Ford gives computers to dealerships
DETROIT - In January, Ford Motor Co. will offer employees in some Ford, Lincoln and Mercury dealerships a free computer to boost their Internet expertise.
About 286,000 employees work in all of the dealerships. But those eligible for the computer deal must work at stores certified as top-rated Ford Blue Oval or Lincoln Premier Excellence.
The brand of the computer has not been determined. Dealership employees will pay $19.95 a month for unlimited Internet access for 42 months and will receive 24-hour technical support. PeoplePC Inc. of San Francisco is administering the program.
In February, Ford began giving its 365,000 employees worldwide a Hewlett-Packard Co. computer and printer, Internet access for $5 per month and three years of customer service.
Lithia acquires two more stores
RENTON, Wash. - Lithia Motors Inc. has completed the acquisitions of Renton Jeep and Puget Sound Dodge/Chrysler/Plymouth here. The two stores have combined estimated 2000 sales of $42 million.
Lithia's net investment in the stores was $7 million, the company said Friday, Dec. 8.
Lithia operates 111 franchises in California, Oregon, Washington, Nevada, Colorado, Idaho and South Dakota. Lithia, of Medford, Ore., was the 10th largest U.S. dealer in 1999, according to the 1999 Automotive News list of top 100 dealer groups. The chain had more than $1.2 billion in sales.
Moody's downgrades Navistar
NEW YORK - Moody's Investor Service downgraded its outlook for Navistar International Corp. and Navistar Financial Corp. of Chicago to negative from stable because of the downturn in the U.S. medium and heavy-duty truck market.
Although Navistar reduced its cost structure, developed new engines and trucks, solidified itself as Ford Motor Co.'s principal source of medium-duty truck engines and accumulated about $500 million in cash, the weak truck market is putting a strain on Navistar's cash flow, earnings and financial flexibility.
Navistar Financial, a subsidiary of Navistar International, provides wholesale and retail financing for the company's trucks.