Alfa freezes Venice
ALFA ROMEO froze Venice for its first TV ads in the UK. Well, not quite. The ad shows the 156 driving on frozen canals, but it's actually a set near Rome. Alfa will spend $9 million on an eight-week campaign starting in February, and a second campaign in the summer. Meanwhile, Audi will spend $7.4 million on TV ads for the A4 and Volvo will spend $11.5 million for the S40. By the way, the canals really did freeze in 1929.
Bridge full of new cars
THE NEW BRIDGE connecting west Denmark with Copenhagen will get a full load of traffic on its first day in operation, 14 June. A caravan of 200 new cars from around the world, many not sold in Scandinavia, will collect on an island usually closed to the public a week earlier. On the day, they will form a 1.6km-long parade and cross the 17km Storebelt bridge. Danish importers, dealers and the Red Cross are working together on the show.
Paul McCartney, George Harrison and Ringo Starr have been contacted by Volkswagen in an attempt to get them together to promote the new Beetle. 'The Beetle was a cult car and the Beatles also had cult status which fits well into the concept,' Klaus Kocks, a Volkswagen board member. VW has in the past used rock stars such as The Rolling Stones with the marketing of its Golf model.
Reuters News Service
Dutch ready to sell out
THE DUTCH government has chosen 1998 to reduce its ownership of NedCar. It has been a one-third partner with Volvo and Mitsubishi, but it plans to sell all but 5 percent of its stake to its partners (equally) by the end of the year, said Katsuhisa Sato at Mitsubishi's New Year's reception. Sato is responsible for Mitsubishi's international business in Europe, the Middle East and Africa.
James B. Treece
See for yourself
NORWEGIAN CAR importers have invited 30 politicians and administrators on a fact-finding trip to visit carmakers in Japan and Korea. 'In Norway we have seen rising government interest in an environmental way of taxation, for example, taxing CO2,' said Finn Tandberg of the Norwegian car importers. The importers want to make sure diesels are considered a low-tax alternative.
A MILD WINTER in west Norway had Daimler-Benz engineers driving six cars around Venebu in the interior, seeking ice and snow. They found it. Returning from the test, a Mercedes-Benz M-class left the road and damaged a local fence. No worries, said Hans Eng, marketing manager for Mercedes-Benz in Norway. 'We will compensate for the broken fence.'
Romiti charged again
CESARE ROMITI, president of Fiat SpA, has been ordered to stand trial on corruption charges again. Prosecutors suspect Romiti knew of alleged payoffs to win contracts for work on the Rome subway system a decade ago. Fiat was a partner in the deal. His lawyers said that they were 'shocked and incredulous.' He was absolved in a previous case. In another case last spring over false accounting, Romiti was sentenced to 18 months in prison. He appealed even though the sentence was automatically suspended under Italian law.
Old cars for safe ones
ITALY'S TRANSPORT Minister Claudio Burlando is trying again to get his government to sponsor an incentive based on safety features, such as ABS and airbags. The idea is to replace the fuel-efficiency incentive that ends next August with his safety program. He offered no details, but said, 'It is not enough to have better roads, we also need safer cars. We still have too many cars on the road older than 10 years.'
Fuel cell race declared
Toyota President Hiroshi Okuda intends to beat Daimler-Benz to market with a fuel-cell vehicle. Daimler said it will market such a vehicle by 2004-05, but Okuda says, 'Our engineers seem to have a strong feeling that we should be the first to market that engine.'
James B. Treece