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One of the reason American carmakers are in trouble: engines

Discussion in 'Fine Living, Home, Design & Auto' started by imageWIS, Mar 13, 2006.

  1. imageWIS

    imageWIS Stylish Dinosaur

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    One of the reason American carmakers are in trouble: engines

    VW will come out with the VW Golf GT (not available in the US), and it will feature a 1.4-liter TSI (direct injection) I4 engine with a twin-charger system composed of a single supercharger for low-end power and a turbo-charger for high-end speed. The car will do a max speed of 137 mph and will have 168bhp and 177lb.ft of torque. But will still get an awesome 40-mpg!

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    For comparison, a Pontiac Solstice with its NA 2.4-liter I4 gets 177 bhp as well, but gets a combined rate of 22-mpg. And people wonder why the American auto industry is in trouble!

    Jon.
     


  2. Kai

    Kai Distinguished Member

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    How much will it cost to purchase that VW Golf GT? List price for the Golf GT is about 19,000 British pounds, while the list price of the Solstice is about 19,000 US dollars. Not available in the US? That likely means that the Golf wouldn't meet US emissions and safety standards, both of which add weight and sap power and mpg. The competition in Europe is played by different rules. It's hardly fair to compare the more expensive, non-US spec Golf against the Pontiac that has to meet US guidelines and costs less than 2/3 the price.

    America can make a world class car at a competitive price. Look at the Corvette C6 Z06. The engine on that car is pretty amazing. Dry sump, titanium rods, berylium guides, over 500 hp and yet the car gets 26mpg highway and 16mpg city. Not a lot of comparable cars with those sorts of numbers. Show me any European sports car in the Z06's price range that comes close in terms of performance.
     


  3. johnapril

    johnapril Distinguished Member

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    How much will it cost to purchase that VW Golf GT? List price for the Golf GT is about 19,000 British pounds, while the list price of the Solstice is about 19,000 US dollars. Not available in the US? That likely means that the Golf wouldn't meet US emissions and safety standards, both of which add weight and sap power and mpg. The competition in Europe is played by different rules. It's hardly fair to compare the more expensive, non-US spec Golf against the Pontiac that has to meet US guidelines and costs less than 2/3 the price.

    America can make a world class car at a competitive price. Look at the Corvette C6 Z06. The engine on that car is pretty amazing. Dry sump, titanium rods, berylium guides, over 500 hp and yet the car gets 26mpg highway and 16mpg city. Not a lot of comparable cars with those sorts of numbers. Show me any European sports car in the Z06's price range that comes close in terms of performance.


    Yes, but even this morning I watched a Corvette accelerate out of a turn and fishtail all over the road. Something is off with the engineering, I can tell, a novice, watching from a safe distance.
     


  4. briancl

    briancl Distinguished Member

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    Yes, but even this morning I watched a Corvette accelerate out of a turn and fishtail all over the road. Something is off with the engineering, I can tell, a novice, watching from a safe distance.

    if you want a car that understeers on throttle, mid-turn (i.e. not "fishtail"), then you do not want a corvette. that behaviour you witnessed is not an engineering flaw. quite the opposite. that "fishtail" is by design.

    most cars (american, japanese, european) are designed to understeer so that any novice driver can handle them in many different situations. the corvette is not one of these cars.

    here is another opinion on why american cars are falling behind..

    http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/11675834/site/newsweek/
     


