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The quickest route to 100 mpg

November 14, 2008

Re "Let's negotiate a new car deal," Opinion, Nov. 12

Douglas Olin is right on. In exchange for any auto industry bailout, we should demand that Detroit produce cars that both look good and get a minimum of 100 mpg within three years.

What Olin doesn't focus on is that such a demand is an urgent national security need. In three years, our payments for oil to Middle Eastern despots who fund terrorism would virtually cease. Furthermore, we would no longer be competing with China and India for scarce oil resources, removing a major source of tension in the world.

I would go even further than Olin: Three years from now, I would ban the sale or importation of any car that doesn't get at least 100 mpg, and take some of the billions we save from bringing our troops home from Iraq and use it to allow everyone in our country who owns a car that doesn't get at least 35 mpg to trade that car in for a new high-mileage one.

To anyone who says three years isn't enough time, didn't we go from isolationism to complete victory over Nazi Germany and Japan in four years? It's simply a matter of will and determination.

Fred Landau

Los Angeles

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As an engineer with more than 50 years in the "new ideas" business, I commend Olin for his article. However, as I noted in my book, "Engineering Creativity," it is very difficult, if not impossible, for very large and old corporations to adopt new technologies. It is usually easier for them to go out of business. The U.S. auto industry and its related jobs are not going to disappear if the Big Three go out of business. New companies will rise to fill the consumers' need for cars.

My studies suggest it is possible to create autos that are simpler and less expensive, have zero emissions, don't use oil or batteries, accelerate from 0 to 60 in five seconds and have an energy cost per mile of less than 2 cents (versus current cars' approximate 12 cents a mile).

The temporary low price of gas is because of the recession. The long-term trend, as China and India join the auto tide, can only be up. Six dollars a gallon is not far in the future.

Thomas F. Hanson

Newhall

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