GM may buy Fidis
General Motors confirmed it is interested in acquiring a controlling interest in Fidis, Fiat Auto's car financing arm.
Last month, Fiat group's main Italian creditors - SanPaolo IMI, IntesaBCI and Banca di Roma - offered to buy 51 percent of Fidis to help struggling Fiat's finances. The deal would have raised up to 1.3 million and removed 8 billion in loans and financing from Fiat's balance sheet.
But as part of GM and Fiat's two-year-old alliance, the two companies already decided to pool back-office functions between Fidis and GMAC, GM's consumer credit arm. If GM acquired control of Fidis it could merge it with GMAC.
Volkswagen will build the Microbus, its retro-styled people carrier, in Hannover, Germany. Production will begin in 2004 with sales starting the following year.
VW expects to build 80,000 to 100,000 Microbuses a year and is raising the plant's annual capacity to about 250,000 units.
Hannover is currently being retooled to build a new Transporter light commercial vehicle range due this autumn. Both the Microbus and Transporter will use VW's new T5 commercial vehicle platform.
- Wim Oude Weernink
Sales decline 8%
New-car sales in western Europe declined sharply in May. Compared with May 2001, sales were down 8 percent to 1,287,921. All the key markets except the UK declined. Germany was down 14 percent and Italy fell 11 percent.
ACEA, the European automakers' association, linked the drops directly to the overall European economy and the stagnation of the new-car market.