Thomas retires from Honda
LOS ANGELES - Richard Thomas, whose 20-year career at American Honda Motor Co. Inc. was capped by a five-year stint as general manager of Acura Division, will retire today, Feb. 1.
Thomas led Acura Division from February 1993 through September 1998.
At that time, his duties were added to those of Honda Division General Manager Dick Colliver, and Thomas was named an adviser to American Honda President Koichi Amemiya.
As head of Acura, Thomas oversaw the changing of the product line from names to alphanumeric designations, the launching of dealer customer-satisfaction and certified used-car programs and the redesign of the entire product line.
Thomas, 60, joined American Honda in 1978 on the parts and service side. He was executive vice president before moving over to Acura.
Va. local OKs Volvo contract
In an abrupt about-face, a UAW local approved a new six-year contract with Volvo Trucks North America Inc. less than two weeks after first rejecting the agreement.
The ratification paves the way for a $148 million expansion by Volvo at its Dublin, Va., assembly plant that will boost annual production 60 percent, to 50,000 heavy trucks. Volvo is also planning to add nearly 1,300 people to the current work force of 2,400 hourly and salaried employees.
The company, a unit of AB Volvo of Sweden, was investigating alternate expansion sites in South Carolina and Mexico in case it did not get a new agreement with UAW Local 2069 in Dublin.
The contract was essentially identical to the one rejected overwhelmingly Jan. 17 by hourly workers. A UAW local official said the agreement approved last week was modified by Volvo to allow new hires to qualify for health benefits sooner.
Airbag problems prompt recalls
WASHINGTON - Subaru recalled 95,000 cars last week, and Porsche recalled 2,000 because airbags deploy when they should not.
The Subarus are 1994-95 Imprezas and 1995-96 Legacys. Dealers will remove front tow hooks. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration had investigated the cars since December 1996, but the company said last Friday, Jan. 29, that no defect was found. It agreed to remove the hooks so they will not strike curbs, railroad tracks or other obstacles.
Porsche recalled about 2,000 of its 1996-model 911s. Company spokesman Bob Carlson said Porsche has learned that electrical spikes caused 31 inadvertent deployments. It has a remedy - installation of a horn relay with a filter.
Porsche needs exec, ad firm
Porsche Cars North America Inc. is looking for a new marketing chief as it prepares to hear presentations next week from five agencies vying for its $10 million account, reported Advertising Age, a sister publication to Automotive News, in today's issue.
Joel Ewanick quietly left more than a month ago as general manager of marketing for Porsche. He had held the post seven years.
Vying for the account are Carmichael Lynch of Minneapolis; Richards Group of Dallas; Leagas Delaney of San Francisco; WestWayne of Atlanta; and Kowloon Wholesale Seafood Co. of Santa Monica, Calif. A decision could come by the end of next week. Goodby, Silverstein & Partners of San Francisco, which had the account for five years, is not participating in the review.