An Open Letter to the U.S. Auto Industry

I just got done reading and commenting over at Lynda Lehmann's blog Peripheral Vision--Inner Sights about the proposed bailout for the U.S. auto industry. I usually, if ever, discuss things of this nature here at the Rosehaven Cottage blog, but because I try to focus my life on the idea of stewardship over what we are given I have chosen to post this open letter here with the hope that someone else will be able to see things as plainly as I see them.

Dear U.S. Auto Industry,

I know that you represent a large, may I say massive, number of jobs in this country for so many Americans that rely on you for their livelihood. I am proud of the heritage that your industry has in our great nation. I am grateful to the years of innovation and creativity that have contributed to the growth of our nation.

With that same innovation and creativity from which you were born, you must face the 21st century with a new perspective or you will wither away leaving many struggling because of your demise. You have been as a brilliantly colored caterpillar for the last 100+ years, and now it is time that you undergo a significant metamorphosis and become a brilliantly colored butterfly.

The metamorphosis of which I speak should, in my opinion, involve the following three steps:
  1. Flip your business model so that the majority of your vehicles run on CNG (compressed natural gas) and a minority of your vehicles run on fossil fuels.
  2. Be a leader in making changes happen in the fuel consumer marketplace.
  3. Embrace your glorious past and tap into the retro-loving consumer market.

Flipping the Business Model

I've heard all the reasons why this is impossible or financially inviable, but let's face it--you're in deep trouble right now if the prospect of receiving government bailouts is on the table for discussion. You have to change or you will die. So do the hard thing and make the change.

Make CNG fueled vehicles your new focus. It is a technology that has already been tried and found successful. There are some markets where people are clamoring to buy and ship used CNG/gasoline hybrid vehicles to states where CNG fueling stations are more prevalent (i.e., Utah). Tap into that market! And not only tap into the existing market, but create a new one nationwide!

Be A Leader in the Fuel Consumer Marketplace

If you flipped your business model as suggested above, you could facilitate change across the country as to what is available to the normal fuel consumer. For example, California currently has a derth of CNG pumps at regular fueling stations.

Unlike states like Utah, California's marketplace doesn't provide an alternative to those of us that would gladly make an investment in a brand-new U.S.-made CNG vehicle if we had a place to fill the CNG fuel tank! As consumers, our hands are tied. We see groundbreaking strides being made with experimental vehicles such as a multi-fuel Toyota Tacoma. We want to stop using fossil fuels and have another alternative. But we literally cannot. If the U.S. auto industry came to our aid and not only provided vehicles for us to purchase, but also served as a catalyst to persuade the fuel industry to provide us with CNG pumps as they do in other states, you would be seen as a hero. And think about how many automobile drivers are in the state of California. Think about it.

This in turn, could revolutionize the fueling industry further by spawning a home-fueling market for homeowners to have CNG fueling nipples installed on the natural gas lines in their homes so that the U.S.-made CNG vehicle could be fueled in the comfort of the home garage before a commute and also fueled at the other end of the commute at a CNG-providing fueling station (which the U.S. auto industry would assist in making available).

And YOU, U.S. auto industry, could be the catalyst and hero in this scenario. Think about what that would do to your marketshare.

Embrace Your Glorious Past--Tap Into the Retro-Loving Market

For the past 100+ years, the U.S. auto industry has produced many gorgeous automobiles that are still loved and cherished today. Right now, if a consumer wishes to drive an alternative fuel vehicle they are required to drive something looking like a "cheese wedge" or some other monstrosity that has no connection to the design elements that are loved and cherished from the past 100+ years.

Here's a multi-million dollar idea for you, U.S. auto industry, so pay attention...

It's simple... remake cars from the past in modernized versions that run on CNG.

Don't change their dimensions and scale them down as has been done with the PT Cruiser or the like. Give us "life-sized" versions of the gorgeous cars from the first half of the 20th century. Put all the new technology in them disguised with retro design. And make them CNG vehicles.

Think about it...

Think about how popular a remade Woody station wagon running on CNG would be.

Or think about the amount of sales a cool old Chevy truck with the round fenders running on CNG could generate.

And think about the luxury market that would embrace a beautiful Buick from the 1940's running on CNG.

