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Wednesday, May 30, 2007

A Response To A Comment

One of my few readers left a comment in my recent post about Bob Lutz' opinion on the cost of raising CAFE standards. His comment was so whacky I thought I'd respond to it point by point. My reply in italics.

Anonymous said...

As an engineer myself, I'm quite dubious of your claims. Working in the auto industry as an engineer doesn't necessarily qualify you as a subject matter expert on mileage or CAFE standards or future locomotive technologies or for that matter, of thermodynamics.

Hey, it's my blog, and my opinion. If you think I'm an idiot, start your own blog! Being close to the problems, I think I do have something to say about fuel economy.

Throttling the Big Three on efficiency will drive innovation. Unfortunately, likely not from the Big Three. Unfortunately, your industry is one of the most lackluster at innovation. That includes your foreign competitors. GM has spent over $100 billion in research over the last quarter decade and for that we get .... what? A Chevy Aveo with lower MPG ratings than a Chevette of 1984. Look it up on the government CAFE web site. $100 billion sent a man to the moon and created entire new industries and technologies with the Apollo program. Yes, inflation makes it apples to oranges but....

Lackluster? What? Check out all the stuff we have that we didn't in 1984. Airbags. ESC. Seatbelt pretensioners. Rollover sensors. Computer simulated crashes. Self diagnostics of all types. Much of this was not driven by regulation, but by market competition. Do you have any idea how many microprocessors are used in your average car? How many thousands of lines of software code?

As for your Chevette, that is not a valid comparison. How much did that Chevette weigh in 1984? How much horsepower did it have? What was the 0-60mph time? Did the Chevette have power steering, power brakes, side impact beams, front and side airbags, etc., all of which add weight? The lowly Aveo is much more car than a Chevette, in every way.

Innovation will happen in transportation because its now out of your hands. It's in the hands of the world's scientists and entrepreneurs. You may incorporate the technology or with new advances in manufacturing, you may actually see small volume niche players eating your lunch as the landscape of innovation could easily create.

I'm not sure what you just said. Many of the world's scientists are working for automotive OEM's and suppliers.

By the way, CAFE standards in Japan and Europe are 2x what they are in the US and China is following suit. Better quit whining and start getting ingenious. Seems like they can sell cars in all three markets for substantially less than the average selling price in the US. Your $5000 claim is meritless. He was talking about America's stringent diesel emissions. Innovation will make that a nonstarter as well just as when Honda embarrassed the Big Three in the 1970s when they said they couldn't meet the emission standards and Honda ended up doing it without a catalytic converter.

Where did you get the idea that cars are cheaper in Europe and Japan than in the U.S.? Again, compare apples to apples. The average car in Europe or Japan is a "B" class car--about the size of a Civic or Corolla. That's the family sedan. Very few people can afford a "C" or "D" size car (Accord and larger). Many people drive "A" cars, such as the Smart. Full sized pickup trucks virtually don't exist--here they are the biggest selling vehicles (Silverado, F150).

Why is my $5000 claim meritless? You didn't give any example s of what things cost.

Sorry buddy. You need to go back to engineering school. Hey, if you are going to blog, be factual, be honest and expect negative feedback when you are wrong.

Sorry buddy, you need to learn how to argue. If you are going to comment on a blog, and call the blogger out, you had better bring some facts.


Anonymous said...

I was the engineer and poster. That's a great response you put up there. If you can't win them over with your brilliance, I guess you can always go on the offensive and baffle them with bullshit.

If I had to debate people like you, my life would be a lay up. I've worked with your senior executives in the auto industry and now I see their attitude is pervasive all of the way down to your level. So, I too have reason to believe I am well qualified for my accurate statements. Your answers were hardly worth responding too as you didn't answer any of my remarks.

I really liked the brilliant comment that cars are smaller in Europe and Japan so they would be cheaper. Did you actually go to college to learn that? While Toyota and Honda shovel smaller cars into the US by the boatload, you are belly aching about the fact that people want big cars. I guess that's why your big cars are sitting on the lots collecting mold while Toyota and Honda set sales records here.

The innovation in the car industry has been through the use of innovation created in other industries. Not through breakthroughs in the product itself. You spend $100 billion on R&D and the only thing you can cite is using innovation created in the electronics and software industry that you simply "fitted" to your products. You call that innovation? Are you kidding?

