Daewoo delays intro until '98
LOS ANGELES - Daewoo Motor Corp. said last week that it will delay its entry into the United States until early 1998. Daewoo had planned to enter the U.S. market in the fall of 1997.
However, in a press release announcing it had hired Leap Partnership of Chicago as its advertising agency, Daewoo Motor America (Central) noted that its introduction will occur in early 1998.
According to an unconfirmed Korean press report, Daewoo also said it will set up 50 factory-owned stores in the United States, rather than a traditional dealer-owned network. It also plans a promotional drive-and-test program that will let prospects drive a car for three months without charge while they decide whether to buy it.
A U.S. source said the free test may indeed start this fall, but that Daewoo won't do any 'serious business' until next year.
Hearings begin for Va. dealer
Hearings began last week in the franchise termination case against Bobby Crumpler, a Newport News, Va., dealer who was taped using a racial slur against an employee.
The case, now before the Virginia Department of Motor Vehicles, represents the first time a factory has tried to terminate a dealer on grounds of bigotry.
In December, Nissan Motor Corp. U.S.A. notified Crumpler it wanted to take away his franchise. Nissan acted after a Norfolk, Va., TV station aired a tape showing him mouthing off at an employee.
Nissan has other complaints against Crumpler, including sexual harassment and discrepancies in warranty claims, said a Department of Motor Vehicles spokeswoman.
A second hearing, on warranty issues, is scheduled July 28-Aug. 1.
A hearing examiner will make recommendations to the motor vehicle commissioner, who will decide if Crumpler will keep his franchise. The losing party can file an appeal with the Virginia Circuit Court.
Donna Lawrence Harris
NAFTA, so far: Volume, synergy
WASHINGTON - In the first three years of the North American Free Trade Agreement, imports of vehicles and auto parts from Mexico to the United States more than doubled to $22.9 billion in 1996.
Meanwhile, U.S. automotive exports to Mexico rose only 11 percent to $8.3 billion, even though Mexico had more trade barriers eliminated by the pact.
Nevertheless, in a long-awaited report on NAFTA, the Clinton administration declared Friday, July 11, the treaty 'has created synergies in the North American automotive market that will help ensure a globally competitive U.S. automotive industry.'
It said there probably would have been more demand for U.S. automotive products if Mexico had not had a deep recession in 1995 and 1996.
The report said NAFTA had 'a modest positive effect on U.S. net exports, income, investment and jobs supported by exports.'
Recall is record for Subaru
Fuji Heavy Industries Ltd. is recalling 336,384 Subaru Legacies, Imprezas and Isuzu Askas sold in Japan to fix problems with the cars' crank pulleys and alternators. Fuji builds the Askas for Isuzu.
The company is investigating whether another 410,000 export models, including 350,000 shipped to the United States, also need to be recalled.
It is the largest Subaru recall ever, topping one of 116,000 Legacies issued in May 1992, according to spokesman Naoya Iida.
Iida said that if a car's batteries are run down, the alternator could spark, leading to an engine shutdown. An improperly attached bolt holding the crank pulley could result in a loss of steering responsiveness.
James B. Treece
NHTSA budget may be raised
WASHINGTON - Federal lawmakers, gradually feeling less pressure to hold down spending, are moving forward with legislation to boost funding for transportation in fiscal 1998 by more than $5 billion, to $42.5 billion.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration would be a major beneficiary. It would get an 11 percent increase to $333 million under a bill approved by the House Appropriations Committee and sent to the full House for consideration.
Of NHTSA's new funds, $9 million would be earmarked for grants to the states to encourage them to pass tougher seat-belt laws. The bill also continues a ban on NHTSA spending for any change in the corporate average fuel economy standard.
New Volvos debut on Web
Volvo Cars of North America Inc. is spending about $700,000 to advertise on the Internet during a six-week period that ends this week.
The effort is part of the advertising launch for Volvo's new S70 sedan and V70 station wagon.
The manufacturer expects the ads to be seen by about 53 million visitors to various sites on the World Wide Web.
Frank S. Washington