Editor was unfair, Tonkin charges
I was saddened to read Rick Kranz's impression of the retail side of our industry ('AutoNation, dealer strike out on sure sale,' May 26).
As an Automotive News editor and one, you might say, who owes his daily bread to our industry, Kranz is not necessarily the best choice to pick out flaws from a single, albeit uninformed, salesperson from AutoNation as well as another representative from a Chevrolet dealership.
That, by his own admission, proved to be the exception, not the rule, as he contacted more than 10 Detroit-area Chevrolet and GMC dealerships, where he found solid, knowledgeable professionals intent on pleasing him.
So why not write about the overwhelming, percentagewise, good experiences rather than two singularly poor experiences, only one of which was at a franchised dealership?
And then, to salt the wound, Kranz further helped the industry by finally purchasing from a private party.
I guess even the industry-informed like to kick tires.
RON B. TONKIN
Ron Tonkin Dealerships
New V-8s lauded for racing success
You give the all-new Oldsmobile Aurora V-8 and Infiniti racing engines a mixed review in your June 2 issue. I give your article a mixed review as well. Looking past the negative headline, the most glaring problem is the lack of facts and detail.
Since 1977, an average of 13.7 cars have finished the Indy 500. Even with all-new engines and chassis, more cars were running at the conclusion of this year's race than finished in eight of the last 20 Indy 500 races.
Unlike the other open-wheel series, Indy Racing League owners are permitted to own, rebuild or repair their engines. While that situation brings back the role of mechanics/technicians as well as independent engine builders, it certainly is not without startup risks. But, hey, that's what racing should be about!
Let's examine the engine failures more closely: six failures that consisted of two piston failures, two water-pump failures, one broken valve spring and one failed timing chain. One engine builder had three of those problems.
Contrast that with Toyota's major failures in the CART races. Honda now has a fabulous oval-track racing engine and won the CART championship last year. However, Honda's first year was beset by problems.
In the final analysis, the job that the IRL teams have done so far is nothing short of incredible. The Aurora V-8 continues its string of victories from the IMSA series to the IRL program. Obviously, you prefer to see the glass as half empty when it is almost full.
Ford Indy plan just 1 more straw
Ford's proposed buyout of the 20 Indianapolis dealers is the most blatant attempt by American manufacturers to control dealers and limit competition.
In the long run, it is a losing proposition for the automakers -they make their profits from sales to dealers, not to customers. But that's a moot point for the dealer who loses his business.
It's about time the dealers recognized the automakers as the source of the attrition that began years ago. National Automobile Dealers Association figures reveal that new-car sales, averaged over the past seven years, yielded break-even profit.
That's not surprising when you consider floorplan costs to support needlessly high inventories encouraged by the automakers. Shrinking margins also are part of the destabilization process.
Is the next step selling on the Internet direct from the factory? Is it time for Sears to reinvent its mail-order catalog business? Ford's retail plan for the future lacks an understanding of the subject and practical application.
Ford might have treaded more carefully in Indianapolis. General Motors and Chrysler may have the same reasons for limiting competition, but they acted with more subtlety. The public may soon catch on that the limiting of competition means higher prices.
In its Indy endeavor, Ford has done irreparable harm to itself and to its dealers. How are they expected to conduct normal business relations with a manufacturer seeking to consign them to oblivion?
AutoServ America LLC