Question of the Month
Are U.S. consumers ready to give diesels another chance?
No, for now, says this diesel fan
I've had diesel cars for years and tell many people about the great mileage I get. But I have yet to convince anyone to buy one.
The only way to get some movement on diesel-fueled automobiles in this country is to sell it as an engine using diesel fuel but not really a (pure) “diesel engine.” Some sort of hybrid that happens to use diesel fuel but that's so far removed from the diesel engines of the past that it really isn't a “diesel engine” at all. And there's quite a bit of truth in that statement because current engines are very advanced from what was available in the past.
Diesel is a no-go
No. Moreover, considering how much pollution comes from diesel engines, I am not sure if diesels should even be promoted by the auto industry.
No! Consumers swing back and forth, as we all know. As long as the price of fuel and vehicles are what is called low, then why change? Diesel (fuel) for years was lower than gasoline, now look at the present price. One day, maybe.
Jack L. McCallister
of America Mfg. Inc.
U.S. consumers are not quite ready for diesel engines. Many people still remember the feeble attempt by U.S. automakers to dieselize back in the late '70s. They were left with the perception of diesel dirty, diesel noisy, diesel poor performance, diesel poor durability…with the end result of the U.S. market being polluted (pun intended) for diesels.
With more education on the benefits of diesel power and/or continued rising fuel prices, the U.S. will catch on.
Anthony (Tony) J. Cook, PE
Chief Engineer, Powertrain Systems
International Truck and Engine Corp.
Say yes to diesels
I have driven several TD and several TDI (the new direct-injection technology) in Europe, including the 2.5l V-6 on the A6 Audi. The difference between the old TD technology (injection in a separate chamber) and the new TDI is so revolutionary you should not even tell the average ignorant American it's a diesel and I'm sure he'll love it. And when he'll note the extra torque at the same power (especially noticeable uphill), the longer engine life and the rare visit to the gas station, it can be only a hit.
The new generation diesels are cleaner and more economical, therefore more environmental friendly. I guess this doesn't make Bush a fan. They are powerful and fun to drive. These new technologies will find the U.S. automotive industry pretty off guard, and since there will be strong parties interested in not having a diesel boom, hurdles and deformations will make it a hard move. I hope it will happen, though. A clear mind will definitely pick the diesel.
We are not only ready for diesel-powered autos, I already went out and bought my third one, a 2001 VW Jetta. It has not been below 45 mpg since we took delivery in April. Frustrated with the last three so-called luxo cars and all the problems we had, I dumped them and went with the VW Jetta — to date-flawless.
Hard to believe.
Dennis P. Sloan
Diesel engines are no longer smelly, dirty and noisy but very clean and quiet indeed. Low-sulfur diesel fuel, variable geometry turbochargers, combustion chamber optimization and precise electronic fuel injection with very high pressure common rail fuel supply, has changed diesel sociability.
Probably the biggest impediment to U.S. passenger vehicle diesels is the political correctness of California legislators and the California Air Resources Board, who prefer to sweep all diesels under the rug, no matter the low emission facts.
Joseph J. Neff, P.E. (Retired)
What price for quality?
I just read the “Quality Crunch” (see WAW — July '01, pp.32-37). I find it very ironic that they had forgotten to staple my magazine! OOPS! I just had to let you know!
Your articles on quality show what happens when quality is an idea and not a practice. If you think anything other than price is king with most OEMs, then submit a bid that is higher (even only slightly) than a competitor's. You can be ISO 9000 or QS9000 certified and have extraordinary quality results, and for that you get a chance to turn in the lowest bid to American OEMs. When you have to commit to the typical 3% “cost savings” per year of multi-year contracts, eventually all the alleged slack is gone from everyone's numbers, and the only place to get the 3% is in price reductions.
We're small and can go get new business in the specialty markets where performance is king and they are willing to pay for products that dependably give them what they have to have to service their markets. My surprise is that American vehicles work as well as they do. And, by the way, I have not seen vehicles going down in price to the end user as a result of all the “cost savings” claimed by the OEMs in recent years.
Hehr Power Systems
I have to laugh when Tom Sidlik, DC purchasing chief, maintains that “quality is No.1 on his sheet.” This, at a time when his company is unilaterally stripping profits from Tier 1s, de-contenting vehicles across the board and using tools such as Covisint to pit supplier against supplier in a bidding war for survival, a battle zone where the lowest price is the only criteria used to reward and punish.
Oh, yes, auctions are a great way to promote quality. With minimal information provided, little time to prepare, and the knowledge that price, not design will win the business, I can't wait to see the list of quality awards won by the first vehicle built from the ground up using this ill-conceived scheme to shore up the bottom line. I can hear the champagne corks popping at
Senior Product Development Engineer
Tier 1 Supplier
Lancer name isn't new
“The Lancer may be a new name to North American ears…” (see WAW — July '01, p.75). Not true. I purchased a 1961 Dodge Lancer with the slant six engine; same family as the Plymouth Valiant, early “compact cars.” The name was also used for later model vehicles.
Skip the genetic code
I think I'm going to pass out from boredom if I read one more interview with an automotive executive who insists on using the expression “Brand DNA.”
I first noticed this turn of phrase about a year and a half ago at the intro of's Z concept. It was clever enough at the time, but since then I've heard it regurgitated to describe everything from SUVs to gas caps.
It's meaningless and trite. Can't these people come up with an original expression? If it does come up again, please edit it from the interview and replace it with something more interesting like “[…].”
Senior Product Development Engineer
ITW Deltar Canada
Balance shafts are a good thing
I would like to clarify a comment made by “Anonymous” in his/her “Requiem for the Cherokee” letter (see WAW — July '01, p.10). I have nothing in this. I do not work for Jeep engineering, although I am a satisfied owner of a Grand Cherokee. The letter says that the new V-6 shakes so badly that balance shafts were required. The new V-6 shares tooling with the V-8 (good economic decision). This makes the new V-6 a 90 degree engine, which requires a balance shaft or shafts for counter balance. A 60 degree V-6 is naturally balanced, not so for a 90 degree V-6.
Looks to me as though the Jeep or
Michael L. Noll, P.E.
Fort Wayne, IN
Question of the Month
Has the mania to merge or acquire run its course in the auto industry?
E-Mail, FAX or Write your response along with your comments to:
Write: Ward's AutoWorld 3000 Town Center,
Suite 2750, Southfield, MI, 48075.
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