Veteran GM dealer looks to the future

To the Editor:

I am replying to Jack Leopold's letter in your June 25 issue. My family has been selling and servicing Oldsmobiles in Columbus, Ohio, for 35 years.

General Motors' termination of the Oldsmobile franchise had nothing to do with Oldsmobile's products. It had everything to do with GM's distribution network. GM does not need seven brands of vehicles sold through a network of nearly 8,000 dealerships.

Leopold's suggestion that Saturn be eliminated would make perfect sense if it were all about the products. But Saturn has fewer than 200 dealer principals; Oldsmobile has 2,800.

What better way to thin out the overly burdensome distribution network than to kill the Oldsmobile brand? I estimate that about 2,000 dealerships will cease to exist as a result of that move, effectively reducing GM's distribution network by 25 percent.

I think that is only the beginning. It would seem that GM wants to get down to three car divisions - Chevrolet, offering cars and trucks for less than $30,000; Cadillac, offering cars and trucks for more than $40,000, and a yet-to-be-determined bridge between the two.

That would make GM's distribution more efficient, reduce competition among its own brands and possibly get down to about 4,000 outlets. That is exactly how Ford does it. Time will tell. And GM is learning an awful lot from this experience.



Key Automotive (formerly Key Oldsmobile)

Columbus, Ohio

Ex-design chief votes for Lutz

To the Editor:

The Bob Lutz move to General Motors is the most positive news I've heard about GM in years.

The next step is to replace Wayne Cherry with a design chief who knows the difference between 'ugly' and 'elegant' and has the guts, creativity and judgment to lead GM design - someone like Tom Gale.


Rancho Santa Fe, Calif.

The writer retired in 1992 as GM design vice president.

Dealer salutes Ford Credit

To the Editor:

I am writing about the reorganization of Ford Motor Co. in an attempt to deal with its problems.

As a Ford and Lincoln-Mercury dealer for 30 years, I have benefited from, and suffered through, the highs and the lows of Ford Motor Co.'s hot product/lousy quality syndrome.

One consistently stabilizing element in the company for these many years, however, has been Ford Motor Credit.

Not only is it the leader of the manufacturers' lending arms, it is most efficient and profitable and has supported the dealers in good times and bad times with consistent, fair policies.

The appointment of Don Winkler as group vice president along with his continuing role as chairman and CEO is an excellent decision and a good beginning.

If Ford's goal is to improve quality and gain back market share from the imports, it should look to its strength - Ford Motor Credit - for additional future leadership.

At last, Ford would truly have a better idea.


Stuart Lincoln-Mercury

Stuart, Fla.

All GM should see Mancuso's list

To the Editor:

I am writing about Rob Mancuso's Cadillac to-do list (Letters, July 30).

That letter should be made into a General Motors memo and distributed to every GM employee, for it applies to every car they make.

After all these years, GM still doesn't get it, and if the Aztek is the best it can do, it is in deeper trouble than I thought.


Danville, Calif.

The writer works for an automotive supplier.

Editor's old pals need a pep pill

To the Editor:

I am writing about Peter Brown's July 9 column, 'Escalade is cool - to nonbuyers.'

As to his adult passengers, he needs a better class of friends. The kids had far more insight and appreciation for styling and leadership.

I had a 1999 Escalade and have had a 2002 for about five months. There is no comparison between the two. Performance, handling and ride are premium quality.

Brown's old, slow-thinking friends should get out and drive this vehicle that makes you feel like a kid.

The 345-hp engine is way too much for the old guys.


Clyde Ferraro & Co.

Dubois, Pa.

The writer is a certified public accountant.

Escalade, Catera: 2 good choices

To the Editor:

I enjoyed Peter Brown's July 9 column on the Cadillac Escalade. I leased a 2001 Catera Sport in early June. It has the flashy Xenon headlights. Those rare headlights turn heads.

The Catera Sport attracts the attention of youths.

I'm 28 and this is my first Cadillac. I like the attention because the car is pretty unique.

GM absorbed some of the extra cost to import the Catera from its Adam Opel subsidiary. The Sport model goes for 37K-plus, but how many youngsters can touch it for a first or second car?

A friend from college saw it for the first time and immediately asked if I had used the OnStar yet. Everyone knows of the OnStar technology, which surprised me.

Brown's column hit home for me.

I wonder what his friends would think of a Deville DTS or DHS. I do understand that his Escalade is more geared for his family.

I am single and enjoy my Catera Sport.


Plant Engineer

General Motors Truck Plant


BMW executive explains stance

To the Editor:

I read with interest your June 25 story on Volkswagen's entry into the online banking business. I was quoted in the story.

I would like to clarify that my comments were not made within the context of the VW strategy but rather in an interview some months ago relating to online lending activity in general.

They should not be construed in any way as a reflection on the business strategies of the VW venture.

While the quotes are accurate in relation to our experience, it should be understood that our approach was designed to provide a direct Internet option that would complement our dealers.


Managing Director

BMW Financial Services

Woodcliff Lake, N.J.

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