  5. imageWIS

    imageWIS Stylish Dinosaur

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    How much will it cost to purchase that VW Golf GT? List price for the Golf GT is about 19,000 British pounds, while the list price of the Solstice is about 19,000 US dollars. Not available in the US? That likely means that the Golf wouldn't meet US emissions and safety standards, both of which add weight and sap power and mpg. The competition in Europe is played by different rules. It's hardly fair to compare the more expensive, non-US spec Golf against the Pontiac that has to meet US guidelines and costs less than 2/3 the price. America can make a world class car at a competitive price. Look at the Corvette C6 Z06. The engine on that car is pretty amazing. Dry sump, titanium rods, berylium guides, over 500 hp and yet the car gets 26mpg highway and 16mpg city. Not a lot of comparable cars with those sorts of numbers. Show me any European sports car in the Z06's price range that comes close in terms of performance.
    You can’t compare US to UK car prices. First off, VAT is a killer. Then you have DVLA taxes, and then HM Revenue and Customs taxes… at the end it always costs more to purchase cars in the UK than in the US. Another major problem with US cars is that they don’t (for the most part) handle well. Will a Corvette handle as well as a Boxster? No. Sure, it has more BHP and will go faster off the line, but in the everyday world, who cares? Cornering is even more vital than a sub-5 sec 0-60 time. What’s the point of all that power if you can’t corner without taking 3 lanes to do so? Also, honestly build quality in American cars is not up to snuff compared to Japanese / German cars. Which one is better made: A Camry or a Ford 500? As well, doing quick math, a 1.4-liter I4, which makes 170, has 121.42857 bhp per liter. Now, take a 1 Liter I4, the engine should make aprox. 121.42857 bhp. But that’s really not enough, so you could make the engine a 1.2-liter and then you could bump up the bhp to aprox. 145.71428 bhp. Which, is more than plenty for an everyday car which could run at around a starting price of ~$13,500. AS well, just because VW might charge more for their cars than they used to, does not mean than the twin-charger engine cannot be produced inexpensively and used in less expensive cars. If you move the other way, you might be able to get close to 243 bhp from a 2-liter twin-charger engine, that’s pretty damn impressive. Especially considering that my single-turbo 2.0-liter I4 engine has 200 bhp, and gets worse gas mileage than could be achieved with the twin-charger system. Jon.
     


  6. montecristo#4

    montecristo#4 Stylish Dinosaur

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    My Saab 9-5 Aero is a GM car with a 2.3 liter engine that generates 250 hp and 272 ft/lbs of torque. It gets 33 MPG on the highway and handles almost as well as a BMW 5 series. On full boost, it is faster from 40 MPH to 70 MPH than a Porsche 911. The problem is that GM has no idea how to market it in the US.
     


  7. imageWIS

    imageWIS Stylish Dinosaur

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    My Saab 9-5 Aero is a GM car with a 2.3 liter engine that generates 250 hp and 272 ft/lbs of torque. It gets 33 MPG on the highway and handles almost as well as a BMW 5 series. On full boost, it is faster from 40 MPH to 70 MPH than a Porsche 911. The problem is that GM has no idea how to market it in the US.
    One or two turbo’s? Oh, and there is no way in hell the car can handle anywhere close to a 5-series. Its engine is mounted in front of the wheels, which makes it nose heavy and leads to uneven f/r weight distribution. Same problem I have with my Audi. Indeed, the only Audi model (4-door sedan) that is truly balanced is the RS4, and the reason is that all the heavy components of the engine and the transmission are facing the rear of the car, and they distributed more weight from the rear to the out corners of the car. Of, course you pay over $75K for this type of balance. Jon.
     


  8. Arethusa

    Arethusa Distinguished Member

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    'Born from jets' still makes me laugh.

    And I have to agree that fuel inefficiency is part of what's killing the American auto industry. It isn't all of it, but if GM and Ford can't get it together to change how they work, the collapse of the oil economy is going to wipe them off the face of the Earth.
     


  9. johnapril

    johnapril Distinguished Member

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    if you want a car that understeers on throttle, mid-turn (i.e. not "fishtail"), then you do not want a corvette. that behaviour you witnessed is not an engineering flaw. quite the opposite. that "fishtail" is by design.

    most cars (american, japanese, european) are designed to understeer so that any novice driver can handle them in many different situations. the corvette is not one of these cars.

    here is another opinion on why american cars are falling behind..

    http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/11675834/site/newsweek/


    You're kidding. Oh, my. That maneuver just looked so uncivilized.
     


