Defects charged in title-branding bill
So many important facts were omitted from your coverage of the demise of Sen. Trent Lott's auto-titling bill, it is mind-boggling. For instance, do your readers know that the criminal penalties against auto-salvage fraud that were in the House bill were stripped out of Lott's bill?
Or that Rep. John Dingell, D-Mich., a friend of the auto industry, voted against both Lott's bill and that of Rep. Rick White, R-Wash.? Or that the only way Lott could get his bill out of the Senate was to agree to changes that would not nullify stronger state laws? Or that those changes were removed by House leadership?
How about the fact that in California, the Vehicle Theft Advisory Committee, which includes representatives from the FBI, Highway Patrol, Department of Motor Vehicles and Department of Justice, wrote California's U.S. senators that Lott's bill would 'set California back a decade in its endeavor to combat auto theft and fraud'?
Why has Automotive News, which has editorialized in support of the federal odometer act, failed to point out that - unlike the odometer act - Lott's bill lacked the criminal penalties that have been effective in cleaning up fraud rings?
No honest dealer should mourn the defeat of Senate Bill 852. As the attorneys general wrote repeatedly, it was riddled with loopholes; it was unenforceable, and it was a sham.
Consumers for Auto Reliability
DaimlerChrysler bets on its dealers
We have read with great interest your headlines describing the automotive retail revolution. And we've been watching very closely the 'big ideas' that are out there.
To date, we have seen very little that would support the sizable investments that have been made in trying to purchase and control the retail automotive sector.
Keith Crain's Dec. 7 column pointed out the 'one thing' that we at DaimlerChrysler Motors agree with. The individual dealer principal provides ownership and entrepreneurship in 4,000 of our markets. They bring significant personal investment and localized expertise into a very complex trade-based business.
Our position has run counter to the industry trend of redirecting the ownership of the dealer network. We have, instead, implemented a strategy that takes advantage of the tremendous investment of our dealers, along with knowledge and entrepreneurial spirit.
Our Five Star program, while still in its early stages, is linking our dealers through technology and providing them with a customer-based QS-9000 retail process.
Our dealers have helped us shape the best practices from around the industry into a unique way of doing business. We have purposely kept this initiative quiet while we built the program and got our dealers connected and certified.
We plan to take the wraps off this program soon. We'll start with a Five Star exclusive Internet purchase/quotation system in the first quarter and will follow up with major media advertising.
You're going to hear a lot more about DaimlerChrysler's Five Star dealers in the months ahead.
In the meantime, you might share this letter with your readers. They need to know that someone in this industry still believes in franchised dealers and is betting that they will adapt to the new world.
Senior Vice President,
Sales and Service
Auburn Hills, Mich.
Crain's column said it all
With a real clear voice, Keith Crain truly explained the position of today's automobile retailer in his Dec. 7 column, 'One thing is missing.'
On behalf of all the dealers in this country, I thank him for the nice comments.
KENNETH G. MEADE
Meade Group Inc.
Truck emissions: Makers blew it
There surely will be little sympathy for automakers with regard to the California Air Resources Board's regulation that pickups, vans and sport-utilities must meet car emissions standards.
As car standards have increased to meet consumers' and regulators' demands for cleaner air, why were automakers apparently blind to the fact that they could have adopted many of those standards for pickups, vans and sport-utilities ahead of forced legislation? There is no excuse for failing to do so.
According to your Nov. 9 article ('CARB gets tough on trucks'), an industry spokesman indicates that the industry will not have much of a problem meeting emissions levels for vehicles under 6,000 pounds gross vehicle weight. If that had been done a number of years ago, it might have earned the makers some leeway in solving the tougher emissions hurdles on bigger vehicles.
If manufacturers are going to talk the talk on reduced emissions, they have to walk the walk, even if it results in some increased product costs.
JOHN F. QUILTER
The writer works in the warranty department of an auto manufacturer.