A plastic likeness of Ford Division President Steve Lyons could go down in infamy - or into the collections of bobblehead doll aficionados. Ford spent about $20,000 to send a blue-suited version of Lyons to 3,800 Ford dealers this month, reminding them to nod to Ford's goal of gaining market share this year. Some dealers called the dolls silly; others, a waste of money. A Ford spokeswoman called the dolls a good-humored attempt to rally dealers. The dolls already are showing up on eBay; bidding reached $45 last Thursday. Ford's market share, meanwhile, has risen six-tenths of a point this year.
HOCKEY NIGHT IN CANADA - Auto suppliers gathered in Hamilton, Ontario, last week for the Automotive Parts Manufacturers Association annual convention. But the start of the National Hockey League playoffs was on the minds of many. Toru Onda, managing director of Honda Motor Co., told the audience that Honda sees its lowest production level in Canada this time of year. Manfred Gingl, executive vice chairman of Magna International Inc., mentioned the divided attention during his dinner remarks, saying, "I feel like we're in a face-off every time we go into an automaker's purchasing office. And we lose virtually every face-off."
HAMMER TIME - Jim O'Connor has a day job as Ford Motor Co.'s North American sales chief. But he might be tempted to moonlight as an auctioneer. At a March Madness sale at Manheim's Metro Detroit Auto Auction for Ford dealers only, an animated O'Connor, gavel in hand, cracked jokes and helped sell 1,098 vehicles. During a normal sales event, Ford offers about 400 or 500 vehicles; of that number, about 15 percent don't sell because bids don't reach Ford's minimum price. Says O'Connor: "We dropped the hammer on every one of them, and we got good prices."
DEGREE OF SUCCESS - He was Designer of the Century in 1999 and has been elected to automotive halls of fame in the United States and Europe. Now Italy's Giorgetto Giugiaro, 64, - who designed cars such as the DeLorean DMC 12, Volkswagen Scirocco and Lotus Esprit - has one more honor to keep track of. Detroit's College of Creative Studies will give him an honorary degree (doctor of fine arts honoris casa) on May 15.