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Old 04-29-2009, 12:37 PM   #21
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I didn't know Janesville had a Chrysler plant. Untill 2008 it had a GM plant.
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Old 04-29-2009, 12:47 PM   #22
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I suppose the Japanese were unfairly building quality cars.
And have been for many years........
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Old 04-29-2009, 12:49 PM   #23
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The sad part about it is that Toyota actually came to Detroit in the 1960's to see how GM built cars.
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Old 04-30-2009, 09:25 AM   #24
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The sad part about it is that Toyota actually came to Detroit in the 1960's to see how GM built cars.
Let me guess, after they got done laughing the got on a flight, went back to Japan, and immediately decided to do the exact opposite......
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Old 04-30-2009, 09:42 AM   #25
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Let me guess, after they got done laughing the got on a flight, went back to Japan, and immediately decided to do the exact opposite......
Those first Japanese imports to the US were not spectacular. They were cheap, but not the high-quality vehicles that came later (much like the KIAs of 10 years ago). The difference is that Toyota et al got on the Deming bandwagon, modified the program to fit their culture and needs, and continuously improved the quality of their vehicles and their processes with a view to the long term.

25 years later, Detroit folks were going to Japan to learn about how to build good cars. Some of the companies "got religion" more than others.
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Old 04-30-2009, 09:43 AM   #26
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On the contrary, they adopted what they felt was useful, and rejected what was not and evolved as necessary. Toyota's earliest models were "inspired" by American vehicles, so much so that some parts were actually interchangeable. But the genius of Toyota was that if something wasn't working, they quickly adapted to the market. While GM was trying to push pieces of crap like the Vega, Toyota was selling the Corolla for a bargain price. They tended to establish production facilities in the countries in which their products were sold, and were able to nimbly react to local markets.

Ironically, GM partnered with Japanese companies to sell rebadged vehicles which they seemingly could not manufacture themselves. The Geo brand was produced by badge-engineered Toyotas, Suzukis, and Isuzus. Not surprisingly, GM didn't seem to learn its lesson and continued to produce cars which did not seem to fit well in the market, apart from its trucks and a few halo models such as the Corvette. Ford, on the other hand, has historically tapped its European arm to produce successful small car models, beginning with the early Cortina, Escort, and Capri. Some of the most respected Ford models - such as the Focus - came out of this arrangement.
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Old 04-30-2009, 10:40 AM   #27
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Those first Japanese imports to the US were not spectacular. They were cheap, but not the high-quality vehicles that came later (much like the KIAs of 10 years ago). The difference is that Toyota et al got on the Deming bandwagon, modified the program to fit their culture and needs, and continuously improved the quality of their vehicles and their processes with a view to the long term.

25 years later, Detroit folks were going to Japan to learn about how to build good cars. Some of the companies "got religion" more than others.
I had a 78 Corolla and a 77 Civic. Other than RUSTING OUT, they ran forever.......

The Chevy Malibu is a very nice reliable car. The cyncial side of me says they could ahve made this car 10 years ago but chose not to........
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Old 04-30-2009, 11:20 AM   #28
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"I had a 78 Corolla and a 77 Civic. Other than RUSTING OUT, they ran forever.......

The Chevy Malibu is a very nice reliable car. The cyncial side of me says they could ahve made this car 10 years ago but chose not to........"

One source referenced the alleged mechanical reliability of the 1970's Corolla, noting that they usually rusted in half before any mechanical failures could present itself.

And regarding the Malibu being made 10 years ago, I'm reminded of a review of the latest Cobalt, in which the designers specifically targeted what they thought was the best in class at the time - the VW Jetta. Of course, by that time the Jetta had already moved on. Its a sad commentary that with limited exceptions, GM especially has had a habit of fighting the last war, the latest example is the release of the retro Camaro in reponse to the retro Mustang released two years prior.
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Old 04-30-2009, 11:35 AM   #29
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One wonderful exception of that is the EV1. GM, in my mind, had the best EV vehicle at the time. They owned a portion of the patent for the large size nickle batteries and a great 1st and 2nd generation product.
They then sold off the patent, crushed almost all the cars and sat on the technology doing nothing with it for years. I would be so happy to be driving an EV4 or 5 right now.
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Old 04-30-2009, 11:39 AM   #30
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. . . GM especially has had a habit of fighting the last war, the latest example is the release of the retro Camaro in response to the retro Mustang released two years prior.
Their next example of GM driving by looking in the rear-view mirror will be the Chevy Volt. A gaping investment resource pit that will not produce a car that can be sold at a price the market will support. But, our present Congress and Executive Branch will love it, so we'll probably all be buying them--as taxpayers, and for our neighbors.
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Old 04-30-2009, 11:51 AM   #31
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One wonderful exception of that is the EV1. GM, in my mind, had the best EV vehicle at the time. They owned a portion of the patent for the large size nickle batteries and a great 1st and 2nd generation product.
They then sold off the patent, crushed almost all the cars and sat on the technology doing nothing with it for years. I would be so happy to be driving an EV4 or 5 right now."

