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Old 23rd April 2011, 19:10   #1
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Default Design flaws and cost cutting in Indian cars

I was out shopping for a second car to be used as a city runabout when I realised that despited there being more than 20 models in the hatchback segment in India, very few cars would ever qualify for a short list.

It was a shocking revelation to discover that major Japanese and European brands had now resorted to cheap ways of cost cutting to dupe the consumer. Either the cars came with design flaws, or glaring measures of cost cutting that buying these cars would be an insult to ones self worth.

Here are a few examples of cars and their design flaws/cost cutting. Please feel free to add to the list.

I believe these flaws/cost cutting measures should be mentioned in test driven reports and car reviews to raise awareness among consumers.

1) Cannot roll down the rear window glass fully due to wheel arch getting in the way. A quarter glass could have corrected this problem.

Maruti Alto
Chevrolet Beat
VW Polo

2) Single reverse light -apart from being aesthetically unpleasing, this cost cutting measure is a safety issue. Reduces visibility in reverse by 50percent and this is significant in pitch dark conditions. Secondly, it is easy for the single operating light to be caught in blind spot, rendering the light useless in terms of warning other motorists of the car coming in reverse.

Nissan Micra
VW Polo

3) Indicatior and light stalk on the wrong side! With this configuration you would turn the wipeer on with the right hand and the lights with your left. It is not just about being a source of annoyance. The stalks attached to the steering wheel have been lifter off the left hand drive models and fitted onto the Indian cars.

VW Polo
Ford Fiesta


Should consumers pay their hard earned money and produce manufacturers who take their customers for a ride? I believe this sort of cheap tactics of cost cutting should be discouraged by putting the companies out of business.
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Old 23rd April 2011, 20:45   #2
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Default re: Design flaws and cost cutting in Indian cars

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1) Cannot roll down the rear window glass fully due to wheel arch getting in the way. A quarter glass could have corrected this problem.
How exactly adding a quarter glass would help this problem? Besides that, it's a common thing for many cars including large/medium sedans.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Meili
3) Indicatior and light stalk on the wrong side! With this configuration you would turn the wipeer on with the right hand and the lights with your left. It is not just about being a source of annoyance. The stalks attached to the steering wheel have been lifter off the left hand drive models and fitted onto the Indian cars.
Sorry, it's not a design flaw and or any cost cutting process. It's just design. Lifting a design from LHD doesn't work that easy or cheap.
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Should consumers pay their hard earned money and produce manufacturers who take their customers for a ride? I believe this sort of cheap tactics of cost cutting should be discouraged by putting the companies out of business.
Above mentioned issues (as you raised) are not really cost cutting measure (except for single reverse lamp instead of two). Cost cutting starts somewhere else.

Spend some time on this huge treasure trove. You'll know more.

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Old 23rd April 2011, 20:56   #3
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Default re: Design flaws and cost cutting in Indian cars

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Single reverse light -apart from being aesthetically unpleasing, this cost cutting measure is a safety issue. Reduces visibility in reverse by 50percent and this is significant in pitch dark conditions. Secondly, it is easy for the single operating light to be caught in blind spot, rendering the light useless in terms of warning other motorists of the car coming in reverse.
Of all the mentioned flaws this I feel is the only acceptable fault, the rest are negligible and the Polo covers up at in all other aspects and has a plush feeling inside and a beauty to own. Cost-cutting in the Polo would be in the form of removal of pinch-guard and rear window controls from the drivers door, although they have been substituted with electrical ORVM's.
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Old 23rd April 2011, 20:59   #4
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Default re: Design flaws and cost cutting in Indian cars

Quote:
it's a common thing for many cars including large/medium sedans
Hi ,

I will agree with Meili , this used to be good old Amby & Fiat - I don't know why cant we go down all the way and whats the harm.

I
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t's just design. Lifting a design from LHD doesn't work that easy or cheap
sorry - i differ , it is definitely cheaper to use the same dies from LHD versions than to make new one for RHD -
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Old 23rd April 2011, 21:06   #5
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Hello Ridra Sen

I beg to differ.

It is true that I the rear window not rolling down fully is something I have seen on larger sedans to. Like the old Honda City. It still is a design flaw. There are several other models that have cleverly avoided this setback by incorporating a rear quarter glass and reducing the size of the rear window so it doesnt obstruct with the wheel arch.

