You are confusing the Japanese love for cool sounding gadgets with true
Not one of those ideas was a Japanese invention. They may have refined the ideas
actually produced them in large numbers, but how useful are any of them?
Four wheel steeering - patent applications at least as far back as 1907
Active suspension - Citroen from the 60's
CVT - DAF from the 50's (now part of Volvo, which is part of Ford)
Variable Valve Timing - Demonstrated no later than 1934 by Buggatti and probably
Rotary Engine -German invention, sold by NSU (now part of VW) for years before
Hybrids - nothing was invented here, the idea is decades old
As far as I am concerned not one of the ideas in the list is much more than a
marketing ploy to sell stuff to techno lovers. Japanese manufuacturers love to
gadgets. Admittedly many of these gadgets sell. And the Japanese are superb at
refining and miniturizing things. However, this is more a statement of management
direction than engineering ability.
The ideas may be old, but so what? Anyone can THINK of an invention. The point
is, the Japanese were the first ones to make any of those ideas actually
feasible. Which implies technical competence. So does Honda's consistent
record-breaking of HP-per-liter with their engines. And record-breaking of ULEV
As for their usefulness, every single one of those helps vehicle efficiency or
drivability, and hybrids are critical since the world is expected to run out of
gas around 2050.
Breaking what records? Any fool with a turbocharger and a few days can
get more output per liter than the typical Honda 4 cylinder. VTEC is
nothing more than a marketing ploy. Honda builds nice cars, but come on,
if you want to go fast not one Honda would rank first on your list. The
closest is the S2000 and an ancient technology Z28 could run them into
the ground. 2003 Ford Mustang Cobras can crush them and still cost less.
What is the point in all the cool variable valve timing is all it does
is add cost? Why spend thousands on a hideously complicated four 2 liter
four cylinder when a pushrod V-8 can crush it? Also, Ford has vehicles
that use pushrod V-6s that are ULEV rated. So what is the big advantage
for Honda there? Do you honestly thing spending $100 of dollars on
variable vale timing for an engine that mostly putts around town is a
worthwhile way to spend the Customer's money?
Four wheel steering is pretty much worthless. Do the Japanese brands you
mentioned even still offer it? Wankel engines ae cool and even have
their niche, but they are just not as fuel efficient as convention
piston engines. Ford and GM were both making preparations to start mass
production of Wankels when the first gas crisis hit in the 70's. The
inherent fuel inefficiency of the Wankel caused them to kill production
plans. Only Mazda has continued to produce Wankels and they only use it
in certain niche markets. I like the idea of active suspension, but it
is expensive and not all that useful to most consumers. Over the years
German, English, American, and Japanese car makers have offered
different incarnations of the basic idea. It might sell a few high end
cars, but for most of us, it is hard to beat the price/performance
combination offered by convention springs and shocks. Hybrids are the
latest techno-geek fad. Will they work? Of course. Are they cost
effective - no. Instead of one power plant, you are buying two, plus a
control system to allow them to work together. The cost of the various
hybrids reflect this. You end up paying more for the hybrid than you
would for an equivalent regular vehicle and the incremental increase in
gas it would use. So why are the Japanese building them? For marketing
reasons. It looks good and a certain number of people buy them because
it makes them feel good about themselves. Also, the government is
promoting them because they have to be seen doing something. This is
particularly true in California where the government looks particularly
stupid for pushing the introduction of electric vehicles.
Breaking the records I just mentioned: the HP-per-liter record and the
cleanliness (ULEV/SULEV/etc.) record. Those are pretty much the only relevant
records worth breaking, aside from the longevity record, which they have
basically always held. I think they also broke the redline record with the
S2000 (9,000 RPM) but that might be wrong.
Yes, any fool with a turbocharger can max output out to infinity. Turbocharging
is the easy route. The only thing easier than turbocharging is building a
BIGGER engine. What kind of a contest is seeing which company can stuff the
biggest engine that can fit into a car? Seems a bit silly, does it not?
Apparently, GM doesn't find it worthless, as they offer it on the GMC Sierra.
Yours for only $40,000.
The Insight is a dumb car, but ever since the Prius and Civic Hybrid came out,
that hasn't necessarily been true: several years of driving (5-10?) would
compensate the initial loss. And with the new Prius, it's fully false. Now,
$20,000 gets you the space and performance of a 4-cylinder mid-size car, the
best example, of course, being the Camry. A Camry LE costs right around
$20,000, so the hybrid powertrain is almost free.
It doesn't seem any siller than seeing who can build the smallest engine or even
engine with the highest power output per liter. I am interested in the final
results. If a 7 liter V-10 fits the Customers needs better than a 9000 rpm 2
engine, why would you care?
It's a marketing gimmick just like it was when the Japanese offered it. I have
to talk to anyone who actually uses a truck as a true work vehicle that thought
was worth the added cost. A freind who pulls a cattle trailer actaully refused to
buy a truck that had it becasue it made backing the trailer more difficult
what the cool TV ads show).
