The Minnesota Department of Transportation is at it again. After successfully pressuring Dodge to yank a TV commercial in January, it went after Cadillac last week. The Dodge commercial showed a Caravan passing a snowplow; Cadillac's shows the Escalade driving over railroad tracks after two trains mysteriously stop to let it pass. Critics said both ads depict unsafe situations. But Cadillac won't budge. "We're not pulling it. The ad was created in a fantasy world, not to be taken literally," said Cadillac spokeswoman Leslie Rajewski. "There are no crossing arms down, no crossing lights." Al Vogel, a spokesman for the Minnesota agency, said officials from the agency and from Cadillac are trying to agree on a date to meet in an effort to prevent depictions of similar "unsafe situations" in future commercials.
ROAD-HOGGING THE SPOTLIGHT - Automobiles will get starring roles in a movie coming out in 2005. According to The Hollywood Reporter, Walt Disney Co. and Pixar Animation Studios will work together on Cars. The studios released few details other than to say the film will feature a wide assortment of cars as characters that get their kicks on the legendary Route 66. It will be directed by John Lasseter, best known for his work on the Toy Story films.
WAGONER LANES? The popularity of a deceased Austrian economist continues to grow among auto executives. Recently it was General Motors CEO Rick Wagoner's turn to tout the theories of Joseph Schumpeter at the Michigan Entrepreneurship Summit in Dearborn, Mich. He extolled Schumpeter's theory of "creative destruction," which argues that the market is by nature unstable and entrepreneurs revolutionize the economic structure from within - like Billy Durant, who used a new business model to create General Motors. But Wagoner warned that the subsequent problems of his predecessor Durant is a reminder that you've got to get the basic stuff right, too. Wagoner noted that Durant lost his top-dog status as a result of screwing up a stock battle and wound up running a bowling alley in Flint, Mich. - "a prospect that has haunted GM CEOs ever since."
STRICTLY TWO-WHEEL DRIVE - George Muller, the former president of Subaru of America Inc., becomes president of scooter manufacturer Segway LLC this week. Muller will steer Segway as it rolls out its Segway HT "human transporter"
- a gyroscope-equipped lawn mower look-alike that can carry a person 11 miles on a single charge. Muller, 53, led Subaru from 1993 to 2000, during Subaru's transition to a 100 percent all-wheel-drive lineup.