Vehicle sales faltered in ’07
U.S. car and light truck sales last year came in at their lowest level since 1998, with 16.1 million sold, a drop of 2.5 percent from 2006. And with high gas prices and economic turmoil forecast, automakers and analysts don’t expect a strong start to 2008. “The first half of the year is going to be very difficult,” said economist Mark Zandi at Moody’s Economy. (Los Angeles Times, free registration required) Toyota ended Ford’s 75-year reign as the No. 2 U.S. carmaker in 2007, and made some headway toward capturing the top spot from GM. (The Washington Post) Also, Indian automaker Tata was officially crowned lead suitor to buy Ford’s luxury brands Jaguar and Land Rover. (Reuters)
Intel parts with One Laptop per Child
Intel Corp. said it quit the board of the One Laptop per Child organization amid squabbles over “philosophical” differences with OLPC founder Nicholas Negroponte. Negroponte had asked Intel to exclusively support the OLPC’s inexpensive XO laptop for children in poor countries, Intel said, but the chipmaker was unwilling to walk away from its own competing Classroom PC laptop program. (PC World in The Washington Post) “Intel doesn’t do the exclusive thing,” said analyst Rob Enderle of the Enderle Group. The XO uses a chip from Intel rival AMD, and the spat ends an effort to create an Intel version of the laptop. (Bloomberg in Los Angeles Times)
A small start for Fox Business
News Corp.’s two-month-old Fox Business Channel is off to a slow start, with an average of 6,300 viewers during the day and 15,000 during prime time, according to Nielsen estimates. Fox Business reaches 30 million homes, mostly those with digital service. (The New York Times, free registration required) Rival CNBC—which is available in 94 million homes with basic cable—has 238,000 viewers in the day and 284,000 in prime time. “We’re just coming out of the gate,” said star Fox Business anchor Neil Cavuto. “It has not affected our ability to get the President of the United States, all of the candidates, every top-name CEO.” (New York Daily News)
FDA to put cloning on the table
The Food and Drug Administration is getting ready to clear the sale of meat and milk from cloned animals, and not everybody is happy about it. Consumer groups are wary about safety and the lack of any system to track products from cloned animals and their offspring. But advocates of cloning livestock say that cloned meat and dairy products are safe, and that cloning allows for more efficient breeding, as you can essentially recreate prize milk cows and other livestock. “These animals are not some kind of freaks of nature,” says James Hodges of American Meat Institute Foundation, which supports cloning. (The Wall Street Journal)