BMW plans big S.C. expansion
BMW AG is expected to announce this week that it will double its investment in the expansion of its U.S. assembly plant.
The factory, in Spartan-burg County, S.C., already is expanding to add a second vehicle line, a BMW 'sport-activity vehicle.' But on Tuesday, May 12, BMW is expected to say that it will further increase production and spend $400 million on the project, not $200 million as originally planned.
That would bring the German automaker's total investment at the plant to $1 billion.
A spokesman for BMW Manufacturing Corp., the U.S. production unit, would not confirm details of the plan last week.
Republic buying Ariz. dealerships
Republic Industries Inc. said Friday, May 8, that it will acquire Brown & Brown Venture Group in Mesa, Ariz. Brown & Brown operates two Nissan dealerships and a Chevrolet dealership in the Phoenix area.
The purchase price, which was not disclosed, will be paid in Republic cash or stock. Henry Brown, president of the group, has signed an employment agreement to work for Republic.
Brown & Brown is No. 36 on Automotive News' list of the top 100 dealer groups, with sales of $486.3 million last year.
With a rapid series of acquisitions, Republic, which is based in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., has become the nation's largest dealership organization by buying 60 dealer groups with about 300 franchises and sales in excess of $7.5 billion last year.
T-bird will use Lincoln base
DETROIT - Ford Motor Co. said Friday, May 8, that the Thunderbird will return as a rear-wheel-drive sport coupe built on the company's forthcoming DEW platform.
Ford confirmed the Thunderbird's revival but would not specify a model year. It is not expected before the 2001 model year because it shares a platform with the Lincoln LS that bows in the 2000 model year. Both cars will be built at Ford's plant in Wixom, Mich.
Ford Division would not comment on industry speculation that the Thunderbird is likely to be revived as a convertible. 'We're still working on configuration,' a spokesman said.
The Thunderbird was introduced as a 1955 two-seat convertible, and the design of the new one will draw on the heritage of the original, Ford said. The Thunderbird was discontinued in 1997.
Ford uses Web for used cars
Ford Motor Co. is selling used vehicles to consumers over the Internet in Boston and Houston.
Ford's new Internet site - www.fordpreowned.com - sells factory-certified Ford, Lincoln and Mercury models that are no more than 3 years old with fewer than 36,000 miles. Customers order directly from Ford Motor Co. inventories and take delivery at a local dealership.
If successful, the program could expand, Ford said.
Vehicle prices are not negotiable. Vehicles carry a 12-month/12,000-mile warranty, or the balance remaining on the factory new-vehicle warranty.
Vehicles are delivered to a dealership within 48 hours. Customers may test drive the model, and are not required to accept the vehicle. Customers may return the unit within three days or 300 miles after purchase.
Buyers also may apply to purchase or lease the vehicle through Ford Motor Credit Co. via the Web site. The consumer and the selected dealer are notified of credit approval within minutes, Ford said.
Honda's China deal proceeds
TOKYO - Honda Motor Co. will pay $200 million as part of its plan to build Accords in China beginning next year.
The sum buys half ownership in a car-assembly company and an engine maker, as well as the rights to manufacture and sell cars in China. Those rights were part of the former Peugeot-affiliated Guangzhou Automobile Project.
Last November, Honda agreed to replace Peugeot in the car venture. Peugeot pulled out last year after several years when production and sales failed to come close to its plant's capacity.
Guangzhou Honda Automobile Co. Ltd. and Dongfeng Honda Engine Co. Ltd. are in Guangzhou City, in southern China near Hong Kong.
The venture will begin by making 30,000 Accords and engines a year. Output may be raised to 50,000.
James B. Treece