FORD AND LINCOLN-MERCURY OFFER THEIR CARE PLAN TO FLEETS . . . and industry-watchers are keeping an eye on sales results to see if other companies begin offering similar fleet-minded deals. The "Maintenance Warranty Program" applies to both 1982 Escort and Lynx cars delivered before March 13, 1982 (and after January 13, 1982), and 1982 models ordered before February 15 and not delivered as of March 13. The program provides what the company likes to call "almost expense-free driving . . . all you pay for is the gas. " All repair and adjustments to correct defects in material and workmanship are covered for 24,000 miles. The $100 deductible on the powertrain warranty is waived. Certain items including brake pads and wiper blades will be replaced before 24 months/ 24,000 miles. Scheduled maintenance for 24/24 will be performed free.

CHRYSLER HAS ANNOUNCED NEW 1982 FLEET ALLOWANCE PROGRAMS . . . which supersede all previous programs, and will be in effect through the balance of the model year. Certain spring bonus allowances will be in effect until March 31. A special LeBaron and 400 pricing schedule is available through February 28. Distant delivery, driver education for school systems, guaranteed depreciation and co-op advertising programs remain unchanged. The basics are $200 bonuses for TC3/ 024, Horizon and Omni lines (excluding certain base models) through the model year, with a $200 Spring bonus. On the rest of the entire car, light truck, van, wagon and import truck line, $300 is available through the year. $200 is offered for import trucks for Spring bonus, and up to $100 is offered for Spring bonus on the majority of other models. There are also numerous new option programs for 1982 from Chrysler. Chrysler is confident that this program will "place Chrysler products in a competitive position to capture a larger share of the important fleet market."

INTERNATIONAL COULD BEGIN BOOMING" AGAIN ... as they begin to market IVECO trucks in their own light truck line as the "I-Series. " James Bostic, newly-appointed head of IVECO, was at one time chief of International Harverster's Scout division, so the "marriage" could be termed one made in corporate heaven. The trucks will be marketed through IH's existing and extensive facilities throughout North America. Initially, three light- duty, low-front-entry models will be offered in the I-Series from IH. IH will bring the potential marketing strength of 1300 dealers to this unique agreement and dealer requests to market these vehicles are being assessed. Qualified dealers might be writing orders for the trucks as early as March. They will be offered initially in classes 2, 3, and 4, fuel-sensitive North American markets. The 1-1054, 1-1154 (GVW of 9995 lbs.) and the 1-1254 will be the three trucks offered. 1-1254 has a GVW of 14,880 pounds. The T1054 comes with IVECO's five cylinder diesel, the other models with their 110 horsepower six cylinder unit. The five cylinder is air-cooled, the six is water-cooled. Most of the new trucks will be offered with van bodies, how­ ever, numerous other applications including airport shuttles, flatbeds and stake bodies, as well as many more, should be available soon.

RUMORS IN THE DAILY RENTAL MARKET . . . are hot this season, as both Hertz and Budget are reported up for sale by their parent companies, RCA and TransAmerica, respectively. This information, gleaned from the Car Rental/Leasing Insider, reports that while TransAmerica is seeking to off Budget to the most likely buyer, there may actually be deals in the works for retail giant Sears, Roebuck and Co. to acquire Hertz. RCA has been advised by an industry analyst, notes Insider, to get rid of Hertz as it poses a problem being too "interest-sensitive." Other analysts have noted for years that RCA has picked up corporations such as Hertz to make up for their recent lack of success in technological development and popular product lines. If a retailer such as Sears (or K-Mart, Wards, or others) might pop for a Hertz purchase, the price tag could run anywhere from $750 million to a cool $1 billion. Should a major retailer such as Sears acquire Hertz, the company would be able to provide rent, lease, finance, repair, insure, exchange and even sales services, with their own warranty. A sale of this sort carries "awesome implications" for small and major rental/leasing companies, according to the Insider.

AUTOMOTIVE FLEET has also heard speculation that at least one more of the major daily rental companies could wind up on the auction block before the New Year gets very much older.


The service provided by Focus 800 BAT-TERY has been more than doubled in the Chicago area to meet needs of motorists suffering battery failure in their vehicles during record snows and cold snaps in the Midwest. The fleet has been increased in size to 76 vehicles, with at least four vans within 15 minutes of every auto in the seven county "Chicagoland" area . . . Hertz Corp. and Penske Corp. has signed a memo of understanding proposing to form Hertz Penske Truck Leasing, Inc. The proposed venture would merge the resources of their respective truck leasing and rental operations. The combined operation would offer 111 locations in 30 states with some 20,000 vehicles available. Hertz president and CEO Ben Bidwell announced Roger Penske would serve as president and CEO of the joint venture . . . The new Renault 9 has been named Europe's Car of the Year, beating out competition from around the world. Fifty-two top automotive journalists participated in the balloting. A United States version of the Renault 9 will go into production at Kenosha, Wisconsin, for Fall, 1982 introduction . . . Nissan USA has signed an agreement with Rockwell International Corporation to buy an estimated $10.5 million in aluminum wheels over the next two years. The wheels will be sold on the 200-SX and Stanza models offered by the company. It is believed to be the largest agreement ever reached between a Japanese auto distributor and an American wheel supplier . . . Nissan also reports that since the formation announcement of Nissan Motor Acceptance, Bob Baker has been besieged with calls from lessors and daily rental accounts. While the plan does not as yet provide for fleet financing to fleets in coming months vide the needed support to extend financing to fleets in coming months. . . . "Reports of my retirement have been greatly exaggerated," reports Walter Freedman, executive vice president of Wheels, Inc. The active industry executive is on the job as always, and called to tell us that his "retirement" mentioned in the January AF was a surprise to him!