US v European car technology

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Forget about that. A '96 GTI probably was a Golf III - a car which I am not able to drive in properly due to a lack of room. Just lately I sat in a Golf V, this is a completely different experience. I do not remember ever having been sitting better in a car of similar size. A BMW 3' series of today is about as big and comfortable as a 5' series 10 years ago. It is the same with VW.
Frank
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Arrogant but correct. Watch the show Top Gear and you'll understand what real driving is about. Most of the episodes are available on Gnutella.

You're posting on a mercedes newsgroup and you're claiming reliability is more important than in Europe?
cp
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This scribbler seems to have stretched his cleverness and then some - to fill xxx words' space.
Economics: Leaving him aside, the US auto industry has always been one of mass (vs. class). We don't produce finely tuned machines that achieve 400 HP from 3.0L - it just doesn't work that way here. We produce a cruder but simpler, low maintenance vehicle that's based on common parts, and do so for a relatively low price. Detroit must think in terms of 100,000 units, not 5,000 units. The median family income in the USA is about $44,000 - that's the US auto market's heart and when one sees annual new car sales of 17 million units, including imports, the idea of "mass" really takes hold for American's spend about 12% of their income on transportation - about $440 per month. Not a lot of money for new auto purchases. That's why some of the US auto makers don't even make money building cars! (The Big 3's retirement and health care costs are enormous ($1,500/car) vs. the foreign start-ups.) One needs a car in all but center city neighborhoods. The mass dispersion of autos, US per capita auto ownership vs. European per capita auto ownership, I'd suspect is substantially higher in the US, even when per capita income is similar. The more socially oriented Europeans have robust railway service vs. our ever regressive Amtrack service over freight rails. All these factors create demand but a profitless prosperity for Detroit's Big 3, so they "push the iron out the door" just to stay in business.
Technology: A new Corvette uses an ancient push rod V-8 design that's been vastly improved over the years; I had one of these 5.7L V-8s in my '72 Chevy, it made 165 HP with a two barrel carburetor! Simple and reliable engine. The cited Pontiac model is based, I understand, mostly on common parts that have been assembled as a "sports car". And its aggressive price reflects that "heritage". So it's not a BMW, well, nobody said it WAS a BMW, or a Lotus or a Mercedes. And then to run a pick up truck through a race course and complain that it's not a sports car is truly absurd. It's a truck, designed to haul goods!
Application: Then there's the actual use that cars encounter in the US. Mostly suburban - low speed and lots of idling in traffic - and speed limited (to 65 - 75 mph) freeway and interstate use. Driving 150 mph is a one time experience for one will not be driving at all thereafter. So "performance" is essentially limited to acceleration up to freeway speed and the relatively large Detroit iron does that reasonably well before it drops into overdrive to save fuel.
Attitude: IMHO the US auto industry ought to stop resisting change and start embracing it. Ever since emissions controls arose - even the very simple crankcase vapor capture - the US auto makers have been resistant. Too costly, too complicated, etc. etc. But they've always done it in the end, perhaps not the most efficient way but done it. Now Toyota's Prius is showing Detroit a new path and we're seeing their same begrudging reaction to this new Castor Oil. Oh well, if we MUST!
A historical parallel is the British - French Concorde vs. the 747. Class vs. mass, cutting (or was it bleeding) edge technology vs. proven technology. Passengers loved the Concorde but its economics, age and lack of new SST aircraft finally killed SST service.
Detroit is in business and that, today, means avoiding big risks, keeping the doors open and collecting a paycheck. Given the industry's economics, its breadth and after market infrastructure maintenance and repair skill set I believe Detroit is delivering a good product for the price. Of course auto columnists scribble about cars but they ought to do so with a bit more perspective, IMHO.
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Odd then that BMW 3 series outsell the Ford Mondeo in the UK and BMW are mass market manufacturers by any measure.

Does that exclude the building of fine cars. You seem to be making excuses for producing crap cars and in so doing are agreeing with Clarkson.

Your idea of European motoring is not accurate. There are big differences between individual Countries but in general multi-car families are normal and huge trafic problems fairly universal in towns if not in the countryside.

What he was implying was that a number of US cars, such as his test car, use truck technology and have truck-like handling.

Same in most of Europe.
- and speed

The same as most of Europe except that speeds are generally about 10mph higher in the 'fast' lanes.
So

So a 'sports car' is really just a truck just tarted up to look sporty. How can anyone buy into such dishonesty without feeling badly cheated?

