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Between americans, europeans and japanese
3

Between americans, europeans and japanese

Between americans, europeans and japanese

(OP)
I`ve had a big doubt about the difference between americans durability and quality engines and europeans or japanese. Are the european´s automotive engineers brighter than the americans? ,I mean we have to accept that  their engines and chassis are much better than ours(Its more than proven that BMW,Lexus,Porshe etc. are much better than Lincoln or Cadillacs). In what detais consists that difference???Pleas help!!

RE: Between americans, europeans and japanese

want to talk about value per $$$?
how about overall $$$/mile?
which market segment?
correct for economic differences of originating country ? (labor cost, etc.)
in what areas do you mean "better"?

then we can begin to have a discussion.
jay

RE: Between americans, europeans and japanese

(OP)
Hey.... Dont get mad Jay...lets do a research.....

Car and Driver(ultimate comparisons):

"50 grands gazelles" (overall)

Cadillac STS ;  4th  place
m-Benz E430 ;  3rd place
Lexus GS400 ; 2nd place
BMW 540 i ;   1st place

 more???

Sedans  (overall)

Bonneville SE  ; 10th
Taurus SE  ;      9th
Intrepid ES  ;    4th
Honda Accord EX  ; 2nd
Volkswagen Passat GLX ; 1st   

"Javelinas grandes" (overall)

Cadillac escalade ; 5th
Lincolbn Navigator ;3rd
M-Benz ML 430  ;    2nd
Lexus LX470 ;       1st

suv's  4*4

Jeep Cherokee  ;  2nd
Nissan Xterra  ;  1st

If I keep going I wont finish, really I dont think that I should take more time showing and proving my argument. Afterall, I didnt ask for more questions, just for answers.

RE: Between americans, europeans and japanese

We just recently bought a 2001 Lincoln LS.  We chose this car because of a variety of reasons, not the least of which was styling.  I test drove both the 3 series and 5 series BMW and I liked the handling and the power of the 5 but it   was WAY overpriced.  The 3 was just too small for a family car (I am not against small cars , I have  a Mini Cooper and a Nash Metropolitan).  Looked at the M/B S class  and I think they are just too plain for my hillbilly taste.  Cost too much , too.  Great car for old  people   (  not for me I'm only 61).  Looked at a few Toyotas and Hondas---Liked the Honda S-2000, but mom said no.  The rest were pretty much not to my likeing (different strokes for different folks).  Bottom line?  I don't need a car to make a statement.  I can afford just about any that I wish to  own, but I am not into wasteing money for no good reason.  I could find no good reason to not buy the Lincoln at a list of $36,000 (I got it for 30) as opposed to 50 something for the other.  Lincoln runs strong, handles about as  well as the M/B and rides better than the BMW.  Not perfect, but OK for us.  In three years I may just buy another sports car, after all I'll be a senior citizen then, recon?


Rod

PS---I have worked on a LOT of broken Japanese cars in the  past.  It is just a machine, not a religion!

RE: Between americans, europeans and japanese

See my entry under "Automotive engineers" forum, "a debate on automotive engineering".  I think the U.S. has great engineers, but the problem is how the companies are run.  Japanese auto companies are run by engineers, U.S. auto companies are run by business executives.  Japanese auto companies are operated to produce cars.  U.S. auto companies are operated to produce money.

One article that I read on this topic can be found at www.wardsauto.com.
It is an article from "Wards Auto World" Magizine, Sept. 2001 issue, Titled "Thrift or Technology?" by John McElroy.

RE: Between americans, europeans and japanese

2
I have worked with automotive engineers from many backgrounds, and wouldn't say that at an engineering level any of the obvious countries stands out.

BUT there's a huge difference in management style and approach. I've worked for companies that are prepared to sacrifice every item in the quality control handbook to get a lower price from their suppliers, and I've worked for companies that will fit a $100 component to every car on the basis of a week's work by a development engineer. I've also worked for a company that tried to save $0.50 on a component and caused a recall of a year's worth of production.

The way these cost vs performance issues are made is a very interesting subject. In my opinion the best way to make a truly great car is to give the car a good chief engineer, and let him run with it. The trouble is, that is a fairly high risk approach, particularly if that chief engineer is a bit odd! The Japanese approach is to do roughly that, tho with a small team rather than one guy.

Cars that I know that were designed like this: Mini, Range-Rover (roughed out by 3 guys in a garage over a weekend), most Lotii, MX5.

