What Americans want in a car differs from person to person
Regarding your Aug. 15 editorial, "Big 3 pump up while drivers pay out": What a great message you wrote! I was also hoping that the American carmakers would get the message, but it seems they do not. Who cares about how much horsepower a car has these days? Or whether one can beat the next car to the next stoplight? I definitely don't want a car with a V-8 engine in it. They get the poorest gas mileage. I would lose 4 gallons of gas every day driving to work and back across town. I wonder what happened to the small cars that Ford and GM used to make? Until they wake up and see what's actually going on, I'm sticking with the Nissan Maxima and the Honda Accord that I have.
While I agree that the Asian cars are indeed more fuel-efficient than most American vehicles, let's look into freedom of choice. I choose to drive a 1998 Chevy Camaro with a 3.8l V-6 engine. I get around 23 m.p.g., and I can cruise at 70 m.p.h. or more when I want, and my car looks great.
I could have picked an Asian vehicle, which would get a few more miles per gallon, but I would be driving a motorized roller skate that sounds like a weed-wacker and would require vast amounts of cash to have real performance or look halfway unique in a crowd of clones.
I relish the return of the muscle car. While I personally can't afford to own or maintain this new breed, at least Detroit is doing something different from the Japanese standard. All I'm saying is, if fuel-efficiency were all that's important, would Detroit not be building only Metros, Festivas, and similar microcars? I believe Americans would gladly pay a few dollars more in gas for a car that suits their needs and personality.
Priest River, Idaho
As a teenager in 1959, I had a 1956 Ford car powered by a 283 V-8 with an automatic transmission. According to the speedometer it would reach 120 m.p.h. I would usually get 20-21 miles per gallon.
It certainly has been long enough for our American auto companies to dramatically increase the m.p.g. on every automobile they produce if they wanted to. But it's all about the money. I have never figured out why Detroit auto manufacturers say this is what the public wants when they change body styles, engines, horses, etc. but refuse to improve gas mileage. But as long as we have government officials who were in the petroleum business, Americans will never see an improvement in gas mileage. The Big Three blame their financial problems on the cost of workforce benefits, and our government goes along with it. It seems odd that we never hear that part of this problem is the benefits for management positions.
Port Byron, N.Y.
I'm a fourth-generation Detroiter; my great-grandfather came to Detroit almost 100 years ago to get work in the factories of Detroit. I love this city and have a deep connection to its history. We need to do as Ford did 100 years ago and simply change the rules. Just as an observer, I feel the easiest way to do this is to fully convert to hybrid powertrains, and turn the full power of the Ford River Rouge complex toward the mass production of hybrids, which would lower their price far below what the Japanese makers could match.
Only with truly bold moves or decades of slow climbing can we save ourselves. But, sadly, we don't have decades.
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