GM, Come Back!

Mr. McElroy's “Buy American” column ( see WAW — June '06, p.13) was very interesting. More than 22 years ago, we bought an '84 Cavalier and responded to Chevy's customer survey with “patriotic” as the reason for buying the car.

However, our “customer experience” was not great, as was the opinion drawn from my wife's experience with her '78 Monte Carlo. I'm an engineer — a tough customer to satisfy — and have high expectations for an industry leader.

In the past 14 years, our family has bought five new Japanese cars. As a Chinese descendant who grew up in Taiwan, I understand the Japanese better than any American and have every reason to buy American.

Japan is a self-centered nation. It is clear Japanese auto makers are setting up factories in the U.S. But their best interests are always in their own. I hope GM can make a difference and come back.
Johnny Chao
Austin, TX

Stop Whining

“Gettlefinger Galled” ( see WAW — July '06, p.9) strikes at the very heart of what is wrong with our country. Although I have no interest in discussing Al Gore's political weakness, I have to defend him on this one. If America made a hybrid worth owning, I bet Gore might be driving one.

This country has finally started to get a clue about quality, although it still has a long way to go. And safety is finally starting to get noticed, as it did in Europe almost 30 years ago. So as the Europeans (and now the Japanese and Koreans), for the most part, have us beat in quality, safety and certainly design, we complain, as the UAW president does, that Gore isn't driving a hybrid car made here. I know of the Ford Escape Hybrid, but that is the only one I've seen advertised with any serious effort.

As for now, Mr. UAW president, stop whining and making excuses, and help get your industry back on the right track — before it is too late.
M. Roberts
Milton, WI

Calling Out The UAW

While I am very sympathetic to the plight of the UAW and other union auto workers in this country, and I agree that perhaps Al Gore should invest part of his transportation expenditures in American-made high-efficiency vehicles, there may be more to the story than just what is in Mr. Gore's garage.

I am not aware of the UAW being a strong proponent of high-efficiency vehicles or improved quality standards in Detroit, as it traditionally only cares about the benefits its members receive. I believe that the unions and the management of the American auto makers share the blame for the problems that beset the industry. Neither group has made a concerted effort to improve fuel economy or the overall quality of its vehicles to match or exceed that of the two leaders in the field (Honda and Toyota).

The UAW needs to take a more active role in determining the direction of the American auto industry with regard to product efficiency and quality. Until some serious changes are made, consumers will continue to choose non-American vehicles in greater numbers. It is called capitalism. Quit whining and compete.
Scott Owen
San Diego, CA

Global Competition

Jerry Flint's “No More Excuses” ( see WAW — June '06, p.48) just goes to show his bias toward the domestic auto makers — General Motors, in particular. Don't let the fact that GM owns the top spot in market share for the subcompact segment cloud the telling of a good story. GM's significant presence in that segment in the U.S. is bound to bring competition.

The companies who he implies have no excuses are really coming from behind. Where does Jerry think this market share will come from for these three new entries? It's going to come from GM. Does Jerry think that the customer looking for a new SUV from GM is going to buy a Toyota Yaris, Honda Fit or Nissan Versa? I don't think so.

One day Jerry will realize that it is fierce competition — from many auto makers — that is the reason for the decline in the domestics' market share. Global economy — nothing more, nothing less.
Brian Greenwell
West Bloomfield, MI

Hydrogen, Yeah Right

I love people who use an exception to prove a rule, referring to Drew Winter's “A Case for Hydrogen” ( see WAW — June '06, p.34). In Iceland, which has an overabundance of electrical energy from geothermal sources, the use of hydrogen would be a viable option. But what about the great majority of countries that produce electricity through the burning of fossil fuels and barely have enough to supply their populace?

In the U.S., for instance, even though California is way short of power, a geothermal plant was not allowed to go online because five Native Americans met with the “Great Spirit” on a ridge above the plant. In the Northeast, which also is short of power, a wind farm could not be built because it spoiled the view from Cape Cod!

What about nuclear energy, you might say? Nobody wants a nuclear plant anywhere near their neighborhood, so scratch that. Even in the Midwest, where there is an abundance of wind power, wind farms are prohibited because they chop up birds.

I have consulted with thermodynamic experts, and their estimation is that the amount of electricity required to power all the cars in the U.S. is twice what we currently produce. This means we would need triple the production we currently have, which won't happen — especially trying to keep it as clean energy.

From now on, I would expect a publication like Ward's to not be taken in by such an obvious ruse.
W. Howard Baker
Bardstown, KY

Archaic America

I know it's Jerry Flint's job to be the contrarian, but his “Auto Makers or Burial Societies?” ( see WAW — May '06, p.48) just goes to show what the foreign auto makers can and cannot do. I like the comment by the picture of the Buick Lucerne: beautiful car, but has an archaic 4-speed transmission. Honda may build cars here, but where do the profits go? See you on the road with your 8-speed Camry.
Brian K. Myers
Troy, MI

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