The design by commitee approach is favoured by the big 3 (actually at least Chrysler doesn't follow this slavishly), you are less likely to get a great car, but far more likely to get a profitable one. To illustrate this I once went to a meeting that would have been handled on my product by 4 people. At the big 3 manufacturer, for whom this model is produced in 'vanity' numbers, we had 25 attendees!

Cheers

Greg Locock

RE: Between americans, europeans and japanese

When management makes or overrides engineering decisions, a lot of things suffer, including quality, reliability, performance, etc.  This is what has happened to the domestic auto market.  The almighty $ has ruled...especially in the large truck/SUV market.  A large portion of the tooling, assembly machines, robots has been paid off for years and management committees have decided to rake in the extra $$ while sacrificing product innovations.  It was lucrative at first, but they are suffering now.

Even EvelRod's Lincoln LS is having problems...being an employee of a Tier 2 supplier who manufactures exhaust parts I have participated in evaluating the exhaust system problems that are appearing in the LS platform.  It would be useful to note that Ford has consulted our company to evaluate their exhaust system containing competitor parts on many occasions.  Our data acquisition/FEA/engineering capabilities allows us to engineer a higher quality part, but we have never seen an order from them due to coporate politics...our bids were even lower!!  Along the way, there was some dinner and drinks expensed evening wherein promises were made precluding other, more capable suppliers from being considered as viable alternatives to warranty-ridden exhaust systems.

This type of scenario does not rule engineering decisions in Euro/Japanese corporate structure, I guarantee.

Just some insight from someone privy to this information.

With Lutz at GM's wheel now, and as of this morning Nasser is no longer Ford CEO, and more executive trimming to follow...they are on the right track, but it may be too late.

Thanks for the postings - they have been insightful.

Recneps

RE: Between americans, europeans and japanese

With you there! The way the big 3 treat their tier ones and twos is pretty rough. The tier ones make it back by extortionate charges for engineering changes, in my experience, but the tier twos get it in the neck from everyone!I'd have thought an exhaust supplier would be tier one?

Exhausts are a big issue. I know of one car whose exhaust costs 1/3 as much as its main competitions. It is as close to an after-market system as can be made. Guess what the quality of that little beastie is like.

Cheers

Greg Locock

RE: Between americans, europeans and japanese

Greg,
My company manufactures flexible elements for exhaust systems (decouplers, hoses, etc) and are now doing some work in intake systems with EGR tubes and other applications.  Tier one exhaust suppliers don't want to engineer these parts, so enter us as a Tier two.

Recneps

RE: Between americans, europeans and japanese

I'm a 'new boy' in automotive engineering compared to some of you - I've only been at it 25 years. Some as in engine development, some in fuel storage and delivery and some as a so-called component engineer. Before the car industry, it was aero and defence electronics for 7 years.
After 15 years with an auto manufacturer, I spent some time at a tier one/two fuel system supplier and recently went back into the same auto manufacturer.
The major thing which struck me on returning was how this particular manufacturer now relies almost exclusively on its tier ones/twos doing the technical design work, having been handed a package envelope by the auto company.
Hand in hand with this, many grey-hairs have left the auto manufacturer in recent years, either by inducement or because they've had enough of the way things are managed. The void left has been filled by young, well (academically) qualified engineers, however, many have never been under a car, held a file or broken a finger nail in anger.

The result -
Lots of people, stuck at a desk all day, responding to and sending emails
Plenty of meetings to attend
Cameos of potential Dilbert cartoons appearing daily
Suppliers being squeezed on costs for new models
Suppliers (as already mentioned) whacking in big costs for current model changes
Some suppliers not actually capable of replicating the technical competencies that the auto maker used to have
Consultancies being used to supply services that the automaker used to have in-house (CAD, CAE, CFD etc)
Engineers that talk a good game but can't play it (like football commentators)
Old ideas and practices being reinvented regularly

.......and all of these are the result of the drive to greater profitability and reinventing the company with a younger, dynamic workforce. In itself, not a bad thing, it keeps the company alert and alive. However, I think many of these 'initiatives' are led by accountants and business analysts without any resort to advice from the teams that design and build the vehicles.
Auto manufactureres didn't get where they are today on the basis of what they are today. If everything they did in the past was bad news and bad practice, they would exist now.

RE: Between americans, europeans and japanese

I agree 100%. I'm a newer boy than you, and in some ways represent the first generation of the type of engineer you are complaining about. The chief engineers I worked for when I was 22-25 were real engineers. Nowadays the programs are run on a budgetting spreadsheet.

