Another model is joining the auto industry's coffee klatch. The Daihatsu Move Latte, derived from the Move 660cc minicar, is aimed at Japan's stylish, brand-conscious female coffee sippers in their late 20s and early 30s. Every good latte has a bit of froth, and Daihatsu spokeswoman Rieko Muto provided some in this case: Just as the milk in a cafe latte "gives a milder and rich taste to coffee," she says, "the Move Latte intends to provide a tasteful life" for its owner. Why is it that so many automakers are eager to belly up to the coffee bar? Remember the Suzuki Cappuccino? And don't forget the Expresso (OK, so they can't spell espresso) models of Chrysler's Voyager and Neon vehicles.
FEWER CAMELS, MORE CLOUDS - Dust clouds from the Sahara Desert have grown tenfold over the last 50 years. A British expert tells Reuters that "Toyota-ization," or the increasing numbers of four-wheel-drive vehicles speeding over the sand, has become a major factor exacerbating the problem. "It's the Toyota or Mitsubishi or whatever it may be that's replaced the camel for many people there," says Andrew Goudie, a geography professor at Oxford University. "And they charge around disturbing the surface." He says vehicles break the crust of the desert that otherwise would be relatively stable because of algae, lichens, clay or pebbles on the surface. "When you start driving over these surfaces," he says, "the fine dusty material underneath can be driven out into the atmosphere in dust storms."
FAST CAR, GOOD CAUSE - Mercedes-Benz will raise money for cancer research from the sale of 1,000 special-edition 2005 SLK350 roadsters at U.S. dealerships beginning in October. The cars, which will sell for $52,750 including destination charges, have 268-hp V-6 engines, pewter exteriors, 17-inch spoked wheels, lowered sport suspensions and chrome grilles. The company says it expects to donate more than $1 million from the sale, which is a partnership with Saks Fifth Avenue's Key to the Cure, a research foundation that focuses on cancers that affect women.
A GOLDEN OLDIE - Peter Horbury, Ford Motor Co.'s North American design chief, says he's not into retro style. But he still likes old cars. There is a certain vintage car that Horbury selected above all others as his favorite at the nationally known Woodward Dream Cruise in Detroit this month. At a Ford-sponsored car show in the ritzy Birmingham suburb of Detroit, Horbury gushed over an aqua 1965 Ford Thunderbird convertible with a fiberglass tonneau cover. "This is absolutely fantastic," said Horbury as he looked over the mint-condition T-Bird. Said Horbury to the owner: "I'd be happy to watch the car for you if you want to do some shopping."