TO THE EDITOR:
Regarding "It will be a rude awakening" (Keith Crain, June 17): I was an engineer when Hewlett-Packard launched the HP-35, the first real electronic calculator. It was $400, which was a lot of money in 1972. But the slide rule was gone from the engineering world within a few months. HP had the capacity to replace all of the slide rules in short order. It took a lot longer for cellphones to become universal. With automobiles, I am convinced we are in a different environment altogether.
A car is not like a slide rule. There is tremendous inertia in the system — 272 million cars and light-duty trucks on the road and U.S. sales of about 17 million new vehicles every year, with only a small percentage of that electric vehicles. We have $1.1 trillion in automobile-secured debt. We simply can't change all of that quickly.
Americans travel 3.2 trillion miles in their cars and trucks every year; I don't think they want to cut that back. Ride-sharing is increasing the number of trips and enhancing mobility. We don't have any production autonomous vehicles. Keith Crain is right to encourage patience. Even without trying to figure out where all of the electrical generation is going to come from, it will take a long time to get anywhere near dominance by all-electric or autonomous vehicles. It may be that by the time that happens, no one alive will have ever seen or used a slide rule.
PETER HOFFMAN, President, Sierra Autocars Inc., Monrovia, Calif., Sierra Autocars sells Honda, Chevrolet, Subaru, Chrysler, Dodge, Jeep and Ram vehicles.