Greater Los Angeles Auto ShowHail to the Chief?

Who elected Mark Fields president?

That’s what Motor Press Guild President John Rettie wondered aloud Wednesday (Jan. 4) before introducing Mark Fields as keynote speaker to kick off the Greater L.A. Auto Show here.

Ford Motor Co. recently moved Fields to its Dearborn, MI, headquarters from his post as head of the auto maker’s European operations, including the Premier Automotive Group, naming him an executive vice president of the company and “President, the Americas.”

This, Rettie tells fellow journalists, is “a title grander than the one given to a person living in a White House back East.”

Even Fields chuckled.

Yaris Flatters Mazda

The North American debut of the ’07 Toyota Yaris strikes a familiar chord at this show.

The car’s pinched, horizontal grille with honeycomb trim and center-mounted badge reminds some of the Mazda3.

Moments after the crowds cleared from the Toyota stand, Robert Davis, Mazda Motor Corp.’s senior vice president-product development and quality, was seen striding purposefully in that direction.

Remarks Davis: “You know what they say: ‘Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery.’”

BMW’s New M6 Headed to U.S.

Tom Purves, head of BMW North America, announces the brand’s fourth high-performance ‘M’ product – the M6 – will arrive in the U.S. by May.

The 500-hp 2+2 sports coupe will sticker for $96,800.

The much-anticipated M roadster and M coupe will arrive in the U.S. this spring, Purves adds.

They join the M5, which launched in October.

Saleen Truck Faster Than Lightning

Saleen Inc. pulls the sheet off its 450-hp Supercharged Saleen Sport Truck S331.

Based on the Ford F-150, it will be priced under $50,000, says Steve Saleen, the niche auto maker’s president and CEO.

Set for production in Irvine, CA, and Troy, MI, projected annual volume is in the 4,000-unit range, Saleen claims.

That would make the truck, which also will be available in a base 3-valve model, Saleen’s highest-volume product. The company sells about 3,000 Saleen Mustangs annually.

Part of the pull might come from the absence of Ford’s SVT Lightning, Saleen suggests. Ford discontinued production of its high-performance truck in 2003.