Its 9 years that we are publishing Strada, almost seems like yesterday when we started, and a brief look in the rear view mirror its fascinating to see the myriad of events, changes both seismic and small, that have developed during those years.
Before we forget...Thank You for your support, sharing your thoughts with us, and making it fun.
By now you know that "we don't follow, we lead", as well as not being in the eyeball business, we are in the thought provoking business. We constantly urge folks to apply their intelligence, look ahead, while taking a 360 degree perspective, to push the envelope, connect dots, and be remarkable in their own way.
What do we know of the auto business as we call it? The Colonel's father was a mechanic a couple of generations ago. We did not have an auto epiphany, we grew up, evolved, earned a living with cars, and we persist in being PASSIONATE about cars, and the business surrounding cars.
The Colonel has evolved in the auto business at various levels, and positions. Yes...he is still involved in the auto business to this day.
Yes...in our own way on some days we remain "big kids"....playing with cars.
We surely don't have all the answers, we never did and never will, but at times we seem to have all the thought provoking questions.
What does it take to keep on going for 9 years? LOVE - PASSION that will keep us going for many years to come.
Yes...we still use the Squarespace 5 platform that has been tweaked to better enable mobile users, and the entire 9 years of content is available, and searchable. Use the search feature you might be susprised as to what you will uncover. Somedays we are surprised.
More old race cars from the Goodwood Revival-Whitsun Trophy.
Its a reality of the current global auto business, saving costs while making room for increased technology.
Back in the days of mechanical vehicles we all knew who was putting more "substance" in a vehicle, and who was skimping. The trick was to make components that lasted beyond the duration of the warranty. The substance was "how much longer" would they last.
At one point The Colonel made the following observation about a specific manufacturer "They shortened the license plate screws what else have they measured and cut?"
In the auto industry at times it made better economic sense for a manufacturer to pay out claims, than re engineer specific components which would have been more costly. Reflect on this for a moment...
Back in the day the spread between MSRP and cost was 15% and on some models a touch more, and the usual holdback amount. When you finished doing a deal the gross was 8-10% of cost plus the holdback. Obvious back then customers concluded that dealers were making 30-40-50% gross.
Today the spread between MSRP and cost is 8-10%, then there are the monthly incentives from the manufacturers, so much cash back, or such a rate, or a combination of both. In addition to volume bonuses for dealers if they reach specific targets. Its dynamic and changing on an as needed basis to move iron.
Better yet customers expect this dynamic pricing on a monthly basis to incite them to finalise a decision. The customer got a great deal with a compelling promotion, while the dealer hit the volume bonus with that vehicle.
If you have a "feeling " that current dynamic pricing incites manufacturers to increase their cost saving efforts, you might be correct.
If you have the feeling that "strong" components still cost money, you might be correct.
Between cost savings, less platforms, increased common components, the product is better than back in the day. While the components will outlast the warranty on the vehicle.
Some manufacturers are more aggressive in their cost saving efforts than others, components come from the other side of the planet to save the last fraction of a penny.
Every manufacturer benchmarks the competition, everyone is learning from everybody.
There are a gazillion cost saving decisions made around the planet on a daily basis, its perhaps naive to think that all these decisions have been thought out, and reflected. Although they should, we have seen that with common components, be it air bags, to software code. When the shit hits the fan its in the million of units.
While the technology content of any vehicle increases its disposability, and although the mechanical components might endure for decades with proper maintenance, the technology has a best before date.
What do you think?
Mind you not by choice.
"A 4 cylinder diesel, with a manual transmission, totally durable, ideally painted green, working on a farm." Summary of our perspective at the time.
We are aware of call it a "catalytic converter" for diesel engines, the ones for trucks are positively impressive in size.
Why are we not fans of diesel engines in cars? Simple the lack of top end power, the glow plugs, and now the converter with urea. An hybrid from our perspective makes better sense.
In a truck we are huge fans of diesel engines, and will always have a special place for the 2 cycle Detroit Diesel, with the blower, unit injectors, fuel injector racks, and fond memories of discussions on how to adjust the racks on a V8 Detroit.
The heavy duty pick ups with diesels are totally cool.
Here is VW with an interesting niche in the market for folks that love diesel engines in cars, like we love diesel engines in trucks. Diesel engine, manual transmission, the economy and durability....fill it and forget it, its got a clutch pedal, will presumably last till the next generation.
Emission standards are strict in North America, these diesel VW's are in a sensative price bracket, the cost of a catalytic converter with urea is prohibitive for that price segment.
How do you find a cost effective solution to meet emission standards, and pass emission tests?
