Inherent Frustrations

In reference to Bob Lutz's comments in “Inherent Hazards” (see WAW — April '06, p.10) about low-cost engineers from India, I am sick of executives telling us North Americans are not cost effective, and that there are people in other parts of the world who can do our jobs for less money.

I certainly understand the situation in the U.S., but it frustrates the hell out of me when decisions are made totally on the basis of cost savings, while not considering the big picture. Ultimately, the total savings are never realized, and what is implemented usually causes more problems than what was in place originally.

Are any of these decision makers willing to take less money for more work? I'm sure somewhere in the world someone is churning out world-class executives who are willing to work for a fraction of what executives earn in the U.S. and Europe.
Steve Smorowski
London, Ont., Canada

The Human Factor

John McElroy's column on downsizing (see WAW — March '06, p.13) exemplifies his uncaring attitude toward the American auto worker and suggests all the hard work done by the men and women at GM and Ford is not important, at least in his eyes. To say it is easy to give up 30,000 jobs at both GM and Ford without replacing them is an insult and totally out of line.

Add in the other jobs that are attached to those 60,000, and the number climbs to several hundred thousand jobs lost…forever! There aren't enough burger-flipper or store-greeter jobs to keep those folks working. Even worse, the cuts hurt vehicle sales, as burger flippers and store greeters don't buy $30,000-plus new vehicles.

McElroy's comments on the Jobs Bank also show his ignorance. He makes it sound like a state welfare program, yet both the UAW and management negotiated it as an incentive to keep jobs in America vs. outsourcing them to the Third World. However, manufacturers still send work overseas, proving the social side of this business — helping people better themselves so they can buy the products they manufacture — is not important.

Come on down, John, from your “Blue Sky” and see the real world — the world of the hard-working men and women of the auto industry.
Jim Brandau
Spring Hill, TN

More White Bread

Good article on the Lexus ES 350 (see WAW — April '06, pp.53), however the car still looks like a Toyota Camry. I notice some new buttons, but it's basically the same package. This still represents the classic Asian conservative styling changes and not anything like the changes seen on the Chrysler 300 or Lincoln Zephyr.

A tad more horsepower might benefit folks in Nebraska but not the heavy traffic in California. Media types will fall in love with the ES 350 because it is a Lexus/Toyota and for being innovative.

Don't get me wrong; it is probably a great ride. But don't call it a birthday cake when it really is just a loaf of white bread with seeds and nuts.
Bill Barker
Ann Arbor, MI

1-2 Punch Equals 3-Series?

You could say Lexus is smart with its one-two punch with the IS/ES series (WAW — April '06, pp.53), or you could ask why it takes two Lexus models to equal the sales volume of one BMW 3-Series.

And despite its impressive test numbers, the IS 350 still doesn't drive like a BMW 3-Series and probably never will.

Lexus just cannot let go of the “minimal driver feedback” mantra that has served the auto maker so well in the U.S. market for many years. Obviously, my money would go to the 3-Series.
Roger Sears
Hebron, KY

More Of The Same

I recently revisited some 2004 issues of Ward's AutoWorld and it's interesting to see that not much has changed.

The fuel economy of cars is not much better; diesel engines still are not very popular in the U.S.; companies still complain about legacy costs; the government is not helping the auto industry; and the Japanese and Europeans still make more desirable vehicles.

Is any American company reading your magazine? When will there be a leap forward to get caught up or even jump ahead of the competition? Obviously desirable products bring profits. Is this so hard to understand?
Henry Sommerstorfer
Clinton Township, MI

Ethanol Action Needed

I know Drew Winter's comments about the expense of ethanol were made in a vacuum (WAW — March '06, pp.5), that is, little will change with the supply and price of gas. But let gasoline prices increase to $3.25 or $3.50 per gallon, and then see which fuel source is less expensive. Or, as you commented, let the U.S. be held up by a Third World country because they can make larger profits by selling gas to China.

I think we need to educate everyone about ethanol and put this fuel source into place as quickly as possible. If we do not, we will end up with an economic catastrophe that will make Hurricanes Katrina and Rita look like mere ripples in the water. We are dead in the water if we fail to act now, even if it involves legislative action.
Wayne McDaniel
Lynchburg, VA

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