WardsAuto writers pass along the buzz at this week’s Geneva Auto Show.
Workers from Nissan’s Sunderland plant.
Auto maker executives and employees tend to dress in business attire for international auto shows, so the row of 10 guys in khaki jackets and red polo shirts standing together along the railing as thepress conference is getting under way seems a bit odd.
That is, until the men become part of the press conference. Executive Vice President Andy Palmer introduces them as workers from the Sunderland, U.K., plant, which is expected to produce more than 500,000 vehicles this year.
“None of this would be possible without our people, the dedicated men and women who work in our offices and plants across Europe,” Palmer says, adding the 10 workers will be part of the crew assembling the new Note hatchback and Leaf electric vehicle.
“And I bet these are the only people you’ll see here who actually make the cars,” Palmer says.
Ready for Prime Time?
It’s less than a week since Karl-Thomas Neumann took the helm as president ofEurope and chief executive of its struggling Opel unit.
So journalists here, particularly those from the U.S., are ready for a scrum when Opel’s press conference ends. Neumann, exuding confidence during his talk, is warmly embraced on stage by Steve Girsky, GM vice chairman and chairman of the Opel supervisory board.
But when the twosome finish grinning for the cameras, they quickly head for the exits, leaving a trail of journalists with questions left unanswered.
Scrums can be uncomfortable, but Neumann’s ducking away suggests he isn’t quite ready for a free-for-all dialogue with reporters about the future of Opel.
Even PR Folks Get Catty
Jaguar’s show stand is filled with beautiful, expensive cars, including the new F-Type roadster, which is on its way to market in Europe.
Parked next to the F-Type is a Jag classic: a cream-colored '49 XK-120 in mint condition, with leather interior that looks brand new.
Most public-relations types try to keep churlish comments to themselves, but a European flack for another auto maker couldn't hold back as he stumbled upon this lust-worthy jewel.
"Would it be cruel if I said this is the nicest car on the stand?" he mutters to an auto scribe who likewise is breathless over the car. “Probably so,” the journalist tells him.
"And they don't even have any signage for this car," the PR guy continues. "Give us some information about it."