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2/11/00: A "Big Three" Employee's Criticisms

I read the news article in the Detroit Free Press last night about your Honda Insight. A couple of things bother me.

  1. Your statement about today's cars/engines having the same technology as the 50's and 60's. I disagree with that statement very much. In the 50's and 60's you were lucky to have a V-8 engine that could muster 10mpg. Today those same V-8's are getting 25+ on the highway, burn much cleaner, and produce more HP. Yes, they are still the same basic design, but much improved.
  2. The compromises you had to make to accommodate the Honda's carrying capacity. I am glad it doesn't bother you to take your belongings in a plastic bag. What happens when I want to take my children with me?
  3. Its a Honda....READ foreign car!! I'm sorry, I have to stick to an American automobile. I am disappointed at all of the people out there that feel so strongly for a foreign automobile. The "Big Three" have plenty to offer that is competitive with the foreign car makers. But, this is America and we are free to choose.

The good news is this: I am glad to see that you are willing to make compromises to help the earth and environment. I will be more than happy to do the same when the technology is better than it is today. I commute 62 miles one way and can not wait until a hybrid/electric is available for my needs.

Although the writer generously allowed me to post his letter, he has requested his name be withheld.

InsightMan replies:

  1. Honda reinvents the engine every few years. GM, for example, has used the same V-8 blocks for decades. I'll agree that electronic fuel injection technology has improved their mileage, but they're light-years behind Honda. Why else would GM just agree to buy Honda V-6 engines for their cars (I hope you've read about this deal.)
  2. You cannot even bring one of your children in an Insight because it's too dangerous due to US-mandated air-bags. For that reason, along with the limited weight capacity, I suggest that no one make the Insight their only car. This is a single-purpose car. Honda put the number 70 mpg on the wall and told their designers to meet it. They did what was necessary, including cost-no-object. What US company would do that for their customers?
  3. True, there are no US parts in the Insight. Are you imagining that every part in the car you drive came from the US? Do you know what companies are building the highest-quality cars in US factories? You say the Big 3 have plenty to offer. Maybe you haven't noticed, but one of the Big 3 is now a German company. The other two are buying foreign car companies like they are going out of style to make sure they don't get purchased like the late Chrysler company. You're going to wait a long time for a US-built car that gets 62 mpg on a gallon of gasoline without serious compromises.

Thanks again for your letter. I, too, wish US companies cared as much as Honda to invest in the kind of R&D commitment that made the Insight possible.

JohnE Johnson