WASHINGTON - President Bush has nominated Marion Blakey to be the new chairwoman of the National Transportation Safety Board. Blakey, 53, served in both the Reagan and George Bush administrations, including a stint as administrator of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration from 1991 to 1993. Since then, she has operated a Washington consulting firm, Blakey & Associates.
The National Transportation Safety Board is an independent body best known for its investigations of airline crashes, but it also studies automotive issues. Former Chairman Jim Hall used the position to press for safer airbags and greater use of child safety seats.
Blakey declined comment on the nomination before a Senate confirmation hearing.
OnStar offers traffic news
DETROIT - Telematics service OnStar has begun offering real-time traffic and road condition reports to its Virtual Advisor users in three trial markets: Detroit, Phoenix and San Francisco. Users can get voice-activated reports from up to 15 miles away from their vehicles.
OnStar, a General Motors' subsidiary, says it has 1.3 million subscribers.
Hayes Lemmerz to close plant
DETROIT - Hayes Lemmerz International Inc. will close one of its two plastic air intake manifold molding plants, cutting 150 jobs and shipping the work to Mexico.
The shutdown of the Petersburg, Mich. plant is the result of a growing need to consolidate operations and reduce costs, CEO Ron Cucuz said Thursday, July 12.
The work will move to a Hayes Lemmerz operation in Nuevo Laredo, Mexico. Hayes Lemmerz, of Northville, Mich., also produces aluminum manifolds, with operations in Wabash, Ind., and Montague, Mich.
The company will ease workers out as contracts for products expire, said spokeswoman Marika Diamond. The shutdown will take until year end.
Hayes Lemmerz's main products for the auto industry are aluminum wheels and components. It ranked No. 31 on Automotive News' list of top 150 auto suppliers to North America with sales of $1.4 billion in 2000.
Toyota holds price line
TORRANCE, Calif. - Toyota has held the price line on its Sienna minivans and Avalon sedans for 2002. The Sienna Ce is $24,385, and the LE is $26,235, both unchanged from 2001. The XLE is down $24 at $28,492. New for 2002 is the Sienna Symphony, an upgraded LE priced at $27,312. All prices include freight.
Toyota said prices of Avalon equipment packages have been reduced and new packages have been added. Avalon prices, unchanged from 2001, range from $26,300 to $30,860.