The recent naming of Leif Johansson as the new chief of AB Volvo has fueled rumors that Volvo's heavy-truck division and fellow Swedish competitor Scania AB will merge. According to Ward's Automotive International, Johansson's career has centered on working for firms controlled by Sweden's mighty Wallenberg clan. In fact, Johansson left Wallenberg appliance maker Electrolux AB to take the helm at Volvo. Despite that break, it is speculated he will not burn his bridges to the baronial family. The plot thickens. Wallenberg's investment arm holds majority ownership of Scania, and Johansson served on Scania's board only a year ago. If that weren't all, Johansson's Electrolux predecessor, Anders Scharp, is chairman of the board at Scania and has indicated he will maintain close ties to his protege. While a Scania spokesperson gave Ward's "no comment" on a possible merger, chief executive Leif Ostling has stated the truck builder is watching Volvo, especially its activity in the U.S. heavy-truck market.

Xtra expands Mexican fleet. Xtra Mexicana S.A. de C.V., a wholly owned subsidiary of Xtra Corp., has purchased 150 new air-ride aluminum trailers. The purchase expands its Mexican operating fleet of 48x102 trailers to 600 units. Equipped to handle heavy-duty use and harsh road conditions, the new trailers are licensed for domestic use in Mexico as well as for dry-cargo transport in and out of the country. The trailers will be available through Xtra Mexicana offices located in Mexico City and north of the city at Cuautitlan. Customers doing business in and out of Mexico can also inquire about the units at Xtra branches in the U.S.

Three diamonds for Italy. Mitsubishi Motors Corp. (MMC) aims to be the first Japanese OEM to build cars in Italy. According to MMC, under a contract with Industrie Pininfarina SpA, it will begin building sport/utility vehicles especially designed for the European market in 1999 at a Turin plant owned by the Italian coachmaker. MMC expects to build 35,000 units at the facility, which currently produces other car makes. The Mitsubishi-badged SUVs may boast up to 80% local content, but engines will be imported from Japan.

Ryder taps Brazilian logistics. Ryder do Brasil Ltda., a Ryder System subsidiary, has acquired a minority stake in a leading Brazilian provider of integrated logistics. The joint venture with Companhia Transportadora e Comercial Translor S.A. will focus on logistics solutions for automotive industries in the Mercosul free-trade area, which includes Argentina, Brazil, Paraguay, and Uruguay.