By on February 22, 2014

Scion_FR-S_3-22-2012-Toyota-Motorsports-Kickoff-Day-USA-100-57

At TTAC, I take it for granted that most of the B&B have more real-life experience and a better grasp on industry matters than I do. Sometimes, it can be detrimental.

 

When Road & Track asked me to do a guest post on the slow sales of the Scion FR-S and how it might impact the future course of upgrades for the car, I wrote a 700 word piece going in-depth and explaining many of the granular details behind the economics of the auto industry. My TTAC piece, though well received, was much shorter and skimmed over many of the broader topics.

What I want is for you, the readers, to let me know what course of action you prefer. Should I keep giving you a brief rundown of the topic at hand, assuming that you can fill in the blanks yourselves? Or would you prefer a more fleshed-out “director’s cut” version, even if it’s a topic that is already familiar to you?

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200 Comments on “Housekeeping: Do You Want The “Director’s Cut”?...”


  • avatar
    highdesertcat

    Many among us have proven over and over again that they cannot fill in the blanks themselves.

    I say, “Director’s Cut”.

    • 0 avatar

      Subscribing as one of those people who can not fill in any blanks, I agree with this sentiment; Director’s Cut please!

      And, also, as a fellow BRZ owner.

    • 0 avatar
      CoreyDL

      From the same perspective, it’s easier for people who come along -later- and read these articles to have the Director’s Cut version. When FR-S sales aren’t buzzy on all the car sites any more, someone can come here and find a good rundown, even if it’s five years old.

  • avatar
    69firebird

    I have to agree with High Desert Cat,if for no other reason than new people are finding this site daily,if all goes well.

  • avatar
    Monty

    Almost without exception, I find I much prefer the director’s cut of a film. I assume it would be the same for your editorials.

    Director’s cut, please.

  • avatar
    JK43123

    700 words is long? I say director’s cut and let me skip if I want to.

    John

  • avatar
    Carzzi

    Director’s cut, please. I don’t go to R&T except for pretty pictures and bacon & buffet travelogs. For in-depth analysis, TTAC is the place of choice.

  • avatar
    dwford

    That “director’s cut” is hardly long. I do find it hard to believe that an upgraded motor wasn’t part of the original development of the car, though. This is a car that Toyota basically designed, scrapped and redesigned, and the motor was already planned to be a turbo for the WRX.

  • avatar
    racer-esq.

    I cannot comment on the R/T version, since the link is broken. But what was missing from the TTAC version was not words. Word count means nothing. What was missing was facts (
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Five_Ws ). How much was the development cost? How many Toyobarus did Toyota and Subaru want to sell? How many do they have to sell, per market and globally, to make a profit. How many have they sold? How do the sales break down between Europe, Asia and America? Given that development costs are a sunk cost ( http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sunk_cost ), how many Toyobarus do Toyota and Subaru have to sell per year to justify continuing production (i.e. keeping the line running)? Why aren’t they putting a more powerful engine option in it? Is it really development cost of putting one of the turbo flat-fours in the engine bay, or is that the rear suspension is too “weak and terrible” to handle more power. Hyundai has continuously improved the Genesis Coupe without whining about sales. Is Hyundai running the Genesis Coupe as a loss leading halo or does Hyundai actually know how to make a profit in the segment?

    Just repeating the young people cannot afford cars and enthusiasts don’t buy new cars clichés reeks of the conceited cynicism of the car haters. As dark and jaded as I am I believe that a competent company can make a go of this market, and *if* the Toyobaru is not profitable it is because of the execution, not the concept. From the reporting on the Toyobaru I would like some actual facts to flush-out whether that is the case.

    • 0 avatar

      The problem with the above information that you specifically mention is that auto makers won’t tell you these things, as much of it is considered proprietary. One of the major difficulties of this subset of journalism is that you are dependent on the OEMs for access and at the mercy of their messaging. We have to do the best we can within those parameters – and the results are not always as satisfying as I’d like. The link appears to be broken on R&T’s site as well.

      • 0 avatar
        karlbonde

        It appears that the url changed. This one is working: http://www.roadandtrack.com/go/news/why-we-wont-get-a-faster-scion-frs

        Director’s cut please. FWIW, I own a 2013 FR-S…

        • 0 avatar
          racer-esq.