According to Edmunds :
2004 2004 4 Cyl
Pirus Camry Automatic
TMV $20,510 $18,185
Front Head Room: 39.1 in. 39.2 in.
Front Hip Room: 51.0 in. 54.4 in.
Front Shoulder Room: 55.3 in. 57.5 in.
Rear Head Room: 37.1 in. 38.3 in.
Rear Shoulder Room: 52.2 in. 56.7 in.
Rear Hip Room: 51.0 in. 54.1 in.
Front Leg Room: 41.9 in. 41.6 in.
Rear Leg Room: 38.6 in. 37.8 in.
Luggage Capacity: 16.1 cu. ft. 16.7 cu. ft.
Maximum Seating: 5 5
EPA City/Highway 50? 23 / 32 mpg (I'd estimate 25 combined)
So for around $2,300 you get a slightly smaller car that gets a lot better gas
mileage. At $2.00 a gallon, $2,300 can buy you 1,150 gallons of gas. This is
to drive the Camry around 30,000 miles. You'd have to drive the Pirus 60,000
before you saved enough to pay for the difference in cost with the gas savings,
assuming the maintenance costs were the same. Seems like a marginal advantage to
I certainly wouldn't buy the Pirus for the marginal fuel savings. I definitely
stay away from it becasue it is butt ugly - but that is just my opinion.
More dependance upon foriegn oil and more pollution. The reality is that
even if the engines are equally as clean, the emissions are PPM, so
if you burn 4 times as much gas per mile in the SUV, it pollutes four
times as much per hour as the hybrid, even though they test the same
at the smog check.
Imagine the following - one hybrid with a 1 inch tailpipe. 60mpg.
A 7 liter V10 SUV with dual exhaust and 2 inch tailpipes.
Under the current method, they measure PPM. Flow and rate is not
a factor(oops) - so in theory, if the thing blows out five times
the volume of exhaust during hard acceleration that the Pruis does,
well, that's no different as the PPM measurements at ldle are the same.
I wonder what they would do if the tests were changed to mg per minute.
(probably scream and claim foul and get some bill passed - lol)
But, for a passenger car, a hybrid engine is neat. Less expensive repairs,
less weight up front(better front/rear weight distribution), less gas
used, and same price. Same power up hills, too, and ZERO shifting lag
as the engine doesn't have to wind up to optimum power RPM when you
go from 3rd to 4th at highway speeds(and also where most pollution
comes from - during high stress periods after you shift to a higher gear
EPA is 55-60 in real-world driving tests so far.
Also, the Pruis has features and trim on it comparable to the Camry LE.
It basically needs nothing and all of the options are things like GPS and
handds-free cell phone and self-parking AI(Japan only so far) and such.
Compared to a Camry LE 4cyl, it's virtually identical in price.
Oh. There's also a $1000 tax incentive as well, so it's really the
same price(usually there's a $1000 or so off on the Camry as well from
time to time)
But here in New England, Rhode Island in particular we chip in nearly
$.60 a gallon in taxes alone. To those of us in the U.S., that's
How England and most other European countries got away with the tax scam
you have is beyond me. If they tried that here you'd see us lynching
politicians in the streets.
Right now the G'ment is going to borrow money by selling T-bills to oil
wealthy Arabs. The next generation will be paying for that in taxes, either
higher or new. Or substantially reduced services. What great gift for the
It's more like 40% here. There was a 27% rise in the cost of health
insurance yet the teachers here (who average $50K for a 9 month school year)
are striking because the school board asked them to split the difference. I
can't really blame the teachers for striking but it doesn't address how
obscenely profitable the healthcare industry is. As for the lynchings, if
the corporate republican income redistribution trend doesn't reverse, shit's
My point was that from a company pride/technical achievement standpoint, it's
dumb for the contest to be about building better engines because anyone can make
their engine as big as they please. If all the Americans have is BIGNESS, that
seems like a pretty SMALL accomplishment.
Nobody said it was worth GM's premium; maybe you didn't notice my sarcasm when I
said "only $40,000." I was just saying it can HELP; GM's choosing to rip people
off doesn't decrease its benefits. I bet it only costs a few hundred to produce
Ugly? Try fugly. But the interior dimensions are virtually the same, and
you're only comparing the base stripper LE Camry. And even with those price
numbers, let's redo the gas thing. Consumer Reports says the
previous-generation Prius -- which gets WORSE gas mileage than the new one --
got, I believe, 40 MPG, and a 4-banger Camry about 24. Assuming $2 a gallon and
12,000 miles a year, a year of Camry driving is $1,000 and a year of Prius
driving $600, meaning you save $400 a year with the Prius. If the MSRP
difference is only $2,000 (or so), then yeah, 5 years would make it up, and
every year thereafter is FREE MONEY! Most people keep their cars, or at least
their Toyotas, for about 10 years these days, which means the average guy is
getting paid $2,000 for choosing a Prius over a Camry. Many, many Toyotas can
go about 15 years before they die, so maybe make that $4,000.
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