Ten-15 years ago our drafting office could pretty much design the complete chassis and the engine. In fact they did just that.

Now that same office is responsible for portioning up the volumes and handing them on to suppliers, and the assembling vehicle level models out of the solid models we get back from the suppliers. Same number of people, more computers than you can shake a stick at, basically doing a job that used to be done by 4 guys.

I don't want to sound too much of a Luddite, but the trends you have observed are a serious problem, and I don't know what to do about it. The obvious answer is to form a consultancy and do the engineering myself, but for various reasons I'm not game.












Cheers

Greg Locock

RE: Between americans, europeans and japanese

I know...those of us who hold these particular opinions close to heart should come together and form a consortium of engineers and designers whose main goal is to form an employee-owned, engineering driven independent auto manufacturer with as flat an organizational structure as humanly possible.

The company should offer a range of cars from entry level to luxury with similar product innovations across the platforms, so the average consumer can enjoy virtually the same craftsmanship and innovative designs as a wealthy consumer...

One can dream, eh?

Recneps

RE: Between americans, europeans and japanese

I used to work for that company... Lotus.

Check out how many times we were taken over! On the other hand it was great fun and I learnt heaps. I also got more parts onto more cars in 3 years than I have ever done before and since.

Cheers

Greg Locock

RE: Between americans, europeans and japanese

Greg, I started road racing in a Lotus  in 1967 and as far as I am concerned, Lotus does NOT exist today.
Once a long time ago , I asked Mr. Shelby (when he still had his  storefront on Sepulveda Blvd. in El Segundo) why he was stopping production of the Cobra.  His answer---"I can't sell it for $10,000".  That was a sign of the times, is it still?  


Rod

PS:  I drove one of my students 289 Cobra roadster a while back, 1989 I think.  He just bought it for $150,000!!! Perhaps you guys should get together with Panoz or someone similar.  You would have my vote.

RE: Between americans, europeans and japanese

Hi Rod, you've been quiet lately. I don't quite understand your 10000 dollar question - are you asking what's changed that has pushed the cost of building small runs of cars up into the stratosphere? If so - (1) the skilled workforce isn't there and (2) the cost of homologation. Also I think peoples expectations are higher these days - interior trim is a bitch to do for small quantities for a reasonable cost.

Which road Lotus do you think was the last real Lotus? The breadvan gets votes from some people I know!

These are the ones I worked on - Excel (2+2 2 door executive saloon, UK only), Esprit Series 3 (intro of the intercooler), Carlton (rocket), Elan (the FWD one with the Isuzu donk). They were all lovely cars to drive, in their own various ways.

Cheers

Greg Locock

RE: Between americans, europeans and japanese

Evelrod,
You had mentioned Panoz...which is actually a good plan in theory.  To get on with a well financially-backed organization which has it's roots in racing and is moving towards being an independent manufacturer is ideal, but in Panoz' case I think not.

Don's son Danny has been running that company into the ground since he took over day-to-day operations.  During a recent tour of the Esperante production line for SAE members, I was able to get more of an inside look at their operation and their product.  It's really nothing more than a Ford-based kit car.  They claim to have done all of the chassis and suspension design based on racing experience, and as that may be true, you have to ask yourself this:  Are you willing to put yourself and someone you love into a car with a chassis that was never subjected to commonly available design tools (FEA, failure analyses, etc.) and the entire car, production and general operations has been performed by three degreed engineers.  I'm not questioning their capabilities, but Panoz' operation could certainly see some major improvements.  On the production line I saw Great Stuff foam insulation wedged into crevices for noise dampening, trim and weatherstripping pulling away from the body due to poor adhesive choice, rust covering the dashboard subframe...all right there on the production line - looked to be an overall lack of attention to detail.  Without improvements, they will never be able to market cars to the masses.  But that's just my humble opinion.  Anyone else had any experiences with independent manufacturers?

