THE NEXT big thing could be the electric bicycle. Former GM Chairman Robert Stempel and former Chrysler Chairman Lee Iacocca are partners in a joint venture that is developing a $995 electric bicycle. The bike will initially be aimed at the US recreational market. It could later reach Europe and Asia.
Battle of the alphabet
Mercedes-Benz and Volvo have gone to court over the alphabet. The two companies want a legal ruling over who has the right to the use of the letters 'V' and 'S' on individual models. 'This is not a conflict. It is a neutral process,' said a Mercedes representative. 'We only want the court to clarify the situation.' Mercedes uses a 'V' to designate a class of vans and an 'S' for its top-of-the line models. Volvo uses an 'S' to designate its standard sedan model and a 'V' is used on its five-door hatchback models.
Reuters News Service
TOYOTA apologized to England's Queen Elizabeth for running a cheeky advertisement for its Land Cruiser in Australia. The ad featured a Range Rover and the words 'Don't worry, your Majesty, you're not the only British export that's had its day.'
VW rocks Europe
VOLKSWAGEN is sponsoring Eric Clapton's European tour in October and November. In the past, VW has sponsored Genesis, Pink Floyd, the Rolling Stones and Bon Jovi. But what about consumers of the '90s?
Focus vs Focus
THE GERMAN magazine Focus says it will sue Ford over rights to the Focus name. Focus has 700,000 readers, and a spokesman said its trademark could be damaged if readers thought the magazine was linked to Ford's new car due in the autumn. 'We haven't heard anything,' said Ford spokesman Don Hume. 'It would mystify us if we do.' He said Ford has registered the name Focus as a vehicle in 100 countries, including Germany, and is confident of winning any legal battles.
Planned traffic jams?
Is Britain's new Labour government planning traffic jams to force drivers off the roads? The word going around the congested capital is that ministers are getting frustrated that driving up fuel taxes has no effect on traffic levels.
Now officials are talking about narrowing roads to impose a 'time tax' on commuters. The idea is that drivers will then be forced onto busses and trains or will simply stay at home. The government's Department of Environment, Transport and Regions says the time tax idea has come from research.
But, insisted a man from the ministry, the idea will go nowhere. 'Remember,' he says, 'car drivers are voters.' That point will not be lost on Jaguar-loving deputy prime minister John Prescott when he presents new transport legislation in May.
Volvo profit sharing
In Sweden, where socialist values are held dear, Volvo's 43,000 workers have been getting profit shares since 1982. Now, the program is to be extended to the 27,000 Volvo employees in other countries. The profit shares are handled through the Volvoresultat foundation, which invests its capital in Volvo stock. Volvo is negotiating details of the change. Workers could get Skr13,000 ($1,600) in 1999.