Say What You Really Mean, Bob

President Bush signed into law weeks ago an energy bill that raises federal fuel-economy standards 40%.

But the issue still gnaws at GM Vice Chairman and product boss Bob Lutz, who is never one to mince words.

“The law is passed, and we’ll live with it,” he says with a note of exasperation. “But it’s just stupid.”

Not Easy Being Green

The environmentally friendly theme of this year’s car show has generated a distinct warm and fuzzy atmosphere.

So much so, apparently, it is attracting a wider audience. But not all are welcome.

Four burly security guards surrounded a live frog at the media entrance to the show late Tuesday.

Despite its size – approximately equal to a child’s thumb – the guards gave the amphibian a wide berth, each standing several paces away while holding back onlookers.

The frog’s affiliation is unknown. It had no credentials.

Pickup Smackdown

Ford officials snicker at the relative dearth of ’09 Dodge Ram fullsize pickups on display here.

Chrysler will feature two redesigned Rams when the show opens to the public, compared with four iterations of the F-150, also redesigned for ’09.

Chrysler, which drove its show trucks down Washington Blvd. here in a long-horn cattle stampede, admits its supply of new Rams is constrained as it also is featuring the truck at several regional auto shows, including Texas, the heart of truck country.

But that cuts no quarter with the competition. “Doesn’t say much for their attitude toward customers,” says one Fordster.

Quips a Chrysler insider: “It takes two of their trucks to equal one of ours.”

Foul Play

Hyundai is airing a spectacular commercial in South Korea in which its new Genesis premium sedan crashes into an Audi A8 at 62 mph (100 km/h).

The damage to both vehicles appears to be comparable, but local Audi officials are crying foul, contending their all-aluminum car is designed to significantly crumple to absorb shock and protect passengers. Therefore, the damage to the A8 is different than that sustained by the Genesis.

A Hyundai insider dismisses the protest.

“The Genesis was designed to target well-known luxury cars, so we included the collision scene in the commercial to prove it survives a serious crash just as well,” he says. “The results speak for themselves.”

– Compiled by Barbara McClellan