I wouldnt call this a cost cutting measure, but it certainly is an engineering flaw.

you say that it is a difficult proposition to change the stalk positioning of cars intended for the European market. But when there are manufacturers who have taken the pains to do this and provide a "proper"car for the market it is intended to operate in, why cant the consumers expect the same dedication from major brands and popular models such as the Fiat Punto, Ford Figo, and VW Polo? I think the manufacturers are taking full advantage of the customers lack of attention to detail and saving big money at our expense. THis should be discouraged by purchasing cars that have not been subject to such glaring cost cutting measures.

Do we really need to encourage manufacturers who skimp on such safety critical things such as 2 reverse lights and ORVM on the passenger side? I think not.

And before you tell me that single reversing light is not a safety issue, consider this. The reverse light is rarely inspected by the driver until the vehicle goes in for a service. When the globe is blown out, it is often the people that observe this who alert the driver, prompting a replacement. With 2 lights, one light acts as a back up and will help till the interim the other bulb is changed. With just one light, a blown out bulb can go unnoticed for many kilometres, increasing the chances of a reversing related accident.
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Old 23rd April 2011, 21:22   #6
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Well, I too wouldn't exactly call these design flaws at all. 1) Providing a quarter glass will help but a quarter glass messes with looks of the vehicle. Thus this a compromise in design. And I actually prefer the lack of a rear quarter glass. 2) Having the wiper and light stalks exchanged is a cost cutting measure, but definitely not a design flaw. But what exactly is the problem with this method at all?? 3) Single reverse light: This is neither a design flaw, nor a cost cutting measure. This is just the accepted way of doing it. The reverse light is not there for illuminating the rear of the car to help reversing, rather only to warn the drivers at the rear that you are reversing.

Last edited by julupani : 23rd April 2011 at 21:26.
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Old 23rd April 2011, 21:35   #7
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Default re: Design flaws and cost cutting in Indian cars

Rudra Sen,


Ideally, on a ''proper'' car, the following should come as standard

1) Two sets of ORVM- one on drivers side and one on passanger side. a very basic one would do. It need not have internal adjust, electric fold or electric internal adjuster or integrated turn indicator. These are features customers can choose to live without. And no one expects budget cars to come with these additional features.

2) The indicator stalks should be fitted on the window side and the wiper stalks should be on the passenger seat side. This is the convention. Many companies have successfully done this as part of thier LH to RH conversion kit.

3) hand brake should be positioned towards the driver side, if there is a storage slot that sits next to the handbrake. Otherwise hand brake may be centrally placed.

4) Should come with two working reversing lights. Not one light and one dummy light in the brake light cluster.

5) Wiper sweep should be towards the driver side on the A pillar. Unlike in the Logan, where the wiper blades sweep from right to left, towards the passenger side, leaving a large unswept area on the driver side of the windscreen.

Thats what comes to mind for now, I will update the list as I observe more.
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Old 23rd April 2011, 21:39   #8
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Design flaw and cost cutting are two separate viewpoints and must not be addressed separately. A cost cutting measure which fails to function properly becomes a design flaw e.g. The brake shoe material is changed for a substantial cost saving, it is later found that the shoe life decreases beyond acceptable limits, this becomes a design flaw. On the other hand, even with cost cutting the part may continue to function properly for e.g. instead of using 2 wheel bearings a unitized (single) bearing is used which eliminates the 2nd bearing but still continues to work properly. The second method is preferred, but what eventually comes out depends only on the manufacturer!

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Old 23rd April 2011, 22:07   #9
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Originally Posted by julupani View Post
Well, I too wouldn't exactly call these design flaws at all. 1) Providing a quarter glass will help but a quarter glass messes with looks of the vehicle. Thus this a compromise in design. And I actually prefer the lack of a rear quarter glass. 2) Having the wiper and light stalks exchanged is a cost cutting measure, but definitely not a design flaw. But what exactly is the problem with this method at all?? 3) Single reverse light: This is neither a design flaw, nor a cost cutting measure. This is just the accepted way of doing it. The reverse light is not there for illuminating the rear of the car to help reversing, rather only to warn the drivers at the rear that you are reversing.

The rear window is meant to be fully lowered or raised as desired by the occupant. If it cant perform that function because of engineering shortcomings, we call it a flaw in the designing- hence a design flaw. Whether you like the quarter glass or not is immaterial. THere are cars with no quarter glass, whose window can still be rolled down fully, unobstructed. People like you who do not prefer quarter glass can opt for those models.

Why should Indian consumers put up with messed up steering stalks. Why cannot they make the stalks configured for Indian market and then use the same ones on cars in Europe? Do you know why they dont do it? Because the Europeans wouldnt put up with that sort of nonsense. It is time for Indians to lose their subservient attitude for once.

