Beetle watch in farm country
Folks in Champaign County in Illinois believe they might be in the running for a new Volkswagen assembly plant. The rumor started when the local newspaper, The News-Gazette, reported a 'mystery company' was buying options to acquire 2,700 acres in the county. Norfolk Southern Corp., a railroad in Norfolk, Va., is acting on behalf of the mystery company, the newspaper reported. Norfolk Southern, which has put together land deals for other industrial companies - including Toyota Motor Corp. in Georgetown, Ky., - declined to comment. Last year Volkswagen Chairman Ferdinand Piech said VW probably would need a second plant in North America if worldwide annual sales hit 5 million units, something he expects to happen in 1999. VW's global sales were 4.26 million in 1997 and 4.58 million last year. However, Klaus Kocks, a VW spokesman in Germany, said last week that the company is not looking for a U.S. site. He said VW had been considering a second plant in Mexico, but has put that decision on hold.
D/C WAITS, WATCHES -DaimlerChrysler will decide within three months whether to acquire a stake in financially ailing Nissan Motor Co. Ltd., Chairman Juergen Schrempp said last week in a speech in Bayreuth, Germany. DaimlerChrysler has expressed interest in Nissan's truck unit, Nissan Diesel, and in the parent company. Buying part of Japan's second-largest automaker would give DaimlerChrysler better access to Asian markets.
MILESTONE - In October 1995, Ford Motor Co. began inviting dealers and dealership managers to 31/2-day team-building sessions to boost customer satisfaction and owner loyalty. This week Ford will host its 100th XL2000 dealership conference. So far, 10,400 dealers and managers from 1,800 dealerships and 2,600 Ford employees have attended the exercises in building trust and positive attitudes. Ford pays for the dealer principal and five additional managers to attend. But so far dealers have shelled out $2,500 a person to enroll an additional 1,500 managers.
JAC THE SNIPPER - Ford Motor Co. President Jac Nasser has made a career of targeting inefficiency and waste within the company, earning him the not-so-nice sobriquet, 'Jac the Knife.' But in a recent speech before Town Hall Los Angeles, Nasser embraced the moniker: 'Consumers don't want to pay for others' inefficiency, bad business decisions, poor productivity and bad strategic plans. If being 'Jac the Knife' means cutting all that out to give the consumer and shareholder better value, then I'm guilty.'