reply to post by kimish
I am an automotive engineer myself - yes, developing cars, deciding which material to use, how to test the parts, etc.
I spent my first 7 years in parts development, and now I am working as Quality improvement engineer (i.e. checking the customers complaints and
dissatisfactions with our vehicles, and then change the design of parts in existing vehicles, improve these parts so as to fix the issues experienced
by the customers, in my area of expertise).
I work for one of the biggest world automaker.
I would like to reply to you and to most people who believe that we develop our cars so that they break down on in a given timeframe on purpose in
order to boost the sales level.
I am sorry to say that this is not true in the way you mean it. I will try and explain it.
We are indeed devellping our vehicles for a certain timeframe/mileage, which is different from company to company (e.g. Mercedes are developing their
cars for approx. 15 years/200,000km I think, most "mainstream" autos such as Renault, Ford, Fiat, etc. are rather in the 10 years/100,000 or
Now, where I disagree with you, is that we do not develop a car for this timeframe/mileage in order to secure additional sales, as you seem to
We are developing for this timeframe/mileage because it is a company policy based on very complex calculations and considerations.
A car is made of about 3000 different parts, which have to work together (interact with each other, stay clear from each other, etc).
Making them "work" together is in itself a very complex job (which is why there are engineers), then you have to consider the service time. Given
these considerations we could still make some pretty reliable cars.
Then comes in another part of the equation, we have to build a vehicle, on he same factory lines, at about 500,000 cars per year in some cases.
Therefore your design should not only be robust in regards to surrounding parts over a certain timeframe, but also designed for assembly, so that the
parts can be assembled within a short time by an operator, without impairing the overall quality. Therefore the line operator, as opposed to Ferrari
or Bentley operators, does not have 30 minutes to fit a part and check whether it is fitting properly, but rather 10 seconds.
And, last but not least, you have the costs consideration. Your part MUST cost a certain amount max. This is where trade offs happen.
If we had unlimited budget, I can promise you that I would be the first one to develop complet fail-safe parts using top quality materials, super
advanced tooling and processes.
Some points worth mentioning are weight and safety. Our car must be lightweight to achieve certain fuel consumption and pollution targets, otherwise
customers will not buy them. They must also achieve a top rating in NCAP.
You also have to think that we are also given a certain time to market timeframe.
In order to make our car fail safe, best way to test them would be to test thousands time each part until they fail, in order to know where, when and
how they fail. Then repeat the test at higher level (sub-systemm system, vehicle). But that would take ages. And if our cars were hitting market after
such a long time, yes you would have a great product, top quality, but 5 years (arbitrary number) late, therefore promised to a complete failure on
So on the one hand you have top management who wants a car ready to be sold next week, and on the other hands you have the engineers who wants more
time to develop their parts properly, negociate costs, and test the parts properly.
And all the parts have to be ready at the same time for prototype building and then serial building.
So, I hope I made a clear very short summary of how we develop cars, without giving away company know-how.
I hope I could make clear how complex it is to develop a car and how and why we have to do some trade offs.
I am sorry for this lengthy post, but I really want to clarify this point. Many people around me have told me that we are developing cars to break at
a certain on prupose, so as to sell more cars. But I really want to clear this point, it is just an urban legend.
I also hope that my position as a car engineer will make my post trustful.
As an car engineer, if I could make my parts fail-safe, then I would definitely do it.
Just a quick note, a fail safe vehicle is also possible, but it would cost 50 times more (and probably even much more), would weigh 5 times more,
consume 10 times more, and would look like a 80s design, with of course no feature such as bluetooth, CD reader, IPod or USB port, ABS or ESP, etc.
(as its development would have started 20 years ago).
And here is then my question to you, would you buy this car?