Sunday, June 15, 2008

Open Letter To The Auto Industry

Dear Auto Industry Executive,

Over the past two weeks, I have single-handedly solved the customer service issues at the U.S. Postal Service and retail banks.

It would behoove you, therefore, to take my suggestions for the auto industry seriously:

Suggestion #1: The Diesel Hybrid. We know that diesel engines get a higher miles per gallon (MPG) than a similarly sized gas engine. Now that diesel fuel has been reformulated with less sulfur, it is also more environmentally friendly.

Now, the new Acura TSX is essentially the equivalent of the European Honda Accord — slightly smaller than the U.S. version. The Euro Accord comes equipped with a diesel engine that provides 52.3 City and 62.8 Highway MPG!

First of all, why isn't that engine offered here in the U.S.?

Second, why isn't this engine mated to a hybrid? The fuel economy increase between a non-hybrid and hybrid Civic is 25%. Apply that to the Euro Accord figures, and you'd have a diesel hybrid car producing 78 MPG. That's with available technology. American manufacturers should take note!

Suggestion #2: Expanded Cylinder Deactivation. There are cars on the market with eight cylinder engines that use an on-board computer to automatically ratchet down to six or four cylinders depending on the driving requirements.

So why stop at eight cylinder engines? Why not put this existing technology on four cylinder engines so they run on two cylinders while at a stop light or in stop-and-go freeway traffic? Think of the fuel savings without incurring the cost of adding a hybrid electric engine?

Not enough power, you say? Install A/C units powered by the battery rather than off of the engine. You already have them installed in hybrid cars so there would be minimal development costs.

Suggestion #3: Solar Roof Panels. Imagine this...every hybrid comes with a sun roof that is also a solar panel! This will be especially effective in next-generation plug-in hybrids that can charge all day and extend the driving range. This will also keep these new hybrids off the electrical grid and save customers the time, money, and hassle of plugging in every night.

Suggestion #4: Under-Inflated Tire Alert. One of the first things the experts tell us to do to increase our car's MPG is to properly inflate the tires. But could this be any more of a hassle? You can design tires that run flat, but you can't come up with something that indicates when they need air? I know there are tire pressure gauges but those are inconvenient. People should be able to walk around the car, look at the tire inflation nozzle, see an indicator (red?) if the tire needs air, and go to a filling station with an air hose if they are low. As the pressure increases when filling, the indicator turns green when it's properly inflated. No muss, no fuss.

Suggestion #5: Driver Side Fuel Cap. How difficult can this be? I swear, every car I own has the fuel filler on the driver's side and every car I rent has it on the passenger's side. All cars should have it on the driver's side since that is easier at the pump.

Please, don't complain that you can't meet the new 35 MPG CAFE standards in a couple of years. You could do it now if you planned correctly. We are fast approaching a time of thin-film solar panels on garage roofs that collect the power by day and re-charge the car by night. So lets get a move on!

Thank you for your prompt attention to this matter.

Sincerely yours,



Alex said...

Good ideas - and most of them are already being worked on. You need to read!

BTW, cars in the last few years DO have an under-inflated tire alert. The way it works is, you inflate your tires to the correct pressure, press a button to 'set' the pressure, and then if it drops below that, an idiot light goes off. The hassle is that if you ever want to get different wheels on your car you need to move the sensors from your old wheels.

Anonymous said...

As I start to contemplate replacing my 16-year-old Subaru, it irks me mightily that the new models don't get any better gas mileage than my old one. I thought we'd do better by now, since we DO "have the technology."
--Alex (the non-blogging one)

MoodyBlue said...

You totally rock! I LOVE the solar roof panel!!!

I also think that you should solve every problem with every type of industry we deal with because the days of true customer service are over and we have to deal with press number 1 for this and 2 for that. Where is the human contact?