General Motors Announces Executive Team Appointments

DETROIT - General Motors announced nine executive appointments in the areas of sales, service, brand and support.        

The following directors will report to Rick Lee, fleet and commercial general manager for the Sales and Service area of General Motors Fleet & Commercial Operations:

  • Gary Meteer, director of fleet and commercial sales. Meteer's former position was assistant general sales and service manager for Pontiac-GMC.
  • Bill Gibson, director of rental sales. Gibson's former position was director of GM's NAO Rental Sales.
  • John Larson, director of remarketing. Larson's former position was NAO fleet finance manager.
  • John Mack, director of service support. Mack's former position was director of operations at GM's Service Technology Group.
  • The following director and brand managers will report to David Hansen, fleet & commercial general manager for the brand and support area of General Motors Fleet & Commercial Operations:
  • Jeff Heichel, director of finance/administration. Heichel is former Cadillac Division finance manager.
  • David Spence, director of field strategy development and special products. Spence's former position was director of commercial brands for Chevrolet Division.
  • Dick Pennell, brand manager - trucks. Pennell's former position was brand manager for GMC's commercial vehicles.
  • John Gaydash, brand manager - vans. Gaydash's former position was brand manager for Chevrolet's commercial vehicles.
  • Roy Pikus, brand manager - GM Certificate Used Vehicles. Pikus' former position was GM Certified Used Vehicle Director for NAO Fleet.


Jeep Unveils Commander Fuel Cell Concept Vehicle

LOS ANGELES - Jeep has unveiled its Commander Concept Vehicle, a sport/utility vehicle with fuel cell technology that Jeep engineer believe is the world's only four-wheel-drive vehicle that runs on electric power. Unveiled at the 1999 Los Angeles Auto Show, the Commander borrows two EPIC minivan electric motors, one for each axle, that provide full-time, four wheel drive.

At 80 inches wide, the Commander is more than 7 inches wider than the Grand Cherokee and has an overall height of 69.4 inches, which is equivalent to the Grand Cherokee.


Ford May Install 'Smart' Airbags in 2000 Taurus

DETROIT - Ford will become the first automaker to equip vehicles with "smart" airbag systems, installing the system in existing models as they are redesigned, probably beginning with the 2000 Taurus mid-size sedan.

In April 1998, Ford became the first U.S. automaker to commit to installing side-impact airbags on all models within three years. The advanced restraint system uses numerous sensors to electronically control seat belt tension and airbag deployment based on crash severity and occupants' weight, seat position, and belt usage.

Another element of the system is dual-inflating airbags. They vary the force of deployment through a staged inflation that depends on the driver's proximity to the steering wheel, the passenger's weight, and the crash's severity.


IRS Lowers Standard Business Mileage Rate

WASHINGTON, DC - The Internal Revenue Service has announced the optional standard business mileage rate for 1999. Revenue Procedure 98-63 reduces the mileage rate for business travel from 32.5 cents per mile in 1998 to 31 cents per mole in 1999. The mileage rate for charitable purposes remains at 14 cents per mile. According to the IRS, the business mileage rate is based on an annual study of the fixed and variable costs of operating an automobile. The Revenue Procedure also updates the requirements for Fixed and Variable Rate (FAVR) allowances. Revenue Procedure 98-63 is scheduled to appear in Internal Revenue Bulleting 1998-52, dated Dec. 28, 1998, and will be available on the IRS website at that time. In other news, following complaints from several companies, the Internal Revenue Service postponed the effective date of its first-ever cut in the tax deduction for business driving.

The tax agency said that effective April 1, 1999, employees can deduct 31 cents for every mile they drive their own car for work purposes, down from the current rate of 32.5 cents per mile.

Lower Blood-Alcohol Law In Illinois Called a Success

BRANFORD, CT - Illinois Secretary of State George Ryan says the state's 0.08 blood alcohol concentration law was a success in its first year. The new law has resulted in the driving-under-the-influence arrest rate increasing 5.2 percent during 1997. In addition, the number of people killed in alcohol-related crashes declined by 11.6 percent.