Industry expects sales to rise in June
Automakers were expected to report that June sales exceeded last June's total. It would be the first year-to-year monthly increase since September 2000. Signs of strength in June sales helped prompt some analysts to raise their sales forecasts for 2001.
Most automakers will report sales today, July 2.
'U.S. auto sales continue to surprise on the upside,' said John Casesa, auto industry analyst for Merrill Lynch & Co. in New York.
He predicted June sales would be about 1 percent ahead of the year-ago month. Casesa expected GM sales to gain 1 percent or 2 percent, Ford to drop 5 percent to 6 percent and DaimlerChrysler to remain flat.
David Healy, auto analyst for Burnham Securities in New York, forecast a similar pattern: GM up 2 percent, Ford down 7 percent and the Chrysler group up 1 percent. Healy estimated that June sales would be about 0.5 percent ahead of June 2000.
Casesa and Healy have raised their 2001 forecasts, and both analysts expect imports to keep gaining share. Light-vehicle sales in June 2000 were 1,621,073.
- Jim Henry
YGM-1 becomes Chevrolet Cruze
TOKYO - General Motors' YGM-1 concept car, first shown at the 1999 Tokyo Motor Show, will be unveiled in production-ready form as the Chevrolet Cruze at the 2001 show in October. Production will begin shortly afterwards, with the first Cruzes to be sold in Japan toward the end of this year. Exports to Australia, where it will be badged the Holden Cruze, will begin in 2002.
Rudolph Schlais Jr., GM group vice president and president of GM Asia Pacific, said a sedan and four-wheel-drive wagon will follow the Cruze. He said the Cruze, jointly developed with Suzuki Motor Co. and built at a Suzuki plant in Japan, would be sold in other Asian markets. He declined to name them.
- James B. Treece
Toyota, Peugeot join for small car
TOKYO - Toyota Motor Corp. and PSA/Peugeot-Citroen SA are poised to form a joint venture to develop and produce a small, entry-level passenger car for sale by both makers in Europe.
The companies scheduled a press conference for July 12 in Brussels, Belgium, where they expect to sign a memorandum on a joint venture.
Although the companies released no details, the two are understood to be considering a car in the 1.0-liter class that would be priced below the cheapest existing models in their lineups. Production sites under consideration are understood to include Poland and Toyota's new plant in Valenciennes, in northern France.
- James B. Treece
Acura RSX price starts at $20,430
TORRANCE, Calif. - Car buyers can pick up Acura's newest contribution to the entry-level luxury market beginning at around $20,000.
Pricing for the 2002 RSX sports coupe begins at $20,430, including destination charge of $480. The high-performance RSX Type-S begins at $23,650, including destination. Acura anticipates it will sell 30,000 RSXs annually.
The vehicle goes on sale today, July 2, replacing the Integra. Acura is pitching the RSX against the Mercedes C-class hatchback and Audi TT coupe.
- Amy Wilson
Nissan hires PR agency for Z car
Nissan North America Inc. has signed a Hollywood PR agency to promote the 2003 Z car. Bragman Nyman Cafarelli Public Relations & Marketing in Beverly Hills, Calif., will handle everything from advertising to product placement with celebrities for the roadster, due in 2002.
The agency will look for a movie in which the Z car can star, as the BMW Z8 roadster did in the James Bond movie 'The World is Not Enough,' said Curt Bartsch, corporate manager of national sales promotions for Nissan.
Bragman Nyman Cafarelli also will find entertainment opportunities for other Nissan and Infiniti products due in the next two years.
- Julie Cantwell