Date: 8 Sep 2002 19:38:41 GMT
Subject: Re: GM Influence

Someone who looks an awful lot like Mike <mereridnopsamcom> wrote: >>> Ok, so since they're aircraft designers/engineers, they *MUST* be good >>> at designing cars? Is power-to-weight ratios that important? >> >>Well, let's see. It effects performance and fuel economy, which seem to >>me to be two things that are important in cars. Would you not agree? > Yes, its an important factor. I agree. I guess I've been > Americanized to not worry about weight of the car, but the power > output.. Ah, but that's the thing - a 150 HP car that weighs 2000 lbs, will be just about as quick as a 300 HP car that weighs 4000 lbs. Yeah, the 300 HP car has more pistons, but they're just there to drag around the un-needed extra weight. >>Have you driven a 2-stroke 96 with one of the red engines? 58 BHP >>doesn't sound like alot, but it's a *very* spirited car. > No. I haven't. I don't think I'm old enough. I have driven Honda > CRXes thats pretty fun to drive though. Are you anywhere near Wisconsin? Seriously - the old 2-stroke 96's are an absolute *blast* to drive, especially in the snow. The HP numbers are very low sounding, but the car isn't horribly heavy so it' certainly enough. Add the excellent handling (which feels *very* similar to my 9-5, interestingly enough), and it's amazing how zippy the cars are. > Still, thats not the point. What I'm trying to get across is that > theres things that affect safety and engine performance, which Saab > does very well. However, they failed at other things like quality > (perceived or otherwise) in terms of interior & exterior fit/finish, > styling, ride, etc. I've never heard any complaints about the ride, except for people who don't understand FWD in general ??? Well, the Viggen "torque steer" which isn't, OK. > People look at Saab and see "old" and "unreliable" because of all the > little (sometimes big) nigging problems, hot engine, but poor > steering, ???????? > and expensive. From what I see around here (in North > America), it seems that the only people who buy Saabs are those who > are turned off by BMW/MB. Well, I've been driving Saabs for all of my car-owning life. First one was a Sonett III, been through some 96's, a 95, a 900T, and now the 9-5. After the responsiveness, and the smart engineering, it'd be unlikely that I would find another brand which would satisfy me. There just aren't the quality engineering and design features out there, in combinations I care about, in any other brand. BMW and MB are non-starters for me, as last I checked they don't offer a FWD, for instance. I'm sure some of it is comfort level and my own resistance to change, but bad engineering really annoys me, and I see too much of it in other brands. >>Hrrm? How fast do you think cars went in 1947, and do you think it's >>significantly different than it is today? Also, how does drag *not* enter >>into the equation even at lower speeds? Even if the effect were lower due >>to lower speeds, that doesn't mean it's a force to be disregarded in the >>proper design of a car. Just another place where they were ahead of their >>time. > I don't know how fast cars were in 1947, but from driving cars from > the 80s, I don't think its very safe to go the same speed. With > modern cars, I feel very safe cruising at 100 mph (160 kph) on most > interstates. I don't think I can do the same in cars from the 80s. I > assume that cars in the 40s, 50s to be worst. I think your assumptions on this matter are unfounded. Maybe cars where the designers didn't care about aerodynamics, yes, but I think that this supports rather than detracts from my point. > Is drag important at 60mph? 70mph? I'll give you more wind noise.. > Fuel efficiency won't be that much affected at the usual speeds that > people drive in the cities in NA. Rural drivers generally drive truck > anyways. What? Where did you get that? I take it your experience with rural areas is, er, limited. > I stand by my statement that car makers uses drag co. for marketing > unless they're selling sport cars. I don't think most Saabs (by sales > volume) are considered that. Heck.. whats the drag co of BMW 3/5 > series? Audi A4/A6? (Saab's main competitors?) I don't know - my reason for bringing it up is to show that they were looking at that sort of thing 50 years ago, way before their time. > I guess I can agree with you that Saab was (at that time) was ahead of > its time. However, my point is that those things weren't important > (enough) to the buying public between then and now. Well, as long as they sell enough of them to be around in ten years when I want to replace my 9-5, I'm content with their market share being whatever it is. >>Well, Windows, and the common cold, are both pretty popular too, but >>that doesn't mean they're good. > Windows is good. Name the alternative, and I can tell you why it > failed. Yeah, I kind of figured that would be where this comment would go. Windows is *popular*, but it has set the computing world back decades. It's inherently insecure, unstable, and is released with more bugs than any other program would be tolerated with. > People bash Windows left and right because its there. People > don't realize that Windows brought PC to the masses. OS/2? UNIX? Mac? > They all have their problems with stability, functionality, support, > complexity, and cost. Like I said, many people are happy with windows; those are usually those whose experience in stable, secure, world-class operating systems is limited, dated, or nonexistant. >>> My "intent" is to point out that Saab isn't the perfect European car >>> maker that was took over by the bad American car conglomerate and >>> suddenly tranformed into a bean-counting bad-engineering car factory. >> >>Since your basic premise seems to be that an airplane engineer can't be >>a good car engineer, I would submit that your conclusions are built on >>a faulty foundation. I'm not slamming GM, I see them as a necessary evil. >>As long as they don't interfere with engineering issues, I don't care all >>that much. > No. I'm saying that an aerospace/airplane engineer MAY not be a good > automotive engineer. Thats what Saab-lovers seem to think: Saab make > planes, which is more expensive and complex, so they must make good > cars, which is less complex. I disagree with that. They are not that different of a machine. Good engineering is constant across disciplines. Good engineering practices translate *very* well from airplanes to cars. > GM makes defense equipments, and owns Hughes electronics (satellites > technologies). GM must make amazing cars right?! ;-) GM and Saab are rather different company cultures, would you not agree? I used to work for GE - huge company, too big to move quickly, and with some cultural problems that stifled creativity. There, getting good engineering practices from a different division (like hughes to GM auto) was difficult if not impossible. Saab, being much smaller, has a more central location, and I suspect is better at communicating between divisions. Someone here mentioned that the automobile engineers use the aircraft computing center for some sort of modelling, I seem to recall. > GM have very good engineers as well. Many of whom gets extremely > frustrated by the 15-20+ year experienced engineers and managers they > have to work under. Marrying GM engineering with Saab engineering may > not necessary be a bad thing. Look how far we've gone improving the > push-rod engine instead of make modern engines. ;-) Well, the push-rod engine was OK through the 70's I anyone still making them??? > Thats probably > the best example of the stupidity of the people who control GM... > keeping obsolete architecture while spending tons of money decade > after decade keeping it up instead of developing modern > architectures.. Can't disagree there... > Actually, in my mind, GM is probably the only company thats heading in > the right direction to beat the Toyota and Honda in car quality and > Europeans in desirability. (notice that I didn't say Japanese car > makers because most of them makes pretty crappy cars..) I have no direct experience with Japanese cars, so I'll defer on this one. Good engineering is at least as much a function of the corporate culture, as it is the engineers themselves. If they are not given the freedom and motivation to do it right, and are instead constrained and motivated to do it less-than-right, then engineering quality goes down. I see the GM thing to be tolerable, as long as they don't (start/keep) pushing bad design and direction onto Saab. I guess the Lotus engine in the new 9-3 will be a make-or-break, as far as I'm concerned. Dave Hinz

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