Superstores invade Calif.
LOS ANGELES - CarMax and AutoNation USA will bring national brand used-car superstores to Southern California.
Last week, CarMax signed a deal to open a used-car superstore by mid-1998 in Duarte, northeast of Los Angeles. CarMax is talking about a second site with the City of Ontario, in San Bernardino County, 20 miles east of Duarte.
CarMax's Duarte store will be on 15 acres with a 2,000-car parking lot. The Ontario site is projected to be on 28 acres, with a monthly volume of 700 to 1,000 vehicles, developers said.
AutoNation USA recently received approval from the Long Beach City Council to build a superstore on the site of a closed naval hospital there. AutoNation USA is close to finalizing real estate deals in Ontario and neighboring Rancho Cucamonga.
GM Card cuts rebates again
For the second time in less than a year, General Motors is shaving its rebate-generating program for GM Card holders.
On June 30, GM will end all its credit card partnerships with Mobil Corp., MCI Communications Corp. and Marriott Hotels - the only remaining partners in the program. The partnerships helped GM's 8 million regular and gold MasterCard holders accumulate points for rebates on GM vehicles.
Last fall, GM cut in half the $7,000 in rebates its Gold GM Card customers could earn in seven years.
Crain News Service
Honda begins EVPlus leasing
LOS ANGELES - Honda Division launched its EVPlus electric vehicle last week by leasing six vehicles.
Honda is leasing its EVPlus from just four dealerships in Southern California and Sacramento. The company plans to lease 300 vehicles during the next three years.
The Honda EVPlus leases for $499 a month, compared to a California monthly lease rate of $399 for the General Motors EV1. However, the Honda payment includes physical damage insurance, an unlimited mileage warranty and roadside assistance.
Nissan debuts a hybrid EV
TOKYO - Nissan Motor Co. has developed a hybrid electric research vehicle that uses advanced lithium-ion batteries rather than the nickel-metal hydride batteries used in Toyota Motor Corp.'s hybrid.
Nissan's hybrid uses a series-type powerplant, meaning that the 1.3-liter gasoline engine is used solely to drive a generator that in turn recharges the vehicle's batteries. All propulsion power comes from the batteries.
Nissan said its EV delivers about twice the driving range of a conventional gasoline engine, and five times that of a conventional electric vehicle on the same amount of fuel.
Nissan said it intends to pursue development 'with the aim of commercializing hybrid vehicles at the earliest possible date.'
James B. Treece
Lear foresees tech link
DETROIT - Lear Corp. hopes to use its planned purchase of Goodyear's plastic instrument panel business to link technology with a European company Lear acquired last year.
But Lear, supplier of seats and vehicle interiors, has not yet signed a letter of intent to acquire the business and Good- year's Logan, Ohio, plant, said Lear Chairman Ken Way, at the company's annual shareholders' meeting. Way said Goodyear's instrument panel technology would be used to cross-pollinate the technology of Borealis Industrier, which Lear acquired in December. That company is a top provider of instrument panels to Scandinavia.
His comments were Lear's first acknowledgement that it is negotiating to acquire Goodyear Tire & Rubber Co.'s instrument panel operation.
Nissan plant opens in Tenn.
DECHERD, Tenn. - Six years after first proposing it, Nissan Motor Manufacturing Corp. U.S.A. last week opened a new U.S. powertrain assembly plant here.
The $80 million plant will build 200,000 four-cylinder engines a year for the redesigned 1998 Altima.
Next March, the Decherd plant will begin building trans- axles. It will supply up to 300,000 automatic transmissions a year for the Altima, Quest and Mercury Villager.
The engine plant plan was shelved when Nissan's parent company encountered financial problems.