Fuji chief charged with bribe
TOKYO - Isamu Kawai, chairman of Fuji Heavy Industries Ltd., was arrested last week on charges that he bribed a Japanese politician in connection with a military contract.
The charge is not related to Fuji's Subaru car business. Kawai, 76, is the architect and executor of the company's auto comeback in the 1990s. He pushed the carmaker to focus on all-wheel-drive cars and rebuilt its ties to Nissan Motor Co., which owns about 4 percent of Fuji, and to its banks.
Former Fuji Heavy managing director Yasuyuki Kogura, 64, also has been arrested. They are suspected of slipping ¥5 million, or about $41,670, to Yojiro Nakajima, a member of parliament, to keep Fuji in the running for a major defense contract.
BANGKOK, Thailand - AutoAlliance (Thailand) Co. has exported its first Ford and Mazda pickups, two months ahead of schedule. Because of the collapse of demand in Thailand, local carmakers such as AutoAlliance, a venture joining Ford Motor Co., Mazda Motor Corp. and Thai partners, have stepped up exports.
Beginning with the first shipment to Australia and New Zealand, AutoAlliance (Thailand) eventually will export one-ton pickups to more than 80 markets.
GM PICKS VAN
BANGKOK, Thailand - General Motors scratched plans to build a mid-sized car at its Thailand plant, instead choosing a highly adaptable minivan, Bloomberg News Service reported. The Zafira van, produced by Opel, seats seven, but can be reconfigured to seat two people and carry cargo.
Production is scheduled for mid-2000, and GM said 40,000 Zafiras will roll off the line in the first year. Two-thirds of those will be exported. The plant, in Rayong, Thailand, is GM's premier Asian factory.
GREY GETS OK
LOS ANGELES - Autobytel.com, an Internet buying service that refers customers to dealers, has awarded its ad account to Grey Advertising Inc. in New York. The contract indicates Autobytel.com intends to expand its advertising in traditional media besides the Internet. Its 1998 ad spending totaled $20 million.