Letters

Higher truck CAFE will hurt families

To the Editor:

In his July 23 column, 'It's time to be statesmanlike on CAFE,' Keith Crain omitted one group: American families. They're the ones who will pay the price if corporate average fuel economy standards for light trucks are raised. The price includes:

* Higher vehicle costs. The technology required to raise fuel economy is not free. An average new car already costs more than $20,000, an enormous burden for average families.

* Diminished crash safety. Higher fuel economy means lighter vehicles. Government studies show 2,000 additional deaths and 20,000 additional injuries each year because vehicles have been made smaller and lighter.

* Insufficient space inside vehicles. Families buy vans and sport-utilities because, with kids, they have a lot to haul. Better fuel economy means smaller vehicles, too small to meet the needs of many families.

Crain may think the CAFE problem is for the manufacturers. He is ignoring the needs of the American family.

ERIC LICHT

President

Coalitions for America

Washington

Don't kill the truck just to raise mpg

To the Editor:

One point is being overlooked in the corporate average fuel economy debate.

Many have argued that light trucks should meet the same fuel economy standards as cars. I think that argument ignores the duties of some light trucks.

While most pickups and sport-utilities are used like cars and most users would be satisfied by a car-based platform, other light trucks are called upon to do different tasks than cars. They are fitted with snowplows and winches, they tow or carry heavy loads and they use unimproved roads far more than cars.

All those duties require heavier construction than a car.

While there seems to be technology available to improve fuel efficiency, I do not think that CAFE for light trucks should be raised to the point that the utility of those vehicles is compromised.

KEVIN WOLFORD

Assistant director

AMECA Inc.

Washington.

The writer is a mechanical engineer.

Escalade turned off cash-in-hand buyer

To the Editor:

I wholeheartedly agree with Peter Brown's thoughts on the new Cadillac Escalade ('Escalade is cool - to nonbuyers,' July 9).

I was considering an Escalade as a replacement for my aging Tahoe. I'm a 50-something consumer in the market for a stylish, luxury sport-utility with towing capability.

I looked forward to the introduction of the new Escalade with great interest after hearing of its performance and technological advancements over the earlier model.

I saw my first one at the 2000 SEMA show and almost choked on my laughter. About the only place I'd feel stylish driving one is in a rap video! And since I've never been in a rap video, I don't think you'll see me behind the wheel of an Escalade.

I told the Cadillac rep on the show floor that they really blew it and that I had been a target customer, waiting with cash in hand, until I saw it. His reply was, 'But it tested well in the clinics!'

I wonder who was in those clinics? Perhaps the same group that clinic'd the Aztek? You have to wonder: What were they thinking?

Since I don't even like the new Chevrolet Tahoe (or GMC Yukon, for that matter) as much as my old Tahoe, I'll be heading for the BMW dealership where they seem to know much better what I'd like.

I'm sure many other potential Cadillac customers like myself would buy a Cadillac if only Cadillac had something to sell.

MYLES H. KITCHEN

Aptos, Calif.

The writer is an automotive electronics consultant/analyst.

Rename Explorer? A ludicrous idea

To the Editor:

I'm sorry, John K. Teahen Jr., but your idea for ditching the Explorer name is ludicrous (Page 14, July 23 ).

You compare the results of the Explorer rollover to the Corvair and the Pinto. Yes they ditched those names, but compare sales figures.

Ford is doing a splendid job of trashing the Firestone name with the recall of Firestone tires and ending their business relationship.

Even if the Explorer has faults, Ford has done a good job of making it public that the tire situation is Firestone's fault.

You say Audi dropped the 5000 name? That's the worst example.

Audi dropped the 5000 name because it rebadged the whole line, similar to what Acura did when it went alphanumeric.

You don't change the name of a product that is selling well; you do it in a lull.

As for a new name for the Explorer, why not Executioner?

BRENT JOHNSON

Cinta Networks

San Jose, Calif.

Tarnish the name, tarnish the SUV

To the Editor:

I am writing about 'Ford should change Explorer name' (July 23). As I came across the headline, I said, 'Yeah, right. A name change for the Explorer.' That's because I'm the proud owner of a 1998 Ford Explorer Sport.

As I read the article, I started to smile and shake my head, indicating, 'Yes, this is a brilliant idea.' My reason is that I had three vehicles with Bridgestone/Firestone tires, and I always thought they were the best. I believe my thinking was the name and the price.

I believe I could have been a race car driver in another life because of my handling of vehicles, and I am able to determine when something feels wrong and sounds wrong. I've driven this Explorer for a year, and the suspension and the handling are awesome.

My theory is that the tires were not built Ford tough. They were not built to handle the weight of the SUV. This vehicle is tough and rough and needs tires to support that.

I can understand holding on to the Explorer name, but maybe they should do a little EXPLORING because once the name is tarnished, the truck will be, too.

CELIA JONES

Senior clerk

The Wall Street Journal

Cincinnati

Where, oh where is a Buick dealer?

To the Editor:

Regarding your July 9 story, 'GM approves Buick ragtop,' you are right about the aging sedan-heavy lineup. Another problem for Buick is dealer coverage.

I am on my fourth Buick (a 1995 Regal two-door), but there is no longer a Buick dealer near me, either at home or at work. This is a major problem for service because my local Chevy-Cadillac dealer seems somewhat confused when I show up.

So for me, its bye-bye, Buick. And since I am not wild about any GM model, it's hello, Lincoln LS.

JACK KYSER

Downey, Calif.

The writer is an economist.

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