TRICK QUESTION - Quick, what's the sales-weighted average size of a Honda engine? Takeo Fukui, president of Honda R&D Co., recently asked that question of his listeners at a conference. He reminded them Honda makes more engines than any other automaker,with engine sizes ranging from 660cc for its Life minicar to 3.5 liters for an Acura 3.5L. The answer? 540cc. Fukui's point? Don't forget that Honda makes motorcycles and power appliances, too, and its smallest engine is just 20cc.
E-GADS - As president of e-GM, Mark Hogan oversees General Motors' e-commerce. But his comments at a Detroit conference a few weeks ago show that his allegiance is to the auto industry. "It's true that if automotive technology kept pace with computer technology over the past few decades, you'd probably be driving a V-32 instead of a V-8," he said. "Or maybe you'd have an economy car that weighs only 30 pounds and gets 1,000 miles to a gallon. Well, we may not be perfect in the automobile business, but could you imagine if Silicon Valley was in the automobile business? Cars may crash twice a day."
WELCOME TO BRANDVILLE - Now we really know what the Chrysler group thinks of its brands. It tipped its hand at a media party during the Specialty Equipment Market Association show last month. Chrysler rented a section of a new residential subdivision overlooking the lights of Las Vegas and staged a mock block party. The Chrysler, Jeep and Dodge brands were represented by a role-playing couple and their own house. At Chrysler, there was a stainless steel bar, martinis and sushi; at Jeep, campfire music and s'mores. And Dodge? Disposable tablecloths, hot dogs and burgers.
THE BUTT OF JOKES - Dave Schembri, vice president of marketing for Mercedes-Benz USA Inc., jokingly introduced the slightly reskinned 2002 M class sport-utility at a recent press conference as having "something I'd like myself every three or four years - a facelift and a new rear end."