Appliances, Get Aerodynamic
Car and truck “over-the-top” bravado and anger styling, as mentioned in “Appliances, Get Angry” (see WAW — May '05, p. 5), may be costing unsuspecting owners greatly reduced fuel mileage. Some of the latest vehicles are a far cry from the aerodynamic styles of the late Ford Taurus and Chevrolet Camaro. It also doesn't make sense to waste the complexity and expense of improving an engine's power and fuel economy to overcome the increased drag coefficient from a “dirty” vehicle design.
Credit must be given to the stylists of commercial trucks, as they seem to be aware of the fact that improved aerodynamics do affect a vehicle's operating costs.
Retired Mechanical Engineer
Brian Corbett's article on American engineering (see WAW — May '05, p. 22) really touched a nerve. I found Bob Lutz's negative remark about U.S.-trained engineers to be absolute gibberish. From my experience, many European and Asian engineering programs offer training that is substandard to that found in the U.S. What I find most hypocritical about Lutz's rhetoric, however, is that he does not hold an engineering degree.
GM is a great place for Lutz; he can run his mouth and blame almost anything for GM's declining sales and poor performance.
St. Charles, MO
Wanted: ‘Car Guys’
Very well done, Mr. Flint (see WAW — June '05, p. 48). The basic requirement for being the boss, and running a business, is that the boss must be at least as good as, or better, than those he supervises. Why? Because at some point, the boss must step in and get things back on track. We are seeing the “Emperor's New Clothes” at GM — only no one there has the nerve to tell the truth: They've shot, retired, transferred or otherwise banished the car guys who knew how to make cars that sell, and their solution to poor sales and low profits has been to take their profits out of their suppliers' prices.
That's what Jack Smith did when he took over for Robert Stempel. He didn't fix GM — he robbed Peter (the suppliers) to pay Paul (the GM shareholders). If GM owned a horse, they would start cutting down on horse feed one handful at a time, and at some point they'd be genuinely surprised to return one day to see that the poor horse had starved to death.
Well, many of GM's suppliers, after more than a decade of one handful less, are now near death by starvation…or dead. This strategy, as the only fix, will not work anymore. GM needs to do the obvious thing to correct itself: Bring in more car guys to get things back on track.
We're Hurting Ourselves
I was dismayed to read John McElroy's comment in “Pass-Cars from Pickups” (see WAW — June '05, p. 23): “Done right, this kind of car could be classified as a truck.” I suppose this is the next logical step in the widespread abuse of the outdated CAFE (corporate average fuel economy) rules, but it seems to fall under the “If something is legal, it must be OK” philosophy. While exempting trucks may have made sense when these rules were originally drafted, in today's America the vast majority of vehicles classified as light trucks are used purely for personal transportation.
We only hurt ourselves as a nation with our blatant lack of willingness to moderate our use of oil. As recent price run-ups have shown, the competition from developing countries for this limited commodity will only increase in the future. Detroit's over-reliance on “trucks” has left it terribly exposed if the recent fuel price increases continue. At some point, even if people are willing to disregard the degradation of our environment and of our global security due to our over-consumption of oil, their personal finances will force them to come to their senses and select more rational vehicles.
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