You mean the patent that Chevron now owns?

There is no shortage of examples of extraordinarily poor judgement by the US automakers. One shining example: the big three were given a $1 Billion grant in 1993 to develop hybrid/electric cars - they developped prototypes but never went into production. Toyota, fearing competition, developped the Prius with no public support whatsoever. Some companies are really too stupid to live.
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Old 04-30-2009, 02:11 PM   #32
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Some great thoughts out there on how the auto companies screwed up in the past. All good points which brings me to future of the industry in the U.S. How do you feel about the future of the hydrogen fuel cell as a power source? I wish I could remember the TV show about a year ago (maybe Discovery Channel) regarding Iceland going 100% hydrogen by the year 2020(?). I say 2020 because I just can't remember the details but their government has a mandate that they will be totally off fossil fuels by that time. They are changing everything over including fueling stations. Wonder how that effort is progressing. Let me know any knowledge you have of this country's changeover. This is where I think the U.S. should be looking long term. (signed: a disappointed, frustrated, retired GM engineer). Boy am I glad I'm retired.
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Old 04-30-2009, 02:37 PM   #33
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Iceland is in a very nice position as they have so much geothermal energy they can be very inneficient with it.
Last I heard it was still moving along nicely. As they have so much energy it is easy for them to convert it into hydrogen for use. I believe all their city buses are hydrogen right now.
Countries such as the US which have very little energy production from renewables and little excess capacity (except at night) need a better, more efficient menthod of producing hydrogen.
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Old 04-30-2009, 02:41 PM   #34
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My thoughts on fuel cells are that they are not ready for prime time. They're expensive, still pretty big, and have a limited lifespan. I would imagine the numbers in Iceland would be more attractive since they have a large amount of available renewable power from glacial runoff and geothermal sources. In the US, we would have to create an entirely new hydrogen infrastructure or use some other gas in the cell. We're also a heck of a lot bigger than Iceland.

I would put more stock in plug-in hybrids. Even though we would still be using fossil fuels (which represent about 70% of power in the US) the greenhouse gas emmissions are a fraction of burning gasoline or diesel. And in areas of particularly high emmissions - cities - the relatively short trips would be largely done on battery power alone.

Now if GM were ever serious about this, they went about it the wrong way. They purchased the patents to the E95 NiMH battery (successfully used in the RAV4EV) and later sold them to Texaco, which was later purchased by Chevron. Conspiracy theorists among us could say this was done to keep the most efficient and cost effective battery out of cars. But then those same conspiracy theorists would point to the early 20th century during which a consortium of GM, Standard Oil, and Firestone bought up and dismantled all Los Angeles rail systems.
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Old 04-30-2009, 04:15 PM   #35
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Some great thoughts out there on how the auto companies screwed up in the past. All good points which brings me to future of the industry in the U.S. How do you feel about the future of the hydrogen fuel cell as a power source? I wish I could remember the TV show about a year ago (maybe Discovery Channel) regarding Iceland going 100% hydrogen by the year 2020(?). I say 2020 because I just can't remember the details but their government has a mandate that they will be totally off fossil fuels by that time. They are changing everything over including fueling stations. Wonder how that effort is progressing. Let me know any knowledge you have of this country's changeover. This is where I think the U.S. should be looking long term. (signed: a disappointed, frustrated, retired GM engineer). Boy am I glad I'm retired.
Hydrogen is a dead end. It's not an energy source, only a potential storage/transfer medium. As a storage/transfer medium, it is highly inefficient and trouble-prone.
Hydrogen Hoax and real Alternative Fuels for cars
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