Go to any of the highly attended hot rod shows around this fair country of ours, and you'll get your design model. Don't tweak it for the sake of being innovative. Go back to what you did well, and then give it to the U.S. marketplace with a new fueling option--CNG. Put all the cool electronics in a dash that looks like it came from the past. We'll love it!

Don't give us U.S. versions of what Toyota, Honda, Kia and Hyundai are giving us. If we want that, we'll buy it from them. Give us the gorgeous designs of the American past! Again, you'll be a catalyst and a hero. And you'll be tapping into a multi-billion dollar marketplace that is clamoring for all things retro and vintage. Take a look at BMW's Mini. Need I say more?


The American consumer doesn't want to hate you. We want to support you, and in turn, support the 1,000's of fellow Americans that you employ. But give us new options. Give us pride in our automobile heritage. Come flying at us as a newly transformed butterfly instead of the same old caterpillar we know all too well. Be the innovative leader that you were when you stormed onto the scene over 100 years ago. Do it again, only this time do it brandishing a CNG flag. We'll gladly fall in step behind you, and shout your praises as we parade the streets of America in our gorgeous retro-inspired environmentally-friendly machines of American make.

Cindy Iverson, an American consumer

P.S. And make the vehicles affordable! Set your price-point at under $25,000 and you've got a huge slice of the market share.
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  1. Well said. A classic mustange with CNG? Cool!!!

    And I would add, cut back on your 8 figure bonuses and don't spend $20K to fly to a meeting where you beg for more money!

  2. Brilliant, Cindy! You've echoed the sentiments of many. Just add one little P.S. to your letter: make it affordable! :)

  3. So many things to think about in this thoughtfully written post. Do you enjoy writing, Cindy? Have you ever heard of Bloggers Annex? You should check it out !

  4. Wow, you need to send this into some of the local newspapers! Great article!

  5. Oh yes, that combination of new fuel technology and cool retro style could really be a big winner.

  6. Always love your posts,& those cars, whoww,bravo on this one..

  7. Hey, I posted about this today too==but you said it nicely and I gave them my full blown rage. Very nicely written.

  8. Hi Cindy,

    I think you should send this to the auto industry giants...seriously.

    BTW, I have an award for you over at my place.


  9. Great post, Cindy. It brings to mind another thought...

    Whether we're aware of it or not, the US auto industry has made us somewhat leery of alternatives, simply for the reason that they have not embraced them. If they are hesitant to make them, we're hesitant to buy them.

    If they would take the leap and do what you suggest, much as the television industry has with digital broadcasting, then the public would react accordingly. They drag their feet, so we do too.

    Change is hard, but at this point, what have they got to lose?

  10. Love the style of classic cars, too (I own a PT Cruiser) but I have a bad feeling that it's too late already for the US auto industry. Anyway, having had my job taken away in August, it's going to be a long while before I can afford any kind of vehicle.

  11. Hey I hope you have an awesome weekend! Check out my blog to get your awards with l♥ts of l♥ve from me :) ♥ Hugs! :) Shauna

  12. Sounds reasonable to me- I've a freind with a CNG car- she is always saying how much cheaper it is to run. The petrol prices here in the UK went up to £1.16 a litre x 4.5 for the gallon price. They are cheaper now but it made us really think about what journeys we took in our Chrysler Grand Voyager (1 step down from a van! LOL).

    Like you said, there is the technology out there to make the change. I wish it would happen but I can't see it doing so in this economic climate where govenments will try at all costs to keep people in their current jobs to avoid a recession. So short sighted.

  13. Very nicely said, Cindy! Great!!
    You need to put a stamp on this and send it off to Detroit --- Or publish a letter to the Editor. Get your views out so people can start thinking about alternatives. Auto manufacturers haven't wanted to change because they were making too much on fossil fuel cars. Now that market is drying up, as you so aptly stated.
    My best to you, my brainy kid!

  14. Perfectly stated. I just wish they had begun when the bell began ringing in the mid 70s. Our country may have been in a completely different position now, if they had been forward thinking.

  15. You tell them Girl! Good for you, and excellent ideas.
    Anna :)

  16. Well said, Cindy. An excellent post, rational and well written! I commend you for taking a stand!


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