Since May, President Bush has found time to meet with the Super Bowl champion Pittsburgh Steelers, Indianapolis 500 winner Sam Hornish Jr. and tee-ball players from military installations. But he hasn't been able to reschedule a postponed meeting with the Big 3 CEOs. That has U.S. Rep. John Dingell, D-Mich., fuming about presidential priorities. General Motors' decision to build the new Chevrolet Camaro in Canada, where employer health costs are lower, set off the congressman. In Bush's defense, an industry source says the CEOs have declined some meeting times the White House has suggested. But Dingell noted sarcastically that the closest Bush got to a meeting with automakers was an event attended by Taylor Hicks, the winner of TV's "American Idol" competition. The connection: Hicks sings in Ford ads.
HOW MANY WILL YOU SELL? It's a standard question posed to auto executives at new-car launches, but DaimlerChrysler managers have stopped answering it. DaimlerChrysler sales personnel have been instructed to keep market forecasts to themselves. CEO Dieter Zetsche has issued an internal directive to keep quiet on sales projections for any model in any market. That was his policy when he ran the Chrysler group. Says a company insider: "Too often automotive companies have suffered the embarrassment of having their optimistic forecasts proved very wrong. Zetsche decided that shouldn't happen."
MPG TOPS WITH CONSUMERS -- There's further evidence that fuel economy is becoming an important consideration in the purchase of a vehicle. In fact, a new Consumer Reports survey says it is the top consideration, followed by reliability, price and safety features. But that doesn't mean incentives don't matter anymore. Although incentives finished in the No. 5 spot, 69 percent of shoppers say they may time their purchase to coincide with incentives. Consumer Reports conducted the survey Aug. 3-7, when the national average price of gasoline was around $3 a gallon.
FAMILY GATHERING -- More than 500 owners of BMW Z4 and previous-generation Z3 roadsters built in Spartanburg, S.C., are expected for this weekend's 10th annual BMW Roadster Homecoming in Spartanburg. Billed as the largest BMW roadster gathering in the world, the four-day homecoming includes driving events and plant tours. And, of course, what would a homecoming be without a group photo - of the cars.