Mitsubishi Motors North America Inc. chief Rich Gilligan has taken exception to comments by some employee critics that the Japanese are micromanaging the U.S. unit. Gilligan says he's in charge in North America -- and no one else. "I'm the CEO, not the COT," he says, meaning Chief Order Taker. "They've given us power and autonomy. They're not micromanaging us."
BACK-SEAT ENDORSEMENT -- GM Daewoo Auto & Technology Co. received the Korean equivalent of a Hollywood star's testimonial when the General Motors-Daewoo partnership unveiled the Statesman luxury sedan at the Seoul Motor Show last month. Korean actor Park Shin Yang disclosed that he had driven a Statesman in Seoul while shooting the TV drama, "Lovers in Paris," a big hit in Korea last year. Said Park, "I spent many hours in the back seat (with co-star Kim Jung Eun), and I can tell you, I never felt uncomfortable." The Statesman, built by Holden Ltd. of Australia, is GM Daewoo's luxury flagship model.
BULLET HOLES AREN'T COVERED -- You may have caught the story in your local newspaper last month about the Florida man who was so fed up with his troublesome 1994 Chrysler LeBaron that he shot it. Five times. Press reports quoted the 64-year-old owner as saying, "I'm putting my car out of its misery" before being arrested on a firearms charge. We wanted to make sure Chrysler group spokesman Jason Vines knew what had happened, so an Automotive News reporter e-mailed him a copy of the story. "Needless to say," Vines responded, "we are voiding his warranty!"
TIME FOR A CHANGE -- Sometimes it's just time to move on. Robert Strazzella, 59, Valeo SA group vice president of operations for North America, quit his job last week, saying: "There are a lot of things in life that are more important than working." Such as? "Things like health issues," he answered, without elaborating. Strazzella worked at DuPont Automotive for 31 years before joining Valeo in Auburn Hills, Mich., in 2001. Strazzella says he had been talking to the company since the beginning of the year about leaving. And now what? "My Harley is in a trailer, the trailer is being loaded, and I am headed to South Carolina," he says. "I have had a great run, but I am ready to go. If I do anything in the next six to eight months, it will be baiting a fishing line or teeing up a golf ball." Hans-Peter Kunze, a Valeo senior vice president in Paris, has temporarily assumed Strazzella's duties.