Holiday holds little cheer for Mich. governor
Sometimes it's no fun being right. John Engler, Michigan's Republican governor, said in December that a new provision in automaker contracts with the UAW would prove to be the biggest corporate campaign contribution of the year - and not for the candidates the industry might prefer. Now, after the first election day that was a paid holiday for autoworkers, Sen. Spencer Abraham, R-Mich., a big industry friend, is out. And George W. Bush, the industry's clear choice, lost Michigan and its 18 electoral votes by a ratio of 51 percent to 46 percent. Union members used the day to staff phone banks in a massive get-out-the-vote effort, and UAW President Steve Yokich gloated that automakers paid his members to vote for pro-labor candidates.
`ICE' IS NICE - Nissan President Carlos Ghosn likes his newest nickname a little better than the oft-used title of 'Le cost cutter.' DaimlerChrysler CEO Juergen Schrempp dubbed Ghosn 'an icebreaker' in the Nov. 6 issue of Automotive News and said he would follow Ghosn's blueprint to rebuild Mitsubishi Motors. 'This is one of the best nicknames I have ever had,' Ghosn said during the announcement of Nissan's new assembly plant in Mississippi. 'Coming from a competitor, I take it as a compliment. As you know, the media have not always been as good as the competitor.'
ANOTHER AVENUE - The renewal of U.S.-Japan auto trade talks has raised U.S. parts suppliers' hopes for more sales to Japanese automakers. But Terry O'Rourke, senior vice president of ArvinMeritor Inc., finds more promise in Nissan's 1999 alliance with Renault. The French automaker is ArvinMeritor's sixth-biggest customer, providing about $300 million of the supplier's $5.5 billion in annual sales of original-equipment parts. Says O'Rourke: 'I think Renault is a better avenue to Nissan than the feds.'
BUY A DOG, GET A JAG - After he won half of a $363 million Big Game Lottery jackpot in May, Larry Ross of Michigan said he wanted to buy his wife, Nancy, a purple Jaguar. So the couple ordered an XKR convertible, and Jaguar Cars Ltd. - which doesn't normally offer purple - offered to do the custom paint job. As a reminder of their lucky day, Jaguar put the number 4 on the gear shift knob to represent Larry Ross' winning Big Money Number, which is the bonus number - coupled with the right five lottery numbers - that won him the big bucks. The couple drove the vehicle off the line at Jaguar's plant in Coventry, England, on Nov. 3. Ross had bought the winning ticket and 97 others with the change from a $100 bill after buying a hot dog.