Volkswagen's new sport-utility will definitely not be called the Colorado.
The US state of Colorado 'has a hillbilly image that doesn't fit with the car and could overshadow its anticipated success in the USA,' said a VW insider.
But American sources are mystified by this comment. Colorado does not have a hillbilly image, they say that goes with some other American states. Most Americans react positively to the name Colorado as it represents images of clean air and tall mountains.
The top version of VW's sport-utility is expected to feature a W12 engine. Final assembly will be in Dresden, Germany, on the same line as VW's new D1 luxury sedan.
The sport-utility program is a joint venture with Porsche, whose version is called the Cayenne. The Cayenne will be assembled in a factory currently under construction in Leipzig, Germany.
Hillbilly definitions notwithstanding, VW says it will likely announce the final name for the sport-utility at September's Frankfurt auto show.
Bernd waits in VW's wings
A management reshuffle at Volkswagen group could occur as soon as November.
According to an online report from Germany's Handelsblatt, VW boss Ferdinand Piech will announce in November that the group's supervisory board has chosen Bernd Pischetsrieder to succeed him as CEO in April.
It is widely expected that Pi'ch will become chairman of VW's supervisory board April 18, 2002 - the day he turns 65. VW's next shareholders' meeting is scheduled for the day before.
But sources say friction appears to be growing between Martin Winterkorn, head of VW group product development, and Pischetsrieder, who is VW's quality boss.
Understandably, Pischetsrieder would like to form a management team of his choice at VW, assuming he is made CEO. His favorite for the group development position is said to be Franz-Josef Paefgen, currently in charge of Audi.
'Pischetsrieder has plenty of respect for Paefgen as an engineer, and they get on with each other very well,' one VW source said.
Piech could arrange for his loyal ally Winterkorn to be awarded an equally desirable and challenging job - that of Audi boss - before Pischetsrieder takes charge.
'In November, Winterkorn and Paefgen will simply swap jobs,' the VW source said.
Volkswagen spokesman Klaus Kocks denied the report. He said: 'It's absolute nonsense.'
Fiat brand screw-up
The vision of the Fiat brand becoming the Ikea of the automotive world has shocked dealers.
Juan Jose Diaz Ruiz, Fiat Auto's executive vice president for sales and marketing, compared Fiat to the Swedish furniture giant during a dealer convention held last month in Milan.
In many countries, Fiat has to fight against a reputation for mediocre quality and poor service.
'This is a signal in the wrong direction,' a senior Fiat executive said, who acknowledged that the quality and service issue is particularly acute in Germany.
The executive added: 'Dealers are now faced with the cynicism of customers who will ask them whether Fiat now expects them to screw their cars together themselves.'
The Ikea comparison runs counter to the efforts Fiat has been making to improve its image, the dealers complained. Speaking last week at the Automotive News Europe Congress, Diaz Ruiz said he wanted Fiat's 'cheap and cheerful' image to become a thing of the past.
The Fiat-Ikea brand vision was developed by Fiat's marketing communications department. Led by Roberto Zuccato, the vision forms part of a departmental strategy to compare Fiat's public appearance with popular consumer goods.
The wit of Schweitzer
Renault Chairman and CEO Louis Schweitzer used his rapier wit and dry humor to work his way through a series of auto industry questioners after his dinner speech June 25 at the Automotive News Europe Congress in Prague.
After discussing Renault's re-entry into Formula One next year, Schweitzer was asked if Formula One pays off. 'It does for some, but not for us,' he replied.
After saying the appeal of the Renault Avantime and Vel Satis was in their 'Frenchness,' he was asked what made Renault's Frenchness better than Peugeot's. 'Nothing. We are different.'
Warming to the subject, he noted that many had predicted in the 1980s that both Renault and PSA/Peugeot-Citroen would not survive.
'There were two Frenchmen, there are two Frenchmen. I think it's good for France.'
Schweitzer even tweaked reporters in the audience. 'You journalists always ask us for forecasts. We always provide them. They are always wrong. You respond by asking us for fresh predictions,' he said. 'I like this arrangement.'