Rome.
Overseas output up 25%
Toyota's Japanese output declined 7.3 percent in August to 186,322 units, compared with a year earlier. However, production in the rest of the world rose 25.2 percent to 113,029 vehicles. Toyota's exports from Japan fell 25 percent to 88,952 units, compared with August 1997. Sales in Japan were down 10.7 percent to 86,590.
Reuters News Service
VW: Mosel fire halts production
Volkswagen lost part of one day's Golf and Passat production after a fire in the paint shop at its Mosel, Germany, plant. Normal output is 1,100 units a day.
Reuters News Service
Volkswagen will recall 180,611 Golf, Vento and Passat models imported to Japan between August 1992 and May 1998. The defects, including those in circuitry in engine control computers and insulation on parts measuring engine revolution speed, were found only in Japan, a spokeswoman said. No accidents have been reported as a result of the defects.
Reuters News Service
Pilot Golfs for VW in Brazil
The VW/Audi plant in the Brazilian state of Parana has started pilot assembly of the new Golf, based on CKD kits brought in from Wolfsburg, Germany. The work is being carried out by a team of 17 Brazilian assemblers - five of them women - fresh from a six-week training programme at Wolfsburg. Roberto Matos, VW/Audi final assembly manager, said: 'Women are more detail-conscious than men, so there's a lot of room for them in the auto industry.' Another 21 assemblers are due back from Germany this month. Workers at the Parana plant have already put together 34 pilot Audi A3s.
Volvo: US plant considered
Volvo may add car production at the Normal, Illinois, plant owned by Mitsubishi. Volvo and Mitsubishi are partners in the NedCar plant at Born, the Netherlands. The two companies are discussing spinoff products from the Volvo S40/V40 platform built at NedCar.
Volvo spokesman Ingmar Hesslefors said: 'We are in a phase of a very open discussion where we can bring anything up.' He dismissed as speculation a Swedish newspaper report that the product would be a sport-utility.
The Illinois idea is only one possibility, he said. Volvo might alternatively build more cars at the NedCar plant, or even expand production at its own plant in Ghent, Belgium.
Officials at Ghent say they are adding 50,000 cars a year to Ghent's current capacity of 150,000.
Mitsubishi's US factory is attractive because it is flexible and underused. It will produce about 160,000 cars this year - some 80,000 units below capacity.
Volvo will buy busmaker Mexicana de Autobuses and set up a light-vehicle assembly operation at the busmaker's plant in Tultitlan, near Mexico City.
Volvo also announced plans to assemble kit cars in Mexico for the local market. Total investment is $150 million.
Initially, Volvo plans to build 1,000 S70/V70 models a year for the Mexican market, beginning early next year.