Great carmakers have failed before © AP

The reports of BMW’s efforts to speed electric cars to market (June 26), followed by an executive claiming there is no market for them yet, makes me fear for the company’s future.

The Tesla Model 3, its poor build quality notwithstanding, is a harbinger of things to come. The electric models from other manufacturers are not purpose built, and suffer from poorer performance and poorer range/efficiency. The miles per kWh should be how these cars are evaluated, not the crazy and useless miles per gallon equivalent, or miles per kWh equivalent.

Most importantly, we are repeating history: in the 1970s, the car manufacturers said “Americans won’t drive small cars”, and were blindsided by Honda, Toyota, Datsun/Nissan and others. When Toyota came out with the Prius, it was a while before American carmakers took them seriously. Remember Bob Lutz’s days at General Motors as the guy who pushed muscle cars? He first claimed climate change was a hoax (and bought property in the Caribbean to prove he believed it was), then built the Chevrolet Volt only because he resented the success of the Prius. Too little, too late.

Carmakers may end up like many other businesses, who grow old and are replaced by newer companies with better ideas. How many airlines are left from the early days (TWA? PanAm? Eastern?). Great carmakers have failed before (Oldsmobile, Packard, and many more). The carmakers that don’t look to the future may become historical footnotes soon.

David J Melvin
Chester, NJ, US

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