NEW FIAT LOGO
After 25 years of duty, Fiat Auto S.p.A. will replace its badge - five chromed bars tilted at an 18-degree angle - when the Punto replacement is introduced in July. The new logo is an evolution of the one introduced by Fiat in 1921: a circular badge with the typical 'corona d'alloro' racing victory crown and, inside, the Fiat name. The circular logo was used until the late 1970s.
Meanwhile, commenting on the merger frenzy gripping the auto industry, Fiat honorary president Giovanni Agnelli said he thinks Fiat must grow to survive.
'Many times, critics have accused Fiat of being too big, too invasive,' Agnelli said. 'Only someone who doesn't know the auto business could say something like that. Personally, I think we are too small.'
NEW BEETLE HAS LIMITS
Volkswagen AG has shelved plans to build the New Beetle in Germany. Jens Neumann, VW board member for product strategy, said the car sells very well in North America but has not had the anticipated impact in Europe. 'We would need European demand of 75,000 cars a year to justify production here,' he said. 'At the moment, that figure does not look likely.'
ALFA'S EYES ON THE SKY
Because of strong demand for the 156, Alfa Romeo executives say they will build a record 240,000 vehicles this year. The previous record, 233,207, was set in 1989.
BUT NOT FOR THE U.S.
Mike Jackson, president of Mercedes-Benz of North America Inc., said the assembly plants in Vance, Ala., and Graz, Austria, will build a combined 95,000 M-class sport-utilities this year, with 55,000 to be sold in the United States. In 2000, the plants will produce 110,000 M-class units, but the United States still will get 55,000 units.
2 OPTIONS FOR BMW
BMW AG will decide at the end of March whether to invest some $2.4 billion to modernize the Rover Group's plant in Longbridge, England, or build a new plant in Gyor, Hungary, at an undisclosed cost. The decision on where to make the next Rover 200 and 400 hinges in part on whether the British government will invest some £200 million (about $325 million) in the project, Rover Chairman Werner Saemann said. The BMW supervisory board will decide at the end of March, he said.