Go Back   Team-BHP > BHP Worldwide > The International Automotive Scene


Reply
 
LinkBack Thread Tools Search this Thread
Old 22nd February 2013, 19:54   #1
BHPian
 
Join Date: Nov 2012
Location: Mumbai
Posts: 76
Thanked: 38 Times
Default Reuters : Has Volkswagen discovered the Holy Grail of carmakers?

http://www.reuters.com/article/2013/...91A04D20130211

Ulrich Hackenberg isn't yet a household name but if Volkswagen's $70 billion bet on his big idea pays off, he may join the likes of Henry Ford, Alfred Sloan and Taiichi Ohno in the canon of auto industry pioneers.

Not sure if this is the right place for this post or link, but the article was a fascinating read for me, so thought I would share.

Apologies if its in the wrong place, or if it's been posted before.
Anghammarad is offline   (5) Thanks Reply With Quote

Old 22nd February 2013, 20:06   #2
BHPian
 
jalsa777's Avatar
 
Join Date: May 2006
Location: The Netherlands
Posts: 606
Thanked: 917 Times
Default re: Reuters : Has Volkswagen discovered the Holy Grail of carmakers?

Wow. Thanks for sharing. A great read indeed.

But if the platform is meant to reduce cost structures, why can't VW match the cost structures of other manufacturers in India?

This is a great initiative, but I feel it needs to learn some things from the Japanese and the Koreans to have an even bigger edge.
jalsa777 is offline   (1) Thanks Reply With Quote
Old 22nd February 2013, 22:14   #3
Senior - BHPian
 
aaggoswami's Avatar
 
Join Date: May 2007
Location: Vadodara
Posts: 4,300
Thanked: 686 Times
Default re: Reuters : Has Volkswagen discovered the Holy Grail of carmakers?

This is not without its own shares of problems.
If one carefully observers the MQB platform, the only fixed dimension is from the center of the front wheel to the pedals. So VW will have a passat and jetta which will have similar seating position, pedal positioning as a Polo. The front overhang cannot be made ungainly large, so the front of the car would be in a range of length, rather than unique or equal to class.

What I am trying to tell is that cars spawning many segments would feel almost equal or Similar. Be it Jetta or Polo, they will feel the same ( well almost ). We have seen this in case of laura and jetta, vento and polo. Essentially same platform with somewhat modified wheelbase but at the end of the day, similar driving characteristics.

This bring me to price. Essentially if you are buying an elongated Polo, why pay so much for Jetta brand ? And if VW still maintains its so called premium pricing, its pure cheating then. VW, somehow has the luxury to sit on big pool of money, which only Toyota and a select few can afford.

Moreover, this is not the first time such a platform sharing or rather a flexible platform is put into production. Some years ago, when there was Auto India and not Autocar India, there was an article in Auto India that Honda has built a unique architecture for Accord in which they can reduce length and track for EU markets.
aaggoswami is offline   (1) Thanks Reply With Quote
Old 25th February 2013, 21:01   #4
GTO
Team-BHP Support
 
GTO's Avatar
 
Join Date: Feb 2004
Location: Bombay
Posts: 36,389
Thanked: 28,347 Times
Default Re: Reuters : Has Volkswagen discovered the Holy Grail of carmakers?

Nice read, but an average article overall.

It doesn't address the BIGGEST disadvantage. That is, the dilution of brand equity from the more expensive cars. Take a look at the Audi A4, VW Jetta & Skoda Laura 2.0 diesels. All are essentially the same car. In fact, the <20 lakh Laura & Jetta even get a superior automatic gearbox to the A4 & its lazy CVT. The A4 simply doesn't make a case for itself when pitted against its cheaper siblings. In the longer term, this will work against Audi.

At least they look different. Look at what VW & Skoda India have done with the Vento & Rapid (respectively). The same, identical cars with different lights. Where's the sense in that?

Then, I'm appalled to think of why VW still has NOT managed to make its DSGs reliable. Despite being used across a plethora of cars. Leaving your customers stranded by the road is shameful.
GTO is offline   (4) Thanks Reply With Quote
Old 25th February 2013, 22:23   #5
Senior - BHPian
 
Join Date: Oct 2012
Location: Delhi
Posts: 1,194
Thanked: 1,847 Times
Infractions: 0/1 (4)
Default Re: Reuters : Has Volkswagen discovered the Holy Grail of carmakers?

