What would Rover prefer to ride in? Well, since MG Rover barks no more, it could be Honda's new W.O.W. concept vehicle. Honda says W.O.W. -- short for Wonderful Openhearted Wagon -- was designed to be friendly to dogs. W.O.W. has a built-in crate that folds into the floor of the tall wagon. It also has a special seat belt designed to hold bigger dogs. The concept will be at the Tokyo auto show next week.
A DUNDEE DEAL -- The engine plant in Dundee, Mich., that builds the Chrysler group's new family of four-cylinder engines uses just one job classification for all UAW workers. The plant also outsources to suppliers a number of operations traditionally performed in-house. Dundee's three-crew, two-shift rotation also differs from that of traditional plants, yielding more straight-time days of production. The plant is a Chrysler/ Mitsubishi/Hyundai partnership. Now Chrysler and the UAW are discussing how some of the innovations there can be imported to traditional engine plants. "It is in the exploring stages," says UAW Vice President Nate Gooden. When the UAW began negotiating the Dundee deal, "some of my colleagues thought I was crazy," Gooden says, "especially (those in the) skilled trades."
HELP FOR HURRICANE VICTIMS -- Nine families from southern Louisiana who relocated to Columbus, Ohio, last month after Hurricane Katrina struck got some good news last week. Steve Germain, CEO of Germain Motor Co., gave each family keys to a new 2006 Toyota Corolla. The dealership will pay the leases on the nine cars for two years to help the families get back on their feet.
AMERICAN HEROES -- From a pool of 1,500 nominations, Toyota Motor Sales U.S.A. Inc., is one of just 15 employers -- and the only automaker -- named a 2005 Secretary of Defense Employer Support Freedom Award recipient. The award is given for exceptional support above the requirements of a federal law that encourages noncareer military service. Toyota employees in the National Guard and Reserve receive pay differential and continuation of benefits while deployed. Also, their families may continue to use employee vehicles while their soldier is away. Toyota says 41 employees are serving in Iraq or elsewhere.