Media squawks; Detroit listens
A blizzard of complaints at the North American International Auto Show likely will prompt a slight rescheduling of next year's event. Press preview days at Detroit's show traditionally begin the Sunday after New Year's Day. At this year's show, snow socked in the airport and wreaked havoc on area roadways. Construction had the Cobo Center looking like, well, a construction site. In 2000, the first Sunday is Jan. 2, a day closer to New Year's than this year. Many journalists and executives want to party, not travel, on New Year's Day. And some fear the Y2K computer bug could snarl air travel at midnight, Jan. 1. 'Given the calendar, we'll probably move next year's start date a couple of days, minimally, to accommodate the international travelers,' said Rod Alberts, executive director of the show.
DRIVE BY AIR - Money spent on new- and used-vehicle purchases and leases can have buyers flying high. Delta Air Lines and Automotive Dealers' Marketing, a Los Angeles auto buying company, have teamed up to offer Delta SkyMiles members bonus miles toward a free airline ticket when they purchase or lease a vehicle from one of 450 participating new-car dealerships. Miles awarded are based on the amount spent. For instance, a new vehicle that costs up to $20,000 nets the SkyMiles member 5,000 miles, a vehicle that cost $20,001 to $40,000 nets 10,000 miles and vehicles costlier than $40,000 earn 15,000 miles. Used-vehicle purchases, regardless of price, earn 10,000 miles.
FRUITFUL CAMPAIGN - Some public interest groups have lobbed tomatoes at Saturn Corp.'s advertising for its new three-door coupe. The groups, led by the Center for Science in the Public Interest, gave Saturn a Lemon Award for 'misleading, unfair and irresponsible' ads. Why? The groups, which include the Center for Auto Safety, said the ads fail to show kids being buckled in the rear seat and encourage family use of the rear door even though it opens on the traffic side of the car. Saturn spokesman Tom Wilkinson said the advertising is meant to be whimsical and accused the award givers of 'blatant self-promotion.'
SNAPPING THE STUPID STICK - Nissan has had its share of troubles. But for Minoru Nakamura, president of Nissan North America, the last straw was a published comment from within the company saying Nissan had been hit with a 'stupid stick.' So at a speech last week at the Automotive News World Congress in Detroit, Nakamura ceremoniously snapped the 'stupid stick' over his knee. The symbolic move was backed by an outline of some strategic steps Nissan will take to regain sales and profits. Nakamura strayed from his prepared remarks only once. Bending to pick up the 'stupid stick' from the stage, he muttered under his breath: 'It gets heavier every day.'