Sunday, November 30, 2008

An open letter to Ford Motor Company

Dear Ford Company,

I grew up in a Ford family. No, none of the adults worked for Ford, but they faithfully purchased Ford vehicles decade after decade. We grew up riding around in Ford trucks, station wagons and sedans, in Falcons, Fairlanes and Festivas. In the late 60s, we gave in to peer pressure for a time and got a VW microbus, which was really fun to ride around in. After the bus, my folks moved into the reliable and very economical VW Rabbit mode for many years, driving his and her models to work day in and day out. But eventually they went back to buying Fords. They always went for the modest models (Fiesta, Focus) -- no fancy stuff, just a good solid car that would last a good long time.

When it came time for me to buy my first vehicle, my folks recommended going to their dealership, Wadsworth Ford. There I found a barely used Ford Ranger, which seemed at the time to be the perfect vehicle for my life as a theatre teacher. I have not driven it to death, and it just made it over the 100K mark over a year ago. It has had all needed repairs and regular attention to all lubricating and other essential maintenance. The factory-installed battery lasted for 12 years! So Ford, your 1994 Ford Ranger was a good choice and a solid, relatively hassle-free choice.

Times change, though, and now you couldn't pay me to take on another Ford truck, or any kind of truck for that matter (for a look at 2009 truck & SUV fuel efficiency look here). My major hauling days are in the past. I'm looking to downsize my life and my global footprint.

What does Ford have to offer me now? The Ford Focus is the current economy class car, and it has the highest MPG of any current Ford. Yet it seats five and is too much car for my needs. And it is a low seating vehicle. The best thing about driving the Ranger has been being up with a good aerial view of the road ahead and behind me. There is nothing on the Ford Focus page that indicates any concerns with environmental issues, such as the recyclability of components and the choice of materials and processes used in manufacturing the vehicle.

And that is why, Ford Company, I am breaking with the family tradition and purchasing a Smart ForTwo car. Yesterday, I visited the Bedford Smart dealership and test drove a new 2009 Smartie. Like everybody else who's actually entered a Smart car, I was amazed at how roomy it feels inside, even with a car salesperson riding along with me in the passenger car. And although short, the Smart forTwo has a relatively high seating arrangement. I didn't feel like I was driving a toy or a golf cart. I quickly got the hang of the automatic clutch versus paddle clutch options. The salesperson, when asked, said that keeping it in the automatic mode would be the most fuel efficient way to drive.

With the Smart car, it was love at first sight on a computer screen. That was the size and shape most suited for me. Mostly, it is me and my duffel bag traveling to and from work, and any shopping I do seldom fills the passenger side seat in my truck. When I drove the Smart car yesterday, I knew it was true love! I wanted to be driving that car home yesterday, but alas, I'm waiting for it to be built in France and shipped to NJ and finally to Bedford, Ohio sometime between April and June of 2009.

Sorry, Ford -- you forgot to think about my g-g-generation, a group that has a growing segment of singular people driving to and from work every day in cars that are way too big for our needs. Other segments of society are also attracted to the Smart cars -- they are very affordable classy looking and safe riding vehicles suitable for the young single people and as well as for the married folks with separate jobs in different direction. Great for retired people driving around town. And a lot safer than driving a golf cart. Check out the tridion safety cell construction below.

Success promotes competition, but alas -- the only competition for the Smart car is coming from overseas, not from Detroit. We are talking about Toyoyta's IQ, which may be available in the US by 2010.

I'm not comfortable with bailing out the US auto industry. Certainly not with the same old mindset of continuing to design big powerful expensive road hogs. Upper management needs to be replaced. And I'm getting pretty tired of hearing about so-called $70 per hour union auto workers being the ones to blame.

Like "left" versus "right", perhaps it is time to retire "workers" vs "management." I'd like to see a movement toward worker-owned corporations, with all employees having a say in what is being produced and how it is being made. No more blaming the other side -- if everybody doesn't agree on what is to be made, then the company deserves to fall apart.

Saving auto jobs should only be considered essential IF we make sure that the jobs are centered on creating affordable, safe, and green vehicles. And along with that, how about planning things so that all US citizens have the right to complete health care, preferably single-payer? There has to be a better way of dealing with pensions and funds that get depleted due to the deadly dance of capitalist market deep falls and other global perils. We need to find new ways to provide for our senior citizens so that we don't end up warehousing them in giant abandoned shopping malls. (Some locals suggest that Rolling Acres be turned into a retirement center!)

The Smart's tridion safety cell construction:

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Good for you!
The smart is a very practical vehicle that will meet over 99% of your driving needs.
I have been the lucky owner of a smart car for 4 years now and still love it.
Check out