This is great news for all of those of us who want identical cars that handle in an identical way.

What are we going to discuss on this forum in a couple of years? Other than colour, there won't be much to discuss.

There is another name for these sort of developments. It's average. In essence design parameters are optimized around cost and that always makes the end result average at best, dull and boring at worst. In a mass production industry that's how you make money. No specials, standardize to the max.

Although most Volkswagens were/are probably pretty good cars, in terms of reliable transport, they have never been much more than that. If you want to get from A to B, without hassle get a VW. Remember Volkswagen means "car for the people". Nothing wrong with that, but it is for the masses. Very noble and Henri Ford like, but don't expect anything really special. For something special, you need not optimize around cost only. You need to provide something that has appeal and add on value so you can ask a premium price to cover your higher cost. More like Alfa Romeo. Although admittedly they haven't done to brilliantly lately.

I've owned one VW myself and had three VW's as company cars. My own VW was the very first car I bought myself, a 1971 Beetle. The company cars were a Passat and two Tourans'.

The Passat was a huge car inside with a cavernous boot! At the time we had three small children. So my wife was very pleased that the whole family, including strollers could fit in the car. Although a very valid argument to chose a car, it also confirms you've really lost it car wise. You really should not have to chose a car because of practicalities. You should chose a car with your heart and gut. I know, I know, in practice its difference.

The Tourans were a lots worse. I hated these with a vengeance. They were both the most luxurious version with the DSG box. I still think of them as a bus or van. The only reason I got them is they were the only cars that fitted a special chair I needed for a very pain full and persistent back problem. The company doctor wouldn't sign off any other car for me. Trust me, no matter how much you love cars, if you need to do 100.000 kilometers a year for your livelihood, you want to be very care full of your back.

A medical reason for choosing a certain car probably takes precedence over a practical reason but it still doesn't make it my personal choice.

It seems just a natural progression of things. We've seen it in many different industries. As soon as cost becomes the only driving factor, thing start getting standardized, companies start merging to leverage scale and volume, smaller companies start going bust.

This forum and programs such as Topgear which I believe is watched by more than a 100 million people weekly shows there is a huge interest in special cars.
Unfortunately, as the saying goes, most of us have champagne taste, but only beer money. Hence we have to rely on the good "Ulrich Hackenberg" as our savior. A very sad state of affairs.

That's why I always buy cars that are at least ten to fifteen years old. At that age, you can pick up some pretty special cars for a whole lot less then when they were new. So ten years from now, numerous of the esteemed Team-BHP members will be ordering their 'shared platform" Polo Mark 14 or whatever.

Around that time I'll be on the lookout for a nice 2010-2012 Jaguar XJ for about half the price. I hope you guys are going to enjoy your new shared platform Polo's as I'm going to enjoy my second hand super charged Jag. Guess what? I've already got the brochure!

Jeroen

Last edited by Jeroen : 25th February 2013 at 22:25. Reason: spelling
Jeroen is offline   (15) Thanks Reply With Quote
Old 26th February 2013, 00:33   #6
BHPian
 
Join Date: Jan 2012
Location: Phoenix, AZ
Posts: 144
Thanked: 59 Times
Default Re: Reuters : Has Volkswagen discovered the Holy Grail of carmakers?

This thinking of modular based design be it in Hardware or Software has always been there, agree with some of the comments that this forum might become a place to talk about just the variants that we have opted for...hopefully we wont reach that stage.

We in our engineering co., design with this philosophy of "Module based design' and variants for quite some time, SAP ( again a German firm) has the module to support such configurations called as 'Variant Configurator'.

It will be interesting to find the correlation with what happens in auto industries and what gets rolled out in IT systems development trends as features, I can reel out a list
mazda4life is offline   (1) Thanks Reply With Quote
Old 26th February 2013, 10:09   #7
BHPian
 
Join Date: Jan 2012
Location: Bangalore,Coorg
Posts: 720
Thanked: 303 Times
Default Re: Reuters : Has Volkswagen discovered the Holy Grail of carmakers?

