TO THE EDITOR:
Classroom theory is good, but it's often only a start. There are factors left out of Daniel A. Crane's "Time has come for a grand bargain on direct vehicle sales to customers" (Oct. 19), but suffice to say, there are reasons dealerships — independent from manufacturers — and people are needed. Since the auto replaced horses, there have been extensive technological changes — size of engines, final drive configurations, body shapes and sizes, electronics — and much experimentation along the way. Some of the failures would have been problematic for manufacturers to resolve.
However future ground transportation is powered, the final marketing and delivery to any mass market comparable to recent volumes will require expertise that current manufacturers neither have nor want to be involved with. Their past attempts to get involved with profitable volume retail show this, but the theorists keep thinking about it.
While the world is changing, human nature remains relatively the same.
In general, trade-ins, financing, facility expenses and ROI are present factors even if consumers' dependence on dealers for assistance fades.
Direct sales may work if the total electric vehicle market share grows to 10 times its current share; but with volume beyond that, the humble dealership people's skills and commitment are needed.
Engineering, designing, building and overall marketing of personal transportation devices, especially new ones, will be difficult and expensive. Car companies should concentrate on that. Retail has changed a lot, and operators have adjusted frequently.
Classroom training was basic, but there was a lot of surprising different "stuff" to address to be successful in retail.
HENRY COLEMAN, Wallingford, Conn. The writer is a retired dealer.