Will Artisanal Producers Of Cars Such As Tesla, Make Safe Ones? Probably Not

by Jack Lifton on March 29, 2009

in Hybrids & EVs, News Analysis

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The rush to “save energy” and lower emissions of carbon dioxide has resulted in a rush to market of cheap, poorly made, short lived so-called “compact” fluorescent bulbs. Even with “only” 40 to 50 components, it has been impossible to make these bulbs reliable enough and cheap enough, so that the cost of using them and the emissions from making them over and over again as replacements ultimately for themselves, are actually higher than they would have been had consumers simply continued using incandescent lamps. How many components and systems are there in a motor car not even counting the power train? Aren’t the chnaces of component failure unacceptably high unless you have either 100% testing or a long established statistical quality analysis of failure modes?

One of the largest problems currently being covered up by those who outsource components for automobiles finally assembled in the US is the poor quality control of many Chinese “low-cost” manufacturers.

Buried even more deeply, is the fact that many Chinese manufacturers simply use cheaper materials, or much less than they should of the correct materials. They do so to make critical parts, in order to make a profit on contracts that they won by simply quoting below the competition, without knowing the real costs.

Billions of dollars in recalls by General Motors are said to have resulted from such practices and their coverups.

A modern car has more than 6,000 components.

The decline and fall of GM parallelled the American OEM automotive industry’s program to reduce costs, by outsourcing quality control to suppliers. The very first company to do this was Ford under Jacques Nasser, and the result was the tire fiasco that derailed Ford’s hot selling SUVs.

The mantra then, in the 1990s, was head-count reduction. No bean counter, like Rick Wagoner, cared about why a particular department had a high “head-count.” It was only important to reduce head-count in any department other than executive management.

The fatal flaw was the total lack of a long range plan to retain the accumulated knowledge of individuals and groups. Skilled engineering and purchasing jobs, for example, at GM and Ford, were not transferred; they were outsourced or eliminated.

Thus there was no one to determine either the skill set, quality or real costs of outsourcing parts to low cost suppliers.

Now we are supposed to believe that cobbled together organizations such as Tesla Motors, comprising celebrity engineers and financiers, will simply conjure up from no experience, the experience of lifetimes of quality control engineering, to ensure that the 6,000 parts of their wonder-kits work seamlessly just like the Daimler products against which they are priced, and which – the Daimler products, that is – have been assembled with a cumulative experience of nearly 125 years.

All this and a large experimental failure prone battery.

It can’t possible miss, can it?

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