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Automotive News – November 2, 2010

Nissan to build more electric vehicles. GM retires Pontiac. Harley-Davidson goes to India. These and other stories from the automotive industry in this week’s Automotive News.

Nissan Announces Trio of New Electric Vehicles

Nissan LeafIn addition to its highly promoted Leaf hatchback, Nissan will have three more electric vehicles on the road by 2014, the Japanese automaker has announced. The three new all-electric models are:

  • A sporty subcompact to be marketed under its Infiniti brand
  • An electric delivery van
  • An “unconventional” EV based on its two-seater LandGlider concept car, which was displayed at the 2009 Tokyo auto show

Nissan plans to continue expanding its electric car line as we move deeper into the coming decade, according to Nissan Europe’s head of product planning, Pierre Loing.

Leaf Dealers Undergo Special Training

Nissan leaf Lithium BatteriesSpeaking of the Leaf, Nissan is requiring dealer technicians to undergo intense training prior to the car’s launch in December. Nissan technicians must be certified as electrical specialists or master technicians before starting their training, which consists of a series of online tutorials and then four days of hands-on instruction. Special emphasis is being placed on how to service the car’s 24kWh Li-ion lithium battery.

In December, the Leaf will only be available in California, Tennessee, Oregon, Washington and Arizona, with Texas and Arizona following a month later. To date, about 250 Nissan dealers in those markets have agreed to sell the all-electrical vehicle.

GM Shutters Pontiac

1969 Pontiac GTOIt’s done.  After 84 years, General Motors has retired the Pontiac brand. On October 31, the Pontiac label went the way of Studebaker, Rambler, Plymouth and Mercury.

Pontiac’s sales peaked at nearly 1 million units annually in 1968. At its height, muscle cars like the Pontiac GTO, Trans Am and Catalina 2+2 were icons of the American automotive industry. But by the late 1980s, sales were in rapid decline. Attempts to revive the brand in the early 2000s failed, with brand sales reaching a low of less than 20,000. In the wake of its 2009 bankruptcy, GM decided to cut its losses and close the division.

GM dealers will continue to service Pontiac vehicles and honor their warranties. Unsold cars still on dealer’s lots will be considered “used cars” and priced accordingly.

007’s Aston Martin Fetches $4.1 at Auction

007 Aston Martin DB5The tricked-out silver Aston Martin DB5 featured in the 1964 James Bond classic “Goldfinger” and 1965s “Thunderball” sold at auction in London for 2.6 million pounds ($4.1 million). The buyer of this most famous of movie cars was classic car collector Harry Yeaggy, who has a small private auto museum in Ohio.

The car, which features extendable machine guns, rotating license plates, oil stick spray and —yes — a passenger ejector seat, sold for considerably less than the $5.5 million it was expended to bring.

This was the first time 007 Aston Martin had been offered for sale.

Harley-Davidson to Open Factory in India

Harley-DavidsonMilwaukee-based Harley-Davidson, Inc., announced it will open a factory in India next year to better serve the rapidly expanding Indian market. To be built in the northern state of Haryana, the factory will assemble H-D bikes from kits supplied by the company’s factories in Wisconsin, Pennsylvania and Missouri.

By assembling bikes in India, Harley-Davidson can avoid the import taxes and fees that make its products prohibitively expensive to many Indian consumers.

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