Nissan pulls out of Le Mans race
LOS ANGELES - COO Carlos Ghosn's cost-cutting ax has taken a big chunk out of Nissan Motor Co. Ltd.'s global motor racing image. The company announced it will no longer compete in the 24 Hours of Le Mans endurance race, seen as one of the most prestigious competitions in the world.
Nissan's best year at Le Mans was 1998, with a third-place finish and all four of its factory-backed cars finishing in the top 10. This year, the top Nissan finished sixth.
The cuts come as rivals Toyota and Honda have increased their investments in racing. A Toyota came in second in this year's Le Mans race, and Honda won yet another CART championship in America. Honda will enter Formula 1 racing next year, while Toyota is expected to enter in the 2001 season.
The company made no comment regarding Nissan's commitment to the Indy Racing League. Ghosn has said, 'All competitions where we have no chance to win, we will get out.'
Dakota quads start at $19,490
DETROIT - The new 2000 Dodge Dakota Quad Cab pickups are priced at $19,490 with two-wheel drive and $22,135 with four-wheel drive. The prices include the $520 destination charge.
Mullinax leaves AutoNation
Former auto dealer Jerry Mullinax resigned from AutoNation Inc. late last week, days after the retailer announced it would lay off 150 employees.
Mullinax, a senior district vice president for AutoNation in South Florida, was the second dealer to sell his chain to AutoNation and helped the company shape its no-haggle sales strategy. Faisal Ahmed, the district vice president for South Florida for AutoNation, also is resigning.
The two executives are leaving because their management contracts have expired, said an AutoNation spokesman. Mike Shad, who runs a Jacksonville, Fla., Ford dealership for AutoNation, will replace Mullinax, and Steve Strader, the company's vice president for franchise stores, will replace Ahmed.
AutoNation, the nation's largest dealership group, last week laid off 150 staff members, mostly at its Fort Lauderdale, Fla., headquarters. The company said most are related to the spinoff of its rental car business.
Ford to build new engines
DETROIT - Ford Motor Co. will build a new family of inline four- and five- cylinder engines at four factories around the world. The new family gradually will replace Ford's line of Zetec four-cylinder engines in compact cars and small sport-utilities.
Annual production will approach 2 million units by 2004, accounting for 25 percent of Ford's total engine output. Next summer, factories in Dearborn, Mich., and Chihuahua, Mexico, will begin assembling the engines at an annual rate of 430,000 and 350,000 units, respectively.
In fall of 2001, a Mazda plant in Hiroshima, Japan, will start building 425,000 units annually. Mazda will produce engines ranging from 1.5 to 2.0 liters. In 2002, a fourth plant in Valencia, Spain, will start producing 700,000 units per year.