Cattle Bullish on New Dodge Ram
To dramatize the ruggedness of its redesigned-for-'09 Dodge Ram pickup, Chrysler herded 120 long-horned steers down the street in front of the auto show's press preview at Cobo Hall.
Cowboys on horseback held the cattle back as Chrysler Vice Chairman and President Jim Press stood before three shiny Ram pickups to describe the new model's attributes.
Suddenly, one steer's head rose above the herd. In a fit of passion, he had mounted a fellow steer. To wild laughter, Press tells the media: “He just wanted to see the truck.”
Chrysler's cattle stampede stunt caused Ford of Europe President and CEO Lewis Booth to quip: “I wouldn't be surprised if they were killed, barbequed and eaten before they get here.”
Mazda Spoils GM Sweep
There were a few glum faces among GM suits as the Mazda CX-9 cross/utility vehicle officially was named North American truck of the year by journalists from the U.S. and Canada.
The CX-9 beats out the popular Buick Enclave and innovative 2-mode Chevrolet Tahoe Hybrid, spoiling what would have been a GM awards sweep for the second year in a row.
There still was some good news for the Chevy division, as its highly praised next-generation Malibu got the nod as North American car of the year over the Cadillac CTS and Honda Accord.
The Michelin Man Isn't a Man After All
The iconic costumed character seen at automotive events around the world was spotted in the ladies' room.
Welcome To GM Market; V-8s Are in Aisle 3
GM product boss Bob Lutz found himself in somewhat of an awkward position at the Detroit auto show here — on stage between the environmentally friendly Cadillac Porvoq fuel-cell concept and the raucous Cadillac CTS-V, a high-performance sedan that won't soon make the Sierra Club's recommended list.
Instead, the industry veteran reminded journalists there is still room in the world for an old-fashioned V-8.
“At the height of the vegetarian craze, grocery stores were still featuring New York steaks,” he says. “Maybe they devoted less shelf space to them, but with all the healthy eating, there were still people who liked red meat. We're a full-service grocery chain.”
Lincoln Gets Lippy
A Lincoln representative is showing the auto maker's in-car information system, Travel Link, to a BMW counterpart.
The system uses Sirius satellite radio to deliver real-time gasoline prices, along with directions to the nearest filling stations.
The BMW rep wonders why his marque doesn't offer the feature, as the brand also uses Sirius. “Because you're not Ford,” the Lincoln rep replies.
Close Call For Predicting Automotive Output
Erich Merkle, IRN Inc.'s vice president-forecasting, claims the Society of Automotive Analysts' prize for predicting the 2007 U.S. production total.
The highest prediction was 16,882,321 units, while the lowest was 14,099,000, says SAA President Jeffrey Leestma. The average was 15,368,635.
The actual production total, Leestma says, is 15,017,635. Merkle's winning guess was 15,021,000.
“He didn't account for a lunch break,” Leestma quips, noting that the 3,365-unit disparity between the Merkle's estimate the actual total is less than a single shift of production.
Former Ward's Staffer Makes Dubious History
Former Ward's staffer Steve Plumb makes history at the auto show. During a test drive of Toyota Motor Corp. plug-in hybrid-electric prototypes, Plumb was rear ended by a Mercedes on Jefferson Avenue. Says Plumb: “I'm the first person ever to be rear-ended in a plug-in.”
— Compiled by Barbara McClellan