Nice post. I'll leave you be. It's obvious you aren't up for the debate.

The Auto Prophet said...

You still aren't saying anything specific.

Contrary to your claims, small cars are not exactly selling like hotcakes. Did you notice what the top 10 most popular vehicles are, by sales volume, even though we have had expensive gas for a while?

As for innovation, you are just wrong. Any "innovation" short of a brand new discovery, to you then is not valid because it is based on previous work? Here are some examples of U.S. automotive innovation:

Mass production of automobiles
Mass production of V8 engines
Installation of airbags
Mass production of ABS
Rollover mitigation systems

Anonymous said...

Look, this really isn't fair. I didn't know I was talking to a kid who is stuck in some job making sure pretensioners work.

If you were a powertrain engineer, I'd expected you'd come back with some diatribe trying to explain the theoretical limits of the Carnot cycle at which time I would invalidate your assumptions when talking about CAFE standards in my original post.

Your responses are simply ridiculous. I don't begrudge you but when you have a blog titling yourself as the prophet, you need to pick it up a bit.

Your last rebuttal was almost hilarious. Mass production is mass production and Henry Ford was a genius one hundred years ago. Citing mass production of different components is absurd. By the way, the internal combustion engine was not invented by the auto industry. Nor was ABS.

The fact that you cite mass production tells me you also aren't a manufacturing engineer and that you are stuck in the same paradigm as your ridiculous management. If were were a manufacturing engineer on the cutting edge, you'd know mass production techniques are being invalidated by lean methods being pioneered in other industries and rapidly being adopted by the Japanese while the Big Three are still working under the model of needing to sell in mass quantities to make profits. Again, late to the game and going to be caught with your pants down. It also allows niche players to invade your turf with new technologies rather than sell those technologies to the Big Three as has historically been done. Innovation? $100 billion in R&D from GM alone and you cite these as examples. Innovations which weren't even pioneered in the auto industry. Prophet? False prophet.

Anonymous said...

hey, anonymous, you realize that ad hominems do not an argument make, right? European cars aren't cheaper; however, they're typically smaller and more efficient so CAFE standards are very different for European automakers for the reasons cited by AP.

you said "The innovation in the car industry has been through the use of innovation created in other industries." -- this is an entirely meaningless statement. I will prove it's meaningless; show me an example of an innovation that was entirely 'pioneered' & developed within the automotive industry -- or by one of your 'niche players'.

By your definition, hybrid technology doesn't qualify since those innovations (ya know; computers and batteries and stuff) were created & developed outside the auto industry decades ago.

please respond.
- anonymous joe

Anonymous said...

haha. Hybrid locomotion was NOT invented in the auto industry. Are you guys all this dumb or are you faking it?

Anonymous said...

I love this blog! Ok, the who person who claims he is an engineer is clearly not. The cheap shot on making sure pretensioners work shows you have no knowledge of what goes on in that field proves that. Any true engineer knows what kind of challenge that is. Such challeges are, when will it deploy, how much force should be used to secure the seat belt, where do we package this pretensioner, how do we ensure that the pretnesioner was hooked up to the main body harness...etc. True engineers know those challenges and move on. Your attempt to mention the Carnot cycle also shows you have your pants down. If you did know about the Carnot cycle, then you would know what challenge every car, or any transportation manufacturer faces. You would easily be able to argue why a Chevette did get better gas mileage. It wasn't held to the same safety and consumer standards manufacturers face today. Remember that lowly pretensioner? Well, they didn't have those back then!! Luckily us real engineers found a way to put them in the car, along with a bunch of other airbags, aircurtains, smoother riding suspension, quieter comfort, ect. All for about the same amount of mpgs and the Chevette. By the way, today's cars are much cleaner, and more reliable that the Chevette.

Your arugments about how things are so much better in Europe? Did you know diesels there give off way more NO2 than cars here? Since you are not an engineer.. that means they pollute more than cars here. I am all for diesels and am glad fellow engineers here are working on a way to make them feasible here.
Why are you so negative on this blog? Its ok to disagree, but your comments show how uncredible you are. Any engineer, big three, Japanese, or Europoean knows the challenges we are going to face in the future. Clearly you are not an engineer.

Joeybu69. End of Line test engineer. "That's how we roll!"