[V8] ALuminous: Darker Side of Lightening ??

Etdmail at cs.com Etdmail at cs.com
Wed Aug 2 16:00:31 EDT 2006

Hi All,

Ever wonder if we really purchase in true enlightenment?

Remember Economics 101?  Competition is supposed to 
breed - better quality products - at a fair market prices.

How do we measure auto purchases going forward? 
Unit Priced? (per pound), TCO? (Total cost of ownership), TCE? 
(Total cost to the environment), TCI? (Total cost of inconvenience).

Are we making appropriate progresses ? 
Relative to advances in lighter materials and technologies?

Here again, I think not -- considering the MPG average for all cars made,
is up only slightly since the 70's. Though few would argue that performance,
conveniences, and safety -- have all improved.

With the increasing number of models making use of light weight materials 
such as Aluminum. Which, at the last accounting I came across, required 8 
times the (electrical) energy to process over steel - Although less than 
to reprocess, if it makes it to the recycling stages (TCE?). 
Will there be any realized benefit?

For sure the 'body structures' are lighter, stiffer with most of the 
tolerances much improved. For example BMW's claim, that the front aluminum
superstructure on their E60 is within 1mm. in any given 1000mm. span. Seems, 
BMW has manufactured an almost dimensionally perfect car. Are we really ready
for these 1mm. tolerances?

Furthermore, BMW and other manufactures dictate repair policy, if a vehicle
becomes, out-of-spec due to a collision. Any and all corrections made to the
aluminum superstructure's unibody are forboden! Out-of-tolerance aluminum
frame-work will mean, replacing all the effected element(s).

Some manufacturers are refusing sale of aluminum structural members, unless
the shop, is a fully authorized facility - with dedicated equipment and 
areas to avoid cross-contamination of metals (MB).

In the case of Audi and it's A8, there is a total current of 400 authorized 
nationwide and among these, only half of those are fully authorized to carry 
structural repairs. With a growing trend here - towards 'dealer only' body 

Dealer only repairs (or the like-kind) - can't be a good thing - for car 
and policy holders alike. Also each manufacturer (Audi, BMW, Jaguar, MB, etc.)
have their own specifications for materials, tools, and equipment to make the
aluminum repairs - Tough for any independents - that might try to qualify !!

To me this is sounding like the 'start of the demise' of many ideas set forth 
in Economics 101, at least on this front anyway. As I see it, having a very
negative impact on our TCO, TCI, TCE results !!

Not all issues are material of course - All the increasing complexities add
weight and cost every where - (eg: Purchases, Repairs, Insurance and fuel).

Wonder if the 'marketing types' will be apprising us of all this - in the days
ahead ?? I suppose, either way it matters little in the end, all these models 
will very likely become our future Edsels.

On the road to enlightenment (again)!


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