1st Gear: BMW's sales and marketing boss Ian Robertson sent AutoCar smoke signals and hand signs they're interpreting as an indication that the Mini Rocketman is likely headed to production. Our only question is — isn't it a sad day when news Mini's going to create a small car become "big news?"
2nd Gear: Yet again, the real fake news today is the price of gas continuing to climb like what your love does to Jackie Wilson. Prices have now jumped to $3.52 per gallon. That's 77 cents higher than a year ago and the highest price ever posted during the month of March. In Orlando, Florida, prices have even jumped above the $5 mark — $5.39 per gallon for regular and $5.49 for premium. What are you paying near you?
3rd Gear: Now that Chrysler has a slew of
new refreshed models again, where's it going to come up with the money to market them all? By boosting its ad budget by nearly 70% — to $2.9 billion. I hope someone told them to be careful not to lose themselves in the music, the moment. They better never let it go, because it only takes one shot...
4th Gear: Ford disclosed Monday it awarded President and CEO Alan Mulally $56 million in stock and Ford Executive Chairman Bill Ford Jr. $42.4 million in stock before taxes as part of more than $100 million in stock it gave to top executives. What does Bill Ford Jr. do again? Oh, right, he's got a last name.
5th Gear: Speaking of executive compensation, according to Bloomberg, Chrysler estimates its value at $4.77 billion for purposes of executive pay. How insane is it that a company with annual revenue of $41.9 billion is valued at only a tenth of that amount? Jeez. So who does this suck for the most? The American taxpayer-funded Troubled Asset Relief Program. At this valuation, the U.S. government's 9.2% stake in Chrysler is only worth $438.8 million. And since the face value of debts owed to the U.S. and Canadian governments are $7.53 billion (out of a total of $12.5 billion in assistance), that equity stake barely covers the interest. Sad citizens are sad.
6th Gear: Chevy will unveil a new "special edition" as-yet-unseen Camaro at next month's "Camaro5fest." Although yes, the Z28 is still coming, but no, this won't be it. Likely it'll be a 45th anniversary edition version or some such crap.
⏎ Carmakers have a very particulate problem. [GoAuto]
⏎ Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood won't urge restrictions on hands-free calling... yet. [Detroit News]
⏎ Attack of the Santa Monica parking nazi. [Edmunds' AutoObserver]
⏎ Can Saab become the next Audi? [Motor Trend]
⏎ The first 1,000 Tesla Model S sedans will be the pricier "Signature Series," which can travel as far as 300 miles on a full charge and has a base price of about $77,400 before a federal tax credit. [Automotive News]
⏎ GM design chief Ed Welburn has given the thumbs up to the next-generation Holden Commodore. He also hints the Cruze hatch is being considered for U.S. sale. Can't we merge those two stories together? [GoAuto]
⏎ Hyundai tops "Brand Keys" customer loyalty survey. Not to diminish the award, but what the hell is "Brand Keys"? [Brand Keys]
Today in Automotive History:
Volkswagen, maker of the Beetle automobile, expands its product offerings to include a microbus, which goes into production on this day in 1950. [History]
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