Looking ahead to the 1999 Story of the Year, Automotive News editors and reporters have mergers on their minds. The staff predicts Ford Motor Co. is the most likely buyer and Nissan Motor Co. Ltd. is most likely to be gobbled up.
Here are some of the 1999 predictions on mergers and other matters:
Ford buys Nissan.
DaimlerChrysler AG buys Nissan.
DaimlerChrysler buys Fiat S.p.A.
Honda Motor Co. Inc. merges with a U.S. or European maker, probably Ford. Mazda Motor Corp. gets lost in the shuffle.
Ford and BMW AG merge.
ToyotaFord Ltd. is formed. Jac Nasser meets his waterloo.
Microsoft Corp. buys General Motors and plans car with 'cntrl/alt/delete' buttons in place of ignition key.
Nissan or Mitsubishi Motors Corp. becomes the 'Chrysler' in a DaimlerChrysler-like merger with a non-Japanese partner.
The ultimate merger: General Motors, Ford, Nissan, Mazda, BMW and Kia Motors Corp. team up in a massive combine that makes DaimlerChrysler look like chump change.
William Clay Ford Jr. quits as Ford chairman to run the Sierra Club.
Spurred by Bill Ford, Ford Motor plans a stable of electric vehicles - an Escort EV for commuters, a Taurus EV for fleets, a Windstar EV for families.
Continuing economic turmoil in emerging nations undermines efforts by world automakers to build cars in those markets.
The United States and the auto industry slide into recession.
PROPHETIC OR PATHETIC?
Looking back a year, staff members scored a few hits and a lot of misses with their predictions for 1998.
They prophesied that Lincoln would outsell Cadillac for the first time since 1939. Lincoln was the model-year winner. The calendar-year figures aren't in yet, but Lincoln led by 6,783 at the end of November.
The staff expected the Asian financial crisis to escalate in 1998, and it did.
Other prognostications were shot down.
A staffer thought that H. Wayne Huizenga would bail out of Republic Industries Inc. in 1998 and that Republic would crash and burn. He didn't, and it didn't.
Another guess was that the sport-utility boom would taper off in 1998 because of high insurance rates and that it would become politically incorrect to own a sport-utility. Well, that's not exactly what happened.