From a financial and even ease of manufacturing perspective this is a brilliant innovation. However, it means individuality is lost and you start to wind up with competent but not brilliant cars.

Look at it another way. BMW once used to make the best handling practical cars on the planet, especially during the E30 and even E36 time. Nowadays the BMW's are much better at the comfort but handling has nose dived. It is no longer the ultimate driving machine. That is what standardization does
pganapathy is offline   (1) Thanks Reply With Quote
Old 26th February 2013, 12:58   #8
BHPian
 
Join Date: Apr 2010
Location: New Delhi
Posts: 812
Thanked: 125 Times
Default Re: Reuters : Has Volkswagen discovered the Holy Grail of carmakers?

Quote:
Originally Posted by mazda4life View Post
This thinking of modular based design be it in Hardware or Software has always been there, agree with some of the comments that this forum might become a place to talk about just the variants that we have opted for...hopefully we wont reach that stage.

We in our engineering co., design with this philosophy of "Module based design' and variants for quite some time, SAP ( again a German firm) has the module to support such configurations called as 'Variant Configurator'.

It will be interesting to find the correlation with what happens in auto industries and what gets rolled out in IT systems development trends as features, I can reel out a list
Yup, I know what your'e saying. I m a Product Manager for one such software package company and know all about module based component dev.

However, I still think that this can turn out to be revolutionary as such mass scale adoption of such technique has never been carried out before. Or no company of the sheer size of VAG had tried it out before.

I agree with GTO's point about dilution of the more premium brand equity though. It always happens. You think something is special as long as you don't have something else in the market which is 90-100% as good at half the price Why do you think that Apple doesn't come up with 10 iterations iPhone (surely it can corner much more market share, right). Even the iPad mini says that it provides the 'same experience' at slightly smaller size.

The companies that sit at the premium end of the VAG will have a touch time to differentiate its products from the cheaper ones in the near to mid term future. Design and Quality levels could be the differentiating factors for such companies (read Audi et all)

Last edited by Abhi_Automobile : 26th February 2013 at 12:59.
Abhi_Automobile is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 26th February 2013, 15:49   #9
Senior - BHPian
 
Join Date: Oct 2012
Location: Delhi
Posts: 1,194
Thanked: 1,847 Times
Infractions: 0/1 (4)
Default Re: Reuters : Has Volkswagen discovered the Holy Grail of carmakers?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Abhi_Automobile View Post
Yup, I know what your'e saying. I m a Product Manager for one such software package company and know all about module based component dev.

However, I still think that this can turn out to be revolutionary as such mass scale adoption of such technique has never been carried out before. Or no company of the sheer size of VAG had tried it out before.

I agree with GTO's point about dilution of the more premium brand equity though. It always happens. You think something is special as long as you don't have something else in the market which is 90-100% as good at half the price Why do you think that Apple doesn't come up with 10 iterations iPhone (surely it can corner much more market share, right). Even the iPad mini says that it provides the 'same experience' at slightly smaller size.

The companies that sit at the premium end of the VAG will have a touch time to differentiate its products from the cheaper ones in the near to mid term future. Design and Quality levels could be the differentiating factors for such companies (read Audi et all)
Tell me about these standardized software modules. I can write you a book about them, you'd find it in the fiction or alternative the horror section!

But you are right that VW doing this at an unprecedented scale. So its' very likely this will put them ahead of the pack for quite a few years. Well, good for them.

The branding is a very interesting point. I'm wondering how that will play out.

My sister and law and her husband are staying with us at the moment. He's a hardcore avionic engineer. Hadn't spoken to him for a while since all of us move around the globe all the time. But I've known him to be a huge Mercedes fan. Whenever we visited them there was always the newest/latest Merc sitting in the driveway.

Last night he told me, he now has a Skoda. All his cars are company cars, and he could have had the latest C-class, but he chose the Skoda as he believes it to be a better car than the Merc. Had all the figures and facts to prove it too, as an engineer would. The argument, but now you're driving a 'Skoda' fell on deaf ears.

Truth is that cars could be technically better than many of the brands that position themselves superior to VW. At the same you do get this dilution within the VAG brands.

