During media days at the Tokyo Motor Show last month, Mazda put its Senku concept on center stage. The sleek possible successor to the RX-8 sports car drew raves. But when the show opened to the public, the Senku was relegated to the edge of the Mazda stand and the redesigned MPV minivan became the star. Why? A yen for yen: The MPV isn't as sexy as the Senku -- but it goes on sale in Japan in two months.
CAN'T HURT TO ASK -- Rapper Snoop Dogg made headlines last year by calling Chrysler CEO Dieter Zetsche to ask how to get a hot-selling Chrysler 300C. Now film director John Singleton is looking for a set of wheels. During a media event for DaimlerChrysler's annual Behind the Lens award ceremony last month, honoree Singleton said he has his eye on a Dodge Charger -- and he didn't stop there. During the awards presentation at a swank Beverly Hills hotel, Singleton, who directed Boyz N the Hood, suggested an insider discount would be nice, too. Frank Fountain, Chrysler's senior vice president of external affairs, smiled but didn't say if he would pull any strings.
CARMEN ELEXUS -- Some people are still scratching their heads over this one: Lexus, a brand aligned with upscale events such as the U.S. Open Tennis Tournament and classy performers such as Paul McCartney, hosted a SEMA show party last week at Ivan Kane's Forty Deuce burlesque club in Las Vegas. The event was kicked off by model and sort-of-actress Carmen Electra, who showed off her oratorical skill by reading a speech directly into a stack of 3-by-5 cards. No word on whether she got a Lexus as her fee.
CHA-CHING BLING -- There are wheels and there are wheels. Asanti Wheel Corp. displayed a set of four sparkling wheels at the 2005 SEMA show last week in Las Vegas, adorned with 12,000 diamonds and 800 sapphires for a weight of 275 karats per wheel. The price: $1 million. And there was a bonus: The wheels come with a Bentley Continental GT, courtesy of Asanti, of Corona, Calif. Asanti General Manager Michael Kim said the company sold two sets of wheels with 63,000 cubic zirconia for $250,000 each last year. "This is just promotional," Kim said. "We got such a great response last year that we decided to add real diamonds this year."
ARE LANCERS THE ANSWER? CEO Rich Gilligan says Mitsubishi Motors North America Inc. will decide within a month whether to order more compact Lancers. The decision will depend on Mitsubishi's estimate of future U.S. gasoline prices. Because Lancers are built in Japan, it takes at least three months for them to reach North America. "A lot will be played out in the next month or so (to determine) if people really want smaller cars," Gilligan says. "We need to make a decision soon because if we can't get them, that will be a lost opportunity."