BMW to build new plant, small car
BMW will produce a new small car at its Regensburg, Germany, plant beginning in 2004.
The company also plans to build a plant to provide extra capacity needed to accommodate the sub-3 series model. The new plant may be built central or eastern Europe.
Regensburg, which builds the 3 series, is currently running at full capacity.
'Central and eastern European countries stand a good chance for the new factory,' said spokesman Jurg Dinner. 'Within 10 years all central European countries will be members of the single European market. Today, these countries already count as Europe, and therefore we are looking into possible sites there.'
A decision on the location of the new plant and which models it would produce will be made by next summer.
Dinner said BMW has not decided on the concept of the new small car - referred to as the 2 series by the press - which will compete at the upper end of the lower-medium segment. That area is currently dominated by the VW Golf and Audi A3.
'There has been no decision yet whether it will feature front- or rear-wheel-drive,' Dinner said. 'It is likely that the new model line will be available in two or three body versions.'
The new car will be aimed mainly at the European market, but may be sold in the USA.
Autoliv goes online
DETROIT - Swedish safety system supplier Autoliv Inc. plans to join the Internet purchasing site formed by General Motors, Ford and DaimlerChrysler, making it the first European supplier to agree to join. The world's largest supplier of airbags joins Delphi Automotive Systems, Lear Corp., Johnson Controls and others who have agreed to participate in the Covisint online exchange.
Bentley on rise
CREWE, England - Bentley is adding workers at its headquarters here in preparation for the introduction of its new mid-size model. Bentley has hired 415 workers in the past six months to staff a new engineering and design center in Crewe.
Spurred by the introduction of the Red Label Arnage, Bentley sold 671 cars in January-June 2000 - up 22 percent on the same period last year. Bentley hopes the new mid-size model will help grow annual sales from around 1,200 to 9,000. It will be introduced within three years. Bentley is owned by VW group.
Faurecia adds plant
PARIS - Faurecia will build a new E30 million plant in the Walbrzych economic zone in lower Silesia, western Poland. The French supplier will manufacture metal components for seats at the 72,000 square meter site. Production is scheduled to start up in early 2002.
UK price gap
BRUSSELS - The UK is still the most expensive place to buy a new car in the EU, according to the latest study from the European Commission. The six-monthly report said UK new-car buyers are still paying much more than those in mainland Europe, a situation made worse by the appreciation of the British pound against the euro. Competition Commissioner Mario Monti criticized carmakers for their UK prices and warned their behavior would be considered in his report on the future of block exemption, which gives carmakers control over their distribution networks in Europe.
Diana T. Kurylko