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Welcome to reality
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Posted by Ari [Email] (more from Ari) on Thu, 15 Jan 2009 11:06:57 Share Post by Email
In Reply to: Car industry is so inefficient, J, Thu, 15 Jan 2009 08:27:34
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If a car was a collection of parts, that approach works. The problem is that a car is an integrated system.

Pick a navigation system of a given size. Great. That impacts the size of the hole in the dashboard and the depth behind the dashboard. That impacts where all the instruments go, where the air ducts go, and where the passenger airbag is mounted. It also determines the physical structure behind the dash that leads directly into body structural integrity, crash testing, and the like.
For a while, we had the DIN standard for radios, and that was great until everyone went away from it.

Seats. Seats should be easy. OK, make a range of seats that will fit in everything from a compact to a SUV. Design it so it fits the same seat rails. Oh, make sure that all those mountings will work under the different crash heights between those different cars. And have the airbags hit the occupants at the right place, and the seat belt mounts be in the right place.

Look into the engine compartment of any car made after 1998. If you can see the ground, that's amazing. Heck, you could pour water on the top and it'll take time to trickle down - there's no room in there. The location of the alternator is not only defined by the belt drive, but the routing of hoses, cables, where the fender well is, etc.

The 'old' method worked great when cars were big (and heavy). Engines had no emissions controls. You could build a big engine compartment, and drop in everything from a small straight six to a big block V8. Passenger safety was, at best, based on how much steel they could put between you and the bumper.

To make cars efficient, you need them lighter, so the entire body is a stressed memeber. You can't just move something without impacting the crash resistance.

Small, light, efficient, and safe are great, but incompatible with one or three sizes fit all, standardized. A car is an integrated device, where the size of the nav system impacts the ductwork which impacts the firewall strength which impacts the placement of the steering rack supports which impact the subframe which impacts the crash resistance, handling, turn radius, and tire size.

And then we complain when it's hard to service. That gets taken into account, also.

Hence, reality. Putting a car together is amazingly complex. That's one reason why it takes a few billion dollars to develop a car. If we're willing to go back to large, heavy, inefficient cars with questionable safety, then we could standardize.

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