High Steaks

GM product boss Bob Lutz found himself in somewhat of an awkward position at the show here – on stage between the environmentally friendly Cadillac Provoq fuel-cell concept and the raucous Cadillac CTS-V, a high-performance sedan that won’t soon make the Sierra Club’s recommended list.

Instead, the industry veteran reminded journalists there still is room in the world for an old-fashioned V-8.

“At the height of the vegetarian craze, grocery stores were still featuring New York steaks,” he says. “Maybe they devoted less shelf space to them, but with all the healthy eating, there were still people who liked red meat. We’re a full-service grocery chain.”

Lincoln Gets Lippy

A Lincoln representative is showing the auto maker’s in-car information system, Travel Link, to a BMW counterpart.

The system uses Sirius satellite radio to deliver real-time gasoline prices, along with directions to the nearest filling stations.

The BMW guy wonders why his marque doesn’t offer the feature, as the brand also uses Sirius. “Because,” smiles the Lincoln rep, “you’re not Ford.”

Liberal View

Sen. Joe Lieberman of Connecticut pauses for a close look at the Ford Explorer America concept at the auto show here.

The midsize CUV, equipped with three rows of seating, features a 275-hp 2.0L 4-cyl. diesel engine that provides up to 30% better fuel-economy than the current-generation Explorer powered by a V-6.

A couple of Ford insiders look on with skepticism, given the politician’s rigid stance on fuel-economy regulations. Says one: “How do you feel about a Liberal getting that close to the truck?”

The other suggests it’s a good thing, because some politicians need to be educated about advanced technology. “I don’t care,” he says. “Whatever it takes.”

Close Call

Erich Merkle, IRN Inc.’s vice president-forecasting, claims the Society of Automotive Analysts’ prize for predicting the 2007 U.S. production total.

The highest prediction was 16,882,321 units, while the lowest was 14,099,000, says SAA President Jeffrey Leestma. The average was 15,368,635.

The actual production total was 15,017,635. Merkle’s winning guess was 15,021,000 – less than a single shift of production, Leestma quips. “He didn’t account for a lunch break.”

Plumb Line

Former Ward’s staffer Steve Plumb makes history at the show here.

During a test drive of a Toyota plug-in hybrid-electric prototype, the AutoTech Daily news editor was struck from behind by a Mercedes on nearby Jefferson Avenue.

Says Plumb: “I’m the first person ever to be rear-ended in a plug-in.”

– Compiled by Barbara McClellan