In the United States, corporate problems hit the big time when a company becomes the butt of jokes by late-night comedians Jay Leno and David Letterman. In Japan, that function is performed by cartoon barbs in irreverent weekly magazines. Mitsubishi's quality problems, for example, were harpooned in a comic strip in the magazine Shukan Gendai. In the first frame, a life insurance salesman rings a family's doorbell and is spurned. In the next frame, a man selling fire extinguishers rings the same bell. In the third panel, the husband comments, "Aren't there a lot of salesmen lately?" The wife replies, "It's odd, because they aren't going to any of the neighbors." The final frame explains the mystery: It shows a Mitsubishi car in their driveway.
FUMING AT FORD -- Environmental groups took out a full-page ad in The New York Times last week to bash Bill Ford. Ford Motor Co.'s fuel economy "has dropped substantially under Bill Ford's tenure as CEO," said one of the groups, the Bluewater Network of San Francisco. "Mr. Ford fights any attempt to raise the nation's fuel mileage standards and uses deceptive ads to bolster his environmental image," Russell Long, Bluewater's director, said in a press release. Ford spokeswoman Kristen Kinley's comment: "We don't believe the ad deserves comment."
ONE COMES DOWN, ONE'S ON THE WAY -- Federal officials will soon drop the Lincoln Motor Co. plant in Detroit from the list of National Historic Landmarks - and it makes sense, since the factory where the Leland family first built Lincolns in 1921 was bulldozed in late 2002. Giving a site landmark status doesn't mean the owner can't tear it down. Demolition by Detroit Edison Co., the site's owner since 1955, came without the public outcry that often accompanies such events. Utility spokesman Len Singer says the building, which was being used for storage, was in disrepair and was unsafe. The company did help history buffs salvage huge stone blocks from the façade that spelled L-I-N-C-O-L-N. Auto history fans may find consolation in this: The Interior Department likely will approve landmark status for the original Auburn Automobile Co. building in Auburn, Ind., which is now the Auburn Cord Duesenberg Museum.
TO V OR NOT TO V? As spy photos suggest, General Motors' performance group has created a Cadillac CTS Super V that surpasses the current CTS V performance model. But GM insiders say the Super V hasn't been approved. Performance devotees expect to make their case to product czar Bob Lutz this month. The existing CTS V offers a 400-hp, 5.7-liter V-8 with a base price of $49,995, including freight. According to AutoWeek, Super V advocates want to push the horsepower to 600, add a carbon-fiber hood and fenders and slap a $65,000 sticker on the window. We'll see whether GM's brass wants to get that extreme.