It's a Matter of Cost

No. Fuel cells will only become viable when the technology proves more cost effective than the systems now in use. Auto makers around the world are already working on the problem, and government funding of research in the U.S. is effectively a domestic subsidy, since research in the area would be proceeding regardless. Notably, the just terminated Federal program to produce a high mileage family car yielded no products from the Big Three; instead, gas-electric hybrids, the technology being developed under the program, are being offered only by Toyota and Honda, which developed these propulsion systems on their own.

Given that the Executive Branch is currently headed by a couple of oil industry executives, the cynic in me is doubtful that these or other meaningful steps to phase out use of oil-based products are likely to be implemented until foreign competition, not the U.S. government, forces the issue.
Glenn Westreich
San Francisco, CA

Failing Grade for CAFE

After reviewing the January 2002 CAFE question and responses, it appears that people might be starting to understand that the CAFE program is a complete and dismal FAILURE. The CAFE program had three main goals, (1) to reduce the U.S. consumption of oil (and gasoline), (2) to reduce our dependency on foreign oil, and (3) to force auto makers to build smaller more fuel-efficient vehicles. Guess what? CAFE succeeded on goal number 3, but if you look at the oil import data, it completely failed to accomplish goals 1 and 2. In my opinion, if a program fails on two out of three goals it is a failure! It is like getting a score of 33 out of 100 on a test — the grade is an F.
Grant Bigler
Product Engineer
Goodrich, MI

Why are Diesels Missing From Best Engines?

Shame on you for ignoring the exciting TurboDiesel Injection (JTD, TdDI, TDI…) technology coming out of Europe in your Ten Best Engines 2002. Product quality and drivability are currently outstanding and superior gas mileage is being delivered by some very sporty vehicles.

It is no wonder that a huge percentage of vehicles sold at most price points in Europe by BMW, Audi, Mercedes, Volkswagen, GM and Ford are sold with these engines. And gone are the days of the filthy diesel; many diesel powerplants can easily meet stringent U.S. environmental regulations.

Your readers deserve the best information available and I hope worldwide engine technology is better represented in next year's survey.
Scott Waggoner

More ‘Best Engines’ Critiques

For longevity, if not ease of service, maybe you should consider the AMC-Jeep/Chrysler/DaimlerChrysler inline 6-cyl. engines. Of course the downsides are noise and leaks, but I think several other engines on your poll fill that bill as well.
Bob Therieau

Give Them the Product

Jerry Flint and John McElroy have once again hit the nail squarely on the head. When will the Big Three (as well as other segments of U.S. industry) realize that the consumer could not care less about your stock price? Consumers want the best product at the best price and if Detroit would just accomplish that then the stock price would take care of itself. Let's all stop thinking short term and start competing for the future, not the next quarter!
Chris Otterstedt
Auburn, IN

Dave Needs the Wake-Up Call

In “Wake Up Before It's Too Late” by David Smith (see WAW — Feb. '02, p. 68), it's Mr. Smith who needs the wake-up call on many issues. Our use of foreign oil is now a two-way street, unlike in the 1970s. Saudi Arabia's economy now is arguably more dependent on revenues from the sale of oil than we are on their oil. If they were to cut off the oil supply to the western world, their economy would collapse sooner than ours. Their only source of income is oil. Without our dollars, they'd have to eat sand.
Phil Seamon
Birmingham, MI

RE: New Caddy Ad Campaign

Has anyone else seen the TV spot Cadillac is running for the new CTS? The viewer is thrown back in time about 40+ years ago to a phantom scene where a 1959 Eldorado Convertible is in rush hour traffic surrounded by other great GM cars of the 1950s. The Caddy pulls out of traffic onto a highway all the while “Rock and Roll” by Led Zeppelin is playing in the background. Slowly a new CTS pulls up and passes the phantom Eldo and the drivers pause and look at each other as if to acknowledge that the other driver's car is just as cool as their own. Then they flash the $29,900 price for the new CTS across the screen.

There is only one problem with this ad. After watching it, I realized that for $29,900 I could buy a mint 1959 Eldorado instead of that Stealth-Jelly-Bean looking thing they call a Cadillac. I certainly wish GM would “…get back living baby where (they) come from” and design some neat cars instead of the F-117/JellyBelly combos. Do you hear me Tom Gale?

P.S.: To all Advertising & Marketing geniuses: If the new car isn't prettier than the old one, don't show them together in the same ad.
Cameron Bennett
Concord, OH

I am curious to obtain a copy of the book, “World Class Interiors,” that Drew Winter mentioned in his February column in Ward's Auto World. Do you know whether this book has been published for public purchase?
William D. Rauch
Visteon Climate Control Systems
Plymouth, MI

Editor's note: We've had lots of inquiries about Trevor Creed's book. Unfortunately a Chrysler spokesman says it was written strictly for internal use.

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 0%
No 100 %

Question of the Month
April 2002

In automotive safety, which has accomplished more?
Threats of legislation

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