  10. briancl

    briancl Distinguished Member

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    You're kidding. Oh, my. That maneuver just looked so uncivilized.

    civility is not the corvette's forte... i'm not really a fan of the car, so i hesitantly defend it. that said, if pushed, the car will perform exactly how you describe.

    regarding what was said upthread about saab and GM and whatever else... saab's are not aimed at the market of the m5, or porsche 911... i've driven the 9-2, 9-3, and 9-5.. and the only one that performs like a performance car is the 9-2, which is a subaru impreza wrx wagon with a prettier front fascia.

    as for the 40-70 numbers.. all of the 911's on this list are faster than all of the saabs (including a porsche from 1973)

    http://www.car-videos.net/performanc...1=40&Speed2=70

    saab makes a fine sedan, but they don't challenge the m5 or 911 on any worthwhile performance metrics. although, if GM did a better job marketing the car, im sure it could be more successful.. just not as a luxo-sports car (m5) or sports car (911).. maybe as a midsized sedan.

    and imagewis.. the whole one or two turbos thing is purely marketing BS with modern turbos. there is rarely a case today where a dual/bi/twin turbo setup can make more power than a single turbo. the addition of a second turbo is usually done in order to gain a bit of low end torque (or in the case of the vw, a supercharger is added), at the sacrifice of some upper end power. its so the mfg's can sell the car to people who hop in for a test drive and would otherwise stall it trying to pull out of the dealership.. or people who associate low end grunt (e.g. corvette, mustang, whatever hemi powered things people drive, etc) with performance. said in simpler terms... the efficiency of two smaller turbos is significantly less than the efficiency of one larger turbo.
     


  11. imageWIS

    imageWIS Stylish Dinosaur

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    and imagewis.. the whole one or two turbos thing is purely marketing BS with modern turbos. there is rarely a case today where a dual/bi/twin turbo setup can make more power than a single turbo. the addition of a second turbo is usually done in order to gain a bit of low end torque (or in the case of the vw, a supercharger is added), at the sacrifice of some upper end power. its so the mfg's can sell the car to people who hop in for a test drive and would otherwise stall it trying to pull out of the dealership.. or people who associate low end grunt (e.g. corvette, mustang, whatever hemi powered things people drive, etc) with performance. said in simpler terms... the efficiency of two smaller turbos is significantly less than the efficiency of one larger turbo.



    I will not to get into the variable properties of turbos, such as composition (a ceramic turbo will not get as hot, and will perform better, etc...), but in sheer numbers of turbos, it all really depends on the set up. For instance, the car could have two turbos; one small one to boos the low range and a larger one to boost the higher range. Also the bi-turbo idea is not a bad one, as instead of one large turbo handling all the power and flow from all the cylinders, the workload is split in-between 2 turbos (a-la 911 Turbo).

    The reason the twin charger works so well, is that VW uses the supercharger to spool up the low end power, but then cuts it off when the turbo kicks in, thus the drag from the supercharger won't affect the cars power / gas mileage in at the high end.

    Jon.
     