No doubt most of their product is perfectly good, sometimes very good, witness the Chrysler 300C.
Of course auto columnists scribble about cars but they ought to

Oh but that is exactly what he did. Look at it in perspective. A spots car that is apparently not sporty because it uses ancient technology like a live rear axle in combination with all that torque, which it cannot handle and results in a car that does not handle. To-whit, a 'sports car' that is not.
Huw
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Agreed, plus: JC did point out that in the USA motoring was always a democratric, mass activity, whereas in Europe it was a rich person's activity until quite recently. That's not critical of the US industry.
As regards engine efficiency, if the price of fuel were double in the US I am sure the Big Two or Three would introduce better engines. They just have to dip into their European spares boxes...
BTW, I don't think the hybrid is being embraced with enthusiasm by many manufacturers. It is the endorsement by celebrities in the USA and the resulting fashion-fad. Thus if you are a Merc or BMW you worry about market penetration in the US and do what you think is fashionable with customers.
DAS
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In Europe the 300C will soon have a V6 diesel of course, which will allow about 40mpgUK on average. I predict that it will sell very well. The Chrysler Neon el-cheapo has bombed however.
Huw
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Here in the US they put a PT Cruiser body on the Neon, pumped the price and sold more than anyone ever dreamed. They're sort of cute to look at but I'd never waste my money on one.

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We get the PT Cruiser here in the UK also and it has sold more volume than the Neon. Still very low volume.
Huw
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Mostly nothing, of course, but they can be trend-setters. If we were all discussing rationally, we would not be spending so much time on hybrids.
DAS
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@sbcglobal.net says...

Clarkson is a journalist, not an actor. He got into motor journalism quite early in his career and hasn't looked back. He does know quite a bit about driving but doesn't seem to like to talk about it much, preferring to talk about things like his donkeys or yak herding. He is very very opinionated and vents much anger on his pet hates of cyclists, caravans, bus lanes and the environment. He has the annoying habit of dismissing extremely practical cars as being boring. Driving, a la Jeremy, is all about fun. He drives an SL (500 I think) and gave back his GT40 to Ford because getting woken up at 4am by an oversensitive alarm wasn't much fun. Most of his viewers/readers probably thought it was hilarious.
His articles are, however, quite entertaining and some are available online, including the one that was quoted at the start of this thread.
http://driving.timesonline.co.uk/section/0,,12529,00.html
Wikipedia has a more accurate and better resume of Mr Clarkson.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jeremy_Clarkson
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I suggest a different reason for the failure of Concorde. When developing the aircraft, a target of about 1400/1500 mph was set. Whilst challenging, it was doable based on the existing technology with relatively little development work.
Boeing, not wanting to be left out, started a project to build a rival that was faster, namely 2000 mph. There was no way this was achievable for a private company and Boeing gave up.
The Concorde was launched. The US government forbade supersonic overflight of the Continental US. Other countries followed suit and the rest is history. Practically nowhere to fly, necessarily high prices, no market, no development (which manufacturer will develop a better engine for 14 aircraft?). Kaput. THAT'S what killed the Concorde.
DAS
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Yes of course. US protectionism in action, driven by politics, just as in the present day where four of its biggest airlines are protected from the bankruptcy they should endure. They are trading while insolvent.
Huw
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Unfortunately state subsidies are not on one side, and Boeing/US government and Airbus/EU governments play that, too.
DAS
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Yes but I have a feeling that some Americans are under the impression that they live in a whiter than white free market economy. This is patently not so and the USA is damned clever in protecting its industry to the detriment of other countries. I just focused on the air industry because it was brought up and because it is topical. One can look at steel which leads to the subsidised production of cars if you like or any number of other industries. They are not unique in this of course but they have no moral high ground to stand on.
Huw
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in a fantasy world. IMHO Ronald Reagan (and I interviewed the man myself) was the last really moral individual to occupy the oval office. Judgment hasn't been passed on W yet (by those who really understand the time/history factor) but those in between were sure losers.
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LOL! Reagan moral!
He killed more innocent people then Bin Ladden (Sp?) can dream of...
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I'm sorry, can you name any innocent people killed under R. Reagan? From what I've learned in a rather long lifetime is that no one is innocent, especially those idiots in the middle east.

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Including the people who died on 9/11?

ahhhh that explains everything.
One thing about them idiots in the middle east, they know their mercedes! :-)
cp
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Ernie Sparks wrote:

That seems a bit cynical.
How did you get to interview the Great Communicator?
Did he communicate greatly?
.
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