Ford idles 2 plants to trim inventory
DETROIT - Ford will close assembly plants in Chicago and Wixom, Mich., this week. The one-week shutdown will eliminate an estimated 7,375 units, Automotive News estimates. The Chicago plant builds the Ford Taurus and the Mercury Sable. The Wixom plant assembles the Lincoln Town Car, the Lincoln Continental and the Lincoln LS.
Despite the shutdowns, the company expects to keep plants running during the coming industry slowdown.
'We should be able to handle most things by taking out overtime during the course of 2001, a combination of weekday and weekend overtime,' said Martin Inglis, Ford vice president of North America. 'I don't see a situation with significant down weeks.'
Ford is forecasting a slight increase in its incentive spending in 2001, he said.
'You are driven by what your competitors are doing,' Inglis said. 'We hope GM and DCX reduce their incentive activity.'
Visteon director may be in Cabinet lineup
DETROIT - Visteon Corp., already short on directors, soon may have one more slot to fill. Board member William Gray is being suggested as a possible candidate for secretary of education in President-elect George W. Bush's administration.
Gray, president of the United Negro College Fund and a former Democratic congressman from Pennsylvania, was appointed to the Visteon board in June. Visteon, which was spun off from Ford Motor Co. in June, so far has filled just four of its eight to 10 board openings.
Gray, if appointed to Bush's Cabinet, would have to step down from his director posts to avoid conflicts of interest, said Paul Lapides, director of the Corporate Governance Center at Kennesaw State University near Atlanta.
Lender plans layoffs
NEW YORK - Subprime lender Coast-to-Coast Automobile Lending Corp. last week stopped accepting loan applications and said it will lay off its 100 employees.
The privately held company, the latest of several lenders to quit the subprime auto sector, was doing business in 34 states with about 2,200 dealers. Annual originations were an estimated at $100 million to $200 million.
National City Bank quits auto leasing
CLEVELAND -National City Bank quit the auto leasing business Friday, Dec. 15, the latest in a growing number of banks and independent finance companies to abandon that market.
Auto leasing 'did not measure up to our model for profitability and growth,' said David Daberko, CEO of parent National City Corp. The bank has leases for about 90,000 cars and light trucks, representing just under $2 billion, a spokesman said.
The bank will keep its indirect auto loan and dealer floorplan business, said Peter Raskind, executive vice president and head of consumer finance. The bank does business with about 1,500 dealers, mostly in Ohio, Pennsylvania, Michigan, Indiana, Illinois and Kentucky.
National City took a $15 million writedown on the residual value of its lease portfolio in the second quarter. On top of that, the bank announced a pretax charge of $43 million to $46 million for the fourth quarter. That includes an additional charge for residual values, but it also includes other unrelated business areas.