Cost Reduction vs Reliability In Modern Vehicles

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Cost Reduction vs Reliability In Modern Vehicles

s130

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This is applicable to all makes but I have personal experience with Fiat.

Case Example: Fiat 500X DRL Bulb Holder

I've had one of these melted and the other on it's way.

Basically the hold is plastic/composite. Traditional bulb + contact as usual but the bulb -ve/ground contact is only over 180 degrees of the bulb electrical body.

Now the bulb base heat only has 50% of the surface area to conduct heat away. In addition unlike the +ve sprung loaded contact the -ve contact is just a 180 degree surface with no similar metal opposing contact.

I've seen reports in the 500X forum of rear lighting units suffering similar burn outs.

Taking the bulb holder 50% reduce contact area I doubt that has saved more than 1 pence on unit cost but even a 5 pence is this a really longer term valuable cost reduction?

Yes many millions of 5p reductions add up but per car this is a DRL surcharge cost of 10p in a £15000+ car.

More importantly component failures cost the manufacturer real costs. For high failure units (that could have been avoided) they have to purchase and stock more spares at least for 10 years. Then distribution costs, etc.

Just all food for thought! :)
 

DaveMcT

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Can you fit LED bulbs (probably with ballast to keep can bus happy). They have a fraction of the heat output.
 

StevenRB45

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Surely high failure rates outside of warranty make the manufacturer money?

They'll manufacturer them by the thousand for pence each and looking on the Internet a genuine one is 31.99.

Looking at the item I'd be surprised if the material costs involved were over a quid..and once you've done the R and D and tooling (which are the expensive bits) you can just keep making them and selling them at a several thousand % margin to cover any costs for transport or storage.

Planned obsolescence is annoying...but you'll find a lot of cars are designed to reliably last the period it would be on finance or "approved used" these days. If they did need to replace one under warranty..you can bet they wouldn't pay what they charge for one.
 
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s130

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Can you fit LED bulbs (probably with ballast to keep can bus happy). They have a fraction of the heat output.

Could do but don't really want to. I've solved the problem by using copper slip to improve heat conduction. I already have two brand new spare holders. If the problem persists then I'll get the OK from my insurers and check the current legality before proceeding.

It is a odd thing but I like the retro non LED lighting on the 500s and 500Xs. Keeps them "kute" and not lit up like a gaming casinos looking tarty / masculine body builder oiled all over :D
 
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s130

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Surely high failure rates outside of warranty make the manufacturer money?

Sure does but there is duty on all manufacturers in these ECO times to reduce wasted material usage. Probably the 50% reduction in the metal contact surface area was an intent for ECO as opposed to just cost reduction and then lovely failure revenue out of warranty.

Failed components, especially little bub holder just get skipped and most prably into landfill which is not very ECO.
 

StevenRB45

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I agree.

It's quite amusing to see people saying electric cars will last x 100000 miles because the motor etc is low maintenance. When the majority of cars in the scrap yard are capable of running.

They just nickle and dime their way to oblivion.

There's no mechanical reason a modern car couldn't run to 300k or more ...but there will be something that ends them before then. Be it crap rust proofing...an ecu in position that is vulnerable to water ingress...a wiring loom made of cheap wire that breaks down over time etc etc.
 
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s130

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Another thing is that any decent machine shop, welding specialist, moulding specialist, etc can fix our old school cars. New gears can be cut, bearings replaced, casings welded, and a shed load of other stuff.

However when we come to Body Computers, ECUs, and the myriad of there smart controllers in a modern car that often use purpose bespoke chips, manufacturer only software, ..... then we are in deep trouble and/or deep expense with limited options.

I don't think there is an answer to this problem. Manufacturers do not want to support old "vintage ... small v" vehicles. Actually as in many cases they can't anymore.

So keeping old classic 60s,70s,80s (and before) cars in your stable is potentially the only way you will be able to survive the crisis?????
 

StevenRB45

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Another thing is that any decent machine shop, welding specialist, moulding specialist, etc can fix our old school cars. New gears can be cut, bearings replaced, casings welded, and a shed load of other stuff.

However when we come to Body Computers, ECUs, and the myriad of there smart controllers in a modern car that often use purpose bespoke chips, manufacturer only software, ..... then we are in deep trouble and/or deep expense with limited options.

I don't think there is an answer to this problem. Manufacturers do not want to support old "vintage ... small v" vehicles. Actually as in many cases they can't anymore.

So keeping old classic 60s,70s,80s (and before) cars in your stable is potentially the only way you will be able to survive the crisis?????

Cost cutting in the ECUs and vehicle systems can actually work to your advantage.

One of the known weak spots of my current car is the ABS/TCS/ESP pump that operates the brakes independently of the brake pedal. If Mazda had built their own it would be ferociously expensive to fix and indeed a new one from a dealer would stand at 1200 quid.

But it's a generic part also used by VW group, and BMW as well as Ford's of the same era. Effectively when the ESP became common it was the item of choice. So instead of paying 1200 quid I can send it away to be remanufactured with new valves and motor that shouldn't fail again for 500 quid. Not cheap but it is skilled work, if they'd built their own and damn the expense there wouldn't be enough volume for the guy doing it to make a living.

Same with the body electrics, to save money there was 1 Mazda 3 loom and BCM in each model year. If my BCM died I can grab one out of a scrap car of the same year regardless of trim level or engine and pop it in without coding it. More expensively built cars would need it coded/proxy aligned. Obviously engine ECU not the same deal due to immobiliser but again there are places that can rebuild them.

