Ferrari originally planned to make 444 units of its 550 Barchetta Pininfarina limited-edition two-seat spider. But it has now decided to build an extra four cars. 'The original number came from combining the sales potential of every market, than reducing it a little to maintain the desirability of the car,' said Andrea Zappia, Ferrari sales and marketing director. But then Ferrari discovered that in Asia the number 'four' is associated with bad luck. Asian distributors were horrified by the combination of fours in the production total. They asked Ferrari to reconsider. So the Italian super-luxury carmaker decided to make 448 units - 'eight' being a lucky number in Asia.
DaimlerChrysler still has a long way to go to integrate the former Daimler-Benz and the former Chrysler Corp., and to boost the company's share price.
'There are people inside our company, both sides, that are still fighting the war,' said Jim Holden, CEO for North America, in a joint interview with Jurgen Hubbert, D/C board member responsible for Mercedes-Benz passenger cars and Smart. Holden said European investors are suspicious of the mass market where the Chrysler brands operate. And US investors are unexcited about the new company, as well. He said: 'We've got to make it work.'
General Motors CEO Rick Wagoner found himself face-to-face with Europe's infamous paparazzi at Paris' Musee d'Art Moderne de la Ville during a GM reception. But it wasn't Wagoner who was attracting the cameramen, it was the beautiful woman who escorted him arm-in-arm through the museum, Slovakian supermodel Adriana Karembeu.
'I don't think I've had my picture taken as often as just a few minutes ago,' Wagoner later told the reception audience.
Adriana, a tall, 29-year-old blonde, has found fame as a lingerie model. But she is even more celebrated in Paris because of her marriage to French football star Christian Karembeu.
At the GM reception, Adriana, in a radical blue dress and towering hair, took center stage as the star of a fashion show put on by GM.
A technical problem meant most of the simultaneous English translation of Porsche CEO Wendelin Wiedeking's remarks to journalists could not be heard.
Meanwhile, other channels on the headsets provided by Porsche - such as Spanish and French - worked fine. Wiedeking was unaware of the problem until afterward. 'Oh no!' he said later. 'That's [the USA] our biggest market!'
Porsche later provided English copies of the speech.
Auto shows - who needs them? That is the attitude Phoenix Group took after it bought the ailing Rover Group from BMW in the spring for 10 (E16.5). One of the first announcements made by the British consortium was that it wouldn't be wasting its money by showing vehicles at auto shows any more.
The company said it preferred to spend its money building its dealer network and by investing in less 'flashy' forms of marketing.
Now auto show season has arrived, and MG Rover, as the company is now known, is so far sticking by its decision. That means it wasn't at Paris. Neither will there be any MGs or Rovers at the Birmingham, England, show in mid-October - even though Birmingham is Rover's home. Longbridge, now the sole Rover manufacturing plant, is just down the road from the National Exhibition Center in Birmingham where the show will be held.
Two years ago, Birmingham was the site of the global launch of the Rover 75.
Toyota's Prius is now profitable, according to Toyota Chairman Hiroshi Okuda. 'When we introduced the Prius in Japan three years ago, we were barely at break-even,' said Okuda. 'Since then, we have reduced production costs by 30 percent and increased sales in Japan from 1,000 to 3,000 units a month. Now we are making money with the Prius. And we already have 3,400 orders from the USA.'