Even today when you own a Bentley or a Bugatti there will be the occassional punter who will mock you by calling it a Volkswagen. At least for now you can technically claim that's simply not true. But in a few years that might get harder and harder. My heart bleeds for future Bentley and Bugatti owners for all the mockery they'll be exposed to.

Might be a good time to snap up a nice Bentley or Bugatti. Put it in storage, they'll be the last of the real proper Bentley or Bugatti range. Must be worth a fortune in twenty/thirty years or so as the last pre-shared platform versions!

Jeroen
Jeroen is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 26th February 2013, 16:27   #10
BHPian
 
Join Date: Apr 2010
Location: New Delhi
Posts: 812
Thanked: 125 Times
Default Re: Reuters : Has Volkswagen discovered the Holy Grail of carmakers?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Jeroen View Post
Tell me about these standardized software modules. I can write you a book about them, you'd find it in the fiction or alternative the horror section!

But you are right that VW doing this at an unprecedented scale. So its' very likely this will put them ahead of the pack for quite a few years. Well, good for them.

The branding is a very interesting point. I'm wondering how that will play out.

My sister and law and her husband are staying with us at the moment. He's a hardcore avionic engineer. Hadn't spoken to him for a while since all of us move around the globe all the time. But I've known him to be a huge Mercedes fan. Whenever we visited them there was always the newest/latest Merc sitting in the driveway.

Last night he told me, he now has a Skoda. All his cars are company cars, and he could have had the latest C-class, but he chose the Skoda as he believes it to be a better car than the Merc. Had all the figures and facts to prove it too, as an engineer would. The argument, but now you're driving a 'Skoda' fell on deaf ears.

Truth is that cars could be technically better than many of the brands that position themselves superior to VW. At the same you do get this dilution within the VAG brands.

Even today when you own a Bentley or a Bugatti there will be the occassional punter who will mock you by calling it a Volkswagen. At least for now you can technically claim that's simply not true. But in a few years that might get harder and harder. My heart bleeds for future Bentley and Bugatti owners for all the mockery they'll be exposed to.

Might be a good time to snap up a nice Bentley or Bugatti. Put it in storage, they'll be the last of the real proper Bentley or Bugatti range. Must be worth a fortune in twenty/thirty years or so as the last pre-shared platform versions!

Jeroen
Well, the Software analogy was a good one to theoretically prove the intention behind the move. We know that the truth is far away from it

Well, at least the Bugatti and Bentley has Italian and and British blood in the veins (or at least lineage). I'd be much more concerned about Audi. Essentially the same philosophy behind all the cars. Ain't it! FYI, most Bristishers believe that the VW Golf is pound for pound a better car than the Audi A3. If I were an Audi boss, that will be a really concerning statement.

Overall, I think that this move will lead to significant cost savings for the group, as a whole. Whether they pass it to the customers (VW group cars are typically 3-5% costlier than its competitors), is another matter. As they move along, they'll need to have significant product differentiation built into product of different brands, to keep their distinct identify (styling and quality levels being the most significant ones). In general, I'd be happy if I were planning on buying a Skoda or VW (lower end) but not so happy if I were planning to buy Audi or even Porche.

Having said all this, I think VAG folks are at least much smarter than GM was (before bankruptcy), where most GM products from Pontiac, GM, Cadillac, Open ....and what not were pointless reincarnations of each other. This led to half of them becoming desultory brands, eventually resulting in demise of a few.

Last edited by Abhi_Automobile : 26th February 2013 at 16:29.
Abhi_Automobile is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 26th February 2013, 18:48   #11
BHPian
 
Join Date: Nov 2012
Location: Mumbai
Posts: 76
Thanked: 38 Times
Default Re: Reuters : Has Volkswagen discovered the Holy Grail of carmakers?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Jeroen View Post
Might be a good time to snap up a nice Bentley or Bugatti. Put it in storage, they'll be the last of the real proper Bentley or Bugatti range. Must be worth a fortune in twenty/thirty years or so as the last pre-shared platform versions!

