DaimlerChrysler raised eyebrows four years ago when it classified the Chrysler PT Cruiser as a light truck to make its corporate fuel-economy average look better. The company could do so because the Cruiser has a flat cargo floor, allowing it to slip through a loophole. But the folks at Chrysler apparently forgot about that move when writing a Jan. 15 press release announcing production of the PT Cruiser convertible, noting that the company was "able to maintain production of the Chrysler PT Cruiser sedan while managing the equipment changeover." It added: "Pre-production convertibles were built and tested on the same assembly line where the PT Cruiser sedan is manufactured."
HOW LOW CAN YOU GO? Another company - in this case, Delphi Corp. - is closing a plant because of high labor costs. What is unusual is the location: Chihuahua, Mexico. The moral: Even in low-wage countries, the pressure to cut costs is unrelenting. A Delphi spokeswoman told Reuters that the work would move to other plants in Mexico and that some of Chihuahua's 1,450 workers would be eligible for a transfer.
WEB SURFERS' FAVORITE - The 2005 Ford Mustang smoked the competition during the Detroit auto show - at least on autonews.com, Automotive News' Web site. The Mustang photo gallery recorded 109,617 page views during the show. Page views are the number of times a picture was opened. That bested the second-most-popular gallery, for the 2005 Chevrolet Corvette, by 38,146 views. In third place was the Jeep Rescue concept, with 60,795 views.
THE ROAD TO THE WHITE HOUSE - As part of its election coverage, the Associated Press asked presidential candidates to name their first car. The answers: Wesley Clark, 1966 Pontiac LeMans; Howard Dean, 1970 Chevrolet Malibu; John Edwards, Plymouth Duster (no year given); John Kerry, 1962 Volkswagen Beetle; Dennis Kucinich, 1951 Chevrolet; Joe Lieberman, "a brown Ford Pinto"; and Al Sharpton, Chrysler 300 (no year given). President Bush did not respond, but the AP reported that his first set of wheels was a "Triumph sports car."
SOUTHERN SUPPORT - Nissan North America used the Nashville International Auto and Truck Show last week to announce a linkup with the Grammy In The Schools program in that city. The program sends stars into public schools to talk about careers. As Nissan handed out the first check, members from country music act Bering Strait gazed at a nearby 350Z convertible - which was not part of the donation.