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Old 07-11-2011, 04:45 AM   #101 (permalink)
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Originally Posted by jamesqf View Post
Nope, the 5 million is US sales. Worldwide sales were upwards of 20 million.
You are correct - I sit (slouch) corrected, 5 million is worldwide for the old Mini which for some reason (probably too many biscuits) I had mixed up with the Beetle figures. Still not an overwhelming number compared to total car population of the US.



But it was VWs only model for a long time and they had little in terms of volume competition from overseas makers. We British didn't make anything the US wanted except for sports cars.

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...If I'm not mistaken, the Rabbit in the US was the Golf Mark 1. And again, I'm just going by memory, but IIRC it was popular here mostly because of the Cabriolet version, which was one of the few convertibles available at the time.
Its very confusing to be honest. VW use all sorts of names all over the place for different models which are actually the same or very similar to each other. There was even an ex Chrysler UK car sold as a VW in South America for quite a while.

Original British designed car (note the Chrysler star and Talbot name badge on the bonnet, and this was originally a Hillman...)


And this is the VW version a decade later


I think I shall setup a site dedicated to obscure cars nobody wanted...

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Old 07-11-2011, 04:46 AM   #102 (permalink)
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Back on topic, the thrust of the original posting seemed to be that makers are deliberately holding back somehow, is that the case or is it just advancing and increasingly cheaper technology being applied ?
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Old 07-11-2011, 10:41 AM   #103 (permalink)
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Back on topic, the thrust of the original posting seemed to be that makers are deliberately holding back somehow, is that the case or is it just advancing and increasingly cheaper technology being applied ?
they are def holding back.
they have the technology in place.
think of the GDi's being introduced in several models now. that, as mentioned before, has been in use in diesel engines for something like 2 decades now. a simple, yet effective gas delivery system which allows for much less waste of fuel. and as mentioned, they have been able to produce cars as far back as 1950 that was able to achieve double what a similar (year prorated) car gets today. and that was with a carburated engine.
then you add to the fact that over seas vehicles of the same make/model that sells in the US is delivered from the factory getting almost twice the mpg that the US model gets.
I think it has to do with how much stock the oil companies have in US car manufactures, as well as how much say they have in our govt...
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Old 07-11-2011, 10:56 AM   #104 (permalink)
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GDi is interesting.

These had GDi engines from 1996, and I think some Japanese home market models had them prior to then.



They had problems though, which early adopters had to deal with, mainly a build up of carbon deposits which had to be removed every 60k miles. Petrol here is not as clean as it is in Japan.

Wiki-Bl@@dy-Pedia suggests that Ford did some development work in the late 1970s but the technology was not yet developed enough.

Maybe future ones will give an advantage but the Carisma (the car pictured) advertised it was as smooth and quiet as a petrol car but with the economy of a diesel one.

It didn't work.

The Carisma got a 2.0 TD a year or so later.
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Old 07-11-2011, 11:54 AM   #105 (permalink)
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You are correct - I sit (slouch) corrected, 5 million is worldwide for the old Mini which for some reason (probably too many biscuits) I had mixed up with the Beetle figures. Still not an overwhelming number compared to total car population of the US.
True, but it's still a big niche. As you point out, it really was VW's main model (plus the van and Karman-Ghia), and few other single models sold nearly as well.

Also remember that in the '70s, as VW's US sales declined, that small car niche that the Beetle created was being filled by the likes of Honda, Toyota, Datsun (now Nissan), and Subaru. If you consider their current total sales as a fraction of the US market, niche somehow doesn't seem the right word :-)
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Old 07-11-2011, 02:37 PM   #106 (permalink)
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FWIW...GDI (gasoline direct injection) was developed/proven in WWII aircraft engines...by both German and USA manufacturers.

...the Curtis-Wright R3350 (3300 hp @ 2900 rpm) turbo-compound engines on our Lockheed EC-121's used fuel injection system and 115/145 octane AVGAS and was one of the most fuel-efficient (BSFC) propellor engines made.
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Old 07-11-2011, 04:43 PM   #107 (permalink)
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True, but it's still a big niche. As you point out, it really was VW's main model (plus the van and Karman-Ghia), and few other single models sold nearly as well.
KG's were more or less hand built so they didn't sell much, just like the Type 3, 411, 412 etc. And they rust very very quickly - few KG Mk1s live in the EU and fewer KG Mk2s.

