Thursday, April 22, 2004
For those of you who don't know, Mercedes essentially runs Mitsubishi motors. According to press reports that time is over. What does this mean? It's really too early to say. It might mean a number of things. It could mean a new trend for European and American car companies to stop supporting ailing Japanese companies they own. A good example of this would be GM with Isuzu and Suzuki. Another example might be Ford with Mazda. The latter is highly unlikely because Ford is using Mazda's engineering know-how to create a FWD sedan platform for many future vehicles. GM though, would take a smaller loss than Daimler did with Mitsubishi, if it were to drop Suzuki or Isuzu.
This is a rebellion against Schrempp, the chairman of Daimler Chrysler. This man is the complete opposite of another European wunderkind, Carlos Ghosn. Ghosn has taken Nissan, and totally resurrected the company using Renaults' money. Schrempp has taken Chrysler and Mitsubishi, and run both poorly. Mitsubishi's are usually seen as the worst made Japanese cars, and the company has no real image in the marketplace. I like the Eclipse, and the Lancer EVO, but after they dropped the last generation Eclipse with turbo, as far as I was concerned, they dropped their best performer. They're a big company in LA, but outside of the LA foreign car buying public, Americans have little to no interest. Expect them to leave the US.
Monday, April 19, 2004
Ford and GM are going to work together believe it or not, on a six speed automatic transmission. Six speeds are widely viewed as the wave of the future, and the Big 3 are always criticized for being behind the Japanese in innovations. But not this time.
What do I think of this? I don't like it. Not because I'm a Ford guy, or a GM guy, I live on the west coast, where both companies are at their weakest. I'm concerned that technological innovations are becoming more and more expensive as the years go on. Ford and GM are no longer mammoth companies that can afford to make new designs by themselves, instead they are smaller and less powerful and need each other to compete. It's not a good sign. The Japanese and the Germans seem more capable of creating innovations more cheaply; this is another sign that Ford and GM are not capable of creating something new cheaply and efficiently. And finally, the fact that two big companies need to merge to create a modern transmission, means that companies that can't do this, say, Chrysler and Mercedes, might be starting to be left behind permanently. Chrysler cars are already very dated technologically, now they'll be behind by light years.
Sunday, April 18, 2004
If you, like most people in America, drive a sedan without side curtain airbags, and like many people in America, are involved in a side impact crash with an SUV, prepare to be injured. At least that's what the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety believes. I have a feeling that this is going to lead to the next big rush in safety mandates for cars, just as steering wheel airbags were in the late 80s.
I've always been a fan of DeLorean, though he's definitely someone who has rubbed a lot of people the wrong way. I can understand that. He's an arrogant man, but he's a very intelligent man. He may not be the greatest auto executive of the second half of the 20th century, but he is the most famous. From his influence at Pontiac, to his creation of the DeLorean sports car, his name was in the papers.
Here's a quote from his book "On a Clear Day you Can See General Motors".
Chevrolet's quality problems were due as much to the use of cheaper parts amd material as they were to outright product defects. Under pressure from the corporation to increase or stabilize its falling profit margins, Chevrolet management, from about the mid-1960s on, had taken quality out of its products as a cost cutting measure. Some of this cost-cutting was in highly visible areas such as the interior appointments, exterior trim and size of tires. This directly affected the customer's perception of Chevrolet, how he felt inside the car, or how it rode. This quality cutting eventually caught up with Chevrolet. The resale value of its products dropped as did its sales increases relative to the rest of the industry.
Has anything changed? It's certainly the way things are done at GM to this day, though there is a climate of change. Companies desperate for profit make moves like this from the beginning, what bothers me is when profitable companies do it. So remember, don't buy a car that looks bad, no matter how cheap it is. You lose in the long run from the resale value.
It's still a young movement, but two more autoblogs have been found! I've added them to my links on the side. One is called Carpundit, a site similar to mine, and the other is called RIDE. Both look exceptional. More updates soon...