Mazda enters China venture
TOKYO - Mazda Motor Corp. will begin assembling Premacy minivans in China in June with a local partner, making it the first Japanese automaker to produce a minivan there. Mazda, owned 33.4 percent by Ford Motor Co., said it will build 20,000 Premacys a year in conjunction with First Auto Works Hainan.
Infiniti recalls SUVs
LOS ANGELES - Infiniti Division is recalling about 9,200 QX4 sport-utilities to repair a possible failure of the ignition lock module. The condition can allow the steering wheel to lock while the vehicle is in motion. Vehicles manufactured from Oct. 1, 1999 to March 22, 2000 are involved.
Penske ups UnitedAuto stake
DETROIT - Chairman Roger Penske has increased his stake in UnitedAuto Group Inc. to 57.9 percent, in two separate transactions that took effect in December. 'I don't want to be a custodian, I want to be an owner,' he said in an interview. UnitedAuto, of Detroit, was the third largest dealer group in the United States in 1999. On Dec. 15, Penske and the investment group he controls paid Canada's Bank of Nova Scotia $41 million for all the UnitedAuto shares the bank had taken over from bankrupt Trace International Holdings Inc. That represented about 21 percent of the company. On Dec. 22, Penske paid another $23 million for newly issued shares. Before the transactions, Penske and his partners owned about 42 percent of UnitedAuto.
Clinton pardons Hendrick
CHARLOTTE, N.C. - Car dealer Rick Hendrick, who pleaded guilty to mail fraud in connection with the bribery and kickback scandal at American Honda Motor Co., was one of 59 people granted a pardon by President Clinton on Dec. 22.
Hendrick, 51, was sentenced in December 1997 to one year of home confinement and three years probation and was fined $250,000. The pardon does not erase the conviction from Hendrick's record but restores some civil liberties as specified by state law, according to a Justice Department spokeswoman.
Hendrick was one of 23 car dealers and former Honda managers prosecuted by the federal government on bribery and fraud charges after investigators found that bribes were being paid to influence vehicle allocations and the awarding of Honda and Acura franchises from 1979 to 1992. Honda has not denied that bribes were paid but has maintained that the company itself was a victim of unscrupulous sales managers.