French Twist

Former General Motors’ design star Anthony Lo indeed landed at Renault, Ward's learns from design insiders attending the show.

Lo penned a number of key Saab concepts and helped established a unique design center in Europe linked closely to GM’s engineering group.

But the auto maker dissolved GM Europe earlier this year, folding it into its Opel unit.

Lo is the latest in a number of designers Renault recently has plucked from its competitors, particularly GM. Industry insiders call it one of the most-aggressive strategies to bolster an auto maker's studios they've seen in recent history.

Special Coverage

New York Int’l Auto Show

Let the Good Times Roll

Ford President and CEO Alan Mulally, speaking at the opening breakfast of the auto show here today, reiterates his enthusiasm for the growing momentum of the auto maker's turnaround plan.

Mulally says Ford sales are up, U.S. market share has grown 14 of the last 15 months, vehicle residual values are increasing, average transaction prices continue to rise and truck plants are being retooled to build more-economical passenger cars.

"It's going pretty well," he says of the auto maker’s transformation. "If you want to be in the auto industry, it's good to be at Ford."

Toyota Death Greatly Exaggerated

After a bruising in the media over its ensuing recall scandal, U.S. Toyota chief Bob Carter is in a fighting mood. "They were counting us for dead 45 days ago," he tells Ward's in an interview today.

He predicts Toyota will be the No.1 retail auto maker in March by "a country mile.”

“There are a bunch of rental cars coming out of Detroit: Fifty-five thousand to 60,000 coming out of Ford, 45,000-plus coming out of General Motors. More retail consumers are buying Toyotas this month than any other brand. I say that with no arrogance.

“I'm proud of the dealers. Once the facts came out…people are returning. If you thought Toyota products had a safety or quality issue, is there an APR or marketing promotion I can come up with to (overcome) that?"