'Let's remain modest ... we are still small,' Honda Chairman Yoshihide Munekuni told French daily Les Echos in a recent interview.
'As a car producer, PSA/Peugeot-Citroen, for instance, remains larger than we are,' he said.
But in a comment sure to rankle PSA executives, Munekuni added: 'The main difference between them and us, however, is that with Honda, it's the customer who decides. Of course, we are a listed company, and shareholders are important, but we never forget our priority, which is to create products that will satisfy customers.'
Honda sold 2.6 million cars in 2001, compared with PSA's 3.13 million.
Munekuni said: 'In terms of units, our sales are perhaps not very important, but we aim to the top in terms of profitability.'
Last month, the Japan Automobile Manufacturers Association elected Munekuni as its chairman, making him the first JAMA chairman from Honda. The JAMA chairmanship had until now been alternately filled by Toyota and Nissan.
PSA's name game
What names will Peugeot and Citroen choose for their versions of the new small car currently being codeveloped with Toyota? There has been some intriguing speculation in France.
Citroen appears to be in something of a dilemma. It recently launched the C3 supermini and may build a direct replacement for the smaller Saxo off the C3's platform. The next Saxo would likely be called the C2. The new Czech-built small car would have to be positioned below any
replacement Saxo. But Citroen can't use the name C1 because it belongs to BMW's motorcycle-with-a-roof.
The smallest model in Peugeot's range is currently the 106. Its replacement would be called the 107. That means Peugeot's version of the new small car could possibly get a James Bond-style title.
Denis Duchesne, who heads the small-car project for PSA/Peugeot-Citroen, told a French magazine recently: 'We've hardly broached the subject. But personally, I am quite amused by the thought of a Peugeot 007.'
Ford blames suppliers
Ford, hit by quality problems and rising warranty costs in the USA, has demanded that its top parts makers fix the problems or risk losing the automaker's business.
At a meeting last month, Ford blamed suppliers for their role in its decline in vehicle quality compared with its competitors. Ford's North American warranty costs rose 16 percent last year to $2.2 billion (2.4 billion).
While Ford blamed suppliers, there is plenty of blame to go around, said a supplier executive familiar with the April meeting.
'Ford people continue to meddle in our manufacturing process when we are in fact the experts,' he said, and 'this causes additional costs to suppliers.'
Ford is imposing stiff quality goals for its suppliers this year. For its best performing suppliers Ford promises rewards and new contracts. But poor performers face Ford's fix-or-leave strategy, which could mean no future business.
Grube's breakfast boost
It's often said that you should begin your working day only after having eaten a hearty breakfast.
But Rüdiger Grube, who runs DaimlerChrysler's elite Executive Automotive Committee, wouldn't necessarily agree. Bacon, eggs and fried bread aren't among the items on Grube's breakfast menu.
Instead, the green 'fuel' he drinks every morning has a sharp and nutty flavor. It's not really a treat for the taste buds, but Grube believes in its potency: two tablespoons full of cold-pressed Italian olive oil followed by a juicy apple.
Call him Silicon Jacques
Fired Ford Motor Co. CEO Jacques Nasser may be seeking new horizons. On his way to his native Australia, he stopped off in California to meet top Silicon Valley investors.
For years before the top Ford job turned sour, Nasser was praised for the way he was turning a staid automaker into a New Economy power.
Nasser, 55, thinks his management skills may be useful elsewhere. He told the San Jose Mercury News he prefers a company with a consumer focus, innovative technology, global presence and a large work force.
Nasser is sounding out friends like former Oracle President Ray Lane, now a venture capitalist. He also took a ride in a vintage Thunderbird.
Said Nasser: 'It seduced me into thinking positive thoughts about California.'