Recneps

RE: Between americans, europeans and japanese

I'm still here Greg, just been spending a lot of time on the Mini---Actually my personal favorite car of all time must be the Mk. I  Lotus/Cortina.  A real "Q" ship if I ever saw one.  In racing it was unbeatable for years. In my my 28 years with 7 Lotus cars, I found them to be an interesting challenge to own.  Not for the average person.  Indeed, even the average mechanically inclined individual would be lost in the "black arts" incolved in keeping a Lotus on the road from day to day. Something went out of the Lotus organization with the death of Jimmy Clark.  The company ceased to exist upon the death of its founder and subsequent sale to GM.  That is not what you wanted to hear, but that is my opinion. (Something went out of me, too).  A very sad and sentimental time for me.
Now we are racing a Toyota (with Lotus/Cortina suspension, transmission, drive line etc. Quite a combination.) and a 1963 Austin Cooper S is under construction for vintage racing.  All the Lotus race cars and in fact all my cars are posted on    www.Webshots.com ;     Just ask for "Lotus Cortina" or "SCCA Racing" and you will find me and mine.

Recneps---The thought of me on the road in expermental machinery is not really relevant (I road bikes from 1949 to 1988 including 20 years on the Los Angeles freeway system) but your point is well taken. Superformance and some of the other kit car folks do a credable job, FOR KIT CARS.  For a production version, weeeeeeell???  Panoz was , perhaps a bad example.  I am sorry to hear that the Panoz hype is just that, hype! In my personal experience, when a son takes over from his father one of two things happen---the business fails because it was the father image and drive that "made" the company and the son lacked that drive---the company excels and becomes something greater than what the father built (perhaps the son is "showing" his father?).

To all---I often express my opinions in these forums and I am often called to task over them.  Feel free to disagree with me.  I love a challenge.


Rod    

RE: Between americans, europeans and japanese

Evelrod,
What other Lotus' have you owned?  I have tossed about the idea of obtaining an old Euro car, and have always loved the classic Lotus designs, espescially the convertible Elan.

Sorry about getting off-topic...
(spencer.smith@iwkabi.com OR recneps@brewniversity.com if you prefer)

Recneps

RE: Between americans, europeans and japanese

Recneps---

The early Lotus cars are all good.  Some just better than others.  All are great handling , unique automobile art.
If you are not into automobiles as art or hobby  , Lotus may not be your best choice as "an old Euro car".
The Mk 9 and 11 are great in replica form by Caterham and others as is the Lotus 7 America or other Sevens. Reasonable in price and not difficult to build, even for an amature.  The originals are also readily available at a premium, but they ARE out there.  My first choice would be a Lotus 23, but I cannot afford it.  My second choice would be Lotus 7 Mk II twincam (see previous reason) For street use, my experience is limited to Lotus Elite and Elan.  The Elite was a great looking little car, but a bear to keep up.  The Elan was great fun after I replaced the rear drive rubber with CV joints.  The Elan close ratio gearbox is now in my son's Toyota GT-4.

OK ----To answer your question with furthur ado---LOTUS ELAN either fixed head or drophead coupe.  With the fixed head coupe, weather is less of a problem and the body  squeeks less, but you can't take the top off.  The latest incarnations of the venerable 105E type 1558cc twincam engine can be quite reliable if kept to 125 or 135 hp. But they can be very streetable at 175hp. Race versions can go beyound 200hp easily. Parts are available but obviously at a premium.

Nothing looks better than a BRG Lotus Elan with a Yellow racing stripe!!!!!

Nothing gets the attention of the big boys like a BRG Lotus Elan with a Yellow racing stripe AND a 185hp Twincam engine!!!!!


Rod

RE: Between americans, europeans and japanese

getting back to our buddy "Z28"

Cadillac STS ;  4th  place
m-Benz E430 ;  3rd place
Lexus GS400 ; 2nd place
BMW 540 i ;   1st place

hmmm- the cheapest car comes in fourth... not too bad
value?
cost?
the others may be better cars- but in "bang/buck, the STS is still a pretty decent car...

Jeep Cherokee  ;  2nd
Nissan Xterra  ;  1st
hmmm- the last year of a ten year old design?
second to a very new design? not too bad-
I wonder which vehicle actually gets used off-road more?


quoting opinions from one source does not make much of an argument...

jay

RE: Between americans, europeans and japanese

As a european I do not think that the standards of engineering differ between Europe, America or Japan - all the technology and knowledge is available to anyone. And they all use the same firms to supply various components.

Where we do differ is in marketing philosophy. German car makers tend to make more "technological" vehicles, knowing that they have a status that enables them to charge very high prices for a little bit more. French car makers tend to pay more attention to comfort and so on.

Basically it is all a matter of choice: which market would you like to be in? And what is your perception of what a customer wants? In that respect there are differences - but they have nothing to do with engineering standards.

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