TO THE EDITOR:
In a Feb. 13 Letter to the Editor, Jack Gillis of the Consumer Federation of America noted that gasoline consumption is rising at a slower rate than increased production of big pickups and SUVs would have warranted in the past. He is correct in saying that vehicles are more fuel efficient than they were three decades ago.
But he also says this is due partly to higher fuel economy standards for all vehicles. This is only partly correct.
Mr. Gillis seems to believe rising sales of "gas guzzlers" are due to low fuel prices. This obsolete perception infects the entire auto industry, which is why it can't plan products correctly in advance. No one in the industry has a record for correctly predicting fuel prices or knows how they function in the permanently changed energy economics of the 21st century. The industry has a history of misanalysis, which is why Detroit blew up its future in the 1980s and is on course to do so again.
The Detroit mantra was that consumers don't buy fuel efficient cars in times of low gas prices. The Big 3 then watched Toyota, Honda, et al., eat their lunch in the 1990s by doing just that. Japanese automakers didn't beat Detroit selling gas-hog Buick/Ford clones, nor did they do it selling SUVs or huge pickups.
It made economic sense then and it makes economic sense now to buy fuel efficient cars at times of low gas prices.
NORMAN P. HIGBY President WMP Forecasts Menlo Park, Calif.