Crain column draws rebuke from alliance
To the Editor:
Keith Crain's July 23 column, 'It's time to be statesmanlike on CAFE,' contains errors that must be corrected.
He argues that the current debate on corporate average fuel economy provides 'an opportunity for the auto companies to admit they have the technology to improve the mileage of their trucks.'
That logic is based on a false premise. If the technology for vast improvements in fuel economy were there, each company would be using it to gain a competitive edge over its rivals.
Any scientist with a rudimentary understanding of physics knows that the internal combustion engine has gone about as far as it can go in terms of achieving better fuel economy after achieving steady increases in fuel efficiency of about 2 percent a year since the 1970s.
Additionally, Crain refutes his own argument when he writes that light trucks are now 'used for family transportation, and it makes sense to increase their CAFE.'
The fact that light trucks are now used by soccer moms and others is an argument against increasing their CAFE!
Forcing automakers to increase light-truck fuel economy would mean that we would have to make pickups, vans and sport-utilities smaller, lighter and less powerful. That means less cargo space, less passenger room, diminished towing ability and a reduction in other light-truck attributes that consumers demand.
The facts are that consumers are in the driver's seat when it comes to fuel economy.
More than 50 models on dealers' lots today get 30 mpg or more, but there are few buyers for them.
CAFE is a sales-weighted average, dependent entirely on what consumers buy, not on what automakers produce. Consumers want fuel economy, but they don't want to sacrifice size, safety, passenger room, cargo room, acceleration or other vehicle attributes to get it.
JOSEPHINE S. COOPER
President and CEO
Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers
Cadillac vet says LaNeve can do it
To the Editor:
I was a Cadillac dealer for 35 years and was president of the Cadillac National Dealer Council and a member of the General Motors President's Advisory Council.
I take issue with Dan Deacon's July 2 letter, 'A vote against a larger Caddy.'
I have known and have had the pleasure of working with Mark LaNeve, Cadillac's new general manager, at zone and national levels. He is professional and knowledgeable and has both national and international experience.
He is a car guy and has extensive background in marketing with a deep-rooted knowledge of Cadillac and its history. With Mark at the helm, I see a bright future for Cadillac.
ROBERT E. MITCHELL
Huntington Station, N.Y.
A to-do list for new Cadillac boss
To the Editor:
Cadillac has finally put the right person in place to lead the turnaround: Mark LaNeve. As a third-generation, 20-year former Cadillac dealer, here's how I see his to-do list:
Start with deconstructing the brand - consider a name change. 'Cadillac' may be a liability to future growth. I'm 50 and on my third BMW. I don't know anyone who would buy a Cadillac.
Drop the crest logo; use a font. The crest is reminiscent of yacht clubs and bad blazers.
Remember, entry level works only if someone aspires to the brand.
Err on the side of overly downsizing exterior dimensions but retain interior space at all costs.
Don't err on styling. Different isn't always better, a la Aztek.
Put more effort into tire-wheel combinations. Current wheels don't have the quality look of a standard BMW or Lexus wheel.
Forget racing; put the money into product. Your owners aren't watching Le Mans.
Get one model right before inventing others. Build the world's best sedan, then build trucks.
Use alphanumeric model designations; they help owners one-up each other.
Kill ads that don't show product. Currently cars get 5 to 7 seconds, and pricing gets the rest.
Use nostalgia - it works for Mercedes-Benz, and Cadillac's history is equally as rich.
Look Euro - it worked for Lexus.
Forget aging owners; solid product breeds loyalty across all age levels. It works for BMW.
Reduce the margin; Cadillac ads have become payment ads. That would also reduce the 'wise guys' factor in dealerships.
Meet with dealers as soon as possible and every week - not dealer council members.
Appear in one of your own ads.
It's going to take this kind of radical topside initiative to shepherd the process. America needs a world-class luxury-car builder. Cadillac can be that and more.
Recalling Chevy's Real Mad Nomad
To the Editor:
The Real Mad (Page 4D-P, June 4) was inspired by a 1956 Chevrolet Nomad, not a 1955. That is clear from the chrome sweep from the headlight area back to the rear bumper.
To illustrate, the 1955 Nomad had boldly distinctive side trim, especially for a top-of-the-line model. It was trimmed with only a single horizontal chrome strip from the headlight area to the rear edge of the door. That was one element that made the 1955 Nomad the greatest departure from the standard Chevrolet design of any 1955-57 Nomad.
Another fine point on the 1956 Real Mad is that the chrome sash from the dip in the beltline is at a contrasting angle to the Nomad's swept B-pillar.
In 1956, Chevrolet decided that the sash should be at the same angle as the swept B-pillar. That was a conscious decision - the Nomad sash angle was thus reversed compared with all other 1956 Chevrolets.
Redondo Beach, Calif.
The writer is an automotive writer and historian. The article he refers to appeared only in some editions of Automotive News.
Many can share blame for Aztek
To the Editor:
The so-called designer of the Pontiac Aztek made a terrible mistake, but even more guilty are the executives who approved the design for production. They should be able to separate originality from the plain old 'ugly as sin' syndrome. That is what they are paid for.
The writer is an economist.