Even CEO Bill Ford isn't immune from the lawyers at Ford Motor Co. The automaker's intellectual property lawyers had a problem with a quote from Bill Ford that is displayed at the visitor's center of Ford Motor's new Rouge truck plant in Dearborn, Mich., where the F-150 pickup is built. The quote: "I would like the Rouge again to be the most copied and studied industrial complex in the world." The problem: Visitors might interpret the word "copied" literally and try to, well, copy Ford. The lawyers sought to change that word in the quote. But Tim O'Brien, Ford vice president of corporate relations, said there were a couple of problems with the lawyers' request. "One, that's what Bill said. Two, that's what Bill meant." The quote stands undisturbed.
TAKING HIS LUMPS -- Mitsubishi Motors Corp. CEO Yoichiro Okazaki stoically bore the brunt of anger over the company's falling sales and stock price at a shareholders' meeting last week. The low point: a verbal attack by a truck driver from central Japan who identified himself only as Mr. Funabashi. "It's all like the Titanic," Funabashi ranted. "The rats are leaving this sinking ship. Not only the rats but also the cats and the cockroaches."
A HUMMER OF A DEAL -- Big Ben, you are about to meet Hummer. General Motors Vice Chairman Robert Lutz says the automaker is negotiating with an importer to bring the Hummer H2 to England. While Lutz did not reveal a timetable or sales estimate, he did say, "There is a definite market for it." In fact, Lutz pointed out, "We've got a lot of people driving Hummers even though we don't sell them. The gray market right now is huge." GM will sell a right-hand-drive version of the H2.
MOOSE ON THE LOOSE -- Honda's U.S. factory boss Koki Hirashima was the headline speaker at last month's Rotary Club luncheon at a Cincinnati hotel. His appearance came at a busy time for the hotel. Not only were members of the state Moose Association there, but Toyota had booked a North American board meeting there for the same day. Before he started talking about Honda, Hirashima warned any misplaced members of the Moose or Toyota groups to "make sure you're not in the wrong place."
FAMOUS AUTOGRAPH -- In honor of the 10th anniversary of democracy in South Africa, BMW is producing 10 limited-edition 3-series cars signed by onetime dissident Nelson Mandela, that nation's former president. The so-called Democracy Cars will be auctioned off sometime this fall to raise money for the Nelson Mandela Children's Fund, which assists disadvantaged youth in South Africa. BMW of North America will auction off two of the vehicles, while the remaining eight will be auctioned off in South Africa, Australia, England, New Zealand and Germany.