Nissan North America Inc. unwraps the new '02 Altima sedan. It is larger than the previous model and available with a 4- or 6-cyl. engine. Interior and exterior have been redesigned, featuring a cockpit-like interior, new performance-tuned suspension and 16 or 17 ins. tires. The '02 Altima goes on sale in the U.S. and Canada in September with a sales goal of 190,000 units. Targeted market is 30-40 years of age, $50,000-$70,000 income, 55% male buyers.

To keep momentum for the PT Cruiser going, DaimlerChrysler Corp. unveils a convertible concept to gauge demand. It is 1.5 ins. lower than the current model with body-colored bumpers and a chrome-accented grille. The two-door convertible's new rear quarter panel accommodates longer doors and rear seat passengers have theater-style seating. Initial reaction is positive, says Tom Marinelli, DaimlerChrysler Corp. vice president-Chrysler/Jeep Global Brand Centers. And there are more PT “tricks up our sleeve.”

Ron Zarella, General Motors Corp. North American president, says 2001 auto sales may be higher than originally predicted. U.S. first quarter seasonally adjusted annual sales rate of nearly 17.5 million units was better than GM expected. GM is “cautiously optimistic” about second half sales due to declining consumer confidence and higher unemployment rates, Mr. Zarella says.

Ford Motor Co.'s Lincoln division unveils the MK 9 concept coupe in an effort to shed the brand's stodgy image. The first Lincoln designed by newly appointed Lincoln Mercury design director Gerry McGovern harkens back to the original 1940 Continental. Using the Town Car platform, the MK 9 is more than 17 ft. long with a chrome accent strip and 22 ins. wheels. Lincoln will not produce the coupe, but MK 9 will guide future product design, to the chagrin of some showgoers who described it as “dull.”

The city and state of New York have ordered 300 Toyota Prius hybrid-electric cars, says Jim Press, Toyota Motor Sales U.S.A. executive vice president. New Jersey is buying a fleet of 33.

Mitsubishi Motors Corp. shows the new '02 Lancer sedan, available in August with a base price under $14,000. It comes in three trim levels: the sporty O-Z Rally, the base ES and premium LS, all with a 2.0L, 16-valve, 4-cyl. engine. Mitsubishi is banking on Lancer's spacious interior (93.9 cu ft.) to set it apart from other small sedans.

Audi of America Inc. unveils the new '02 A4 sports sedan with a new five-valve 3.0L V-6 aluminum block engine that produces 220 hp. The turbocharged 1.8 T 4-cyl. engine producing 170 hp is certified to the ULEV standard. A 5-speed manual transmission is standard with the 1.8 T engine and a 6-speed manual is standard with the 3.0L V-6. Front-wheel-drive models come with a continuously variable automatic transmission and quattro all-wheel drive is available on all A4s.

Mercedes-Benz USA confirms the new G500 sport-utility vehicle (SUV) will go on sale this fall in the U.S., starting at $72,500. The compact G-Class is 4 ins. longer than the M-Class and powered by the same 5.0L V-8 engine as the S-Class sedan. An exclusive V-8 model will be produced with annual sales of less than 2,000.

Kia Motors America Inc. shows its entry into the minivan market: the '02 Sedona which will hit showrooms this fall. The front-wheel drive Sedona has a 3.5L V6, runs on regular unleaded gas, and has a 5-speed electronically controlled automatic tranmission.

Ford Motor Co. unveils a new “statement edition” Focus. Based on the ZX3 hatchback, Focus S2 is designed for the young performance enthusiast with its European-tuned suspension, six-spoke, 16-in. aluminum wheels, chrome exhaust tip and specially designed spoilers. Due out this summer, it will sticker for $14,500.