          Thanks for the link. This is the one sentence I would have like to see added to the TTAC version:

          “The sales picture in America is a mixed bag. The Scion FR-S missed its target by roughly a couple thousand units, but the BRZ is outstripping Subaru’s own projections.”

          America, despite supposed poor young people that cannot afford cars and enthusiasts that do not buy new, is meeting expectations.

          And the FR-S part is not quite accurate. The US sales projection of 20,000 cars was missed by 1,673, not a few thousand.

          http://autos.yahoo.com/news/2013-scion-fr-sales-not-slow-d-expect-140013395.html

          • 0 avatar

            1,673 units is “roughly a couple thousand”. This is encroaching on pedantry.

          • 0 avatar
            racer-esq.

            When people say “your” when they should have said “you’re” (as an example of grammar pedantry) I wince, but I still know what they mean from context. When people say a couple thousand I have no idea that they actually mean less than 2,000. It seems that you are trying to inflate the extent to which the sales were missed to support the “Generation Why” and enthusiasts don’t buy new agendas. That is why I like numbers and charts for sales data.

          • 0 avatar

            Come on, everyone “a couple” means two, a “few” means three or more. Nowhere was Generation Why mentioned. The issue is that there are not enough sales of this nameplate, as opposed to “nobody is buying this car because they can’t afford it”.

          • 0 avatar
            mike978

            You are being pedantic. Saying “roughly a couple of thousand” means anywhere from 1500 to 2500. It did not alter the facts or conclusion of the post. Sales were below targets and not by one or two units but by a four figure number.

          • 0 avatar
            racer-esq.

            Given the lack of solid numbers available in the auto industry, I would like to see the numbers that are availble reported instead of vague references that could mean sales were off by single digit percentages or double digit percentages.

          • 0 avatar

            2000 units in a year in auto industry volume isn’t anything to get worked about UNLESS you are Ferrari, Bentley, Rolls, Aston, etc.

          • 0 avatar
            Big Al from Oz

            Or it’s numbers in the Australian market.

      • 0 avatar
        racer-esq.

        Then you have to go gonzo. Date a Toyota NA secretary that has access, even if she is, as the kids apparently say these days, a “6/10 WNB”. Have Jack apply his h4x0r skills to the Toyota servers. Google FR-S sales projections and look at the analysis Yahoo autos put together:

        http://autos.yahoo.com/news/2013-scion-fr-sales-not-slow-d-expect-140013395.html

        Repeating some Toyota rep whining about sales, and adding the cynical auto blog assumptions to that, gives no real insight.

        For all we know Toyota and Subaru are making a f_ck ton of money on this stripped down previous generation Impreza, and the whining about sales is just to guilt trip enthusiasts into buying even more of them.

        • 0 avatar

          Seriously? That “analysis” is terribly shallow. The author claims that the Scion ranking third in the segment invalidates any claims about poor sales. No consideration for how it’s performing on the global market, or the fact that the FR-S did indeed miss its target in the USA, or the fact that Toyota doesn’t have enough scale to recoup the investment on a low-volume, low profit vehicle that was expensive to develop.

          • 0 avatar
            racer-esq.

            “[t]he fact that Toyota doesn’t have enough scale to recoup the investment on a low-volume, low profit vehicle that was expensive to develop.”

            You are claiming as fact that 1) the Toyobaru was expensive to develop, and 2) it is not selling with enough scale to recoup those development costs, based on some offhand comments by a guy in Toyota Europe?

            Yahoo reported the sales numbers for competitors, putting the Toyobaru sales in context, and made in clear that the problem is Europe, not the US. By doing that I believe that the Yahoo article provided more thorough analysis than your R/T article.

            I am not trying to be a dick, I am just trying to show that numbers and facts matter, not word count.

          • 0 avatar
            Pch101

            All cars on fresh platforms are expensive to develop, by default. That’s just a given.

          • 0 avatar
            racer-esq.

            “All cars on fresh platforms are expensive to develop, by default.” You say that like the FR-S/BRZ is on a fresh platform instead of an existing Subaru platform derivative. How much it cost is an interesting question I would like to see answered.

