LOS ANGELES - Nissan Division raised the price of the 2002 Maxima sedan but equipped the redesigned car with a better engine and more standard features to separate it from the incoming Altima.
The Maxima GXE will be offered only with a four-speed automatic transmission for $25,239, an increase of $1,750 over the automatic 2001 GXE.
The 2002 SE is $25,989 with either a six-speed manual or four-speed automatic transmission. The top-line Maxima GLE is $27,639, a $650 increase. All prices include destination.
Reports forecast July sales slump
NEW YORK - Increased incentive spending may have slowed, but it hasn't stopped, market share losses for Big 3 brands in July, according to two Wall Street analysts. Overall, expect a single-digit drop in light-vehicle sales for July, according to separate reports by John Casesa, auto industry analyst for Merrill Lynch & Co., and David Healy of Burnham Securities Inc.
Healy predicted Wednesday, July 25, that total monthly sales would be off by about 6 percent from the year-ago month - with General Motors down 4 percent, Ford Motor Co. down 10 percent, Chrysler group down 6 percent and import brands roughly flat.
Casesa on July 25 said he expects total sales to fall about 4 percent, with GM and Ford down 5 percent and Chrysler group off 7 percent.
In the first half of this year, Big 3 brands lost share in both cars and light trucks to a 64 percent share overall, down from a 67.2 percent share in the year-ago period. Toyota Motor Sales U.S.A. Inc. was the big market share winner, up 1 point of share to 9.9 percent.
- Jim Henry
DaimlerChrysler offers credit cards
DaimlerChrysler Services North America for the first time will offer consumers a credit card for each of the Chrysler group brands: Chrysler, Jeep and Dodge. The program will begin sometime during the fourth quarter.
William Porter, a DaimlerChrysler Services spokesman, said the details have not been worked out, but consumers will rack up at least one point for every dollar spent with the card. Points could be transferred into certificates and used at Chrysler group dealerships for such things as service and the purchase of new vehicles.
DaimlerChrysler Services is negotiating with an undisclosed bank to sponsor the card, as well as with retailers at which consumers could earn additional points.
'We will be able to make a certain profit, but the goal is to promote customer loyalty and brand recognition,' Porter said. 'We want people to keep financing with us.'
DaimlerChrysler's Mercedes division already offers a card.
- Julie Cantwell
Autobytel stocks hit low
LOS ANGELES - Stock in online auto retailer Autobytel.com hit an all-time low of 97 cents on Friday, July 27, after the company announced a net loss of $36.6 million for the second quarter, compared with a net loss of $9.8 million in the year-ago period. The loss included several one-time charges.
Autobytel stock hit $40.25 a share in March 1999 after it went public on the Nasdaq exchange, but it has declined ever since.
One-time charges in the quarter just ended included writing off $21.6 million of goodwill associated with the company's acquisition of CarSmart.com in February 2000 and $5 million in Autobytel Europe restructuring charges.
Nevertheless, CEO Mark Lorimer said Autobytel still can hit the breakeven point, before taxes, in the fourth quarter.
That forecast assumes that Autobytel's proposed acquisition of Autoweb.com Inc., announced in April, takes effect in the third quarter as expected.
Daewoo workers end strike - for now
SEOUL - Workers suspended a strike Friday, July 27, at Daewoo Motor Corp., Reuters reported.
Daewoo unionized workers began the strike Thursday, July 26. But workers called it off after management agreed to talks this week over layoffs, the news service said.
A union spokesman said there was no decision on whether to continue the strikes if talks were unsuccessful.
Daewoo laid off 1,750 workers in February, triggering fights between riot police and protesters who demanded the reinstatement and talks with General Motors called off.
A spokesman for GM, which is negotiating to buy the automaker, had no comment.