Skip navigation

Reporter’s Notebook: Riding the Rail

Ward's writers pass along the buzz at the Paris Auto Show.

Dodge Goes Underground

Chrysler’s Dodge brand digs deep when it comes to getting the most bang for its marketing buck. For “low six figures” – in euros – Dodge has acquired exclusive advertising rights to the subway station just outside the Paris auto show gates.

What’s so special about that?

Of the 1.4 million people expected to visit the show, 1 million take the subway. And they all get off at the same station.

The billboards depict images that suggest Dodge vehicles smashing through the station walls.

Ford Stand Generates Heat

What’s cool here is Ford of Europe’s stand featuring an ice sculpture and a reception desk made from large blocks of ice.

But what’s not so hot is that Paris is experiencing unseasonably warm weather, with highs more than 66º F (19º C).

Because air conditioning is nearly non-existent, Ford’s display keeps a mop-wielding show-hand busy.

Ridenour Rides in Style

Chrysler Chief Operating Officer Eric Ridenour arrives at the show in an immaculate black Chrysler 300C.

His driver parks it outside but apparently thinks it belongs on the show floor.

So for the next 11-plus hours, he periodically cleans the car’s mirror-like finish with a detailer’s duster.

No Shift in Sight

BMW is parked squarely behind its sequential manual gearbox technology, which has drawn criticism for balkiness from some members of the automotive media here.

Suggesting journalists are less attuned to the technology than BMW performance aficionados, Michael Ganal, management board member and marketing chief insists, “M drivers like it.”

While Ganal admits U.S. customers have a penchant for manual transmissions, they have to get over that, he says, pointing out that quick-shifting manual-mode transmissions, pioneered for street use by Ferrari, are an important why-buy for tech-savvy customers of the fabled Italian brand.

These gearboxes are “the way of the future,” he says.

Gettelfinger Wrong-Headed?

Chrysler’s pursuit of health-care relief from the United Auto Workers union extends across the ocean, where DaimlerChrysler Chairman Dieter Zetsche chimes in about his former Detroit colleague, UAW President Ron Gettelfinger.

“I never, ever would have forecasted that Ron – so far – would take this kind of position,” Zetsche tells journalists. “That is not acceptable. I continue to believe that sometime in the near future the right mindset will prevail again.”

The UAW, to date, refuses to give Chrysler any relief from its soaring employee health-care costs as the union did at Ford and GM, insisting Chrysler is in better financial shape and doesn’t need a break from its commitments.

Gettelfinger recently replaced Nate Gooden on DC’s supervisory board, an arrangement borne out of the Chrysler loan agreement of three decades ago. But Zetsche shows little confidence the union chief’s boardroom experience will soften his stance. “I don’t know if this will have an effect,” he says.

[email protected]

Hide comments


  • Allowed HTML tags: <em> <strong> <blockquote> <br> <p>

Plain text

  • No HTML tags allowed.
  • Web page addresses and e-mail addresses turn into links automatically.
  • Lines and paragraphs break automatically.