D/C, AB Volvo talks
FRANKFURT - DaimlerChrysler has begun negotiations with AB Volvo about buying the Swedish truckmaker's 3 percent stake in Mitsubishi Motors Corp.
According to a Mitsubishi source, the relationship with Volvo has been strained since DaimlerChrysler took a 34 percent stake in Mitsubishi last year.
Volvo also planned to take a stake in Mitsubishi's commercial vehicle business.
The source said Volvo is concerned that D/C will get information about joint projects it is planning with Mitsubishi, and now want to break its ties with the Japanese maker.
GM in Russia JV
General Motors has formed a E360 million joint venture with Russia's AvtoVAZ to make a small sport-utility.
The vehicle will be built at AvtoVAZ's plant in Togliatti, near Moscow. It will be an updated version of the Lada Niva, and will be badged as a Chevrolet. Production is due to start in 2002.
In the future, GM hopes to use Russia as a base from which to export parts and niche vehicles to western Europe, said David Herman, GM's vice president for Russia and the Commonwealth of Independent States.
He added: 'GM is clearly not doing this just to produce Nivas.'
Cuts at Lotus
Group Lotus, the British sports car manufacturer and automotive engineering consultancy, announced a redundancy program to take place over the next few months.
The industry downturn, coupled with delays in the production ramp-up of the new Lotus Elise and the Opel Speedster/ Vauxhall VX220, have created a shortfall in revenue, Lotus said in a statement.
The layoffs will be in Hethel and Coventry, England, and could be up to 300 - approximately 15 percent of the work force.
World vehicle production grew 3.2 percent to a record 57.5 million units last year, according to OICA, the International Organization of Automobile Manufacturers.
The previous record was 55.7 million units in 1999.
Passenger cars were up 3.5 percent to 40.8 million, and light-commercial vehicles were up 2.3 percent to 14.6 million. Production of heavy trucks and buses also grew.
Western Europe remained the major region for passenger car production, accounting for 36.6 percent of the 2000 total. But it had 37.7 percent in 1999. What was lost last year by western Europe was gained by Asia Pacific, which had 32.7 percent of the total. It had 31.7 in 1999.