Chrysler calm as minivans dip
Chrysler Corp.'s minivan sales are slipping this year, but there's no panic in Auburn Hills, Mich., says K. Neil Walling, Chrysler's design director. 'People are nervous because minivan growth no longer is astronomical,' Walling said. 'It's still the right vehicle for a huge number of people.' Chrysler's minivan sales in May were down 6.2 percent from May 1996. In the first five months of this year, its minivan sales were down 5.2 percent from the corresponding period of 1996. But Chrysler still carries a commanding 42.6 percent share of the minivan market in the United States. Walling said Chrysler won't start sweating until it sees a continuing downward and accelerating trend.
NEW GUIDEBOOK BOSS - The National Automobile Dealers Association has named Scott Lilja executive director of the NADA Used Car Guide Book Co., a new title. Lilja will oversee staff management, marketing and production of NADA's print and electronic appraisal guides. Previously, Lilja was director of quality service and customer development at Finish Master Corp. in Grand Rapids, Mich. He also has worked for 3M Corp. NADA has been searching for someone to head its guidebook operations since Jan Ocean resigned as editor of the N.A.D.A. Official Used Car Guide last October. NADA prints 422,746 copies of the Official Used Car Guide and 462,621 copies of the N.A.D.A. Official Used Car Guide Retail Consumer Edition quarterly.
IPO JITTERS - Ramsay Gillman, president of the National Automobile Dealers Association and chairman of the Houston-based Gillman Cos., has backed off his plans for an initial public stock offering. 'You get up to the goal line then find (stock) prices are a little too low. At the present time, it is not worth it for me,' said Gillman. 'We'd have to have the investment community express more interest in retail auto stocks.'
ENJOY THE JAZZ - Nissan Motor Corp. U.S.A. has donated $250,000 to the Thelonius Monk Institute of Jazz in Los Angeles, which will bring the sound of music to fans and musicians through concerts, master classes, workshops, lectures, seminars and interactive technology. The donation was in conjunction with the announcement that the institute will be the in-house jazz company for the Los Angeles Music Center.