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Old 01-06-2001, 04:20 PM
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JCE JCE is offline
Down to the Wear Bars
Join Date: May 1999
Location: So Kalifornia
Posts: 2,189
S. Longston:

Sorry if I gave the impression that I thought MB was trying to build planned obsolescence into their vehicles in a sinister manner. I was trying to convey the point that you made more clearly - that markets and expectations change, and that companies adapt to market conditions or face economic challenges. My point was that expecting our cars to last 300,000 miles is not the market norm - that we who do expect this are the extremists, and we may require extreme measures to accomplish our goals of longevity. Being extremists, and relatively few in number, companies can't be expected to build exclusivly to our longevity tastes.

There is nothing particularly wrong with the concept of adaptive quality, especially if you are trying to increase market penetration as MB claims to be doing. In point of fact, with a growing population and finite resource base, adaptive quality concepts are essential. The alternative would be to follow the Rolls Royce path and TRY to build a super high quality timeless design that owners would want to keep forever, and then live with the fact that you probably won't sell more than 10,000 units per year worldwide to the people who have that kind of income AND obsessiveness about their automobiles.

And if you try to build even that car "too good", the cost will go up exponentially, and eventually only Bill Gates and the Sultan of Brunei could possibly buy one. Bugatti, Dusenburg, etc. built cars that proved "too good" for a tiny market that quickly saturated, then evaporated with changing economic conditions. Likewise, there is nothing particularly wrong about wanting a new car every 3 years (aside from effects on the environment). Car companies have to compromise between these objectives in building a car that their target market can afford. Believe me, there are large and complex computer models evolving to try and locate that exact point for any given product.

When I said that I was cynical about the motivation of companies, I was trying to convey the frustration I feel that companies are being moved by management too deeply into practices and product quality levels that marketing groups say are acceptable or even desirable, or that shareholders groups demand to generate expected returns, or that government agencies require in the name of recycling or re-sizing. Witness the demonstrations and legal actions in Germany by shareholders to remove the Daimler Benz CEO because of disapproval over company performance, or the Red-Green coalition proposed requirements for all cars to be made smaller, and with 90+% recycled products.

No sinister plots, no paranoid delusions, no flame wars, no attempts to convert you, and nothing personal against marketing professionals. Both marketing and engineers are needed to keep the company going, but when either group is too much in vogue, there are long term consequences to the company. Pax.

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