Scania, Hino link
Scania of Sweden and Japan's Hino Motors signed a strategic cooperation agreement in heavy trucks.
Volkswagen group owns 34 percent of Scania, while Toyota owns 50.1 percent of Hino. The cooperation involves no equity or capital ties.
Scania has been searching for a partner since its proposed tie-up with AB Volvo was blocked in Europe on antitrust grounds. Hino has been searching for ways to help it get through Japan's truck-market slump.
In the first stage of the agreement, Hino will market Scania tractors in Japan under the Hino brand. The use of Hino's 7.0- and 8.0-liter engines in some Scania trucks will also be evaluated.
- James Treece
VW LCV plans
Volkswagen is expanding its French sales and servicing network dedicated to light commercial vehicles.
Volkswagen Utilitaires, a unit of Groupe Volkswagen France, sold 12,000 light commercial vehicles last year. That's 2.8 percent of an annual French market of 430,000 units.
'We need to do better than that,' said Volkswagen France Chairman Stephen Norman.
VW France wants to boost annual light commercial vehicle sales to 30,000 by 2005 or 2006.
Norman's plan calls for a network of 86 dealerships with repair facilities, including five with the ability to sell more than 500 units a year and 35 with potential for at least 250.
Another 46 smaller dealerships will link with VW car dealers or heavy truck outlets. The heavy truck partners may include Scania, in which Volkswagen owns a stake, DAF, MAN or Volvo.
VW is France's leading importer of passenger cars, with a 7.2 percent market share.
- Sylviane de Saint-Seine
GM gets go-ahead
General Motors was given permission by alliance partner Fiat to use the Autonomy name on a concept car.
GM's Autonomy concept car was unveiled at January's Detroit auto show. It was also seen at Geneva last month. The car is a showcase for fuel cell technology and drive-by-wire systems.
Autonomy is Fiat's longstanding program to help handicapped people drive cars, commercial vehicles, heavy trucks and farm tractors. In seven years, Fiat sold 100,000 Autonomy vehicles in western Europe and Latin America.
- Luca Ciferri