Perceptron Inc., a Plymouth, Mich., company that supplies robot guidance systems and other technology to the auto industry, helped France mark the 60th anniversary of D-Day. One of the nation's many observances involved ringing a replica of the Liberty Bell in a government building in the city of Caen. The bell, called the Normandy Liberty Bell, was cast after a computer model was made from scanning the original Liberty Bell in Philadelphia with computer technology from Perceptron. There's one big difference: The Normandy bell doesn't have the famous crack.
ICON ENCORE -- It has been five years since David Williams' 1964½ Ford Mustang appeared on a postage stamp commemorating the 1960s. But Williams, a Virginia college administrator, was happy to trot out his restored former rust bucket for another D.C. event last week. Ford Motor Co. celebrated the Mustang's 40th anniversary and showcased the redesigned 2005 model. A new one sat next to Williams' red convertible at the National Postal Museum. Williams says he got $200 for letting the car appear in a photo used to create the stamp. The U.S. Postal Service went on to sell about 120 million 33-cent stamps featuring the car. When asked, Williams disclosed his daily ride is an Acura Integra.
MORE THAN 5 CAN THRIVE -- Renault Chairman Louis Schweitzer has a contrarian view on auto industry consolidation. "Fifteen years ago, pundits predicted that only five carmakers would survive: two in Japan, two in the U.S. and one in Europe," he says. "In fact, what we had was a raft of divorces, like BMW and Rover, or broken engagements, such as DaimlerChrysler with Hyundai and Mitsubishi and GM and Fiat." So what's his prediction for financially struggling Fiat Auto? "If Rover is still alive," he says, "there's no reason why Fiat should not be alive in 50 years."
BEEFING ABOUT LEATHER -- Outdoor advertising companies Viacom Outdoor and Lamar Advertising Co. have said no to a proposed billboard campaign in Detroit by the People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, PETA says. The billboards would have featured a simulated bloody tire tread mark next to the message "Killer on the road: 4 cows killed for every Mercedes leather interior." Both companies, in PETA's words, "stopped the idea dead in its tracks" because the campaign was too controversial. PETA says it wants Mercedes-Benz parent DaimlerChrysler to offer alternatives to leather upholstery.