Don't Forget Chevy

It's great to see the effort GM is giving Pontiac, with the G8, sport truck, etc. However, shouldn't GM be taking care of its cash cow, Chevrolet, first?

We would like to see the new rear-drive Impala SS soon. In my area, alone, there are three very active Impala SS clubs. Chevy has a larger “fan” base than Pontiac and would probably garner more sales faster if more of this effort was directed to Chevy.

Who knows — it just might help Pontiac sales, too, in the long run.
Dan Rinaldo
Akron, OH

Walk a Mile in My Manolo Blahniks

As the wife of a Design for Six Sigma engineer — but more importantly, as a woman — I find that it is unfair in the March issue to criticize Manolo Blahnik for not making comfortable shoes (see WAW — March '08, p.3).

I own Manolo Blahnik's shoes, and they are extremely comfortable. You say, “vehicles people choose reflect not just their income and transportation needs, but their hopes, their insecurities and their vanity.” Women do the same with shoes — just ask any woman who owns more than two pair.

A great pair of shoes can make you feel confident and happy and portray a certain image. Reliability, comfort and style are just as important in automobiles. Otherwise Volvo, Lexus and Honda might not be doing as well. So until you have walked a mile in Manolo Blahniks, I would keep shoes out of your articles!
Rachel Lozada
San Ramon, CA

What Highway Safety?

It's not often that I agree 100% with John McElroy, but I did with his March column (see WAW — March '08, p.12). I often wondered if anyone else noticed that we kill 40,000-plus people every year on the highways and continue to fall behind other countries in traffic safety.

The government (i.e. politicians) focuses solely on automobile safety, and that is only a third of the equation. We do little about drivers or roads. I see incompetent, lazy, discourteous and inattentive drivers every day. — people eating, cell phoning, making up and even reading! We have yellow traffic lights that are on for the blink of an eye and merge lanes that only a drunk could have designed.

Will we ever focus on the other two parts of highway safety? Unfortunately it does not appear likely. For most politicians, that would be too much work, so they take the easy way out rather than the conscientious way.
Clark Robbins
White Lake, MI

I enjoyed reading John McElroy's article, “Our Little Safety Charade,” in the March issue. As someone who has driven in other parts of the world, mostly Europe, there is one additional factor to consider as why their traffic accident statistics are lower: culture.

Folks in Europe tend to pay significantly more attention to the task of driving while they're behind the wheel. It's nice that we in the U.S. have cars packaged with additional safety features and have all the additional regulations.

But imagine the improvement in our traffic statistics if U.S. drivers actually start to pay attention while they're driving and be just a little more considerate of others on the road.
Dan Majhan
Sterling Heights, MI

Chrysler Still Needs Pacifica Design Studio

The whole idea of Chrysler's Pacifica Design Facility in California was to be more in touch with the avant-garde West Coast trends. Why is it closing? In the last 10 or 12 years, this studio was far more involved on near-term production and buildable concept vehicles. Chrysler needs this more than ever. Pacifica was responsible for far more concept car hits, than misses, utilizing an extremely small and efficient staff (see story, p.39).

The main Chrysler Design staff in Auburn Hills is down to a little over 250 people from the steady staffing of 350 in the Tom Gale era. They have laid off or forced out so many people over 50 there, that I can only conclude that they don't need or care about future product development, because there won't be any!

Chrysler “right sized” 10 years ago when it canned 31,000 hourly and salaried people. The flow of work didn't go down — fewer people did it. Meanwhile, Mercedes kept adding people!

Bob Nardelli and friends could look like turn-around heroes, while gutting all future product development. The word among design staff is that morale has never been lower, that they are floundering without direction.

Part of the problem is a perceived overabundance of vehicles. This was true of the Jeeps. Nardelli even said early-on, “I can see Chrysler becoming just Chrysler cars, Dodge trucks, and Jeep SUVs.” This will work about as well as killing Plymouth did, giving up at least a plant worth of sales and accelerating the long slow slide into niche sales.

They are killing the PT Cruiser convertible, which was great for around $20,000. There was almost no competition for this, and they never advertised it! Instead, they want to keep moving the Chrysler brand “upscale” with the likes of the new Sebring convertible, which predictably was a big swing and a miss.

No one since 1924, has ever bought a Chrysler product because it was perceived as aspirational. The marketing and product planners have been so consistently wrong on this point. The man from Home Depot really doesn't get the auto business, and I even wonder what business he really does “get”?
Name withheld
Oakland, MI

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