Telling it like it is

Ward's is to be commended for telling it like it is (see WAW — Jan. '03, p.9). Bob Lutz may not like the fact that glitzy marketing no longer works — quality and reliability do. Perhaps he should read the just published J.D. Power reliability report on 1996 cars; the imports win hands-down.

The American public is tired of “field-testing” the American auto manufacturer's designs that involve numerous trips to the dealer in order to make repairs and install fixes for poor designs. Further, most foreign cars will run flawlessly to the 150K-mile mark (241,395-km) — something that few American cars can match.

I believe the root of the problem is the short-term thinking that exists in the CEO's office all the way down through the ranks. The only concern is “making the numbers” this month.

A multitude of bad management decisions flow from this thinking. Until this changes, and I see reason to believe it will, we will continue to get the hard-sell on poorly designed vehicles that can't match the imports. What a sorry end to an American industry.
Kent Marvin
Cleveland, OH

Clarification

I read with interest your brief report on the SAE panel in which I participated (see WAW — Jan. '03, p.21). I certainly share your enthusiasm for the light-duty diesel. But I would like to clarify a possible misconception that might arise from the remarks you have attributed to me.

The Cummins V-6/V-8 program to which I referred is an advanced engineering program that is being funded significantly by the U.S. Dept. of Energy.

DOE recognizes the great potential of diesel to improve the fuel economy of light trucks and SUVs, and has participated with Cummins and other engine manufacturers to stimulate the research and development of fuel-efficient advanced diesels which meet the same tough emissions standards as future gasoline engines.

Through fundamental engine combustion and exhaust aftertreatment development, a major milestone for the project has recently been achieved. We have met the future Tier 2, Bin 5 emission targets under Federal Test Procedure conditions.

At the same time, we are demonstrating noise levels comparable to gasoline engines and 30% lower fuel consumption than a gasoline engine in the same application. That's a big deal! However, this is a laboratory demonstration.

We are not “getting them ready for production” yet. Significant development, especially in the area of emission control durability over a wide range of ambient conditions, lies ahead of us.

There is no doubt in our minds that low-emission, fuel-efficient diesel engines can play a major role in U.S. transportation in the future, thanks to the ingenuity of our engineers and the foresight and ongoing support of the DOE.
John C. Wall
Vice President
Chief Technical Officer
Cummins Inc.
Columbus, IN

Not a Mini fan

Drew! Pick a Mini over a Mercedes SLK!? Do you write for Mother Earth or AutoWorld (see WAW — Jan. '03, p.5)? The artificially induced exclusivity of the little roller skate is what keeps the price (and profit) up.

If they were as plentiful as Civics they'd join the triple zero sales plan. I never saw the appeal of the original, and the new one — well, blah!

You hit the proverbial nail on the head with your comment regarding environmentalists. They object to the car you drive and what I might choose to do with my acre of land.

When they're done vandalizing SUVs and burning down ski lodges (Environmental Liberation Front) they drive home in their '77 Pacer, not a new EV1.
Jim Villano
Hartselle, AL

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