Auto executives let a few e-confessions slip at a recent manufacturing conference in Alabama.

They stayed true to the "e is good" theme in their presentations, but there were a few admissions.

"At the moment, everything with 'e' as a first letter is hype," says Guenter Klamer, vice president of logistics and information technology and quality management for BMW Mfg. Corp. That said, BMW is working on a strategy and talking to Ariba Inc.

Lessons to become Web-savvy have been more difficult than learning German, confesses Gary Henson, executive vice president-manufacturing at DaimlerChrysler Corp.

"Our floor used to be a chip-free environment," says his colleague Gary Valade, DaimlerChrysler AG management board member, global procurement and supply.

Knowing Chairman Juergen Schrempp "wants a team of guys with more earrings than his wife around him, throwing out ideas," Mr. Valade says his staff now spends 20% of their time on the Net.

Keith Lawrence, vice president of procurement and supply for Mitsubishi Motor Mfg. of America Inc., is impressed by the flight path of the infamous Love Bug computer virus. "A couple of guys in the Philippines came up with a way to communicate with the entire world within a couple days. What potential - as well as risk."

GM's Ray Pollard, director of global strategic alliances for the GM TradeXchange, says if he could use the Internet to eliminate 10% of the 14% waste in the system, "they'd build a statue to me at the RenCen."

And Toyota Motor Mfg. of North America Inc. President and CEO Teruyuki Minoura admits he's lost key team members because the company isn't quick, nimble or progressive enough. "Our problem is inside our own offices. We spend too much time processing orders and getting them to the plant."