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US cowboys fight Ford's 'green' credentials

Ford advertisements in the USA show cowboys proudly using the company's pickups. But a growing number of cowboys in Arizona are angry enough with Ford to start driving Chevrolets.

Ranchers, loggers, miners and agricultural business interests are protesting against Ford's environmental attitudes - and specifically a $5 million (E5.5 million) contribution to the National Audubon Society. The money is being spent on bird monitoring and environment education programs.

'These environmental groups are spending a lot of money putting timber, livestock grazing and everything else out of business,' said Doc Lane, director of natural resources for the Arizona Cattle Ranchers Association.

'Our concern is why would Ford be paying to put their customers out of business?'

Lane spoke at a meeting between Ford executives and agricultural associations earlier this month.

One meeting participant noted: 'There were three people in the cattle ranching industry in the meeting that drove Fords their whole life. They now own General Motors products for the first time. We just want Ford to work with American agriculture.'

Old guys move fast

If you think General Motors has been acting more swiftly since hiring John Devine as chief financial officer and Bob Lutz as product guru, you're not alone.

Speaking at a dinner meeting in Detroit, GM purchasing chief Bo Andersson had these humorous observations about his new colleagues: 'The good thing about them is they are rather old. They don't have a lot of time. They are moving rather fast because they only have a couple of years.'

Lutz is 69. Devine is 57. Andersson is a mere 45.

Ford vs. the Almighty

Would Ford get away with an advertisement campaign like this in Europe?

'Only God makes more models,' begins a new print advertisement for Ford in India.

The text continues: 'When it comes to a production line, the Almighty does seem to have an edge. But, hey, we are running a close second.'

The endline goes: 'The good Lord does make more variants. But then, he does offer just two basic models.'

Created by the Hindustan Thompson agency, the advertisement is part of a generic print campaign for Ford, focusing on such models as the Puma, Mustang, Mondeo, Thunderbird, Explorer and Focus.

Another advertisement begins: 'For car enthusiasts, this is the bikini round. There are some experiences that leave one panting for more. This is one of them.'

A further advertisement tells Indian readers: 'Behave your age. Drool. It's a gene pool anyone would envy. How does one explain such a lineup?'

Smart move in the UK

With sales of the first right-hand-drive Smarts due to begin in the UK in November, Britain will become a key source of used left-hand-drive models for mainland Europe, said Smart's UK Managing Director Walter Scherg.

'There is a desperate shortage of used Smarts in mainland Europe,' Scherg said. 'To help fill the gap we shall be approaching UK owners of left-hand-drive imports who may be ready to switch to right-hand drive.'

About 8,000 left-hand-drive Smarts have been imported into UK, and the tiny two-seater is already a familiar sight on city streets.

Scherg hopes to sell 5,000 right-hand-drive Smarts in the UK next year and 10,000 in 2003. One-fifth of sales are expected to be to company fleets. For private owners, Scherg is targeting high-income families and stylish singles.

Right-hand-drive Smart prices start at 6,295 - or just over E10,000 - in the UK.

No Jac required

Ford is retreating from several of the initiatives CEO Jacques Nasser borrowed from his hero, General Electric's legendary Chairman Jack Welch (see editorial on Page 10.)

One story circulating at Ford is that the reason Nasser changed the accepted spelling of his name from 'Jac' to 'Jacques' a few months ago was to begin easing away from the Welch comparisons.

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