There's nothing shabby about $195.6 billion in revenue. But General Motors' 2003 figure pales in comparison with the $258.7 billion Wal-Mart pulled in last year. The retailing behemoth ranked No. 1 on Fortune magazine's 2003 list of the largest U.S. companies, measured by revenue. GM's revenue rose 4.8 percent, but the company couldn't hold its No. 2 ranking. That spot went to Exxon Mobil, which had revenue of $213.2 billion. Ford Motor Co. was No. 4 with $164.5 billion in 2003 revenue.
A CRASH COURSE IN DRIVING -- By one estimate, about 1,000 new cars are pouring onto Beijing's streets every day, and traffic deaths are soaring. The Ministry of Public Safety says that more than 100,000 vehicle occupants and pedestrians died in traffic accidents last year, compared with about 43,000 in the United States. The Philadelphia News, which published a report on the soaring number of students in China's driving schools, says inexperienced drivers are to blame for much of the carnage.
SPEED READING -- It may not be easy to spot on a decal-festooned pickup going by at more than 150 mph. But each Toyota Tundra competing in NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series races is going to have the government's Buckle Up! logo on its B-pillar. Dr. Jeffrey Runge, administrator of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, and Jim Aust, vice president for motorsports of Toyota Motor Sales U.S.A. Inc., announced the deal last week. They noted that seat belt use is unacceptably low among pickup drivers and men under the age of 35 - key segments of the NASCAR fan base.
BORDER WAR -- Montana car dealers have become an issue in the state's gubernatorial campaign. Was Democratic hopeful Brian Schweitzer wrong to have gone to neighboring Kellogg, Idaho, to buy two new Chevrolet trucks from Dave Smith Motors? "Yes!" says Dave Lewis, the running mate of Republican nominee Bob Brown. Schweitzer proved he thinks Montana businesses aren't competitive, Lewis said in a campaign statement. The Helena Independent Record editorialized that "buying locally helps build Montana's economy." Mary Kae Repp, marketing manager for Dave Smith Motors, told another newspaper that she was unhappy with the dispute: "It makes it look like all we're out there to do is squishing other dealers. This is a family-owned operation and a very successful business model. There's plenty of business for everybody."