Z IS COMING ...
Nissan North America announced that the Z sports car will be sold in the United States beginning in spring 2002. Although Renault SA, Nissan Motor Corp. Ltd.'s new partner, has not officially signed off on the deal, it is expected to do so and may even contribute the platform, said Minoru Nakamura, Nissan North America president. Nissan has not decided on the final design.
... BUT 3000GT IS GONE
Mitsubishi Motor Sales of America Inc. will delete the 3000GT sports car from its lineup at the end of the 1999 model year, sources said. Mitsubishi made the decision after finding that only 10 percent of 3000GT sales were of the high-performance VR-4 turbo model, which made the rest of the sales vulnerable to cannibalization by the new Eclipse. Both the base 3000GT and the top-end Eclipse are powered by similar-displacement V-6 engines, although the 3000GT's is slightly more powerful. Mitsubishi sold 4,164 of the 3000GT and Spyder last year.
MONTERO SPORT UPGRADES
Mitsubishi Motor Sales of America Inc. will give a mid-cycle change to the Montero Sport sport-utility for the 2000 model year. Mitsubishi will delete the four-cylinder engine (making the 3.0-liter V-6 the base engine) and widen the trim level availability of the up-market 3.5-liter V-6. The leaf-spring rear suspension has been replaced by a more expensive and responsive coil-spring system, and 16-inch wheels are now standard. The front and rear fascia, cladding and interior were restyled by Mitsubishi's California design studio.
Mazda Motor Corp. projects an operating profit of $373 million for the fiscal year ended March 31, nearly double its profit from last fiscal year. The company also announced that, as a result of a $1.5 billion cost-cutting effort, it can now break even at 40 percent less utilized capacity than it would have required in 1995. Were Mazda to have a volume year like its 1991 peak, one executive said, the company would post a $2.5 billion profit.
HYUNDAI HELPS KIA
The first direct product assistance from Hyundai Motor to its Kia Motors acquisition will be the use of a Hyundai powerplant in the Kia Sedona minivan, which arrives next spring. A 3.5-liter V-6 Hyundai engine will be used instead of the 2.5-liter V-6 Kia powerplant originally proposed. However, noted Kia Motors America President Ahn Byung-Mo: 'The mission is not to turn Kia into Hyundai.'
To illustrate how reasonable BMW prices are - or how unreasonable they were a decade ago -an all-new 3-series coupe, the 2000 model 323Ci, costs only $40 more than the old 325is coupe cost in 1990.
Two new 3-series coupes, the 323Ci and the 328Ci, made their U.S. debuts at the New York show last week. They go on sale in July. The manufacturer's suggested retail prices for the two cars will be $28,990 for the 323Ci and $33,990 for the 328Ci. All prices include $570 destination and handling.
Vic Doolan, president of BMW of North America Inc., also announced that 2000-model M5 buyers will automatically be invited to a two-day performance-driving school at the BMW Performance Center now being built at the BMW plant near Spartanburg, S.C.
LIKE THE WEATHER
Brazil's economy is as changeable as the weather. Last week, General Motors President Rick Wagoner acknowledged that GM does not expect to make money in South America this year. Wagoner ruefully noted that one could get whiplash trying to track Brazil's boom-or-bust gyrations.
'Every day is a new day,' Wagoner said. 'If the economy is bad today, it will probably be good tomorrow. And if it's good today, it will probably be bad tomorrow.'
Buick is coaxing its dealers to build all-new flagship dealerships, but it will not happen quickly. Dealers have completed five flagship stores so far, and the division expects to see another six to eight stores completed this year. Roger Adams, Buick's marketing general manager, said a total of 12 new stores are on the drawing board, although some will not be completed until next year. Buick is providing some financial assistance.