Optional ABS

I agree with GM's plan to make ABS optional on more vehicles for 2003 (see “GM Eyes Option-only ABS,” WAW — April '02, p.17). It is an unnecessary complication of the braking system and rarely is actuated by the average driver. Due to improved traction of today's tires, most vehicles can't lock up the front wheels on dry pavement. On slippery surfaces the ABS concept assumes that the driver won't “freeze” and will have the presence of mind to steer around the obstacle.

The only time ABS actuates is on ice and snow, and the primary result is a longer stopping distance! GM and Ford should take the money saved by eliminating ABS and put rotors on the cars which don't corrode and warp!
Edwin Newton
Scottsville, NY

David Smith's column “Don't Mess with ABS, GM” (see WAW — May '02, p.52) has a lot of merit.

The problem is that saving lives and cutting injuries is not one of GM's goals. GM doesn't want to be liable for deaths and injuries — big difference. Cutting costs without incurring liability is a boon for GM. Who is going to be able to prove in court that a death or injury was caused by the omission of ABS on a vehicle during a crash? Certainly nobody that most GM owners can afford.
Name withheld
Gaithersburg, MD

Hyped hp ratings

In contradiction to Simon Sproule, VP communications and marketing for Jaguar North America, S-Type R will never make 400 hp, whether measured DIN, SAE, in PS or kW if the engine is never allowed to reach maximum rpm (see “Jaguar Comes Clean,” WAW — May '02, p.9).

In the S-Type R recently tested by Car & Driver magazine, the automatic transmission up-shifted several hundred rpm below the red line, thus depriving the driver of many horsepower. Four hundred horsepower or not, that Jag looks great and still had spectacular performance.
Andrew Hankin
Applications Engineer
RENCO Encoders Inc.
Goleta, CA

Do Gen Y'ers even like cars?

Your editorial (see WAW — May '02, p.5) on the misunderstood Gen Y demographic was exemplified by the image portrayed in the article. The young Gen Y man is standing on a skateboard popular in the mid-to-late '80s. The clothing he is wearing was popular during the famed Gen X post-grunge time frame (early-to-mid '90s). It is no wonder figuring out Gen Y is proving to be a daunting task.
Brian Bressler
Paccar Inc.

Ugly is in the eye of the beholder

Mr. Flint, I always enjoy reading your columns, and your latest is no exception (see “Strange Fruit” WAW — May '02, p.7). As an employee of Honda R&D Americas, I took a special interest in the subject matter; CUBs (or ‘Cheap Ugly Boxes').

I take issue with your branding of the two “dumb and ugly cars” (DUCs?) as Japanese. C'mon, Mr. Flint. Wake up and smell the Elements!

Although the bbX is a vehicle created by and for the Japanese, the Honda Element is not. Dad gummit, that ‘dumb and ugly box’ is ours! The market research was done by U.S. Honda staff for a North American market, and the vehicle was styled by the Honda R&D studio in Torrance, CA.

And to complete the design cycle, the Element was fully developed by the Honda engineering staff here in Ohio. It will be built by Honda associates in Ohio, as well.

So if the Honda Element is a flop, it will be our flop. If it is a success, it will be our success.

Now, about your categorization of the Element as “ugly.” Acceptable styling is, after all, a personal thing with unpredictable affects on sales. How else do you explain the original Beetle or the Citroen 2CV?
Thom Croyle
Design Engineer
Honda R&D Americas Inc.
Raymond, OH