No wonder VW wants Rolls-Royce
In regard to your March 9 story, 'Get rolling, BMW boss tells Rolls,' the question is posed of why Volkswagen AG officials may want to buy Rolls-Royce.
I think the answer is simple. Back in the 1960s and 1970s, aftermarket Rolls-Royce-like grilles for VW Bugs were popular. Now that there's a new upscale VW Bug and Rolls sales are lagging, VW may see an opportunity to sell leftover Rolls-Royce grilles as a factory option for the 1999 Bug.
Old Cars (Weekly)
API states its case on sulfur
In your March 30 editorial on sulfur in gasoline, you wrote that the oil industry is being 'unreasonable' in its approach to this critical environmental issue.
And you said that unless there are 'drastic' reductions in the sulfur content of gasoline, 'it will be impossible for autos to meet future emissions standards.'
The oil industry agrees that sulfur levels need to come down. But your assertions about what is 'unreasonable' or what needs to be 'drastic' are dead wrong.
The truth is, our industry has proposed a sensible approach that would make deep cuts in the sulfur content of gasoline sold in 17 Eastern, Midwestern and Southern states that are struggling to come into compliance with clean-air standards. The new fuel would add about two cents to the cost of making a gallon of gasoline.
In most of the rest of America, where pollution isn't a significant problem, sulfur would be trimmed, but by a smaller amount.
By contrast, the auto industry has urged adoption nationwide of an expensive one-size-fits-all California-type fuel with a sulfur level so low that it would significantly drive up the cost of living for hard-working families in states where the air is clean.
Why should those motorists be forced to pay a premium to get a California-style gasoline they don't need?
As to the argument that the auto companies will be unable to meet emissions standards, consider Toyota, one of a handful of carmakers already using emissions-control equipment that meets existing clean-air standards while running perfectly with higher-sulfur-content gasolines now sold at the pump.
We think Toyota demonstrates that clean-air technology to help auto manufacturers dramatically reduce emissions is already available at a reasonable cost.
Leaders of both the oil and auto industries agree on the need to cut sulfur levels. The question is, what proposal will best accomplish that at a reasonable cost to both industries and consumers.
ARTHUR E.F. WIESE JR.
American Petroleum Institute
Monthly totals mean more
In response to your query about production numbers: Weekly numbers are not as important to me as monthly numbers.
We use the monthly numbers to analyze automotive production to see how production could affect our material sales to Tier 1 suppliers. Monthly vehicle tracking helps us make accurate forecasts for our production planning. The automakers should absolutely continue reporting production by nameplate on a monthly basis.
I also propose that the automakers publish (and charge for?) a list of Tier 1 suppliers by platform. That would make most marketing and sales groups more efficient.
KEN R. PAUL
The writer works for an automotive supplier.
Truck model years are a problem
You asked about the importance of weekly production data.
I use monthly and yearly production data most of the time. By comparing monthly data, I can estimate totals for the year.
Occasionally, I refer to weekly data to see if production of some new vehicle has started. I gave up using weekly data to estimate exact model-year production because, with trucks especially, the dividing line was completely arbitrary. Overall, the value of weekly data for me is close to zero.
We produce forecasts of automotive electronic equipment consumption based on calendar-year vehicle production.
Manager, Market Research
Mountain View, Calif.
Long waits trim sales for GMC
In his March 30 letter, Edward Knedler addressed General Motors' problems in maintaining market share.
He mentioned the 'five rights of merchandising' - product, price, time, place, quantity. GM seems to fall short on at least one of those.
When customers have to wait months for a popular product (six months for my 1994 Suburban), many will buy a competing product.
When I wanted a new 1995 pickup, my dealer told me that three-quarter-ton models were almost impossible and the wait could be 'lengthy.'
I bought my first new Ford. I recently traded it and found the new GMC product simply unavailable.
I now drive a used 1995 GMC because it was available. The product is great; availability is terrible. That has to change if GM is to remain competitive.
I was a GM service manager, and I truly believe that GM builds the best product. We are on the right track for quality; now we need to work on quantity.
ROY E. SMITH
Fox Valley Career Center
Maple Park, Ill.
Go retro, GM, with muscle cars
General Motors stopped building real cars some time ago. I bought Chevelle 396s, Monte Carlos with the 454 and Nova Interceptors. GM should realize that those drivers can afford real cars again.
If GM intends to bring back the Chevrolet Impala as a front-drive car, I advise GM not to make too many of them because they will surely be losers. GM should go retro - SS Monte Carlos, SS Chevelles, 4-4-2 Oldsmobiles and GS Buicks. All were rear-wheel drive.
Be generous with five/six-speed transmissions, and be sure the price is right - $18,000 to $25,000.
EARL K. RITCHIE
Manheim's Greater Fort
Lauderdale Auto Auction
Lauderdale Lakes, Fla.