Letters: Auto Show

Listeners' respond to the coverage of the auto show in Detroit. Melissa Block and Michele Norris read from listeners' e-mails.

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And now to our mailbox, which is overflowing with your reactions to our stories from the auto show in Detroit.


Chrysler and GM got billions of dollars in financial aid from Washington and yesterday, my colleague Robert Siegel asked the vice chairman of GM, Bob Lutz, what it's like to work on government life support.

Mr. BOB LUTZ (Vice Chairman, General Motors): Well, I've never quite been in this situation before, you know, getting a massive pay cut, no bonus, no longer allowed to stay in decent hotels, no corporate airplane. I have to stand in line at the Northwest counter. I've never quite experienced this beforeā€¦

NORRIS: Those comments from Mr. Lutz struck a nerve with many of you.

BLOCK: Laura Rost(ph) of Nashville writes, my 14-year-old and 11-year-old children were appalled right along with me. She goes on, Welcome to the real world, Mr. Lutz. It's the same one the rest of us have been living in all along, and you know what? It's really not so bad.

NORRIS: We also received this from Phil Essington(ph) of Minneapolis. He writes, Wow. I found Mr. Lutz to be emblematic of what is wrong with today's auto industry. He acknowledges that domestic autos of the past were lacking in quality, but assures us that not only are today's domestic cars up to par, it's our fault for not knowing it. Mr. Essington continues, Surely the rebounding of the domestic autos begins by driving out, pun implied, people like Mr. Lutz.

BLOCK: We also got some criticisms aimed at us, not Mr. Lutz. David Ruscheer(ph) of Virginia Beach called our story about GM, quote, irresponsible, perhaps even unpatriotic. He writes, Mr. Siegel does his best to further the popular, uninformed opinion that American cars are inferior to those of foreign auto makers. Mr. Ruscheer sent us a long list of the cars he's owned, including these: Our Ford Escape is a phenomenal car. Both my wife and I like driving it as much as our Range Rover. Give the American car makers a chance.

NORRIS: And finally, while Robert was at the auto show, he also brought us a story about the Chevrolet Spark. That's the concept car that has replaced rearview mirrors with cameras so you can see behind you by looking at a screen inside the car.

BLOCK: Well, listener John Suey(ph) posted a comment on our Web site. He says, There's nothing very innovative about vehicle cameras. Tens of thousands of us old folks have been using them for years in motor homes. My Winnebago View has one. Mr. Suey adds this jab: By the way, my motor home sleeps five, has a kitchen, a TV and a toilet. To keep up, GM needs at least a urinal in its mini car.

NORRIS: OK. You can write to us by visiting NPR. Please click on "Contact Us" at the top of the page.

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