That's just a fancy word for crystal ball gazing, Marketplace style.
'Tis the fashion this time of year to offer resolutions and forecasts for what this baby year may hold. Elsewhere in this issue of Tire Business we outline some of the more serious-toned predictions. How about some others that could very well come true...that is, if you inhabit some sort of parallel universe.
Goodyear-Though Fuji may be giving it a run for the money for air domination, we predict the Akron-based tire maker will change the legend on the sides of its airships to read: ``No. 1 in blimps.'' (A pay-per-view cable TV boxing match will ensue after the exec from one company replies to an official from the other: ``You calling me a blimp?'')
Michelin North America Inc.-After a year or two of watching his weight continue to balloon, the tire maker's Bibendum mascot will really blimp out and be forced on a crash diet to lose 850 pounds before the 2004 Specialty Equipment Market Association trade show in Las Vegas. At that event, a slimmed-down Bib will do a soft-rubber-soled-shoe routine with ``Phillip the Tire,'' the Rubber Manufacturers Association's grinning tire mascot. It will erupt into a shoving match and, later, a pay-per-view cable TV wrestling match.
Pirelli Tire North America Inc.-The 2004 version of the company's famous pin-up calendar will feature photos of Pirelli executives in the buff...er, bathed in buffing dust.
Yokohama Tire Corp.-The Fullerton, Calif.-based tire maker will find some avid new buyers for its updated performance tire line.
Continental Tire North America Inc.-After a couple years of so-so financials, Conti will make a bid to buy Goodyear, figuring that with a renamed company called ContiGood, how could anyone ever say anything bad about it?
Pep Boys-Manny, Moe and Jack-On the heels of a push to sell more flag brands, the Philly-based company will franchise a chain of Manny, Moe & Jack delicatessens featuring Cornell corned beef sandwiches named after its private label tires.
TBC Corp.-The huge and getting huger Memphis, Tenn.-based distributor will make an attempt to buy Burger King and merge it with its Tire Kingdom Inc. chain so it can operate a one-stop shop for burgers and tires. ``Ya want fries with that?'' will become its new corporate advertising slogan.
Ford Motor Co.-After deciding to deep six (yet again) the T-Bird because of disappointing sales, Henry's company will resurrect the Edsel. The new two-seater retro version, powered by a six-banger, will feature big fins, and-for the nostalgia crowd-belch bluish-white smoke whenever the key is turned on.
General Motors Corp.-Riding high on its resurging Cadillac nameplate, the Motown motor company will get Led Zeppelin to record a new theme song-a remake of ``Dazed and Confused,'' to represent how some older Caddy owners feel about the new rockin' roadster's up-tempo image.
Led Zeppelin-The defunct band will regroup and tour the U.S. to tout a new fleet of rockin' rainbow-colored Goodyear blimps.
Tire Industry Association-To capitalize on its efforts to launch a ``checkoff'' program to pump up the image of tires, TIA will sponsor a reading project to get kids interested in reading Russian author Anton Chekhov. Librarians across the country will be aghast when, due to a printing glitch, a big ad campaign will urge youngsters to ``Check Out Checkoff.''
Bridgestone/Firestone-Taking a cue from its hot new Fuzion tire brand, the Nashville, Tenn.-based tire maker will change its corporate colors from red and black to lime green.
DaimlerChrysler Motors Co. L.L.C.-The German-owned auto maker will tweak its PT Cruiser with a new line of apparel for elderly drivers dubbed ``Hardly Cruisin'-wear.''
National Highway Traffic Safety Administration-In a valiant attempt to protect the ``thousands'' of bicyclists on our nation's byways, NHTSA will mandate the installation of bike tire inflation monitors by year-end. Kindergarteners will be bombarded with coloring books urging them to ``Be Tire Smart.'' They will quickly pull out their little pieces of carpeting and take a nap.
Tire dealers everywhere-After soaking up every tidbit of useful information in every issue of Tire Business, independent dealers will have a very happy, profitable year.... And we truly hope y'all do.
Vive la France
With all the books that have touted how great Japanese corporate management is, who do those managers say is king?
According to a survey of board members in Japanese corporations, Westerner Carlos Ghosn, president of Nissan Motor Co., is a better manager than any Japanese exec, living or dead. The Japan Management Association's survey found that 16.8 percent of 210 board-level respondents ranked the former Michelin North America Inc. executive tops as a business leader.
Hiroshi Okuda, the chairman of Toyota Motor Corp., and the late Soichiro Honda, founder of Honda Motor Co., tied for fourth with 6.4 percent of the votes.
As for the ever-in-the-news Mr. Ghosn, Automotive News listed on its editorial page some New Year's resolutions that may or may not ever see the light of day. For Mr. Ghosn it stated: ``I may be a national hero, but I will not run for prime minister of France. Besides, France isn't sick enough for me to rescue.''
Where's the tire?
No, we're not talking about a variation on the ``Where's Waldo?'' game.
The online version of the Thomas Register, an industrial resource publication, compiled a list of what it called the ``greatest engineering achievements of the 20th century.''
The not-so-funny part is, among all those terrific accomplishments, nowhere to be found was the lowly tire. However, the automobile-the one product that would have a pretty tough time maneuvering without tires-was listed as No.2.
TR's list: 1. Electrification; 2. Automobile; 3. Airplane; 4. Water supply and distribution; 5. Electronics; 6. Radio and television; 7. Agricultural mechanization; 8. Computers; 9. Telephone; 10. Air conditioning and refrigeration; 11. Highways; 12. Spacecraft; 13. Internet; 14. Imaging; 15. Household appliances; 16. Health technologies; 17. Petroleum and petrochemical technologies; 18. Laser and fiber optics; 19. Nuclear technologies; and 20. High-performance materials.
Lethal at any speed
A while back Marketplace brought to your attention a gent who's been marketing faux bullet hole decals the up-and-coming gangstas in your neighborhood can apply to their vehicles for that sporty shot-up look.
We recently received some info from Pilot Automotive Inc.-an automotive supplier and distributor of car and truck accessories since 1983-touting its new line of ``Lethal Threat Rear Window Graphics.'' The company, which operates out of City of Industry, Calif., notes that its decals are ``some of the hottest designs available on the market today: pit bulls, iron crosses, skulls, eagles and panthers.''
Team them up with a couple of strategically placed bullet holes and you'll be drivin' one rav set of wheels, dude.
And who says society is getting too violent?