An innovation? Not exactly
The item 'Tricky turbo from Saab' in 'Cool things in 1998' (Dec. 28) lists the integrally cast turbo turbine housing and exhaust manifold as an innovation.
It indeed was an innovation that I first tested in the mid-1960s to simplify the exhaust leakage paths on a small V-6 and V-8 truck diesel. I later applied it in the early 1970s to an inline six-cylinder diesel engine.
Production volume was limited because of the excess cost of the integral casting for low-volume truck diesels. New casting techniques now make it cost effective.
I have about a dozen domestic and international turbo and diesel engine patents from the 1960 and 1970 era.
For this integral housing and exhaust manifold innovation, I was granted patent No. 4,294,073 on Oct. 13, 1982, with a filing date of Oct. 5, 1979. My patent has expired internationally and expires Oct. 13, 1999, in the United States. Most patent claims can easily be modified to avoid infringement.
JOSEPH J. NEFF
The writer is retired. He was chief engineer, turbochargers and engines, for Cummins Engine Co.; chief engineer for Peterbilt Motors Division of Paccar Inc.; and engineering vice president for Gillig Corp.
Recalling Fuller's 'basketball team'
I read David Versical's Dec. 21 column on Jim Fuller with a smile and a tear in my eye. I was a 30-year-old national merchandising manager for Jim at Porsche-Audi in 1981.
There were several of us about the same age ... all at 5 feet 7 or so. He called us his 'basketball team.'
Lou Marengo was also a dear friend. He was recruited by the same legendary Volkswagen human resources manager, Arthur Griese.
Words cannot describe the memories I have of working with Jim. All of us learned lesson after lesson. And all of us talk proudly about having worked for Jim.
There was only one. He was amazing.
Distribution and Logistics
Kia Motors America Inc.
Fuller lives in their hearts
My thanks to David Versical for the insightful column on Jim Fuller (Dec. 21).
Those of us who knew him - I worked for him when Volkswagen of America was still in New Jersey - never forgot this kind and gentle man. While he was a brilliant automobile executive, I appreciated his human attributes most.
He was unprejudiced, compassionate and fair and a role model for us all.
Thank you for the tribute; Versical spoke for many of us.
The writer is executive assistant to the chairman of BMW (US) Holding Corp. in Woodcliff Lake, N.J.
Low-mileage lease wins few friends
As the provider of strategic lease maturity programs for the auto industry, we receive feedback from lessees.
Most comments are positive, with one glaring exception. The low-mileage lease is a source of significant consternation.
Most lessees say they were unaware that they were allowed only 10,000 or 12,000 miles annually.
While the lease agreement clearly indicates the mileage allowed, most lessees say the dealer concentrated solely on the monthly payment and never mentioned mileage.
Because of the verbiage of the lease agreement, it is easy to understand how the customer might overlook it.
Some dealers use the low-mileage lease as a competitive tool, rather than aligning the mileage to the customer's driving habits. When a 10,000-mile lease shows up in the Los Angeles area, chances are the lessee will have a significant excess-mileage liability at lease termination.
The real long-term losers are the dealer, the manufacturer and its captive finance company.
They lose the customer and any future prospects to whom the unhappy customer tells his or her story. There is considerable backlash.
Many customers say they will never lease again.
I recently received a flier for a 'Go Anywhere Lease' with a 10,000-mile cap.
How far can you go when you're allowed an average of only 27 miles a day before a 20-cents-per-mile fee kicks in?
The industry must stop shooting itself in the foot or, quite possibly, the head with this low-mileage strategy.
STUART H. ANGERT
of America Inc.