THE KEY TO DETROIT'S IGNITION
While of course an American keiretsu system as discussed in your fine piece ("Learning from Japan," Cover Story, Jan. 27) will surely help, the problems of Detroit will not be turned around until management decides to compete with the Japanese on product--that is, with up-to-date automotive engineering. There is a strong clue to all this in your quotation of Hiroshi Kashiwagi: that if U.S. giants started making better use of their vast storehouse of technology, Japan could not compete with us. The auto industry is a prime example, because none of the brilliant technology we see in Japanese cars was developed there. Twin overhead camshafts, four-valve-per-cylinder engines, multiport sequential fuel injection, four-wheel independent suspensions, and on and on. Most of it was developed in the U.S. and was ignored by Detroit for as long as possible.
William C. Lloyd