New Rolls boss
BMW has put one of its top executives in charge of producing the next Rolls-Royce and has reaffirmed that the car will be built at a factory in the UK. Karl-Heinz Kalbfell, 49, BMW Group director of product and brand strategy, will be responsible for launching the new car. BMW is exploring a number of possible plant sites.
A BMW spokesman said the company wants to end speculation that the car would be made in Germany or at the company's plant in Spartanburg, South Carolina, USA. BMW takes over Rolls-Royce when Volkswagen gives up the marque January 1 2003. VW will keep Bentley.
Chrysler reveals minivan concept
Chrysler will unveil a minivan concept, called the Java, at the Frankfurt auto show next month. Rear passengers in the Renault Megane Scenic-sized Java sit higher than the front passengers. Chrysler describes it as 'an automotive form of theater seating.'
Fiat exec to UK
Jim Blades, who was managing director of Fiat UK from 1992-1997, has returned to that job after two years in Turin restructuring Fiat's international marketing department. Blades will remain involved with Fiat's internal e-commerce and customer relations management projects, and will also serve as chairman of Fiat Auto Ireland. Geoff Smyth, who succeeded Blades in the UK job, has been appointed managing director of Fiat Auto Nederland.
Mitsui plans Welsh European base
Japanese supplier Mitsui Components will establish its European manufacturing headquarters in Ammanford, Wales, in the UK. A new company, Mitsui Components Europe, will produce door-latch assemblies, and will initially supply Honda and Toyota in the UK and France. Mitsui started looking for a European base in 1998.
TOKYO - Toyota has agreed to license its direct-injection gasoline engine technology to Volkswagen AG, Toyota spokesman Shino Yamada said. In addition, Toyota is said to be considering buying direct-injection diesel engines from VW for use in luxury sedans Toyota will sell in Europe.
Mitsubishi steel will cut weight
TOKYO - Mitsubishi's next Pajero will use a new steel sheet that it says will reduce the weight of chassis parts by about 13 percent.
The new steel was developed together with Nippon Steel Corp., Sumitomo Metal Industries and Kobe Steel.