John K. Teahen Jr. was absolutely right in his June 17 column, "Have the Big 3 lost the car market?" However, in addition to the "tired, worn-out styling," he also might have mentioned:
1. The lack of fuel efficient diesel engines: my Volkswagen Jetta TDI gets me 54 mpg and a 660-mile cruising range, and a tankful costs less than $17.
2. Idiotic packaging efficiency: A Ford Taurus wagon is more than a foot longer than my other car, a 1990 Mercedes 300TE wagon, but is totally useless in the back and doesn't even have rear headrests.
3. Rip-off option packages that leave you at the mercy of what the dealer thinks is best for you, like a tarted-up Jeep Cherokee that costs $25,000 - and try getting the car exactly the way you want it.
4. The sucker treatment you get when you walk into a dealership: That sums up my one and only visit to the neighborhood Chevrolet joint. For all the Old Glories they have waving on the lot, they've lost my business for good. (By the way, what is more patriotic: Driving a Dodge Durango, say, that gets 15 mpg or driving a Volkswagen that gets more than 50?)
If anything, the situation is even worse than Teahen describes, because it's not just a matter of a new car here, a new design there. The entire way of doing business is fundamentally flawed, and that has to change first of all. And how about taking the customer seriously for a change?