Oh, how we love these phone hotline mixup stories. Automotive News reported a hot one recently. Some General Motors Corp. (GMC) truck owners calling an 800 line for customer service didn't hear a GM voice offering product information and dealer locations. Instead, they heard the extremely friendly greeting: ``Hi, baby, you just connected with the hottest girls, and we're ready to satisfy your every desire. Get ready for the hottest talk in the country.''
Yes, unfortunately it's a wrong number. By dialing 1-800-GM-TRUCK, callers get the same number as 1-800-HOT SUCK.
The correct number...hey, put down that phone...is 1-800-GMC-TRUC.
A blur in the night
We've mentioned products that get the stench out of your car. Here's one that'll leave you seeing red.
A Brooklyn, N.Y.-based company, Tire Illumination, has debuted a valve stem light. The ``Firefly'' (shown below) simply screws onto the air-valve of a vehicle's tires. Then, says a news release, you ``drive off leaving a revolving trail of intense red light etched into the night.''
Firefly has a swivel joint, can be pointed in any direction and adds a custom look to wheels-it also makes it easier for cops to track you. It operates for 50+ hours on a lithium battery and retails for $11.95 for a double pack. Contact Larry Grey: (718) 646-0818.
Calling 'Dr. Jack'
Emissions regs have become a real pain in the tailpipe-now it seems they've even taken all the ``fun'' out of dying.
The Lancet, a publication in England, reported that a suicidal Brit was rescued after breathing exhaust gases from his car for more than an hour.
The car was one of Europe's relatively new catalyst-equipped models that couldn't produce enough carbon monoxide to do in the poor chap. Might have been easier just putting the car in gear and jumping in front of it.
Fu ture: mini tire plants?
At a tire industry technical conference in Basel, Switzerland, late last year, Albert Hahn of EcoPlan International presented his study of the chemical industry-and some views of the tire industry, as well.
Noting that the labor content of a car tire is now about 0.2 employee-hours, and about 1.4 employee-hours for a truck tire, if productivity continues to improve at the historical rate, it will halve every decade or so, he said.
He calculated that a tire maker must sell passenger tires for $34-or $2.57 per pound-or more in order to make a reasonable rate of return on the company's capital investment in a state-of-the-art tire factory.
Because of changing markets, instead of large plants capable of making thousands of tires per day, he predicted development of small factories supplying short runs of tires to just one vehicle plant. Total capacity of each mini-plant would be some 1 million units per year, he said, but in a wide variety of sizes and styles.
Plumving the depths
At a recent Motor Press Guild luncheon in Los Angeles, Chrysler Corp. President Robert Lutz delivered a broadside on the trade issue with Japan, according to Automotive News.
``No foreign automakers, German or otherwise, are really successful in Japan...,'' he said. ``The Japanese market remains, after all these years, as difficult to penetrate as a clogged sink without a plunger.''
The next day, Michael Bassermann, president of Mercedes-Benz North America, rebutted the remark, saying the German automaker was plenty successful in Japan.
You're in trouble now
From those same Chrysler people comes this statement run in an advertisement last year in USA Today:
``If the person who works on your car isn't as technologically advanced as your car, you're in trouble.''
Did anyone watch that futuristic new TV series, ``Viper,'' which is kind of an hour-long ad for Chrysler cars? Boy, are automotive service technicians in trouble. Better brush up on your techno-babble.