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Also remember that in the '70s, as VW's US sales declined, that small car niche that the Beetle created was being filled by the likes of Honda, Toyota, Datsun (now Nissan), and Subaru. If you consider their current total sales as a fraction of the US market, niche somehow doesn't seem the right word :-)
Up until the late 1960s VW's main competition (such as it was) came from British cars as well as those from France and Italy - Peugeots, Renaults, Lancias and FIATS. Nobody except VW invested in long term model development and a dealer network in the US except VW so they won - compare development of the Morris Minor in the UK vs the VW Beetle for an idea of this, both were more or less introduced at the same time - the designer of the Minor is my avatar.

In the 1970s the Japanese arrived in greater numbers (they had been there since the early 1960s) and also invested just as much in service as they did in sales and advertising. At the same time the Japanese also exported hard to Europe also in service as well as sales, so we had the same issue - cheap damn good cars competing with our expensive, slightly less good products and nice dealers too.

The European makers started to protect their own turf first so they neglected service in the US and started to fail as a result. They also had less to invest in technology - 60hp, 4cyl OHV MGB vs 150hp, 6cyl, OHC Nissan 240z - no chance.

Acting as a lesson against protectionism the European market first threw up barriers to the Japanese and when that failed they entered into a "Gentleman's Agreement" where Japanese makers restricted themselves to 10% of the market. They stuck to it too, but demand was so great it just made Japanese cars worth more so their products became worth a premium.

This was both good and bad for the Japanese - good as in they made more profit on each car, but bad as it allowed in the other Far Eastern makers such as Kia, Hyundai etc.

Now we make Japanese cars here in the UK - Toyota, Honda and Nissan, and MG cars made here are actually made in China and assembled here. The French - just being the French - objected about these being made in the EU until Renault bought a lot of Nissan and then Toyota started making cars in France (no idea how many they make in a typical French 30 hour working week ...).

My next car will come from here, which is PSA (French) and Toyota jointly making cars in Czech Republic, which used to be in what we called "Eastern Europe" and we now just call "Europe"

The world changes.
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Old 07-11-2011, 04:49 PM   #108 (permalink)
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FWIW...GDI (gasoline direct injection) was developed/proven in WWII aircraft engines...by both German and USA manufacturers.

...the Curtis-Wright R3350 (3300 hp @ 2900 rpm) turbo-compound engines on our Lockheed EC-121's used fuel injection system and 115/145 octane AVGAS and was one of the most fuel-efficient (BSFC) propellor engines made.
I was going to say that apart from the Luftwaffe nobody did GDI much until the 1990s.

One of the big advantages of the Me109 vs the Spitfire (apart from outright speed) in the Battle of Britain was the FI system - a Spitfire would roll and the float in the carb would block the fuel flow causing the engine to miss for a few seconds - that killed as well as saved quite a few RAF pilots in close combat. The Spitfire could turn quicker though, but only the right way up.

Thats a couple of years before the B17s arrived BTW - someone was late - again
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Old 07-11-2011, 07:17 PM   #109 (permalink)
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Acting as a lesson against protectionism the European market first threw up barriers to the Japanese...
But appreciate the very significant difference between the Japanese going into Europe and the Japanese going into the US. In Europe, the Japanese were offering similiar-sized products to what European mfgs were producing, so they had to compete on price, quality, & service. In the US, they had that very underpopulated small car (and small pickup) niche waiting for them.
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Old 07-11-2011, 07:31 PM   #110 (permalink)
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jamesqf -

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Originally Posted by jamesqf View Post
But appreciate the very significant difference between the Japanese going into Europe and the Japanese going into the US. In Europe, the Japanese were offering similiar-sized products to what European mfgs were producing, so they had to compete on price, quality, & service. In the US, they had that very underpopulated small car (and small pickup) niche waiting for them.
That's a good point. Sometimes I liken the 1970's American car market to Australia. The first Japanese cars were like rabbits because when you combine them with rising gas prices they "multiply" like mad and push aside the native (Big-3) population. The EU market would have already been "hardened" by high fuel prices, so they could compete.

Ha, makes me wonder if the VW Rabbit name was a subsequent inside joke :



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