<VV> Delco goes bust (long)

Padgett pp2 at 6007.us
Sat Oct 8 22:14:08 EDT 2005

>      So maybe your government should stop US manufacturers from buying from
>other than (all-American) Delphi? All right, government's growing apace,
>here. Now, US-made vehicles are more-expensive, and CONSUMERS will
>accordingly favor cheaper imports. Now, Delphi is dragging GM down with it.

Started back with the first energy crisis. Imports had been here all along 
but America was different. Other countries taxed just about everything 
(mostly by engine size) on a sliding scale to keep the "interesting" cars 
out of the hands of the pesants. Other countries had expensive fuels again 
thanks to taxes and poor/narrow roads. Further they had developed excellent 
alternative transportation systems (trains/buses).

OTOH in the USofA automotive evolution took a different path. No 
taxes/cheap fuel started the cubic inch race in the 50s (before that most 
mass production cars had engines of around 200 cid). Wide open spaces led 
to big slow turning engines that would last for 100,000 miles on '50s 
technology. In many parts of the country, 100 miles was "around the 
corner", something inconceivable in Europe or mechanized Asia (visitors 
have a lot of trouble understanding just how big Florida is).

MPG was of slight interest but has never really been a concern here, in the 
midst of the 1973 gas crisis the major issue was whether any was available 
to buy, not the price and while long lines at gas stations made the news, 
it was never much of a concern other than to make bigger and auxiliary gas 
tanks options.

For example, many around here went to the Nature Coast Corvairs picnic at 
Ft. Cooper State Park today and had a grand time. That it was 60 miles from 
my house was not really an issue when an average speed of over 60 mph was 
possible. Since am waiting on a replacement balancer I took one of my 
1980's relics with a 3800. Average for the trip was over 24 mpg and saw 
over 30 mpg on the 20 mile section with a 55 mph limit.

My point is that the American road system that evolved from Ike's vision of 
an Interstate system has radically changed from the 60s and 70s when the 
50-70 mph "passing time" was a real factor. Today it isn't.

So  back before the first gasoline crisis, American cars were large and 
designed for the wide open roads and had the ability to set the cruise on a 
comfortable speed depending on law enforcement and go until either gas, 
food, or a rest stop was needed. Something almost inconceivable to a 
European or Japanese.

What has happened in this century is that the cultures are converging. 
Europeans and Japanese car makers can make vehicles that can go at 70+ MPH 
for hours on end and deliver 30 mpg or better while doing it. No longer is 
how to decarbonize the valves a part of the owner's manual (and recommended 
every 15,000 miles). Powertrain warrantys are now at least 6 year/60,000 
mile and 10/100,000s are not uncommon

The problem is that the US automakers have always made more profit on large 
cars than small and tend to treat small cars as "cheap" while for the rest 
of the world, a 1.5 liter (91 cubic inch) engine is a step up and engines 
of that class are now quiet, smooth, and capable of cruising speeds well in 
excess of the posted limit. Being a step up they include "all the toys" 
from a/c to RKE to six speaker CD systems. Standard. And even with the 
depressed dollar can be sold here for $10k-$15k, a price point US mfrs have 
all but abandoned.

That the day of the SUV was limited should have been obvious but foresight 
has never been Detroit's strong point. OTOH GM has a habit of bringing out 
a brilliant design about 5-10 years too soon and then giving up on it just 
when the it gets right.

So the question is not whether Delphi goes broke, but how long the overseas 
arms of GM will be able to carry domestic production. After all, the only 
real economy car GM has in this country, the Chevrolet Aveo (Pontiac Wave 
is not sold in the US) is really a Daewoo and the engine in good US fashion 
is larger (and less economical) than those sold overseas.

One can hope that GM has plans for a domestic line of the "subminis" that 
are so popular in Europe but so far there has been no sign of it.

I wonder if there is a four-speed overdrive transaxle that could be adapted 
to the Corvair engine relatively inexpensively...


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