It seems that if the Japanese are controlling their products they do well.
But, do you remember the British built Sterling? It was an Acura in
disguised but built by the British. It did not last very long. I don't
know if it was POS, or if it was a marketing nightmare, or too little
selection. IIRC there was only 1 model in the US.
I owned one of those. Lots of power, zippy, fun to drive, had all the
amenities. Great luxury touring car. Biggest piece of crap I've ever
owned. I think I drove the dealership courtesy car as much as I was
driving the Sterling during its warranty period. Good news was it was a
3/36 warranty, so the first several years were reasonably low-cost although
they did figure out ways to extort several hundred $ here, several hundred
$ there, under the "that's normal wear and tear" mantra. I literally had a
2 inch thick stack of service orders during the service life of that car.
The Acura parts of the car performed well, engine and power train gave few
problems. The carriage work was a nightmare; parts worked loose inside and
outside the car. Should have known that this was going to be a problem
auto just from the fact that the hood release was still on the right side
of the car -- that just speaks to sloppy engineering at Austin Rover not
catching that and actually putting it into production that way.
In addition to the shoddy workmanship, there were other just plain stupid
design flaws. The windshield washer pipes were attached to the hood, so
that every time the hood was opened and closed, there was a bending stress
on the hoses -- yep, they failed at about 3 years. The radio was an
absolute piece of crap -- we lived in Dallas at the time (not exactly a
backwater market), yet the search function could only find 2 or 3 of the
area radio stations. The dashboard went out 2 or 3 times (I lost count).
Didn't matter what I did, there was always at least one thing broken on
that car. After getting it fixed, within a couple of weeks it was either
something else or one of the old failures that came back.
Yeah, it was a POS and there is a good reason it didn't last long in the
US market. Given the price of the car, I also took a bath trading it in
when it was only 5 years old, but at that point I didn't care and I
certainly wasn't going to try selling it to somebody.
One thing for certain, it's going to be a very cold day in Tucson before I
ever even think about another British vehicle.
If you're going to be dumb, you better be tough
I once bought a brand new 1963 MGB. A good friend (an Austin owner)
told me that I must torque/tighten every bolt and screw on that car if I
was interested in longevity. I did and put 125000 major problem-free
miles on it. Traded it in on a 1970 Fiat 124 Sport Coupe. Major mistake.
And to think my Tonka Toy just rolled over on 126,000.
Oil & filters, a battery, wiper blades, some tires, as well as a tune up at
100,000 have been the only maintenance req'd.
Any wonder Detroit is losing market share?
Hehehe, yup. They were garbage.
so was the Honda 600. Read this and chuckle:
The Honda 600 sedan (N600) and coupe (Z600) are small cars - just over
10 feet long, and weighing about 1300 pounds. Although not overpowered
by any means with a two cylinder motorcycle engine with 36 cubic
inches and 36 horsepower, they were actually fairly sophisticated and
powerful compared with the other micro cars of the time. Some of the
features that differentiated the Honda 600 were front power disc
brakes, 4 speed all synchro transmission, a tachometer (coupe only),
and a surprisingly spacious interior with reasonably comfortable
seats. All this is true when compared with Subaru 360, Fiat 500 or 600
features. Compared with the typical US car of the time, the 600 is a
tiny, cramped, underpowered car.
I actually drove one of these. What a hoot.
Hundais are actually very well-built cars these days. The styling
isn't great, but word has it that they are very reliable.
My understanding is that the companies like Toyota offer competitive
medical and retirement packages as everyone else. What they don't do is
offer to make those medical benefits free for life, even after retirement.
*That* is what is killing the big 3. They made promised back during the
heyday of unions and strikes that is now coming back to haunt them. Read a
while ago that for each car GM ships, something on the order of $1200 (may
be more, but I don't want to exaggerate a number I read several years ago)
of that car goes to pay for retiree benefits.
If you're going to be dumb, you better be tough
Last I saw was $1500. But, "they" didn't make that decision in a
vacuum--labor was a willing co-conspirator (and, of course, were really
the leader, not the follower).
I've not researched the actual US structuring of their wage/benefits
packages--in Japan, much of the burden is shifted to the government, not
them. Whether there's a way they get some of their costs back in a
home government subsidization arrangement or not, I don't know.
Wouldn't put it totally out of the realm of possibility to maintain the
competitive edge...perhaps WTO tentacles are strong enough; I have my
Yes, it is funny.
Humor aside, that has not been my experience.
In the war between style and substance, it is a complete rout by the forces
of style. No one can envision any rally by the forces of substance to form a
rear guard defense.
It matters less, in my experience, the numbers of managers but the quality,
and competence of the managers. Many of the managers and supervisors I have
worked for could have only been chosen for their "style" and golf game.
In so many instances, it is the marketing plan, and the pretty, and oh-so
stylish veneer than matters. What exist under the veneer, is of less
importance. Even when dealing with subordinates, the how you say it matters
more than what you say. Seriously, go into many automotive supplier around
Detroit, each workstation has the mandatory QA book for that station. But
don't ask if the workers at that station can read, or understand, standard
Look less to how many, instead look to the corporate culture on how the
managers are selected, and promoted. And by whom!
Sorry for the rant.
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