TO THE EDITOR:
Bob Lutz has always been the consummate auto guy with infinitely more and varied experience than most of his counterparts. Currently, he is associated with prognostications about the demise of car dealers and the arrival of autonomous cars (“Lutz a glass-half-full guy: ‘20-25 years’ till it’s over,” April 16).
However, two elements deserve ventilation: Lutz has been careful to project this metamorphosis to take place in 20 to 25 years, well beyond his ability to witness the verification of his clairvoyance. Secondly, he states that autonomous cars will not be fun and “there will be no joy in sitting” in one. Who then will be capable of enforcing compliance against public protestation?
While technology is a wonderful adjunct to progress, it is time-sensitive. That is, new technology might be premature. For example, Boeing’s 2707, British Airways/Air France’s Concorde and the Tupolev Tu-144 all provided supersonic flight. Unfortunately, they were dropped for practical reasons. This doesn’t mean they may rise again like a phoenix.
Likewise, when General Motors purchased Hughes Aircraft in 1985, Hughes brought advanced aero technology that could be introduced into vehicles, such as rear vision and head-up display. Unfortunately, the timing was not right, and there were increased costs that did not appeal to GM’s car divisions. The technology had to be postponed.
Part of the enjoyment of being associated with the automotive industry is witnessing new technology and design as well as changing buying habits. But practicality, possibility and pragmatism must be included in any forecast.
RICHARD HERDEGEN, Bloomfield Hills, Mich. The writer is a retired General Motors executive.