Foggy Future Postpones Prognostication

Charlie Klein, a General Motors executive tasked with helping the auto maker improve the fuel efficiency of its vehicles, admits it's a tough call predicting which of the myriad alternative-propulsion solutions eventually may win out.

The future is unclear and prognostication is hardly an exact science, he says, as evidenced by fatalist and radio personality Harold Camping, who earlier this year claimed the world would end on May 21.

"The great thing about prognostication is, if you're wrong, you get to guess again,” Klein says.

“Harold Camping has now announced he got it wrong, and Oct. 21 will be our last day. Again I hope he's wrong. I hope for all of us he is wrong."

Beware Wrath of Twitterverse

Merely joking that PR folks should be forbidden from attending the MBS Advanced Powertrain session was enough to get Center for Automotive Research’s Brett Smith in hot water.

Smith tells Ward's a couple off-the-cuff comments about how freely panelists could talk without their corporate minders’ meddling set off a series of angry Tweets by publicists who were not amused.

Smith was expecting a negative reaction. "At some point during the day, I expect to be gotten back,” he told attendees at the session he was hosting.

Later, when one of the panelists suggested auto makers leverage social media to promote their advanced-technology efforts, Smith remarked, "Yeah, I learned a lot about Twitter today."

Bumpy Road and Free Lunch

Reflecting on the industry’s recent bumpy road and his passion he has for the work, Chrysler purchasing chief Dan Knott recalls a tense night in 2009 waiting for a judge to approve the auto maker's exit from bankruptcy with new-partner Fiat.

"That strikes at the very core of you, as a human being, to think about no longer being in the auto industry," he says.

How times have changed: Now merging fully with Fiat and back to profitability, Chrysler is poised to make the most significant product push in its history.

The auto maker even has started picking up the tab, evidenced by its sponsorship of Tuesday's lunch at MBS.

"When was the last time a manufacturer bought you lunch?" Knott jokes with suppliers in attendance. "Now if you get sick, I'll deny knowledge of it altogether."

Hot Air Hype

Media at CAR’s Management Briefing Seminars are forced to evacuate when a fire alarm goes off in the pressroom Tuesday afternoon.

While some might blame the hot air in the room for the momentary crisis, journos prefer to think their news gathering is what’s really smoking hot.