17 March 2004
From Maine to Mexico, almost
Once again, (some of) you will be able to trust your car to the man who wears the star.
The Chevron/Texaco merger in 2001 had scores of conditions attached, mostly due to antitrust considerations. One of those conditions required that the stations operated by a Texaco-Shell joint venture revert to Shell, and that Shell and its partners would retain the Texaco trademark.
But this was a temporary measure only: the ChevronTexaco combine will regain the rights to use the Texaco brand this summer, and will own it exclusively in two years. What this means is a whole new rollout, mostly in Texas and the Southeast, of the Texaco name, which still carries substantial market clout. (For about ten years, I carried exactly one oil-company card: Texaco. It's now, perforce, a Shell card.)
In Oklahoma, this won't have much impact, since ChevronTexaco owns no stations here and doesn't plan to acquire any, though existing Texaco stations will presumably be asked to sign up with the new regime, and I doubt that any independent operator wishing to switch to Texaco will be turned away.
Not all efforts to recycle old brand names have been successful ask anyone who bought a Packard Bell computer but I suspect there is still a lot of residual fondness for Texaco. Now if they could be persuaded to continue their sponsorship of the Metropolitan Opera broadcasts, things will be (almost) back to normal.