It's a good thing people in the auto industry are big-hearted and forgiving, or some might gloat over this: Consumers Union, whose Consumer Reports magazine often criticizes automakers for producing shoddy or unsafe vehicles, is doing a safety recall of its own. Glove-box organizers that Consumers Union sent to about 15,000 new subscribers contain flashlights that may overheat and tire gauges that may be inaccurate. Organization officials aren't ready to laugh about the embarrassment yet. Executive vice president Joel Gurin said somberly: "We're treating it as a serious incident. We're focusing on making this a model for how companies ought to recall products."
ALL LUTZ, ALL THE TIME - The media buzz surrounding Robert Lutz, General Motors' vice chairman, shows no sign of abating. Conservative Washington Post columnist George Will is the latest to chime in. In a recent column, Will contrasted the swaggering tone of some GM billboards - "They don't write songs about Volvos," says one, with a picture of a red 1963 Chevrolet Corvette - with the low-key approach of Ford Motor Co. Chairman Bill Ford's TV spots. Will cast Lutz as a crusader for emotion-evoking cars that are, in Lutz's words, "an extension of your psycho-motor system." Will also ripped political liberals who, in his view, hate "cars that are larger than roller skates and that look more interesting than shoe boxes." Being a columnist rather than a reporter, Will doesn't mention that some of the billboards predate Lutz's arrival at GM.
SHE ROCKS - A Hollywood, Fla., woman won $20,000 from Maroone Toyota for rocking in a chair for 76 hours during a radio station promotion. Cathy Jacobs could have driven off with a new vehicle worth $25,000 from the Davie, Fla., dealership but chose the money instead, the Sun-Sentinel newspaper said. Competitors had to rock for three hours in the "Rock Around the Clock" promotion before getting a 15-minute break. Jacobs used her breaks to power nap.
NAME GAME - The Fiero is back, sort of. No, Pontiac isn't resurrecting the 1980s two-seater sports coupe, a fast-rising collectible. The name now rides on a small Suzuki motorcycle being sold in India. India Today magazine said the bike's "smooth flowing lines remind you of a lithe little dancer" and named it one of the "sexiest" bikes in India. The price: 56,000 rupees, or about $1,145.
WHAT NEXT? MINI MINISKIRTS? - In a move that may offend some feminists but reach some young male car buyers, Mini USA bought a centerfold ad in the June issue of Playboy magazine. The ad, featuring a 2002 Mini Cooper S,was shot by a Playboy photographer and is accompanied by a mock profile of the type filled out by other centerfold models. Included in the profile are the items "weight" (2,678 pounds) and "turn-ons" (hairpins, S-turns and traffic circles).