A PUBLIC RIFT among Agnelli family members has followed the choice of a successor to Giovanni Alberto Agnelli, the Fiat heir who died of cancer last month. Edoardo Agnelli, 44, the eldest son of Honorary Chairman Giovanni Agnelli, said that the appointment to the Fiat SpA board of his nephew John Elkann, Agnelli's 22-year-old grandson, 'was both an error and in bad taste.' He told the newspaper Il Manifesto, 'It was decided by one part of the family in spite of the opposition of my father.' However, Giovanni said Elkann had his 'full esteem.'
Aston's demand to Bond
ASTON MARTIN is trying to recreate its special relationship with James Bond. It said movie company Eon Productions could use its 320kph Project Vantage sports car concept in a future Bond film. But the carmaker set a condition the film makers may find impossible to accept. 'We would never agree, as BMW apparently has, that one of our cars should be destroyed in public,' said Aston Martin Chairman Bob Dover. 'It's just not British.'
Beetle inspires Giugiaro
THE FIRST PERSON to get in VW's new Beetle when it was unveiled to the press at Detroit was designer Fabrizio Giugiaro of Italdesign. He used a digital camcorder to record the car's interior, zooming in on the gauges, controls and the peculiar pedal rest.
Diana T. Kurylko
Mercedes' style of music
The music for the Mercedes-Benz stand at the Detroit auto show was partly appropriate for the conservative but tenacious company. 'Tubthumping' by Chumbawamba goes, 'I get knocked down, but I get up again, you're never going to keep me down.' Unfortunately, it also goes on about 'pissing the night away,' at a pub.
Diana T. Kurylko
VOLKSWAGEN CHAIRMAN Ferd-inand Piech built two cars during his Christmas holiday. They were remote control models his wife bought for their children. 'The first one took me 14 hours, the second took 12 hours,' he said. 'I hope I won't have to build any cars myself again.'
South American bias
CHRYSLER'S new president is not very interested in Europe. In an interview, Tom Stallkamp said South America would get his attention. 'If you were on another planet trying to figure out how to come down here and get into this business, you would do what we're doing,' said Stallkamp, 'prudently investing in those areas internationally that show growth. I'd rather be where we are, building plants in South America, than supporting an enormous asset base, including all of its sub-component manufacturing and all of its distribution costs, in some no-growth continent that prides itself on its cars.'
Don't think of China as merely an emerging nation. At least one automaker has emerged. China's First Auto Works is likely to get tax incentives from the former Soviet republic of Kazakstan to establish a joint venture with local partner Naisa Co. First Auto Works will have 65 percent of the stock. The venture plans to build 5,000 pickups and minivans annually in Kazakstan in a $17 million kit car plant.