Trotman plans earlier exit?
The rumor mill in Dearborn last week said Chairman and CEO Alex Trotman plans to leave Ford Motor Co., perhaps as early as this summer. Trotman, 64, has been chairman since November 1993. He was scheduled to stay until the end of 1999. The most talked-about scenario has William Clay Ford Jr. becoming non-executive chairman of the board. Jac Nasser would run the company day to day as CEO. Nasser is now president of Ford Automotive Operations. High-level Ford people are said to be mulling the division of responsibilities between the two top titles.
MITSUBISHI TO STOP MAKING JEEPS (sic) - Done in by new safety and environmental regulations, it's the end of the line for the Jeep. Mitsubishi's Jeep, that is. Mitsubishi Motors Corp. has been building the Jeep, with a capital 'J,' in Japan since 1953, when it licensed the design, technology and name from Willys-Overland of the United States. It has sold the four-wheel-drive vehicle to consumers and to Japan's Self-Defense Forces. Complying with new regulations would be too costly, though, so Mitsubishi will halt production in August.
COST OF FREEDOM - A study last week confirmed what automakers have been saying for a while: Americans want big vehicles and do not dwell on the potential environmental fallout. Seven in 10 buyers will only consider switching vehicles if gasoline reaches $2.10 per gallon, says research company AutoPacific. The other 30 percent will not switch at any price. 'Cars are freedom, and freedom is enhanced by space and by power, neither of which contributes much to fuel efficiency,' said AutoPacific President George Peterson.
A TANGLED WEB - American Honda Motor Co. was surprised to learn recently that someone had registered a Web address that sounded awfully official: www.americanhonda.com. Steve Lynch, a former employee who published a book about the company's management bribery scandal, Arrogance and Accords: The Inside Story of the Honda Scandal, acquired the address last year, thinking it might come in handy for publicity purposes. Last month, Honda filed suit against Lynch in Los Angeles. Lynch surrendered the address without a fight.
WRANGLER GETS EXTRA SPIFF - To spur sales during the off selling season, Fisher-Price's Power Wheels division recently announced that buyers of its pint-sized Jeep Wrangler replica will receive a $50 U.S. Savings Bond when they purchase the product between May 15 and June 15, 1998, and Oct. 1 and Nov. 1, 1998. The give-away 'provides an added value for those consumers who are already looking to purchase the leading battery-operated ride-on for their child,' said Chuck Scothon, vice president of marketing at Fisher-Price. Sound familiar?