The local newspaper has an auto-related section that's mainly ads, with
a few "articles" thrown in that are usually puff pieces with a big chunk
of their content lifted from manufacturer press releases. Yesterday
there was one touting the rollout of the 2013 Accord at a local
After pointing out that Honda had been facing increased competition from
American and Korean sedans, the piece quoted the dealership's sales
manager as he proudly touted a new "feature": "Honda's really listened
to what the people want. The biggest complaint had been the road noise.
They've addressed that by getting rid of the double-wishbone front
suspension and going with struts."
I was reminded of H. L. Mencken's definition of democracy as "the theory
that the common people know what they want, and deserve to get it good
I'm apparently one of the common people, very appreciative of reduced road
noise, though I'm not so sure about it at the expense of changing to struts.
What do other "quiet" cars use for front suspension components?
well, the acura tl is pretty quiet - that still has wishbones.
bottom line, the "noise" excuse is complete bull - there is no
engineering connection between wishbones and increased noise. if
anything, it's the other way around because wishbones are a less direct
Honda, like all other manufacturers, went to strut front-ends on lower-end
vehicles in order to help keep costs down. The primary impetus for this was
safety and emissions regulations, which combine to /dramatically/ raise the
cost of developing and bulding a car. Those costs are less onerous if the
car has a higher sell-price and higher margin, but they're a killer for the
low-end of the market.
As for "corporate profits at any cost": Any company which tries that is
doomed to failure. Profits come from satisfied customers. Unsatisfied
customers take their money elsewhere, resulting in eventual bankruptcy of
the indiscriminately-cost-cutting company.
ALL companies, just like ALL families and ALL individuals, MUST spend less
than they take in, so profit is an /absolutely necessary/ goal for
everybody, including Honda.
safety + emissions != cost of developing.
safety + emissions != cost of building.
"safety" is basically just making cars heavy and adding airbags.
airbags don't cost that much to the manufacturer, and making the car
heavy costs only the materials, and that's almost nothing extra.
"emissions" is basically just the cat [which has been there for more
than 30 years already] and sensors [see above]. the rest is software,
and that effectively costs nothing.
any mba course will teach you about product differentiation. i.e. make
the "high end" product with the high price "different" to the low end
stuff. otherwise nobody will pay the premium.
but, this works only if you have a lock on the market. honda don't,
they have loads of competition. making their product generic and
indistinguishable from the competition, and trying to charge a premium
price - well, that's where there's an obvious disconnect that's either
the product of stupidity, or a trojan horse.
there's profits and there's margins. woolmort make ultra-skinny
margins. much skinnier than honda. but they make HUGE profits because
they have successfully differentiated themselves and have huge volumes.
honda are making themselves generic, not different, and they're losing
volume. they're going to get eaten by frod and toyota. and i think the
frod part is by design.
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