Special Coverage

Management Briefing Seminars

Dad Travels Too Much, But It Definitely Has Its Perks

It's no secret auto executives, especially high-ranking ones such as Larry Dominique, Nissan chief product planner for the U.S., travel a lot.

But there was an audible gasp from the audience Thursday morning at MBS when he revealed he travels to Japan "about 15" times per year and has accumulated 4.5 million frequent flyer miles.

“Me and Northwest Airlines have a good relationship,” Dominique tells attendees.

Later at a media lunch, he says his children are the beneficiaries, as well as their boyfriends, of his air-travel riches, cashing in the miles for free tickets.

Dominique doesn’t say how often he gets to wave to the kids on his way to baggage claim.

Better Register Name Roadbook

The idea of a Facebook community on the road, a social network of car drivers, is not so far-fetched, says Gary Wallace, a vice-president at Dallas-based auto-telematics provider ATX Group.

ATX offers services similar to General Motors’ OnStar in BMW and numerous other vehicles. During the California wildfire season last year, BMW owners would call the concierge service to report fire on the road, dead animals and dense smoke.

OnStar drivers in Louisiana acted similarly when Katrina hit, he says, alerting the service about road conditions.

For drivers calling in, it was a natural reaction to want to help others in a time of crisis. Unfortunately, ATX and OnStar are not set up to do that warning.

Today, says Wallace, ATX only can send out messages one by one, but technicians are working on the problem of broadcasting messages to cars in a certain geographic area.

Striking a Blow for Fashion Solidarity

Continental’s North American CEO Samir Salman wore a tieless white shirt for his presentation so people could tell the supplier from the OEMs on the panel.

So when Ford CFO Lewis Booth took off his suit coat, he said it was “to show our complete alignment with the supply base. Or almost complete, I’ll keep my tie on.”

And Now for My Next Trick…

As it turns out, bringing together the auto industry, environmental groups and government agencies to make a single fuel economy standard was just a dry run for even bigger issues faced by the Obama Admin.

All that negotiating and arm-twisting “is a template for doing this in other areas,” President Obama told Jody Freeman, the White House counselor on energy and climate, the day before the May 19 announcement of a new 35.5 mpg CAFÉ standard.

Freeman says it was “vintage President Obama,” and the process will be used to get a health-care agreement.