Talk about an auto show reveal. Detroit police last week were trying to figure out how a naked woman wound up atop the Dodge Challenger concept car at the Detroit auto show as a small group of admirers snapped away with cell phone cameras. Security at Cobo Center, the site of the show, discovered the unusual hood ornament at about 2 a.m. last Monday, Jan. 16. "If employees were involved, there will be discipline," a Cobo official told The Detroit News.
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MONEY AND MANICURES -- Two automotive companies are on Fortune magazine's 2006 list of the 100 best places to work. JM Family Enterprises Inc., of Deerfield Beach, Fla., ranked 40th. JM, which owns Southeast Toyota Distributors LLC, was recognized for offering a 15 percent profit sharing plan annually for employees since 1969. JM also has a free hair and nail salon on-site. CarMax, of Richmond, Va., also made the list at No. 93. It was recognized because it lets employees buy any car left on a dealership lot longer than 14 days for $200 over dealer cost.
PLAYING TO THE HOME FOLKS -- Most automakers want to make a splash on the world stage when they unveil a new vehicle. Some would rather play to the home crowd. So instead of using the massive Geneva or Paris motor show to unveil the redesigned Freelander, Land Rover will launch the car-based SUV at the newly revitalized Canary Wharf London Motorexpo. The show, which began in 1996, runs May 22-28.
BOND'S IN AN ASTON -- Aston Martin has confirmed that James Bond will drive an Aston Martin in the next 007 film, Casino Royale, which will be released in November. The vehicle is a new model, the DBS. Ulrich Bez, Aston Martin's CEO, wouldn't reveal what gadgets will be included but promised in a press release that "we have built him something special to enable him to do his job in style." The Aston Martin-Bond relationship began in 1964 with Goldfinger, when a DB5 was fitted with such goodies as an ejector seat.
LET'S MAKE A DEAL -- It's no surprise that vehicle incentives have proliferated in the United States. But here's an eye-popping fact: In 2003, the Chrysler group offered "in excess of 4,000 distinctive incentive programs," says Joe Eberhardt, the group's marketing chief. Eberhardt, who spoke at last week's Automotive News World Congress, says he favors fewer incentives.