Jeroen
I absolutely am with you on this point. Unfortunately, I don't think I will ever be in a position to lap up a Bentley or a Bugatti willy nilly :-p
That being said, I'm with Abhi on it giving us costsavings in the long term.
Anghammarad is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 26th February 2013, 18:53   #12
Senior - BHPian
 
Join Date: Oct 2012
Location: Delhi
Posts: 1,194
Thanked: 1,847 Times
Infractions: 0/1 (4)
Default Re: Reuters : Has Volkswagen discovered the Holy Grail of carmakers?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Anghammarad View Post
I absolutely am with you on this point. Unfortunately, I don't think I will ever be in a position to lap up a Bentley or a Bugatti willy nilly :-p
That being said, I'm with Abhi on it giving us costsavings in the long term.
Abhi is probably right. Lets hope they do so much cost savings and pass it on to their customers we can afford a Bentley in due course. Well, I mean, you can dream can't you? I do hope they improve their models though because those last few models all have horrible fat backs

Alternatively, you can pick up a very nice second hand Bentley in Europe for the price of a new Golf.

Jeroen
Jeroen is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 26th February 2013, 19:06   #13
BHPian
 
Join Date: Nov 2012
Location: Mumbai
Posts: 76
Thanked: 38 Times
Default Re: Reuters : Has Volkswagen discovered the Holy Grail of carmakers?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Jeroen View Post
Abhi is probably right. Lets hope they do so much cost savings and pass it on to their customers we can afford a Bentley in due course. Well, I mean, you can dream can't you? I do hope they improve their models though because those last few models all have horrible fat backs

Alternatively, you can pick up a very nice second hand Bentley in Europe for the price of a new Golf.

Jeroen
My dream car is a Jag 1951 XK 120, affordable at a bit of a stretch at 40-50,000 USD, the taxes are backbreaking unfortunately to have it in India. 2nd hand cars abroad are a totally different ball game. I know it sounds silly, but I am envious of the cars that go for sale in Europe and the US compared to the stuff we have here.
Anghammarad is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 26th February 2013, 20:31   #14
Senior - BHPian
 
Join Date: Oct 2012
Location: Delhi
Posts: 1,194
Thanked: 1,847 Times
Infractions: 0/1 (4)
Default Re: Reuters : Has Volkswagen discovered the Holy Grail of carmakers?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Anghammarad View Post
My dream car is a Jag 1951 XK 120, affordable at a bit of a stretch at 40-50,000 USD, the taxes are backbreaking unfortunately to have it in India. 2nd hand cars abroad are a totally different ball game. I know it sounds silly, but I am envious of the cars that go for sale in Europe and the US compared to the stuff we have here.
That XK120 is very nice indeed, we had several in our Jaguar club back in Kansas City when we lived there.

Life is unfair, I know it, especially when taxes come into play. But nothing you can do about it. Moving abroad just for an affordable hobby might be taking things a bit to far.

Take care,

Jeroen
Jeroen is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 27th February 2013, 15:39   #15
BHPian
 
altius's Avatar
 
Join Date: Nov 2009
Location: Chennai
Posts: 188
Thanked: 22 Times
Default Re: Reuters : Has Volkswagen discovered the Holy Grail of carmakers?

As said in earlier posts, this may result in brand dilution and similar driving cars. That will probably bother premium car buyers. It is good news for regular folks who dont the money and not bothered about the brand/luxury fittings as long as they get better cars for the money. Case to point is the new Golf, which as per reviews is rated to be better that Audi A3.
altius is offline   Reply With Quote
Reply


Thread Tools Search this Thread
Search this Thread:

Advanced Search


Similar Threads
Thread Thread Starter Forum Replies Last Post
Volkswagen Vento - User Discovered Features and Quirks souravc Technical Stuff 515 5th October 2014 20:35
My Grail Quest is over, here I am TheHkrish Introduce yourself 4 4th July 2013 15:20
How carmakers finalize car specifications ! SMG The Indian Car Scene 14 16th October 2009 14:25
Carmakers see more mileage in diesel kpbhatt The Indian Car Scene 12 26th May 2007 08:45
Holy Crap!! Hyundai Getz website discovered GTO The Indian Car Scene 22 12th September 2004 05:06


All times are GMT +5.5. The time now is 05:31.

Copyright ©2000 - 2014, Team-BHP.com
Proudly powered by E2E Networks