If you live in a jurisdiction where emission tests are mandatory. The old school put the vehicle on a dyno, run it for a while, and sniff the exhaust, has given way to simply plugging into the OBD and revving up the engine to a specified RPM.
Here is the deal...
"We can pass emission but at those settings the engine loses a ton of power, and the vehicle is dead on the road"...."But what about on a dyno, or plugged in to check the emission"...."Brilliant..and an effective cost saving".
As they say the rest is history...
You would do such a thing for 1 vehicle, or you do it for several vehicles, for several years its the same decision on a different order of magnitude.
"We used the European ECU codes (cost saving), while adding a few lines of code to ensure that the emissions were correct, but omitted to remove line 308 of code"....."Unfortunately it fell through the cracks for all those years, and all those cars. We are deeply sorry"
Its an ongoing developing story...with dire consequences for VW.
An informative and thought provoking discussion on AV's
Autonomous Vehicles ("AVs" - sometimes referred to as “self-driving” or “driverless” cars) are developing rapidly and we are getting an increasing number of questions from investors about what they will mean for the auto industry. The excitement around AVs is understandable – 'newcomers' like Google are making bold claims for their AVs, existing OEMs are demonstrating fast-improving prototypes and suppliers are arguing that they can exploit this new opportunity. People are beginning to ask if AVs are going to fundamentally disrupt the conventional auto industry.
Lets back up for a moment...
We all know the saying "there is no substitute for displacement"...way back in the day the easiest way to increase horsepower was to increase the displacement of an engine. The displacement increase sort of stopped at around 7 liters (427 ci.in.) with a few exceptions.
The rule of thumb was that the larger the bore, the shorter the stroke, the more top end power, while a smaller bore with a longer stroke increased torque for any naturally aspirated engine.
We know that the Roots compressor from a 2 cycle Detroit Diesel (6-71 / 8-71) became and remains a hot rodding forced induction mainstay. Similar compressors are used today primarily by GM, Ford, Chrysler on several high performance models. Think ZL1, Z06, Hellcat to name a few.
If you are of a certain age, you remember the Oldsmobile Cutlass and Corvairs from 50 years ago with turbochargers. Back in the day, turbos were wonderful technology, driven from the exhaust, although the application and usage was "challenging" with the often mentioned "turbo lag" being a negative aspect.
Fast forward to today, with technology (computers) turbo's are dramatically better in real life with no "lag" and in many applications huge torque at lower revolutions.
As we mentioned a few years ago, engines are decreasing in cylinders and displacement while being enhanced with turbos. The old mantra of there is no substitute no longer applies. A V6 with a couple fo turbos generates the same power as a naturally aspirated V8 as an example.
Fuel economy and emission regulations are making 4 cylinders with turbos very popular from all manufacturer, notice all the CUV's with a forced induction 4 cylinder. Agreed...the multi speed (6+) automatic transmissions are also a factor in facilitating these 4 cylinder applications.
From our perspective we are in the "age" of forced induction. While it took a few years to arrive at this juncture its certainly here to stay for the foreseeable future.
We still believe that luxury vehicles must have a luxury engine.
Its Friday, its the Vroom Room, enjoy the cappuccino and biscotti, join the conversation.
We are past the mid month mark with the end of the 3rd quarter on the immediate horizon. We know that vehicle sales in Canada will continue to be through the roof, and absolutely set a new record this year.
The federal election, make sure you vote and encourage everyone around you to vote. Last thing we want as Canadians is a minority government.
If you missed our coverage of the Cobble Beach Concours d'Elegance...click.
Attending this years Cobble Beach, merely reinforced that "metal must resonate" at least in our case. Yes...some metal resonates more than other...in the Cadillac pavilion it struck us that back in the day of Harley Earl, Bill Mitchell styling (metal) was a huge factor...mind you it still is a huge factor today.
Its the Frankfurt Auto Show, and now every German manufacturer is on a mission to outdo Tesla with a longer range and shorter charging times. Great way to garner attention, and provide free publicity to Tesla.
The compact utility segment is in everyone's sights with various concepts which is good for the customer.
Yes...the Ferrari 488 Spider is a stunning toy, the Rolls-Royce Dawn provides an "erotic tingle on the skin" must be the metal again.
John Krafcik is now with the Google Autonomous Vehicle program, which merely reinforces the fact that Silicon Valley will increasingly influence the auto business especially with AV's (autonomous vehicles). Reflect on this for a moment...
We all use technology in our daily activities, did you know that Google is 2 Billion lines of code? Think about this when some simple software is full of glitches.
GM has resolved the ignition switch debacle to the tune of 900M. With time the number of deaths escalated dramatically from the original number.
Our usual old race cars from the 2015 Goodwood Revival - Freddy March Trophy.