But unless the car is rare or special enough people don't bother usually they last as long as everything else. So you'll find a car in the scrap yard that just got to to the mot one year and the faults will be something like "front passenger door handle missing", "collapsed wishbone bushes", "mil light on" (could be something as simple as a dirty maf sensor or loose fuel cap) and needs a new set of brakes and few tyres. None of them are difficult or expensive fixes but on otherwise bit tatty 15 year old car the parts and labour write it off.
 
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DaveMcT

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Brakes will be major problem down the line with electric cars. They get far less use than an engine car so will suffer more with corrosion and seized parts. I dread to think what a Tesla brake caliper will cost. Many have air suspension so good luck when that goes AWOL.
Bikes use stainless brake discs. Electric cars really should do the same especially when they will degrade more by corrosion than they do by frictional wear.

A late 1980s car will need some welding, but there is minimal electronic equipment. Fuel injection ECU excepted. Even that can be replaced with a programmable unit. Injectors themselves can be replaced (one way or another) with modern components. Everything else is basic stuff. Even my favourites (Citroen CX) with the allegedly complex hydraulics are fixable. New hydraulic pipes can be fitted and today we can get braided lines at reasonable cost for the awkward areas.

HOWEVER, the demand for older cars (that are not rusted beyond hope) will grow pushing up prices so get one while you can.
When emissions prevent them being used in towns (which is coming) get them converted to electric. There is space in the engine bay, fuel tank and boot floor that can be used for batteries.. Cheap? Of course not. Less than a new car? You bet.

Insurance would need to be set at an agreed value but there are specialists to help.
 
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AndyRKett

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I dread to think what a Tesla brake caliper will cost. Many have air suspension so good luck when that goes AWOL.
Bikes use stainless brake discs. Electric cars really should do the same especially when they will degrade more by corrosion than they do by frictional wear.

The model S has 4 pot brembos so they are never going to be cheap. Also the air suspension on these cars is comparable to something like a Mercedes E-Class or high end BMW. they were never cheap cars.

What the real question is thinks like brakes and suspension on something like an old Nissan Leaf, which to be fair they use largely normal brakes, springs and dampers.

But I agree with some of the newest electric cars they have one peddle driving with the regenerative breaking effect being so great the normal brakes don’t really get used at all.
 

DaveMcT

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I think Musk was wrong to ignore the Citroen hydraulic system. Being a mineral oil there is no internal corrosion to worry about. Brakes can be smaller as regeneration takes some of the stopping load. The steering and suspension and brakes are all catered-for, just add a motor to drive the hydraulic pump. Model S being a sports car can probably justify the fancy performance brakes but none of the others will see any benefit.

The BX I owned back in the 1980s must have done 90% of the braking at the front. I had two sets of rear discs (not costly) but the pads were hardly worn. Quite normal apparently.
 

AndyRKett

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I think Musk was wrong to ignore the Citroen hydraulic system. Being a mineral oil there is no internal corrosion to worry about. Brakes can be smaller as regeneration takes some of the stopping load. The steering and suspension and brakes are all catered-for, just add a motor to drive the hydraulic pump. Model S being a sports car can probably justify the fancy performance brakes but none of the others will see any benefit

Why ?? Back in the early 2010s even Citroen was turning its back on the technology? The system does corrode and parts need replacing and they are expensive when they do.
Why would they be fitting smaller brakes ? A model S in its 4wd twin motor mode is a 700hp car, you fit proper brakes to 700hp cars, also hydropnumatics is fine on something like a big wallowy Citroen or a Rolls Royce but if you want sports performance then you don’t want to wallow.

No other manufacturers use this technology and there are better more advanced set ups these days.
 

chris3234

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I agree.

It's quite amusing to see people saying electric cars will last x 100000 miles because the motor etc is low maintenance. When the majority of cars in the scrap yard are capable of running.

They just nickle and dime their way to oblivion.

There's no mechanical reason a modern car couldn't run to 300k or more ...but there will be something that ends them before then. Be it crap rust proofing...an ecu in position that is vulnerable to water ingress...a wiring loom made of cheap wire that breaks down over time etc etc.

So true it's not engine issue that cause cars to go the the scrap heep unless it's a broken chain/belt

Normally a combination of general wear such as worn shocks suspension and bodywork damage that's means is isn't worth putting the money into repair
rust to subframe or main body's part's
Expensive to fix issues such as electrical problems the panda/500 climate control problems have probably scraped a few along with ECUs and wiring

All of these will still be on a battery powered car
Andany issues with the motor or control system will also be very expensive
 
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s130

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Of course we have the "Battery Factor" to muddle the picture.

In an all electric vehicle I suspect the major part of the cost is the still very expensive battery packs. Now these will and are getting cheaper with time but taking the new 500e than I suspect that up to 50% of the cost (if not more) is in the batteries.

Now Peugot say

"Some battery degradation is expected, however this is minimal. From a warranty perspective, we cover the vehicle to 70% of its original capacity over 8 years. This is significantly better that the UK government Plug In Grant requirement of 70% over 5 years, so shows clear confidence in our battery performance and longevity. Battery reconditioning is also an evolving area, where faulty cells can be replaced rather than a battery being scrapped."

and

"No – PEUGEOT do not offer battery rental. The battery is included in the price of the vehicle, but you can have the full confidence of an 8 year, 100,000 miles warranty."

This may preclude scrapping a car at 5 or 6 years old due to an expensive electric motor or control system failure.

Talking of battery durability then when buying and all electric vehicle then the 70% factor has to be seriously considered at time of purchase. Loss of 30% of range *ANYWHERE* in the 8 year period (e.g. 1 year after purchase) could be a real show stopper for people relying on good range!
 
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