TOP MANAGERS at Daimler-Benz and Chrysler are getting to know each other better. Chairman Juergen Schrempp and other Daimler bosses arrived in Detroit on 16 June for the first of a number of 'familiarization sessions' with Chrysler executives. They were wined and dined and given a tour of Chrysler's headquarters.
The merger that wasn't
CHRYSLER AND BMW talked about getting engaged. They tried living together at an engine joint venture in Brazil. But marriage proved difficult. The Quandt family, which controls BMW, would not give up control to Chrysler shareholders. Chrysler was the bigger partner (1997 sales: Chrysler $61.4 billion/BMW $33.4 billion), so a BMW takeover would have required billions in bank financing. Thus we have DaimlerChrysler rather than BMWChrysler.
Best talkers: Audi
AUDI WON a prize at the French Grand Prix. To be precise, the BPS Teleperformance Grand Prix. It wasn't an Audi car, it was the Audi UK customer services center. Telephone companies sponsor the event, which involves fake shoppers calling service centers in various industries. Audi UK was in the Top 3 of 100 UK companies.
Backpacks become seats
MERCEDES DEALERS in Germany are selling children's backpacks that convert to special child seats for the back of an A-class. Children sit on their DM169 ($95) backpacks, books and all, giving them a better view. The standard safety belt straps the child securely to the seat and the pack. The pack is marketed with the name 'Rucki.' There are no plans yet to sell the Rucki in other countries.
VW's fifth platform
VOLKSWAGEN'S GOL, launched in 1981, doesn't fit into Chairman Ferdinand Piech's four-platform policy. But the car has 20 percent of the market in Brazil, and it leads in Argentina. So, says Herbert Demel, president of Volkswagen's South American operations, it will stay around for five years at least.
Rolls boss unwinds
ROLLS-ROYCE Chief Executive Graham Morris vacationed after Vickers shareholders accepted Volkswagen's $700 million offer. He chose an English countryside location instead of travelling abroad. 'I may need to be at one or two meetings in the next few days,' he said. But not with VW executives: takeover laws restrict contact between Wolfsburg and Crewe until 3 July, when the deal is closed.
Subaru turns heads
SUBARU'S BRAZILIAN distributor CAOA Group has launched an eye-catching ad campaign to boost sales. It has suspended three Subaru cars 10 meters above the sidewalk in high-income areas of Sao Paulo. Although the cars are fixed to steel columns, they are guarded 24 hours a day to prevent vandalism. Last year Subaru sold 837 units in Brazil, but aims to raise that to 10,000 by 2000.