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DETROIT ( -- The Rev. Jesse Jackson, founder and president of the Rainbow/Push Coalition, blasted Nissan North America today accusing the automaker of charging African Americans higher finance charges than whites.

Rev. Jackson's charges come in the wake of a recent study that claimed black customers in 33 states consistently paid more than white customers for car loans arranged through Nissan dealers.

Nissan's financing arm, Nissan Motor Acceptance, is facing a class-action discrimination lawsuit in federal court in Nashvill, Tenn.

Earlier this week, Nissan's financing arm, Nissan Motor Acceptance, refuted the alleged discrimination claims in the study, saying it doesn't collect racial data on its applications. In a prepared statement, it said the report was flawed in methodology and is "the work of plaintiff's hired guns in a litigation case."

The study was conducted by professors from Vanderbilt and Yale universities. Nissan Motor acceptance said the universities didn't sanction the study.

Rev. Jackson also criticized Nissan for offering black landowners in Mississippi a third of what was offered to white owners for land to build a new car plant.

Separately, Peter Goodwin, advertising director at Nissan, said the automaker isn't planning any new multicultural ads to address the claims of the financing study because of the pending litigation. But Nissan is currently in focus groups testing the 2002 model-year ads from its African-American agency of record, Carol H. Williams Advertising, Oakland, Calif.

Toyota Motor Sales USA, criticized by Rev. Jackson in May for a promotional postcard he said was an insult to people of color, has given assignments to an undisclosed number of shops in the pitch for its African-American ad account, now handled internally by Publicis Groupe's Saatchi & Saatchi Los Angeles. Toyota said it still expects to name a winner by August.

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