The reverse light my friend, serves two purposes. It helps the driver see obstruction behind him in the path of the vehicle while reversing and warn traffic behind about the direction of movement of the car ahead- reverse in this case.

Anyone can see that two is better than one - the way it had always been. Besides, two functioning lights serve as a backup when one bulb is blown out, giving the driver time to replace it while the vehicle can still be used. 50 percent functionality is removed by placing a dummy light holder in place of the real thing and you are telling me you dont feel shortchanged, after spending lakhs of rupees on a new car? You are kidding me right. And please tell me since when has this become an 'accepted way of doing things?'
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Old 23rd April 2011, 22:15   #10
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Pls add my new ride in this list
*Rear both doors, provisions for door switch but no switches are provided.
*cheap motorcycle type single horn.
*No engine light provided
*No wiring for rear speakers
At present I can think of these only........
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Old 23rd April 2011, 22:16   #11
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Of all the mentioned flaws this I feel is the only acceptable fault, the rest are negligible and the Polo covers up at in all other aspects and has a plush feeling inside and a beauty to own. Cost-cutting in the Polo would be in the form of removal of pinch-guard and rear window controls from the drivers door, although they have been substituted with electrical ORVM's.

Aaron.d, it doesnt make one iota of a difference whether the Polo was made of gold or fibre glass. The car still has 2 major design flaws and one cost cuttting feature. Namely, the rear windows not rolling down fully and the steer stalks configuration being the design flaws and the lack of a reverse light being the cost cutting step those cheapskates have resorted to. If you have purchsed the Polo, you have been ripped off. I would ask for my money back.
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Old 23rd April 2011, 22:34   #12
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Default re: Design flaws and cost cutting in Indian cars

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Originally Posted by julupani View Post
2) Having the wiper and light stalks exchanged is a cost cutting measure, but definitely not a design flaw. But what exactly is the problem with this method at all?? 3) Single reverse light: This is neither a design flaw, nor a cost cutting measure. This is just the accepted way of doing it. The reverse light is not there for illuminating the rear of the car to help reversing, rather only to warn the drivers at the rear that you are reversing.
The turn indicator stalk on the left side is very inconvenient for right hand drive cars. Imagine while taking a turn you more often then not slow down and shift gears with your left hand. At the same moment you need to use the indicator stalk too with your left hand which is highly annoying!

The debate about a single reverse light has been going on in some other threads too. IMO it should be made country specific. In Europe and USA single reverse light will suffice. But in India I will always like to have 2 reverse lights for many reasons:

1. While reversing in India the reverse lights do aid in the dark corners even if they are not meant for that purpose. And we encounter innumerable such places everyday where we will appreciate 2 lights rather than 1.

2. People pay the least attention to a car reversing specially the two wheelers. And the presence of only 1 light will only further complicate the issue as many might not notice the single light. And as the thread starter mentioned there are many instances when that one light will be in a blind spot.

Quote:
Aaron.d, it doesnt make one iota of a difference whether the Polo was made of gold or fibre glass. The car still has 2 major design flaws and one cost cuttting feature. Namely, the rear windows not rolling down fully and the steer stalks configuration being the design flaws and the lack of a reverse light being the cost cutting step those cheapskates have resorted to. If you have purchsed the Polo, you have been ripped off. I would ask for my money back.
Hey now thats taking it to an extreme. The Polo is a great vehicle and VFM product I would say. NoWays the 2 or 3 flaws you mentioned are a deal breaker and SURELY VW is not RIPPING the customers.

BTW a Polo made of gold is an interesting idea LOL

Last edited by drmohitg : 23rd April 2011 at 22:40.
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Old 23rd April 2011, 22:41   #13
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Default re: Design flaws and cost cutting in Indian cars

Even the Alfa Romeo Mito and The Audi A3 come with a single reverse light. It's a design decision, and some cars basically use one side for reverse and the other side for a rear fog lamp (which is now mandatory in most countries). And besides, with just one light to blow it's easier to spot trouble. Unless you're a reversing speed maniac, not many chances of a reversing-related accident. You should be moving very slowly in reverse. I learnt driving when there was no such thing as reverse lights and have no issues reversing in near-total darkness. The trick is to go very, very slowly. At all times, since visibility is severely impaired when you reverse.

As to the rear glass, some ladies prefer a glass that doesn't open fully at the rear. One is a bit less wind for their hair to get tangled in, and the other is a safety feature against very small children falling out of the car. It's also safer for dogs to stick their head out of a running car.

BTW what you call 'wrong side' for indicator stalk is actually my 'correct' side. I have always owned cars with the wiper on the right and it just seems better for me. In any case you should be indicating your intention to turn long before actually turning, so it's not an inconvenience. If you indicate while taking the turn or just before, you're a bad driver.

