Sean McAlinden, CAR’s executive vice president-research and chief economist, has a subtle wit not common in his profession.

Rattling off 2012 vehicle-sales forecasts from 11 sources, ranging from 14.1 million to 14.5 million units as he chairs an MBS session, he observes: “Forecasters may not be sheep, but their behavior may seem so.”

Ford Chief Economist Ellen Hughes-Cromwick, apparently wishing to separate from the herd, insists: “This is not a synchronized diving event like they have at the Olympics.”

Buttoned-Down Business

When the management seminars started in the 1960s, they were small, sober gatherings where the dress code was suits and ties.

As the conference grew in the 1970s and 1980s, attitudes about corporate dress changed, and golfing became a big part of the MBS experience. Veterans quickly learned to spot the newbies, because they were the only ones wearing ties. Everyone else not giving a speech wore golf shirts.

As MBS and the auto industry continue to evolve, the dress code this year seems to be back to regular business attire. “In economist terms, it does seem to be trending that way,” says one longtime attendee.

Mitt No Fit to Easing Fuel-Economy Pressures

Powertrain experts throw cold water on the idea a Republican victory in November’s presidential election would lead to a weakening of the Obama Admin.’s tough new CAFE rules through 2025.

Joseph Bakaj, Ford vice president-powertrain engineering, says even in the unlikely event the tougher fuel-economy measures were eased, global rules and other considerations will keep the pressure on to dramatically improve efficiency.

“You’ve still got Europe and Asia that are driving us to better fuel efficiency. On top of that, you’ve got customer demand and competition among OEMs. I don’t think we’ll see it,” he says of the election impacting CAFÉ.