CAFE won't budge

Trucks are the only things keeping Ford and Chrysler alive in the U.S. Raising CAFE would kill both companies. Sen. Kerry may not realize this, but most everyone else does.
Barry von Steinen
Industrial Design Executive Recruiter
Rochester, MI

Our nation needs a 25-mpg CAFE standard for pickups and SUVs, but politics prevails and nothing will happen. We're in a 20-month-old business downturn. Japan has captured the U.S. auto market because of Big Three mismanagement. Congress will do nothing to jeopardize the remaining pickup and SUV markets.

It's easier to spend a few military lives protecting Mideast oil for the gas-guzzlers and the East and West Coast use of oil for power generation, than to lose re-election funds and votes. Yes, there will be taxpayer funding of a few hybrid pickups and SUVs, but that's “green” politics and not meaningful oil reductions.
Joseph J. Neff

A VR6 fan

Simply one of the best engines on the planet. Smooth, extremely powerful (hp and torque), and the perfect package. I miss my Corrado dearly but look forward to a '94 Corrado or maybe a GTI VR6. Take care!
Bryan Infantino
Branford CT

Big Three lure those who don't know any better

I used to be an avid GM fan myself, owning 12 new GM products over the years until finally, the last new GM product I owned was such an embarrassment from a quality perspective that I finally decided to shop elsewhere.

I'm glad I did. Just about everything I drove was light years ahead of GM in design, execution and attention to assembly detail, and all for not really much more money. (I ended up purchasing a 2000 Audi A6 Quattro, the 4.2L V-8 model; this was after driving the STS. There was only approximately a $1,500 difference in pricing.)

And now that I have experienced the differences first hand, I can safely say that I will probably never step foot in a GM showroom again.

I certainly believe that Ford, GM and to a certain extent, Chrysler, will survive, and even flourish in the coming decades, but it will be to customers new to their products that don't know any better.
Paul Parker
paulsparker@cs.com

Are markets really open?

In reference to “Hyundai Nears Assembly Site” (see AutoTalk, WAW — Dec. '01, p.22): The first thing that pops into my mind is … I wonder if GM or Ford could build a plant in Korea? … and I think you know the answer … it is a resounding NO WAY.

And I say … they should not be allowed to build a plant here unless we have the same opportunities in their market!

This same scam has been repeated many times … this plant is just another “fleecing of America.”

They come to our open market and compete with ever dwindling domestic manufacturers, while we are shut out of their closed markets … it just stinks … and the media in the U.S. — that is not directly hurt — just plays into their hands like nothing is wrong.
Perry J. Kravec
Bethel Park, PA

pjkravec@bellatlantic.net

But don't go backward

This is a response to the article about Ford and Nick Scheele's new scheme to get back to basics (see ‘Sir Nick,’ WAW — Dec. '01, pp.30-32). I automatically assumed when I saw the article that this had to be an older guy, ready for retirement. Everyone knows that you never go “back.” You go forward! Sure, some of the stuff Jac got into was not part of the core business.

I've been in this business for 24 years, and have seen this happen twice before. Whenever there is plenty of money flowing, people want to diversify, try new things. Is this bad? I don't think so. Sure, Ford should tighten the purse strings, because things are slow.

To say Ford got into the wrong things just says they were dumb, and now they are not? They must have been out of their minds? A lapse of judgment?

I've seen this excuse too many times. I believe that great things will come out of Ford's suggested momentary insanity. The new kids at Ford need the wisdom of the wise old owls, but let's not punish the new world order for trying new things.

Automakers should not be ashamed of their core business! Absolutely not!!! But let's not say we were momentarily stupid and now are smart. I believe many good things will come from Ford diversifying and trying new things, and applaud Ford and Jac for the courage to go forward, not backward.
Gregg Greider
Plant Superintendent
EPC
Mattawan, MI

Ahead of the curve?

Interesting to look back over a year. Some speculation became reality and other events we never imagined. Even when the auto industry recently spent less to be prepared for “the next downturn,” it still catches them unprepared. The core business is still hurting the Americans. Will we ever stay ahead of the curve?

New innovative products are all that is really needed. The “old” methods must give way to new technology. Keep up your good reporting.
H. Sommerstorfer
Administrator-Employee Development
General Motors Corp.
Clinton Twp., MI

Old news is good news

Brian Corbett's comment regarding the composite box: “…It's old news” (comparing to the Explorer Sport Trac) (see WAW — Dec '01, p.55) is a grave oversimplification. SMC is well-known low-tech stuff; the manufacturing and material technologies used in the Silverado box are more sophisticated and elegant.

That you were unable to note the differences should be considered complimentary; how often do you see new materials/processes emerge without caveats or evident deficiencies? What remains to be seen is will GM's dismal marketing of this product kill the technology in its tracks?
Jim Ockers

Fake or legit, gimme parts that work

In regard to the Big Three cracking down on counterfeiters (see WAW — Dec. '01, p.59): Jack Smith's implication, that the new consortium is guarding against common concerns that threaten fair competition, product integrity, safety and job security, is really only protecting against infringement on their bottom lines.

This can be dishonest as it shuts out legitimate suppliers. He also says that the counterfeiters are well organized and know our markets as well as we do.

Not only do some know our business well, they are managing their businesses better, and some are building parts that supercede the Big Three's performance standards.

In my not so old Oldsmobile Intrigue, I have a few croaking frogs in my suspension, a singing canary in my heating system, a clucking chicken behind the dash, a snapping turtle in my steering and something frightful moaning there as well.

I hear it's a free market out there to those who are honest. To those suppliers that have something to sell and can save me the aggravation that always comes after corresponding with Mr. Good-wrench and his service parts department, I say come in and build your parts. I'll give up a radius or chamfer by an uncertified supplier to keep the noises down on the farm.
Name withheld
Automotive Powertrain Manufacturing Engineer and faithful GM car owner

Question of the Month January 2002

Does the war on terrorism make it more likely or less likely that CAFE standards will be raised in 2002?
More likely 0%
Less likely 100%

Question of the Month February 2002

Will the U.S. government's shift to funding fuel cell research lead to the eventual demise of gasoline-powered vehicles?
Yes
No


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