One could have read Maryann N. Keller's attack on General Motors Corp. ["Dull at Any Speed," Outlook, June 12] and have no idea that GM sells more cars and trucks than any company in the world and has done so since 1931.

Last year in the United States, GM beat its nearest competitor by more than a million units. And Chevrolet alone sold more vehicles than Toyota and all its divisions. So the folks at GM must know something about building vehicles that people want to buy.

Here are a few more things Ms. Keller might have mentioned:

* GM leads the industry in environmental cleanup. It developed the first practical automotive catalytic converters in the 1970s; they can now be found on every car sold in North America and have eliminated more emissions than any other device.

* GM led the shift to sport-utility vehicles and pickup trucks in the United States. It took the Asian producers 20 years to build SUVs and pickups that were acceptable to American customers.

* In the area of fuel economy, GM has more car and truck segment leaders than any other manufacturer. It also offers more models with EPA highway estimates of at least 30 mpg (19) than any other manufacturer.

* The independent J.D. Power and Associates studies show that GM has the three top assembly plants in North America for initial vehicle quality.

As more carmakers from all parts of the world entered the U.S. market over the years, it was hardly surprising that GM lost market share. And it certainly faces a tough challenge with spiraling health care costs.

But Ms. Keller's article was one-sided and consisting mostly of old arguments that were settled long ago. The modern GM is producing some of the best cars and trucks on the American road.


West River, Md.

The writer is a retired General Motors executive.


Maryann N. Keller's article about the plight of General Motors referred to the legendary Alfred P. Sloan, who successfully guided GM through earlier crises.

However, Ms. Keller did not tell the story, perhaps apocryphal, that captures the company's situation in a nutshell. As the story goes, in 1927 a young man rushed into Sloan's office and said, "Charles Lindbergh has flown across the Atlantic."

Sloan did not look up.

The man cried, "Mr. Sloan, did you hear me? A man has single-handedly flown a plane across the Atlantic Ocean."

Sloan raised his head and replied, "Son, a man single-handedly can accomplish almost anything. Come back and tell me when a committee successfully flies across the ocean."

Of course, many factors over many years led to GM's situation, but Sloan's purported pithy wisdom perhaps captures the core problem.