Let­ters

Automobile - - Contents -

Say it ain’t so, Ford. And au­ton­omy isn’t even log­i­cal.

I learned to drive a stick at the age of 8, and it seemed such a mag­i­cal ex­pe­ri­ence to me. These days there are still op­tions for peo­ple who want to shift gears and toss their ma­chine into a cor­ner or two on their way to work. Maybe you choose the back way to the gro­cery store for a lit­tle blast of ex­cite­ment. The goal of bet­ter fuel econ­omy with good power has yielded some down­right fun cars; tur­bos are now com­mon, and “quick and sporty” can also get good mileage when you don’t bury the gas pedal. A heel-toe down­shift com­ing into a set of esses in a nim­ble car is a lit­tle slice of heaven for me, which is why I'm so up­set to hear Ford is only go­ing to have two cars by 2020. Ford’s cars have al­ways been for the masses, save for a few spe­cial Mus­tangs, but lately I thought its cars were in a good place: ST, SHO, RS. I guess I will soon have only mem­o­ries of when Ford made a fun se­lec­tion of driver’s cars. MATT NEUBAUER

Pinedale, Wy­oming

WEL­COME TO THE MA­TRIX

There is a multi­bil­lion-dol­lar in­dus­try in video gam­ing and vir­tual re­al­ity. The grail of vir­tual re­al­ity is in­creased tac­tile and ex­pe­ri­en­tial sen­sa­tions to best sim­u­late the con­trol of (sub­sti­tuted) re­al­ity for the user. Mean­while, the goal of au­ton­o­mous ve­hi­cles is to im­prove ef­fi­ciency in trans­porta­tion while elim­i­nat­ing the ne­ces­sity for a user to con­trol and de­rive feed­back from ex­ter­nal re­al­ity. Will that al­low us more time to pur­chase sub­sti­tute vir­tual re­al­ity ex­pe­ri­ences? If so, where is the ef­fi­ciency in that? Is it all about in-ve­hi­cle mar­ket­ing? When is it coun­ter­pro­duc­tive to our per­sonal au­ton­omy? Cre­at­ing im­proved ef­fi­ciency in traf­fic flow and ve­hi­cle move­ment through flex­i­bil­ity, crash avoid­ance, rout­ing, in­ter­con­nec­tiv­ity, swarm­ing, and stream­ing em­u­la­tions should be a more re­ward­ing, use­ful, and de­sir­able goal for time-chal­lenged self-driv­ers than a bland dystopian au­ton­o­mous A-to-B trans­port ex­pe­ri­ence.

RICHARD DIETZEN

El Do­rado, Arkansas

The ad­vent of fully au­ton­o­mous cars will usher in an age where the govern­ment and in­sur­ance com­pa­nies can tell us when and where we can drive and will give them the abil­ity to turn off our choices with the sim­ple push of a but­ton. You can bank on it. No longer will we be able to take a Sun­day drive to nowhere through the back­woods or quickly turn around to go back and see the od­dity we just passed. Ex­plo­ration and pur­posely get­ting lost will be­come things of the past. The en­tire car cul­ture, in­clud­ing cus­tomiz­ers, parts stores, and me­dia of­fer­ings like yours, will van­ish, as will many jobs re­lated to the au­to­mo­bile in­dus­try. That all sucks. JAMES DeLEO

Tampa, Florida

JETTA MUSINGS

I en­joyed Cum­ber­ford’s anal­y­sis of the new Volk­swa­gen Jetta (“By De­sign,” May) but dis­agree with one com­ment: “That early con­nec­tion with Turin flow­ered for VW with the bril­liant Gior­getto Gi­u­giaro de­sign for the Golf in the early

’70s.” The Golf was a great de­sign and a com­mer­cial suc­cess, but the Gi­u­giaro-de­signed Mk 1 Scirocco was much more strik­ing. I owned two Mk 1 Sciroc­cos and still love its de­sign.

BILL BARDEN

Allen, Texas

I just fin­ished read­ing the Klaus Bischoff in­ter­view in the May is­sue. In Sil­i­con Val­ley, prior to mak­ing an in­vest­ment in a startup com­pany, we of­ten ask the em­ploy­ees if they are “eating their own dog food,” mean­ing, are they/their as­so­ciates us­ing the so­lu­tion they’ve cre­ated? Herr Bischoff is ob­vi­ously chok­ing it down. The Jetta de­badged could be a Honda, a Toy­ota, a Chrysler, or any of an as­sort­ment of brands. It de­fines bland. On top of that, my wife and I both need new cars this year. We de­cided to put VW and all its sub­sidiaries in the penalty box for the next 10 years. When you lose our trust in your com­pany (via the clean diesel is­sue), all you can do is a mea culpa (still wait­ing) and take your medicine (10 years). Any­one want a used high-mileage Porsche 911 and Audi Q7 at rea­son­able price? G. CRAIG VACHON

Ap­tos, Cal­i­for­nia

MORE ON MODEL 3

I usu­ally try to find some­thing good on a new ve­hi­cle, but this Tesla Model 3 is not my idea of a wellthought-out plan. The in­stru­ment panel is a to­tal af­ter­thought. It looks like some­one left their lap­top open and bolted it on. For the money spent for this car, the Chevro­let

Volt is much eas­ier on the eyes than Tesla’s toy. As for the ex­te­rior, well, if that's the De­sign of the Year, then we are in trou­ble. Just makes me like my ’17 Mus­tang EcoBoost all the more.

GARY MOORE

Tuc­son, Ari­zona

One last take on the Tesla Model 3 fea­tured on your March/April cover: When I first saw the head-on photo of the car, it looked fa­mil­iar. I couldn’t quite put my fin­ger on what it was, but it fi­nally hit me. From that front view, if you re­place the slanted head­lights with round ones, you’ve got a du­pli­cate of Re­nault’s 1960s an­swer to the VW Kar­mann Ghia—a Re­nault Car­avelle.

BOB FLOCKE

Wim­ber­ley, Texas

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