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Old 07-02-2011, 09:25 PM   #41 (permalink)
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...my point is: the asian car manufacturers "...just DID it..." when gas was cheap; Detroit "...just DIDN'T..." until gas got expensive.

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Old 07-02-2011, 10:15 PM   #42 (permalink)
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...my point is: the asian car manufacturers "...just DID it..." when gas was cheap; Detroit "...just DIDN'T..." until gas got expensive.
+1 on that.

My frustration has always been that the same domestic OEMs that have long standing European subsidiaries just will not bring the GOOD options that people would want for "emissions" reasons or whatever excuse that gets manufactured. Everytime our overseas brothers and sisters post about their cars, I can't help to feel a little cheated because the management running the show over here won't even give us the option, and unless you do your own research, you will not find out how much better they are.

Oh, and that pickup truck/SUV thing; all the manufacturers have had real efficient vehicles for years, especially in the South American market where the same vehicle that gets sold here is sold there with a different drivetrain, ie Ford F150, Ranger, GM Silverado and S10/15. Makes me mad just thinking about it.
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Old 07-03-2011, 12:50 AM   #43 (permalink)
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But I also think context helps explain the story. We had Texas oil fields for the longest time. Japan *always* had to conserve energy and other resources because it has no raw materials.
But that's still only part of the story. Sure, economic incentives would have inclined some people towards smaller/more efficient cars, but even when gas was cheap, there were still plenty of people (me, for one) who simply prefer small cars, even though we could easily afford the costs associated with running a big one. Detroit just threw this market away - no, more than that, they tried to convince the public that our size preference was somehow unnatural and "unAmerican".
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Old 07-03-2011, 02:38 AM   #44 (permalink)
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jamesqf -

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Originally Posted by jamesqf View Post
But that's still only part of the story. Sure, economic incentives would have inclined some people towards smaller/more efficient cars, but even when gas was cheap, there were still plenty of people (me, for one) who simply prefer small cars, even though we could easily afford the costs associated with running a big one. Detroit just threw this market away - no, more than that, they tried to convince the public that our size preference was somehow unnatural and "unAmerican".
Me too, I've always owned fuel-efficient compact cars. But I don't think we are in the car-buying majority.

And I know what you're saying, but the distinction I am trying to make is that there is a broader context in which Detroit failed. You drive a 1st-gen Insight that you fully admit was an economic failure for Honda. If gas prices had been higher, do you think Honda would have sold more 1st-gen Insights?

Would you disagree that *legislated* higher fuel prices would have effected the evolution of American car design? When I talk about legislation, I am talking about an artificial environment that promotes higher MPG cars. Conversely, cheap gas leads to an equally artificial environment of low MPG cars.

From my POV, Detroit and America are two sides of the same coin.

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Old 07-03-2011, 09:19 AM   #45 (permalink)
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jamesqf -



Me too, I've always owned fuel-efficient compact cars. But I don't think we are in the car-buying majority.

And I know what you're saying, but the distinction I am trying to make is that there is a broader context in which Detroit failed. You drive a 1st-gen Insight that you fully admit was an economic failure for Honda. If gas prices had been higher, do you think Honda would have sold more 1st-gen Insights?

Would you disagree that *legislated* higher fuel prices would have effected the evolution of American car design? When I talk about legislation, I am talking about an artificial environment that promotes higher MPG cars. Conversely, cheap gas leads to an equally artificial environment of low MPG cars.

From my POV, Detroit and America are two sides of the same coin.

CarloSW2
What you are talking about goes back to the " American Image ". Land of Opportunity, Land of Plenty. The public has been conditioned to " bigger is better ", " more power ", and unfortunately " don't worry, be happy ".

If the US had to operate under the same fuel prices as Europe or Japan for say, 40 years or longer, then the designs and marketing would cater to that.
And you are right about the role of government creating the environment, since they are the rule makers for business.
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Old 07-03-2011, 11:00 AM   #46 (permalink)
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Originally Posted by cleanspeed1 View Post
My frustration has always been that the same domestic OEMs that have long standing European subsidiaries just will not bring the GOOD options that people would want for "emissions" reasons or whatever excuse that gets manufactured.
Emissions / safety are bogus arguments.
Banning diesels for passenger vehicles while allowing it for light trucks is silly.
It's protectionism, plain and simple.