          • 0 avatar

            This isn’t just an Impreza with a “top hat” of a coupe put over it.

          • 0 avatar
            Pch101

            I agree that it is a question that should be asked. I wouldn’t necessarily expect it to be answered with complete honesty or in great detail.

            Automakers are hit-and-miss when it comes to providing that information, and there aren’t many alternative sources where one can get it. That necessarily requires anyone who analyzes the business to do a fair bit of speculating.

            One good thing that is taught in business school is that it is necessary to be able to analyze a business without the expectation of having complete or perfect information. A good SWAG can tell you a lot, but the methodology has to be sound. Saying that the Toyota is successful because the Mazda is a dog doesn’t pass the sniff test.

            I should add that the 86 is on a new platform. The drivetrain isn’t entirely fresh, but the RWD underpinnings are. And those can easily cost several hundred million dollars to develop.

          • 0 avatar

            “One good thing that is taught in business school is that it is necessary to be able to analyze a business without the expectation of having complete or perfect information.”

            Even with my relatively brief experience, I think I have developed fairly well honed heuristics with respect to analyzing these matters. Of course, by the time I am right, the pack has long moved on.

          • 0 avatar

            > You say that like the FR-S/BRZ is on a fresh platform instead of an existing Subaru platform derivative.

            I touched on this in the other thread:

            http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/02/slow-sales-of-scion-fr-s-disappoint-toyota-jeopardize-engine-upgrades/#comment-2832321

          • 0 avatar
            NormSV650

            Fifteen percent off of public projections the first year will only get worse in following years.

          • 0 avatar
            Power6

            Maybe this is getting beyond what any of us understand about guessing how much this cost to develop…but this car is based on the Impreza and agenthex you were definitely off in claiming the rear suspension is a new design this is very classic Subaru.

            The car used almost the entire Impreza rear subframe wholesale, though adapted for the Toyota rear diff and front WRX brakes adapted to the rear axle. Front subframe is similar to Impreza, uses Impreza L-arms swapped sides and flipped around backwards. Struts and shocks are similar. Electronics are familiar Subaru stuff. Clearly a unique body, with some parts bin engineering from Subaru and Toyota stuff. Subaru does this all the time, they don’t go back to the drawing board often, they start with a known quantity. How much money does that save? I’ve no idea, maybe someone else here does. To say that this is a unique design is wrong, anybody that has wrenched on a Subaru newer than 2008 will see lots of familiar stuff underneath one of these twins.

          • 0 avatar

            > and agenthex you were definitely off in claiming the rear suspension is a new design

            My bad, I forgot the Impreza got a new rear in that last major redesign.

          • 0 avatar
            tresmonos

            @racer-esq and every other nit-picker industry analyst wannabe:
            take it from someone that has seen the budget of a launch: Shut the f*ck up and stop being unreasonable.

            Derek is correct to say Toyota is taking a huge loss on this.

            What you are wanting is impossible to deliver. You are on a free website and you want industry access. The only thing that Derek can reference is his sources. Get a job as a project coordinator for an OEM or GTFO and STFU.

            It goes against logic for Toyota to invest in a loss leader when their projected loss is even greater than expected. Their budget for powertrain upgrades probably got chewed up with project overruns and lack of sales.

        • 0 avatar
          Pch101

          The thing is that there are issues with that Yahoo piece, too.

          The primary problem with the analysis is that the ranking is irrelevant. The fact that the Z sells really poorly doesn’t do anything to help Toyota produce a profit from this car.

          What matters is whether the resulting profits (some function of margin and volume) are sufficient to cover the cost. And the potential problem for TMC is that the development costs are almost certainly difficult to hurdle because there is no platform sharing benefit to be derived from this car.

          A corresponding problem is that while the Mustang and Camaro provide some opportunities for high-priced upmarket trim levels, this 86 does not. There’s no margin here to compensate for the lack of volume.

          On the other hand, I’m not sure what they were thinking. Combined sales of the FR-S and BRZ surpassed 25,000 units in the US, which strikes me as being about what should have been expected. I would have thought that the car is mostly a halo of sorts, and wasn’t expected to be profitable — its main purpose should be to bring credibility to the brand, not to generate big profits.