  12. SGladwell

    SGladwell Distinguished Member

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    I think the point is well taken, though I'd narrow "Americans" to "GM" and I'm not sure the monstrously complex VW twincharger is the best example to show where American car companies should go. I'd probably use the BMW turbodiesels instead, because they get even better milage and have the low-end torque of American V8's. Also, I doubt that GM's manufacturing infrastructure (not its people, its equipment) could handle anything as complex mechanically as a small twincharged engine with a high-pressure direct fuel injection system. (Likewise, the Z06, a hand-built rattletrap loss-leader with abysmal interior quality, is a bad example of what GM can do on a real car.) However, ultimately I disagree with the premise that engines are the issue holding American cars back. People still don't pay attention to fuel economy as much as they should (witness the sore lack of 30+ mpg cars), and the American cars stay power-competitive despite using obsolete* techology by using larger-displacement engines. For example, the biggest Japanese sedan V6 is Nissan's 3.5L VQ. GM's standard sedan engine is a 3.9L. Rather, the fundamental problem facing Detroit is that they don't know how to design cars that are attractive, usable, and fun to drive. They don't pay attention to suspensions; witness Ford sticking a 19th century rear end on their 21st century Mustang. No American company is visionary enough to come up with something like the Mini. When GM tried to ape the Miata, they came up with something that was:
    • Chock full of head-scratchingly bad design choices such as a top that requires exiting the car to raise or lower and a trunklid that opens the wrong way. Not to mention that said trunk will not fit a suit hanger, let alone an actual jacket!
    • Much wider, meaning less capable on the narrow twisty roads for which sports cars are designed
    • 400+ lbs heavier
    • Driven by an awful-feeling engine that thrashes rather than screams
    • Saddled with an absurdly gigantic deadweights at each corner rather than rationally-sized wheels/tires
    • Possessing a handling balance characterized by understeer rather than neutrality
    • Riddled with ugly plastic pieces like that wannabe BMW grill and the whole interior
    • Poorer in fuel economy as well as straight-line acceleration despite nearly half a liter of displacement advantage and greater HP/torque as well..
    So the Solstice, despite being not entirely hideous (Lane Bryant rear end, ironic enough considering how little it can hold, excepted) is the poster-car for the failure of the American automotive industry. GM had over 15 years to figure out what made the Miata the world's best-selling sports car ever, and they proved not up to the task. *Not strictly applicable in this case, because the Solstice's engine is a dual-cam, 16V engine. Just not a good one, like a Honda, Toyota, BMW, or Ford/Mazda four cyl. Also, I'm not insensitive to the defense that despite larger displacement, some of these old-style pushrod engines are just as powerful and economical as multicam engines in the same class, as well as being lighter and easier to package. Also, now that engine bays are full of plastic, the aesthetic advantage of dual overhead camshafts (think of a Jaguar XK or Aston straight six with triple SU flasks, an Alfa or Lotus twincam four with Weber DCOEs hanging off the side Mickey Mouse-nut up, or an Italian V12 with siamesed-horn Webers on top) has vanished. That kind of beauty does not exist in any of today's fused-front engines. However, none of these pushrod engines feel like precision instruments to me, the engine in the old C5 Corvette Z06 included. I've not driven a C6 of any stripe, only seen them, so I can't compare that one.
     


  13. rdawson808

    rdawson808 Distinguished Member

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    Just one quick point (or estimation maybe) regarding an above comment on emissions levels. A quick search confirmed what I thought and that is that the EU seems to have tougher emissions standards than the US for passenger vehicles.

    A second thing I would like to say is that after driving a Honda Civic for the last six or so years, this week I am driving a Ford 500 (a rental). It sucks. I have no idea if it is faster or gets better gas mileage or anything--but the syling is horrible, it's not as comfortable as my Civic, and the operation isn't as intuitive--but that could just be because I am used to my Civic. But it can't be just that. It physically rides higher than my Civic and is harder to see around. That makes it a little hard to parallel park.

    I just left it and the dumb dome light was on and I could not figure out how to turn it off. When I lock up the car, everything ought to damn well be turned off. Oh, and that reminds me, when you turn the car off the radio stays on. Why? Can someone explain that to me? Why leave the stereo on except to kill the battery? Stupid stupid stupid.

    bob (who is clearly a little frustrated).
     


  14. Brian SD

    Brian SD Moderator

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    bob, I see most American cars in the same way I see Windows vs. Mac.

    Everything is counter-intuitive and under-designed. It's really that simple to me.

    As for the Solstice vs. Miata. No chance. Driving the MX-5 Miata was the most fun I've ever had in a car, period. Though I've only been in the passenger seat of my friends' M3 and S2000, so they may be more fun. I, myself, drive a lowly Civic 2-door.
     


  15. tiger02

    tiger02 Militarist

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    A quick search confirmed what I thought and that is that the EU seems to have tougher emissions standards than the US for passenger vehicles.
    Not necessarily tougher, but different. One of the difficulties in importing my German spec BMW is going to be emissions--there seem to be differences in which pollutants are filtered.

    Tom
     


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