The Chrysler PT Cruiser will be a movie star soon. With entertainment companies Universal Studios and Hypnotic, Chrysler is sponsoring a competition for amateur filmmakers. Five finalists will spend the summer at Universal Studios creating a short film starring the PT Cruiser and possibly the 2004 Crossfire sports coupe. The winner gets
$1 million. Chrysler will have rights to the five final films, and Universal will distribute the winning film. The shorts will be posted on Chrysler's Web site and likely will be shown on college campuses this fall.
SAME TO YOU - When union workers began picketing his used-car dealership in Philadelphia, Imports Unlimited General Manager Domenic Visco fought back. Members of Local 98 of the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers set up the pickets in early February to protest the lack of union electricians being used to build a new showroom, said a column in the Philadelphia Inquirer. Men in orange vests with red flags would wave away customers while others handed out leaflets, the paper reported. So Visco bought 20 yellow sweatshirts with "Just Say No to Intimidation by Local 98" printed on them and hired his own pickets to wear them and hand out fliers challenging the union's stand. Said police Capt. Bill Fisher: "It's like watching two teams compete."
HIGH PROFILE FOR HUMMER - In expanding the Hummer dealer network, General Motors is requiring dealers to build stand-alone stores with an in-your-face aggressive look. The design features a 32-foot-high Quonset hut facade and a test track to show off Hummer's off-road prowess. (See story, Page 6.) John Bergstrom, CEO of Bergstrom Corp. in Neenah, Wis., is building the first store in Milwaukee. He predicts the stores will be popular, but sounds a note of caution for dealers approaching local governments with their plans: "Trying to get the neighborhood to think it's OK to build this thing there was an interesting challenge."
GM, 800-POUND GORILLA - General Motors is in the driver's seat in North America, according to Saul Rubin, auto industry analyst for UBS Warburg in New York. The turnaround took a decade, but GM is the Big 3's low-cost producer - and in a price war, that means GM wins, Rubin told the International Motor Press Association last month. "At some point in the last two years, GM's North American operations became a lower average variable cost producer than the North American operations of Ford and Chrysler," he said. "In the next four or five years it will not be GM, but Ford and Chrysler that will be taking out more people, taking out more capacity and becoming smaller businesses."