Renault's $5 billion takeover and subsequent turnaround of Nissan Motor Co. is lauded as one of the great industrial salvage jobs of all time, but many industry sages weren't optimistic about its chances for success. In fact, Renault CEO Louis Schweitzer told the Automotive News Europe Congress in Paris last week that even some members of his own family thought he was a little nuts for considering the deal. "At the time," he said, "a cousin of mine said Renault would be better off buying $5 billion worth of gold bars, putting them on a ship and dumping them in the middle of the Pacific." His cousin: General Motors Vice-Chairman Bob Lutz, then vice chairman of Chrysler Corp.
A SCOOP ON SCOOPS - The 2004 model hasn't even hit dealerships yet, but General Motors already is saying its 2005 Pontiac GTO will be tweaked to include hood scoops. Photos of the 2004 model GTO prompted fans of the original 1960s-era GTO to write GM asking the automaker to bring back the scoops. The 2004 GTO is derived from Australia's rear-wheel-drive Holden Monaro. It goes on sale in the fall in the United States.
DON'T HAVE A COW, DUDE - Austria's bovines have a new defender: Porsche AG CEO Wendelin Wiedeking. During a media event in Ischgl, Austria, showing off the 2004 911 Carrera 4S cabriolet, the Financial Times reports, Wiedeking warned test-driving journalists to respect the speed limit - and to watch for cows and marmots on the twisting Alpine roads. A moment's inattention, he warned, could lead to an udder disaster: "It would not be fun to have a cow on the hood."
ONE MAN'S TRASH Decomposing trash now satisfies one-fourth of BMW's energy needs at its plant near Spartanburg, S.C. Methane gas piped in from a nearby landfill powers four turbines that produce electricity and hot water, reports Waste News, a sister publication to Automotive News.
MAKING A SWITCH - The head of General Motors' performance division has decided he'd rather have a Buick. Mark Reuss says he sold his pride-and-joy 1960s-vintage Austin Healey 3000 sports car and replaced it with a low-mileage Buick GNX. The car, built only for the 1987 model year, was a souped-up version of the Buick Grand National and had a production run of fewer than 550 units. Reuss' father, former GM President Lloyd Reuss, approved the GNX program. Has the younger Reuss taken his father for a ride? Nope, he says; his dad did the driving.