When Bryan Nesbitt, General Motors' European design chief, introduced the Opel Antara GTC concept last week at the Frankfurt auto show, there was a small problem: One of the doors wouldn't open. "We've got a bit of a problem here," Nesbitt said as he yanked on the passenger-side door. The more he tugged, the more the door stayed shut. Nesbitt eventually gave up and went on to describe the SUV's interior as a stagehand moved in to do some more tugging. After three pulls, the door opened. The Antara's design theme will be used for the next Saturn Vue, which is expected to be shown at the New York auto show next year. You can bet someone will check the doors first.
CARS? WHO CARES?
Kirk Kerkorian may own 9.53 percent of General Motors' common stock, but the Las Vegas billionaire hasn't shown an interest in seeing GM's new cars and trucks, according to a Detroit newspaper. "Kirk Kerkorian has not been through the design dome," GM Vice Chairman Robert Lutz told the paper last week. But Lutz wasn't surprised: "While I was at Chrysler (Corp.), he never expressed an interest in looking at the cars." And it's not that Kerkorian couldn't get his foot in the door. He was Chrysler's second-largest shareholder.
To promote its sponsorship of Paul McCartney's U.S. concert tour this fall, Lexus is building a special RX 400h gasoline-electric hybrid SUV with several visual references to the former Beatle. The center console, for example, resembles the pearly white pick guard on McCartney's 1962 Hofner bass guitar. The seats' center panels are covered in the same diamond-patterned fabric as McCartney's Vox AC30 guitar amplifier. The exterior bears both McCartney's signature and a hand-painted graphic representation of his left-handed Hofner bass. Lexus will show the vehicle at McCartney's concerts and auto shows. Then it'll be given away as a fundraiser for charity.
WELCOME TO THE NEIGHBORHOOD -
Toyota Motor North America Inc. moved its Washington offices last month to be closer to the city's political hotspots - and got more heat than it bargained for. Outside the new digs last week, demonstrators held a banner proclaiming "Shame on Toyota." They handed out leaflets accusing the automaker of "desecration of the American way of life." Toyota got caught in the crossfire of a long-running battle between a local construction company and a carpenters' union. The union says the company, Tricon Construction Inc., doesn't meet area standards for wages and benefits. The contractor for Toyota's office space subcontracted some of the work to Tricon. Toyota spokeswoman Martha Voss says the company views itself as an innocent bystander in this dispute. She says, "Those workers don't work for Toyota."