Standard needed to stop rollovers of sport-utilities
Some situations in the auto industry scream for regulation. The rollover tendencies of sport-utilities are in that category.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administra-tion wants to place labels warning of the rollover risk in small sport-utilities.
Not a bad idea, but it's not enough.
Sport utilities are top-heavy. They tend to tip over when struck broadside. Even worse, they can roll when a driver swerves or takes evasive action, even at moderate speeds.
Utes are a strange breed; they demand driving skills not immediately possessed by people whose expertise begins and ends with the family sedan. It's somewhat akin to the early Corvair. The Corvair was not unsafe at any speed, as Ralph Nader contended. But many drivers were unsafe in any Corvair.
As conceived, sport-utilities were not intended to be piloted by all drivers. In their earliest days, they were known as MPVs - multipurpose vehicles, intended for off-road use and other special needs. But suddenly, the utes became cool. Everybody wanted one, including people who didn't know how to drive them.
Now they show up in the most unlikely lineups. Lincoln and Mercedes-Benz have them. Cadillac and BMW wish they did. Lexus and Infiniti rebadge Toyotas and Nissans. Mercury and Lincoln do the same with Fords. Honda and Acura buy utes from Isuzu.
As more entries pour onto an already-crowded field, a rollover standard is needed to protect sport-ute drivers from their own shortcomings. If a vehicle can't meet the standard, it should not be allowed on the market.
So, the warning labels are a good start, NHTSA. But they won't be enough. They're only a start.
Is mass market king?
Chrysler Corp. is using intensive market research to fire a blast at mass market advertising and the waste associated with it. Why pay big bucks to reach millions of viewers, Chrysler asks, when only a few of them are interested in a new car or truck?
In the specialized marketing area, Chrysler claims to have the capability to know 300 things about each of its 17 million owners. That's scary. A colleague of ours remarked, 'Good grief! Even I don't know 300 things about me.'
Detailed research is great, but beware of invasion of privacy. Some things in my life - and yours - are none of Chrysler's business.