NISSAN CUTS TRUCK LOAN RATE TO 9.9 an attempt to spur nationwide sales of its pickup truck line which have fallen 23.7 percent compared to sales last year. Nissan hopes their two-month pilot program will help raise its light truck sales to 10,000 units per month from its present level of 7000 per month. Spokesmen say that the interest reduction will save the average truck buyer $1100 to $1800 on a 48-month loan. All Japanese companies are eager to move their truck wares because they are exempt from the restraints imposed on cars. Nissan is especially eager to improve its sales position since it plans to manufacture pickup trucks in its new Smyrna, TN truck plant next summer. Although their plans call for 150,000 units per year be built, sales of Nissan trucks have never topped 119,000 units in a single year.

CALIFORNIA INVESTIGATES DOCTORED GASOLINE...after receiving many telephone complaints from motorists who have paid huge towing and repair bills when they filled their cars with gasoline adulterated with alcohol. Several states have reported an apparent increase in the incidence of fuel distributors using alcohol to raise octane ratings and stretch fuel stocks. Gasoline/alcohol mixes which do not meet the legal definitions of "gasohol" are illegal in most states.

A NEWS RETRAINING CENTER...for jobless auto workers will open at Henry Ford Community College in Dearborn, MI. An outgrowth of the Ford/UAW labor agreement, the National Development and Training Center will redirect auto workers and reshape their skills for work in other economic sectors.

VOLKSWAGEN'S U.S. SUBSIDIARY CHIEF sales of America's number four manufacturer slipped 44 percent, compared to last year's sales effort. James W. McLernon, president and chief executive officer of VW since 1978, resigned September 27. The appointment of Noel Phillips, VW's former vice president of sales and marketing, to the presidency as of November 1, has industry observers speculating that the new emphasis at VW will be on sales strategies rather than manufacturing. In other news, VW announced that its 1983 prices will average 3 percent higher than last year's prices. A new Rabbit GTI sport coupe has been added to the line.

JUST A TEMPORARY ARRANGEMENT...or so sources at GM are saying about their linkup with the Japanese. Apparently some of the top brass at America's number one are a bit embarrassed by the possibility of selling Japanese cars through GM dealers while so many American plants are closed and American auto workers are out of work. Links are said to be necessary only until GM earnings improve to the point where the corporation can finance the design and construction of its own cars in North American facilities.

WHEN THE DUST SETTLED AND THE RESULTS WERE American-built car finished first in the EPA's fuel economy "sweepstakes." VW's Rabbit Diesel, which will go into production in December, led the entire test group with a 67 mpg average, 17 percent better than last year's results. The car is equipped with a special semi-automatic four speed transmission. A Rabbit also placed second with 48 mpg average and VW's Pickup Diesel led the pickup class.

REMEMBER THOSE SMALL VANS...that AF told you about last month? It turns out that there are three Nissan Ambivans in the U.S. right now. Our sources indicate that two were brought in by Nissan; one is making the rounds of the marketing survey shows; one is somewhere in the wilds of Orange County, CA; and the third one was brought over by Chrysler, who took it into their Bandsaw Department to find out what makes the Ambivan tick.

SHORT TAKES...LOCAL content legislation battles go on. The Japanese are threatening a trade war and the Americans manufacturers are loudly disclaiming the need for such legislation. MOTOR recently took a survey of American manufacturers and found that no car currently made in the U.S. is without foreign-made components...Runzheimer & Co. reports that 16 percent of executives who receive company cars for personal use aren't expected to reimburse their employers. The IRS says that not reporting that item on personal taxes could raise charges of failure to report personal income... Pontiac extends its Early Order Option Package for fleets to all orders received by December 31, 1982 and preferenced by March 31, 1983 ... L-M follows suit with a special fleet option package which must be ordered by December 31, 1982 and can be scheduled for production before April 15, 1983 ... Chrysler gets into the act, extending its Fast Start Fleet Program to December 31, 1982 for all orders which can be scheduled for immediate production.