The Chinese are coming, and their springboard will be the showcase of the domestic auto industry: the Detroit auto show. Five companies -- Hunan Changfeng Motor Co., Great Wall Motor Co., Hebei Zhongxing Automobile Co., Zhejiang Geely Automobile Holdings Group and Chery Automobile Co. -- could have prominent displays at the 2007 show in January, said show co-Chairman Robert Thibodeau Jr. Thibodeau said their displays could total 20,000 square feet in Cobo Center next year. He added: "We recognize that this is something that's coming."
China's carmakers have big plans for Motown
NEW POPEMOBILE -- While the debate is probably still smoldering over whether Jesus would drive an SUV, there is no debate over what the pope gets around in. On June 28, Volvo, in a private ceremony at the Vatican, gave Pope Benedict XVI the keys to a new XC90 crossover. The V-8-powered vehicle is dark blue with a light interior.
ASTON MARTIN'S SACRIFICE -- Three limited-edition Aston Martin DBS models tied to the upcoming James Bond film Casino Royale were destroyed recently. One after another, the cars were irreparably damaged during filming of a single scene at Pinewood Studios west of London. No disaster, says Aston Martin spokeswoman Barbara Prince. The three cars were "stunters," prototypes that were going to be scrapped anyhow, so their loss was expected. But two other DBS models in identical silver livery -- a color suitably called "casino ice" -- and known in the business as "hero" cars survived unscathed. The car and the film, which stars Daniel Craig as the newest 007, are scheduled to debut in November.
NET INTEREST -- With gasoline at $3 a gallon or higher, what are consumers researching on the Web? Visitors to Kelley Blue Book's Web site were interested in the Honda Civic, Accord or Toyota Camry in the first half of 2006. During the same period, the Chevrolet Tahoe was the only domestic-brand vehicle to crack Kelley's top 10. Says Jack Nerad, executive editorial director and market analyst for kbb.com: "A lot of people might guess with fuel prices high, a large SUV like the Chevy Tahoe would not make this list. And yet it did, which is very good news for General Motors."
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