Hayes Lemmerz has decided to close two North American plants, one producing steel wheels, another producing aluminium wheels. The aluminium wheel plant is at Somerset, Kentucky (formerly Alumitech), which the world’s largest wheel manufacturer only took over in 1998 from a 50/50 joint venture. The Somerset plant manufactured mainly one-piece cast wheels for the Mercedes M-class. In future the Hayes Lemmerz factory in Hoboken (Belgium) and Ronal’s factory in Mexico will supply the M-Class with aluminium wheels.
The electro-hydraulic brake (EHB) in vehicles will replace the traditional mechanical-hydraulic brake within the next few years. This concept of the future has become commonly-known by the term “brake-by-wire” and will be a milestone in the total car electronic network. Continental subsidiary Teves is also developing such a braking system, but the EHB system about to be introduced on the market by Mercedes-Benz was developed by Teves competitor Robert Bosch.
McLaren International and Michelin today announced that they have entered into a long term agreement for the supply of tyres to the ‘West McLaren Mercedes’ Formula One racing team with effect from 2002. In 1984 this successful pairing claimed 17 race wins and both the constructors and drivers world championship.
Beru AG (Ludwigsburg/Germany) has announced growing demand for its tyre pressure control system. As well as the BMW 3, 5 and 7 series, Mercedes S- and AMG E-class and SLK and Audi A8, the tyre safety device is now also available as an option for Mercedes CL Coupe and Audi allroad Quattro, and from autumn for the BMW X5.
US auto sales in 1999 reached 17.4 million; a 9.1% increase over 1998. Audi car sales rose 39% to 65,959, Porsche sold 17,243 cars (+21%) and Mercedes 189,437 (+11.3%). Chrysler “only” achieved an increase of 5.1%.
In this year Mercedes wants to establish a so-called “Express-Service” covering the range from exhausts to brakes. Within one hour customers utilising this special service are assumed to be on the road again.
DTM (Deutsche Tourenwagen-Masters), the popular German racing series, will be revitalised this year. Dunlop is supplying all participating teams (Audi, Opel and Mercedes have confirmed their participation) with tyres. AMG-Mercedes’ teams, eight expected, will have wheels fitted by ATS.
Perhaps as a backlash following the BMW/Rover situation, and aided by lower prices for Mercedes and Audi, UK sales of BMW cars fell 20% in April. Sales of Rover cars rose 500% as Rover and its dealers acted to clear stocks because of the uncertain situation.