Auto news digest

MUNICH, Germany - Dumping the money-losing Rover Group has served BMW AG well. Profit more than doubled for the German automaker in the second quarter and the first half of this year compared with year-ago figures.

The second-quarter profit was $446 million, up 126.3 percent. The first-half profit was $793.5 million, up 192.8 percent. The company sold a record 459,835 BMW-brand vehicles worldwide in the first half, up 9.2 percent.

Siemens sells Sachs to ZF

FRANKFURT - Siemens AG said Aug. 3 that it would sell most of its Sachs auto components unit to German supplier ZF Friedrichshafen, Reuters reported.

Price details were not given, but the value of the Sachs unit has been estimated at as much as $1.32 billion.

Sachs had sales of $2.21 billion in 2000.

ZF, with sales of $5.75 billion in 2000, will acquire Sachs' drive systems components and chassis activities but not the $348 million Stabilus gas springs operation.

Mazda closes engineering office

LOS ANGELES - Mazda North American Operations last month quietly shuttered its U.S. advanced engineering department in Irvine, Calif. The layoff involved six senior engineers, several of whom had more than 15 years at Mazda.

A spokesman said the company thinks that advanced engineering can best be handled at Mazda's main r&d center in Hiroshima, Japan.

Toyota clarifies comment

LOS ANGELES - Responding to media reports last week, Toyota Motor Sales U.S.A. Inc. said a comment by President Yoshi Inaba regarding dealer growth was misunderstood in translation.

A spokesman said Toyota plans on future sales growth to be handled by its existing dealers, rather than by adding dealers.

GM to close Europe plants

TRAVERSE CITY, Mich. - General Motors could announce more plant closures in Europe this fall, CFO John Devine said. 'In Europe, we're taking a hard look at the business, and we'll have something to say in a few months,' he said Wednesday, Aug. 8, at the Management Briefing Seminars.

No plant shutdowns are planned for North America.

DCX makes deal with AT&T

TRAVERSE CITY, Mich. - DaimlerChrysler AG will work with AT&T Wireless to develop its telematics system in North America for Mercedes-Benz USA, the Chrysler group and Freightliner Corp.

In doing so, the automaker has chosen to work with an existing company for its telematics services.

Rivals General Motors, with OnStar, and Ford Motor Co., with Wingcast, chose to set up separate business entities.

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