Poking the Poachers

Volvo has held its media dinner the last two years on the first press day of the auto show here at Detroit’s historic Elwood Bar and Grill.

It wasn’t a big deal that this year’s event was held one night earlier, on Sunday. But here’s the back story. Months ago, competitor BMW snuck in early and signed a contract for the Monday night party slot at the Elwood.

Mildly chagrined, Volvo PR honcho Gino Effler grabbed a piece of chalk on Sunday night and scribbled these words on the Elwood’s menu board, so the BMW staff arriving a day later would see what specials will be served: “Volvo Leftovers.”

Asked later why he felt it necessary to write this greeting, Effler takes a jab at the Bavarians for swiping the prime night at the 75-year-old burger joint. “Sometimes, you have to poke the poachers.”

No word on whether BMW folks found any humor in the message. We suggest for next year, the Elwood should schedule both auto makers on the same night, so they can settle the spat with an old-fashioned food fight.

Jeep Snow Job

Visitors to the North American International Auto Show can rest easy as snow covers the ground in downtown Detroit. There are plenty of Jeep Grand Cherokee SUVs on the show floor if emergency transportation is required.

A Chrysler insider recounts a story about last month’s blizzard in Canada’s southern Ontario region. The storm closed a key highway, paralyzing cross-border auto-parts shipments and stranding several Chrysler employees in the process.

“We got them out by sending a Grand Cherokee,” Ward’s is told. Most of the 300 motorists who were stuck for some 24 hours had to be rescued by snowmobile.

A Will of Her Own

General Motors Chairman and CEO Dan Akerson, who was appointed to the auto maker's board of directors after its exit from bankruptcy in 2009 and last year took on his current role, admits to driving a Mercedes-Benz before arriving in Detroit.

But he says he now owns GM vehicles exclusively and so does the rest of his family, with one exception. Apparently one daughter remains a holdout.

"And she is out of the will," he jokes during an industry event related to the auto show.

Blue-Collar CEO

Ram President and CEO Fred Diaz shows he’s the perfect executive to front a truck brand

The San Antonio native hovers over a repair crew working on an escalator at Cobo Hall, site of the auto show. Several minutes pass before Diaz moves on, clearly disappointed he wasn’t asked to help.

“I love seeing how (stuff) works,” he says, “When I was a kid, I used to take my toys apart all the time. It used to (anger) my mom.”