Domestic automakers and suppliers will be happy to learn that Sen. Hillary Clinton, D-N.Y., feels their pain. Last week Clinton announced the creation of the Senate Manufacturing Caucus to address the eroding U.S. manufacturing base. But John Engler, the Republican former governor of Michigan who heads the National Association of Manufacturers, says a better test will be how Clinton and others vote on an energy bill, trade agreements and legislation on asbestos litigation. Hank Cox, a spokesman for the association, says Clinton voted "correctly" - that means the way the association wanted her to - just 6 percent of the time in 2001-02 and 32 percent of the time in 2003-04.
MAKE YOUR OWN HYDROGEN -- A fuel cell-powered auto is years off, but a fuel cell motorcycle is on the way. Intelligent Energy, a British company, says its 176-pound fuel cell bike will go on sale next year for about $6,000. The bike has a fuel cell stack and a battery pack that makes 6 kilowatts of power. The company says the bike can reach 50 mph in 12 seconds and has a range of 100 miles. But if you buy one, you may have to move to California; that state now has more hydrogen refueling stations than any other - a whopping half dozen.
GUY STUFF -- Here's a side of Ford Motor Co. that the American Family Association might like. The conservative Christian group - toying with an on-again, off-again boycott of Ford for supporting a so-called homosexual agenda - might find encouragement in the tongue-in-cheek list of he-man rules espoused by the Built Ford Tough Truck Team, the in-house group that engineers and markets Ford pickups. The team's dietary guidelines ban these supposedly less-than-manly items: quiche, raw fish, "froo-froo" coffee drinks, ice cream sprinkles and any strawberry, melon or kiwi drinks. And no pink shirts allowed.
PATIENCE, PATIENCE -- Rolls-Royce may know how to make fancy cars, but it's no great shakes in the lawn department. The turf that was planted for aesthetic reasons on the roof of its plant near Goodwood, England, in 2003 remains patchy and brown. Rolls-Royce CEO Ian Robertson concedes that's true, but he argues that the sedum grass specified by the architects wasn't designed to grow fast. "We've planted 3,500 trees and 300,000 plants and shrubs," he says. "But it takes three years for the sedum plants to become established. Grass which grows rapidly is no good. You can't have people up there mowing it all the time."