How Slow Can You Go

The unveiling of the Rolls Royce Phantom Drophead Coupe, arguably, is the slowest in auto show history. While most auto makers pull the sheets off new cars with a flourish, Rolls Royce teases onlookers with a slow, deliberate routine.

Two fashion models s-l-o-w-l-y peel the cover back to the beat of a dramatic soundtrack. The process takes 30 seconds, organizers reveal.

That’s 7.4 seconds per inch. Enough time for the ultra-luxury vehicle, powered by a 453-hp V-12 engine, to hit at least 75 mph (120 mph) from a standing start.

So Little Time

Bibiana Boerio, managing director of Jaguar Cars, wastes no time responding to rumors.

Asked to comment on speculation that Jaguar will be sold as Ford restructures, she doesn’t miss a beat.

“I don’t spend a minute working on it,” she says. “Ford will take the actions it needs to take. I don’t have the energy to worry about it.”

Who’s Who Here

The list of attendees suggests this year’s North American International Auto Show is the place to be for industry royalty.

In addition to the supreme leaders of Detroit’s auto makers: General Motors Corp.’s Rick Wagoner; Ford Motor Co.’s Bill Ford; and DaimlerChrysler AG’s Dieter Zetsche, Cobo Hall also plays host to several European luminaries.

Porsche AG Chairman Wendelin Wiedeking and Renault-Nissan Alliance CEO Carlos Ghosn have been meeting with journalists. And embattled Volkswagen AG boss Ferdinand Piech is seen blending into the crowd at a press conference to re-introduce the Lamborghini Miura.

Meanwhile, Fiat SpA chief Sergio Marchionne waltzes unnoticed – well almost – around the show floor. Most notable absentee: BMW AG Chairman Norbert Reithofer. He was ill and unable to make the trip.

Ghosn: No Worries

Carlos Ghosn, CEO of Renault SA and Nissan Motor Co. Ltd., allays concerns the Japanese auto maker is in trouble.

“Nissan will continue to grow. Don’t worry about it,” he tells a reporter. “All companies have ups and downs.”

As for the need to expand capacity here, he says Nissan is being prudent, “because there is a slowdown in the U.S. market.”

When Silence is Not Golden

It’s tough for an auto executive not to talk about exciting product in the pipeline when his handlers don’t want it revealed.

Such was the case with Len Hunt, chief operating officer of Kia Motors America, when asked if he could finally announce the auto maker will have a production version of its Soul concept shown at last show.

“I’m really tired of saying that,” Hunt says, referring to the standard company line: “We can’t talk about future product.”

Ward’s now has word Kia finally is able to say it will offer the Soul next year. Hunt can rest easier, we guess.