TO THE EDITOR:
This is how Keith Crain should get why electric cars aren't where the manufacturers should be left behind ("EV Fever: I just don't get it," March 11). Also, why General Motors failed on the Chevy Volt.
The Hydramatic transmission, developed by Oldsmobile and introduced in 1940 for $57, was a sensation. Cadillac used it in 1941. It was in tanks in World War II. Pontiacs got them in 1948. GM sold the transmission to Nash, Hudson, Kaiser and Willys, with the independents marketing it as a superior transmission. When the plant burned, GM sales went down when Buick and Chevy automatics were used. Their resale value went down, too. GM had a great reputation for transmissions with the Turbohydramatic 350 and 400.
So why wasn't the Volt plug-in technology spread to other GM vehicles, like Hydramatic? SUVs could have been made socially acceptable. Instant electric motor torque would have made performance cars more fun. Idling police cars could have done that on electricity, not gasoline. Mail and trash trucks could have been plugged in and used regenerative braking. Army Humvees could have used electricity and had silent motoring. Cabs could have spent less time idling.
GM could have sold the technology to other manufacturers. It would also have environmental bragging rights. Instead of making a vehicle to please President Obama, they could have made a difference.
CHARLES WININGHAM, Alton, Ill. The writer is an archivist for Lambda Car Club International's newsletter, the Driveshaft