The merger that wasn't
Chrysler Corp. and BMW AG were star-crossed lovers who just couldn't marry. As the companies' executives spent more and more time together and created an engine joint venture in South America, they hoped to become one big, happy, global company. But family problems arose. The Quandt family, which owns more than half of BMW, refused to give up control to Chrysler shareholders. But Chrysler (1997 sales of $61.4 billion, compared with BMW's $33.4 billion) was the bigger partner. A BMW takeover of Chrysler would have required tens of billions in bank financing. It wasn't to be. Thus we have DaimlerChrysler rather than BimmerChrysler.
BUG AT THE WHITE HOUSE - Bill and Hillary Clinton lived through the psychedelic '60s. Now their daughter, Chelsea, will get to experience a bit of that era. The First Freshman, coming home for the summer from Stanford University, found a 1998 black Volkswagen New Beetle waiting for her. Volkswagen of America Inc. said it played no part in the White House purchase, but 'we think it's absolutely cool that she's driving this car,' said spokeswoman Karla Waterhouse.
INTO THE WALL - Tom Evans wants to clear up his driving record. The president of automotive supplier Tenneco Automotive crashed his vehicle into a wall while negotiating a turn during the Neon Celebrity Challenge Race on June 7 at the ITT Automotive Detroit Grand Prix. Evans, who wants to race again, blames the accident on an oil slick left by a previous accident, not on how he took the turn. The wreck left Evans seeing stars and also crushed his car's fuel tank, prompting quick action from emergency personnel. 'There was never a real emergency,' he said. 'Those things always look very dramatic.'
EV SUCCESS STORY - Question: How many times did Kris Trexler recharge his General Motors EV1 in a three-week, 3,275-mile trek from Los Angeles to Troy, Mich.? Answer: 60. Trexler, a TV film editor, was warmly greeted at GM's Advanced Technology Vehicles Division headquarters on June 2. Said Trexler: 'I set out on this adventure to make a very public demonstration of the viability of electric vehicles.'
THE DEVIL MADE THEM DO IT - Ever since a TV commercial aired last winter featuring a Jeep Grand Cherokee traversing snow-covered terrain and pulling up next to a 'Welcome to Hell' sign, folks have wanted to visit the small town in Michigan and get their picture taken next to the sign. But there was no sign; it had been digitally generated for the ad. After a call from Mayor Jim Ley asking for help, Jeep re-created the welcome sign and donated it to Hell. The new 'Welcome to Hell' sign will be displayed at the Devil's Den, a downtown store owned by the mayor.