You might want our cars, but the reverse is far from true - most European people simply don't want a US gas-guzzler. Those who do form a niche market served mostly by grey imports - and almost invariably running on LPG which is a lot cheaper than gas. Most are light trucks or sportscars.

The regular imports that did score, were the likes of the Chrysler Voyager, Pontiac Transsport, when the MPV became more popular here.
Even then sales were hampered by their US engines. At least Chrysler introduced a diesel in the Voyager.

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Oh, and that pickup truck/SUV thing
In Europe, pick-up trucks are very much a small niche market for private persons.

The EU-SUV sort of replaced the MPV, though they are still a lot smaller than US SUVs. You'll find them even with small 1.5L diesel engines .
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Old 07-03-2011, 11:14 AM   #47 (permalink)
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I read the overseas rags like Top Gear and in the back there usually is a buyer's guide, and a lot of the SUVs that we get here are sold with small turbodiesels and manual transmissions. The Kia Sorento is one that comes to mind and also the Hyundai Sante Fe. They sell like hot cakes over here, yet mpg wise you know they are bad. Wonder what would happen if the TD version were sold here?
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Old 07-03-2011, 02:02 PM   #48 (permalink)
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Me too, I've always owned fuel-efficient compact cars. But I don't think we are in the car-buying majority.
Perhaps we're not a majority, but we're a market. And a market that can be sold to, profitably. It's not just economical small cars either: no one could really claim that Porsches or the BWM/Mercedes 2-seaters are economy cars, but they sell.

Quote:
You drive a 1st-gen Insight that you fully admit was an economic failure for Honda. If gas prices had been higher, do you think Honda would have sold more 1st-gen Insights?
I don't think the Insight was a failure at all. It did exactly what it was intended to do: test Honda's IMA system in the real world without exposing the company to significant liability if there were major problems (recall the "unintended acceleration" thing with the Prius?), plus get good publicity. I don't think Honda ever wanted to sell more than it did, because they were selling for less than they cost to build.
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Old 07-03-2011, 02:11 PM   #49 (permalink)
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You might want our cars, but the reverse is far from true - most European people simply don't want a US gas-guzzler. Those who do form a niche market served mostly by grey imports - and almost invariably running on LPG which is a lot cheaper than gas. Most are light trucks or sportscars.
Europe could hardly be importing sports cars from the US, since with the exception of the Pontiac Fiero, Detroit has not built a sports car since the Ford Thunderbird and Chevy Corvette of the late '50s.

I did notice a number of American cars in Europe. IIRC Geneva airport security was running around in Chevy Suburbans a few years ago. (Long wait for a plane, before they had non-smoking areas in the terminals, so I spent hours outside.) There were a couple of Hummers I'd see around Lausanne (why I don't know, given the width of the streets in the older/pricier parts of town), and Jeep Grand Cherokees seemed about as common as Land Rovers in England.
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Old 07-04-2011, 10:00 AM   #50 (permalink)
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...a couple of Detroit "blunder" examples:

• when GM claimed EPA emissions couldn't be met in V8 engines, Honda modified and delivered to GM a CVCC version of the Chevy 350 heads. Honda's could meet EPA emissions standards without catalytic convertors and other addons at that time.

• GM claimed they "could've" made a 60 MPG vehicle, but didn't.

• Chrysler "dabbled" with Lean-Burn, but abandoned it; Honda instead, developed it into their HFE models.

• GM "crushed" the EV1's; Toyota developed the Prius.

...see a trend happening in the above?
And to think there are people who wonder why GM and Chrystler went bankrupt and Toyota, Honda, etc. did not.

It's almost as if companies who don't sell products that customers want at affordable prices go under. Oh wait...I forgot we have the government around to give out bailouts and ensure those companies will keep up the good work (insert sarcasm).

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