SMART CHOICE GROWING
TITUSVILLE, Fla. - Smart Choice Automotive Group Inc. has increased its credit line with Finova Capital Corp. of Dallas by 75 percent so it can expand its auto finance business, said Fred Whaley, chief financial officer. The credit line is now $35 million, up from $20 million. Smart Choice, a publicly held chain of new-and used-car dealerships, has three buy-here/pay-here finance companies that write virtually all the loans for Smart Choice's 10 used-car lots. They service about 5,000 customers and have about $35 million in receivables. Smart Choice last week opened a used-car lot in Pinellas Park, Fla.
UPGRADE FOR FLINT
FLINT, Mich. - General Motors said it will spend about $300 million for new manufacturing equipment and tooling at its metal stamping plant here. The Flint metal center has 3,996 employees and produces engine cradles and sheet metal panels for GM cars, trucks and mid-sized vans. It is part of the company's Metal Fabricating Division. Mary Irby, GM spokeswoman, said the improvements should be completed within two to three years and will be for products through the 2001 model year. 'This is a real good commitment for us,' says Dwayne Zuckschwerdt, president of UAW Local 659, which represents the workers at the metal center. 'It gets us ready for new product.'
OUTPUT TO RISE
TOKYO - Anticipating strong exports, Japanese carmakers plan heavy production for May and June, according to a report in a Japanese newspaper. The Nihon Keizai Shimbun said Japanese carmakers plan to raise production in May to 900,000, up 17 percent from a year earlier. June output will be about 1 million, up 19 percent from June 1996, the business daily reported. With sales in Japan sluggish in the wake of an April tax increase, the extra output will go mainly to export markets and to rebuild inventories. However, if the current sales slump proves deeper and longer than expected, the projected June production could be scaled back, the newspaper said.
TOKYO - Three new Saturn stores will open in Japan in May, joining the 11 current Saturn outlets. The new stores will be in Kyoto, Yokohama and Kariya. The latter is an industrial city near Toyota City in central Japan. Saturn aims to have 20 outlets in Japan by year end. Saturn sales totaled 60 in April, its first month on sale in Japan.