The Batmobile, the high-tech, flame-throwing muscle car you lusted over as a child, now has an air of practicality. It joins Cadillac, Buick and a fleet of crumb-filled minivans offering OnStar, the General Motors Corp. subsidiary that uses satellite and wireless technology to provide roadside assistance. The Caped Crusader learns of this new feature from his trusty assistant Alfred on a new prime-time television commercial airing nationwide. The OnStar campaign (three spots in all) blossomed from a new allegiance between GM and DC Comics, creator of Batman. Gotham City will never be the same.

Nissan Ponders Full-Size Pickups, SUVs Nissan Motor Co. Ltd. is in the opening phases of its all-encompassing "Revival Plan" (see WAW - Dec.'99, p.3), which appears to be moving the company in the right direction. Now Nissan is talking openly about competing in the final frontier: full-size pickups and sport/utility vehicles (SUVs).

With the addition of big-boy products, Nissan believes it can lift its annual U.S. sales from today's 700,000 units to 1 million by 2003.

"Our long-term market share targets are between 5% and 6%, and last year we finished at 4% and we want to continue to grow," says Jed Connelly, vice president and general manager, Nissan Div., Nissan North America Inc.

With its Xterra SUV a hit, and its Pathfinder SUV and Frontier compact pickup solid contributors, Nissan feels ready for the full-size market. Mr. Connelly expects a final decision regarding a large pickup and SUV within three to six months. Nissan could bring the products to market probably by 2003, he says.

Mr. Connelly also says Nissan won't remain absent from the crossover market, either. Although Xterra is a home run, Nissan light trucks presently account for 42% of the automaker's sales. Mr. Connelly wants to raise that to 52%.