If you can't stand the heat ...
When a fire was spotted at Patterson Ford in Newcastle, England, on June 25, the staff did what you would expect. It helped customers get out of the building quickly. But what good salesperson would let a little fire get in the way of making a deal? According to the Evening Chronicle newspaper in Newcastle, used-car salesman Andy Beveridge managed to clinch a deal with a customer in the parking lot. In fact, the deal took place in a car as firefighters battled the blaze in the showroom. The paper did not say what the customer bought. Said Ashley Winter, Patterson Ford's managing director: 'This ... proved that Patterson Ford staff really can take the heat.'
PIECH STOPS THE PRESSES - Work on the autobiography of Volkswagen AG Chairman Ferdinand Piech has been halted so 'new developments' can be included. The book, Auto-Biography, was scheduled to come out this fall but has been delayed until next spring. 'Piech has something major in mind that would significantly change VW's history,' said a source close to the book's co-author, Herbert Volker. VW has been the target of speculation for months that it is preparing to merge with another automaker or that it intends to spin off the Audi and Bentley brands into a stand-alone luxury automotive group. Piech is expected to announce his resignation at the annual shareholders' meeting April 17, 2002, a day before he turns 65.
A MATTER OF STYLE - There's an old joke about the Swedish farmer who loved his wife so much that he almost told her. That helps explain a tongue-in-cheek radio ad about the Saab 9-5 being named Best Mid-Luxury Car in the J.D. Power and Associates 2001 Initial Quality Study. The Swedes at Saab Automobiles AB deflect the credit. 'It wasn't us, it was the engineers,' one says. The American reaction at Saab Cars USA Inc., outside Atlanta, is a bit different: 'We're the best!' along with a chant in the style of comedian Arsenio Hall: 'Woo! Woo! Woo! Woo!' The announcer explains, 'In Sweden, it's not polite to brag. But we're not in Sweden.'
LOW VOLUME, HIGH PERFORMANCE - Ford Motor Co. is considering a performance version of the new Thunderbird. But the 2002 T-Bird is more about relaxed sportiness than all-out performance, said Mickey D'Armi, the vehicle's brand manager, so he doesn't see large volume for a performance version. It could be an SVT, he acknowledged, meaning it would be built by the Ford Special Vehicle Team, a business unit of Ford that develops low-volume performance versions of some of its vehicles.