Advanced-technology diesel engines are installed in about four out of every 10 new cars sold in western Europe, but remain almost unheard of in Japan.
So it was perhaps understandable that Japanese supplier Denso's announcement that it will start making common-rail diesel engine components in Thailand and Hungary was reworded by Japan's Jiji news service as a plan 'to make rail train components.'
Home help for MGRover
It's been a while since MG Rover - or indeed the former Rover group - built a car without outside assistance. And despite claims from the British automaker that it is replacing the 45 sedan without help from new partner Brilliance China Automotive, a source said MG Rover will be getting assistance from somewhere else.
Research and development advice for MG Rover's new model will come from TWR group in Leafield, England, according to the source. The two companies are apparently close to a deal that will have TWR helping with bench testing, emissions, crash, virtual design and integration of Tier 1 suppliers.
The 45 replacement is expected to come on a smaller version of the 75 platform.
Current MG Rover models such as the Rover 25 and 45, and their MG counterparts, the ZR and ZS, are all derived from Honda's early 1990s Civic platform.
Renault CEO 'speculation'
Nissan and Renault will begin sharing vehicle platforms this year, and by 2005 they could be sharing something else - a CEO.
Nissan CEO Carlos Ghosn said last month he could lead Renault in 2005 when Louis Schweitzer, head of the French automaker, is expected to retire.
Ghosn, 48, suggested he could run both companies, placing a chief operating officer at each to maintain daily operations. But Nissan said Ghosn was just making suggestions.
'He was speaking in a speculative manner, saying that he could see a scenario in which one executive headed both companies,' a Nissan source said. 'The only thing definite that he said is that he's going to stay with Nissan through at least 2005.'
Ghosn was appointed CEO of Nissan in 1999 when Renault bought a controlling stake of the then-struggling Japanese company.
Platform sharing between the two carmakers will begin this year when the Nissan Micra will be built on the same small car platform as Renault's next-generation Clio and Twingo.
Zastava in US comeback
Malcolm Bricklin, a former Yugo importer in the USA and co-founder of Subaru of America, says he's back in the car business. He recently unveiled plans to reintroduce cars to North America market from Zastava in Serbia, the same manufacturer that made the old Yugo.
Bricklin calls his venture Zastava Motor Works USA - 'ZMW, get it? That'll drive people [at BMW] crazy,' he laughed.
The last time the Zastava factory was in the news was in April 1999, when NATO forces bombed it because it was suspected of being used to make weapons. Zastava has denied the charge.
Bricklin claims all that has been set to rights, and he says he will be ready to offer Zastava cars in the USA in 14 months.
Bricklin, 63, was last in the news at the helm of Electric Bicycle Co., a US venture that went bankrupt in 1997.
'I am so glad to be back in the car business,' Bricklin said. 'The bicycle business sucks.'
Does 'SW' mean 'MPV'?
In Peugeot terminology, what do the initials 'SW' really mean?
Launching the 307 SW range in UK, spokesman Andrew Didlick said: 'It's just a designation and doesn't necessarily stand for station wagon -- it can mean anything you like except short wheelbase, which it isn't.'
Indeed, the 307 SW's wheelbase is 100mm longer than the standard 307's.
In fact, Peugeot sees the 307 SW competing in the compact MPV segment. Despite the success of the Citroen Xsara Picasso, Peugeot - Citroen's sister brand within the PSA group -- has so far lacked a compact MPV contender. So whatever SW may mean, in this case MPV could stand for 'Mandatory Peugeot Version.'
USA likes BMW's Mini
If you had doubts about how the USA would react to BMW's new Mini Cooper, consider this: A Budget Rent a Car franchise in Beverly Hills, California, is renting them for $125 (E142) a day -- not bad for a car with a US retail price of about $17,000. The franchise gets just $59.99 a day for a roomier, but more mundane, Ford Taurus.
Meanwhile, on the eBay online auction site, US dealers and other speculators have been cashing in on demand by auctioning Minis - and paid prices have ranged from $22,000 to $28,000.