Ford reported bidding for Kia
Ford Motor Co. is negotiating to increase its stake in Korea's Kia Motors Corp., according to a Ford official who declined to be identified.
Ford is talking with representatives of the Korean automaker, the Korean government and lenders, the official said.
In April, Ford Vice Chairman Wayne Booker met with Kia and Korean government officials. At that time, Ford said it was willing to consider increasing its investment in Kia given 'certain circumstances' that Ford would not make public.
Unconfirmed Korean press reports last week said Ford may acquire 51 percent of Kia. Ford and affiliate Mazda Motor Corp. now own a combined 17 percent of the Korean company.
Grey closes G2, Mitsubishi unit
HUNTINGTON BEACH, Calif. - Grey Advertising is closing its G2 unit, which exclusively services client Mitsubishi Motor Sales of America Inc. The closing follows Mitsubishi's recent notification that it would review its $75 million to $90 million contract with Grey when the contract expires this October. A Grey spokeswoman said the agency would not participate in such a review. G2 this month lost a pitch for Mitsubishi's $50 million Galant sedan launch to Deutsch of New York and Marina del Rey, Calif. Deutsch also won Mitsubishi's consolidated dealer assignment earlier this year.
Crain News Service
Nissan Diesel turns to U.S.
TOKYO - Nissan Diesel Motor Co. plans to start exporting pickup trucks to the United States to compensate for its lost sales in Southeast Asia.
Nissan Diesel will ship 2- and 3-ton pickups this year, spokeswoman Emiko Ohtani said. Volume has not been decided, she said. In 1997, Nissan Diesel's U.S. sales of 3.5- to 7-ton trucks totaled about 2,800.
Before Asia plunged into an economic crisis last year, it accounted for up to 70 percent of Nissan Diesel's overseas sales.
James B. Treece
May sales expected to rise
NEW YORK - Spurred by incentives, May sales are expected to be higher than the year-ago month. But analysts expect sales to slow in the second half of the year.
Thanks to incentives, the seasonally adjusted annual sales rate for May should be 15.7 million light vehicles, up from 14.9 million in the year-ago month, said David Garrity, auto industry analyst for CIBC Oppenheimer Corp. in New York.
But the same incentives that are boosting sales now are pulling ahead sales that would have taken place later in the year. Relatively strong third-quarter sales last year also will make year-ago comparisons more difficult.
Asbury group adds Thomason
Asbury Automotive Group said it had acquired 51 percent of the Thomason Auto Group, which has nine dealerships and three stand-alone used-car lots. Thomason is based in Portland, Ore., and has annual revenues of around $500 million. Terms were not disclosed.
Tom Gibson, Asbury chairman and CEO, said the acquisition takes Asbury to 58 dealerships nationwide and projected annual revenues of about $2.5 billion.
Asbury intends to go public, but Gibson will not say when. He said Asbury wants eight to 10 regional 'platform groups.' Counting the Oregon group, there are now seven, including Atlanta, Dallas, Houston, St. Louis, and Jacksonville and Tampa, Fla.
Asbury is based in Conshohocken, Pa., near Philadelphia.
LM said to eye big cable buy
Lincoln Mercury is considering shifting most of its TV budget from national broadcast to cable during the next year, Advertising Age reports.
The move could boost Lincoln Mercury's cable spending to as much as $70 million, about quadrupling what it spent on the medium last year, according to several broadcast and cable TV executives.
'We have not made any decisions on our spending yet,' said Dave Ropes, Ford Motor Co.'s director of corporate advertising and integrated marketing. He said the automaker is a few weeks away from a decision.