Gasoline-electric hybrids and diesels dominate the government's list of the 10 most fuel-efficient 2006-model vehicles. The Honda Insight, a hybrid, came in first with a government rating of 60 mpg city and 66 mpg highway, followed by the ToyotaPrius, another hybrid, at 60/51. Volkswagen's Jetta, Golf and New Beetle diesels also made the list, as did the Ford Escape Hybrid SUV. For the full list, check out fueleconomy.gov. The fuel economy guide is produced by the EPA and the Department of Energy.
COPS AND/OR ROBBERS -- Louisiana authorities are investigating allegations that New Orleans police officers broke into a dealership and took nearly 200 vehicles -- including 88 new Cadillacs and Chevrolets -- when Hurricane Katrina hit the city. "It is a very, very active investigation," Kris Wartelle, a spokeswoman for Louisiana's attorney general, told the Associated Press. Doug Stead, general manager of Sewell Cadillac-Chevrolet of New Orleans, told the AP the vehicles were worth $4.6 million. "I had eight calls from people in an hour saying they heard I was giving police Cadillacs to drive," Stead said. "It seemed like everyone knew about it, so I knew we were in trouble." According to U.S. News & World Report, Acting Police Superintendent Warren Riley confirmed that some officers whose police cars were destroyed did patrol with Cadillacs taken from a local dealership -- a measure that he called "acceptable" under the circumstances. The magazine also said some of the cars had surfaced in other states.
KEEP OUT -- That's the word from the engine plant in Dundee, Mich., building the Chrysler group's new generation of four-cylinder engines. The plant will not allow benchmarking visits by competitive automakers, says Tom LaSorda, Chrysler CEO. "We're not bringing anybody in here to try to beat us," LaSorda says. One exception: Toyota. That automaker allowed Dundee's planners into its West Virginia engine plant, and a reciprocal visit would be OK, LaSorda says. The Dundee plant is a joint venture of DaimlerChrysler, Mitsubishi and Hyundai.
LONG-TERM LUTZ -- Robert Lutz might be good at a lot of things, but retirement isn't on the list. General Motors' product czar, answering a reporter's question at a luncheon in Detroit last week, says he has no plans to retire soon. Lutz admitted he figured he'd only stay for three years after joining GM in September 2001. But Lutz, a former Marine pilot who flies in his spare time, joked that he's having the time of his life, and "unless I fly a perfectly good airplane into the ground," he planned to be around as long as GM will have him.