I agree with two ORVM on the car, though I never actually use the left one except to gauge my distance from the vehicle/obstacle next to me. Ditto with wipers - I've never actually seen a car where the driver's side wiper doesn't line up with the A-pillar. I'll take your word on the Logan, it is pretty dangerous.

Just curious why you think the handbrake should be on driver's side? It should always be on the side away from the door so it can be quickly found. It is the emergency brake, and the driver's free hand should always have quick access to it. If it between the driver and the door your hand may get jammed looking for it.

Last edited by cranky : 23rd April 2011 at 22:43.
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Old 23rd April 2011, 22:48   #14
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If single reversing lights were the order of the day, it wont be too long before cars are rolled out with single brake lights, because that serves the purpose just as well as a single reverse light serves its purpose. I'm sure the Indian consumers wouldn't mind the new 'trend'.
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Old 23rd April 2011, 22:55   #15
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Originally Posted by Turbanator View Post
I will agree with Meili , this used to be good old Amby & Fiat - I don't know why cant we go down all the way and whats the harm.
There is no harm except those days cars never came with side impact protection designs and all. Talking about Amby? Strip open an Amby door and see how poor (read ancient) the inside design is.
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Originally Posted by Turbanator
sorry - i differ , it is definitely cheaper to use the same dies from LHD versions than to make new one for RHD -
You can differ and we can argue till the cows come home. Fact remains the same. It is not a design flaw but as designed. One can take this or go for other makes. Ford in this country is having it for a long time (IKON) and so is GM (OPTRA). And now VW. Letís not confuse the issues here.
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It still is a design flaw.
I still donít understand how itís a design flaw. Is it irritating? Of course it is.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Meili
There are several other models that have cleverly avoided this setback by incorporating a rear quarter glass and reducing the size of the rear window so it doesnt obstruct with the wheel arch.
I still donít understand as how a quarter glass is helping in this case.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Meili
But when there are manufacturers who have taken the pains to do this and provide a "proper"car for the market it is intended to operate in, why cant the consumers expect the same dedication from major brands and popular models such as the Fiat Punto, Ford Figo, and VW Polo?
Letís get one thing clear here. Thereís nothing known as proper car. To each his own and letís remember this.
When we used to something we think thatís normal human behaviour.
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Originally Posted by Meili
Do we really need to encourage manufacturers who skimp on such safety critical things such as 2 reverse lights and ORVM on the passenger side? I think not.
I think not too. If you ask me itís hardly any big cost factor considering the cost of the car.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Meili
And before you tell me that single reversing light is not a safety issue, consider this. The reverse light is rarely inspected by the driver until the vehicle goes in for a service. When the globe is blown out, it is often the people that observe this who alert the driver, prompting a replacement.
Itís a very strange logic but a logic (from your point of view) enough. I really donít know what to reply here. Why am I saying this? Because of this incredible logic youíve posted here..
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Originally Posted by Meili
With 2 lights, one light acts as a back up and will help till the interim the other bulb is changed. With just one light, a blown out bulb can go unnoticed for many kilometres, increasing the chances of a reversing related accident.
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Originally Posted by Meili View Post
1) Two sets of ORVM- one on drivers side and one on passanger side. a very basic one would do.
Agree.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Meili
2) The indicator stalks should be fitted on the window side and the wiper stalks should be on the passenger seat side. This is the convention. Many companies have successfully done this as part of thier LH to RH conversion kit.
Not a must I would say. Customers are using and not facing any big problem.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Meili
3) hand brake should be positioned towards the driver side, if there is a storage slot that sits next to the handbrake. Otherwise hand brake may be centrally placed.
Hand brake is centrally placed for most cars.. Unless youíre referring to good Ambys and Padminis here.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Meili
4) Should come with two working reversing lights. Not one light and one dummy light in the brake light cluster.
I agree with you in terms of aesthetics. Please check with those owners driving Logans and what not. See if theyíre cribbing about single reverse light. As I mentioned before, adding second light is not a big cost difference.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Meili
5) Wiper sweep should be towards the driver side on the A pillar. Unlike in the Logan, where the wiper blades sweep from right to left, towards the passenger side, leaving a large unswept area on the driver side of the windscreen.
Not a big issue as I see here. Amby used to have the same wipe pattern as Honda Civic is having today. Only difference is blade size and efficiency.
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Originally Posted by Meili
Thats what comes to mind for now, I will update the list as I observe more.
Yes Sir. Itís interesting indeed.
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