Volkswagen, grappling with a slump in U.S. sales, didn't unveil any products at the New York auto show, but there was still a lot of love at the VW stand. Love Bug, that is. VW showed off the star of Herbie: Fully Loaded, a Disney film coming out in June starring Lindsay Lohan, Matt Dillon and Michael Keaton. The film's opening is meant to coincide with Volkswagen of America's 50th anniversary.
IN SEARCH OF JUICY TIDBITS -- Reporters in Tokyo have a new place to hang out: My Lebanon restaurant. And it's not just because of the cozy atmosphere or the belly dancing. The 80-seat eatery is owned by Rita Ghosn, wife of Nissan Motor Co. CEO Carlos Ghosn, a revered figure in Japan because of his turnaround of Nissan. Hey, you never know - the great man himself might wander in and provide some juicy morsels of another type.
FORGET THE SMALL STUFF -- While some U.S. consumers hate the massiveness of the Hummer H1 SUV, in some Russian circles a Hummer just isn't big enough and tough enough. Some Russian millionaires are choosing a St. Petersburg-built vehicle called the Kombat T-98 that can be upgraded to withstand anti-tank rockets and machine-gun fire. Inside, the Kombat offers a minibar, DVD player, TV and navigation system. Kombat designer Dmitri Parfenov sees a market outside of Russia, too. He told a British newspaper that he hopes to sell 100 Kombats a year in England for around $360,000, stealing sales from the Hummer H1.
SIREN SONG OF THE TRACK -- The Chrysler group will try to cultivate its relationship with owners of its high-performance SRT vehicles at the racetrack. Chrysler is offering SRT buyers a day at the track with professional driving instruction. About 25 track events are planned in 2005. Those who already own SRT models can get in on the deal by buying a track day for $300. Chrysler expects at least 5,000 takers.