          I’m thinking that the AutoExpress interview is being taken somewhat out of context. Much of the sales problem appears to be overseas — 5,000 units in Europe is pretty dismal, and surely must be producing a loss, even though the car carries a higher sticker price than it does here. I would expect Toyota’s management in Europe to be concerned about that.

          • 0 avatar
            mike978

            To answer the question of the article – I would liek to see the director’s cut.

            To follow on from these comments – if the extra development was $50 million then Toyota can easily afford that without impacting corporate wide profitability. There is a case to be made that this would be a halo car. The new management of Toyota have stated that they want to build “exciting” cars (the FRS/GT-86 being their first model in this new push) then adding a higher performance model would make some marketing sense.

          • 0 avatar
            Pch101

            Platform R&D is a nine or ten-figure exercise. It is impossible to develop a modern car from the ground up for $50 million.

          • 0 avatar

            $50 million was an estimate given to engineer a forced induction system at midcycle to be regulation compliant and to internal quality standards.

          • 0 avatar
            mike978

            No the $50 million was referring to the development work for putting a new higher powered engine in. The basis development (interior design, exterior, chassis etc) has been done. I should have been more clear. Also I only quoted $50 million because that was a thrown out figure further up in the comments.

          • 0 avatar
            Pch101

            I suspect that there may be a split internally within the company about the path that should be taken.

            Toyoda is personally a strong proponent of RWD sports cars, but he is still beholden to a board, and the board may not be so enthusiastic about low-volume halos.

            I have seen some interviews with TMC engineers re: how more power could be added. They have to factor the impact of GHG regulations into that equation.

          • 0 avatar

            European fgures quote it as putting out ~181 g/km whereas a Fiesta ST does 138 g/km, and the GTI is 1 gram more. I wonder how a turbo’d boxer would fare.

          • 0 avatar
            sportyaccordy

            The new WRX has a turbo BRZ motor. The FB in the Legacy/Outback has the right engine geometry… just needs higher compression and hotter cams, and could make ~220-230HP w/usable torque. I don’t think they should bother with an upgraded version… the 2.0L is not enough. They should go cheap and just make the base engine 2.5L

          • 0 avatar

            > No the $50 million was referring to the development work for putting a new higher powered engine in. The basis development (interior design, exterior, chassis etc) has been done.

            More specifically the Twins were developed to have a low slung hood (already moved the engine relative to other subarus, etc), so it’s possible that the packaging constrains make turbo piping untenable which is why they don’t seem to be common in the aftermarket.

          • 0 avatar
            juicy sushi

            25,000 units was more than I thought the market would have been. And if that was the sort of numbers needed, then I can see the reason they wouldn’t bother looking at spending the cash to build a hotter version.

            $50 million, for how many extra sales? It’s not a profitable calculation…

        • 0 avatar
          racer-esq.

          “The drivetrain isn’t entirely fresh, but the RWD underpinnings are.”

          An Impreza has a longitudinal engine, driveshaft, rear differential and rear half-shafts. Sure, the engine was lowered and pushed back compared to an Impreza. But otherwise?

          The reason Toyota partnered with Subaru for the FR-S/BRZ is that Subaru had a platform that could be adapted to RWD only with minimal changes.

          Some people remove the front half-shafts on Imprezas to make them RWD.

          *Could* Toyota and Subaru have spent a lot of money adapting the Impreza platform to make the FR-S/BRZ? Sure, but you and Derek have absolutely no evidence of that.

          I could just as well claim Hyundai is losing a ton of money on the Veloster because of how much it must have cost to adapt it form the Accent. Either way it’s unsubstantiated.

          • 0 avatar
            Pch101

            You don’t seem to understand the difference between a drivetrain and a platform.

            A drivetrain is the engine-transmission combination.

            A platform is the modern day equivalent of what they used to call the chassis, the thing at the bottom of the car that determines the wheelbase and mounting points.

            Platforms cost several hundred million dollars to develop as a matter of course. There is no K-Mart of platforms that permits TMC to develop it for a fraction of that price, and anyone who would suggest such a wide deviation from the norm would be bound to prove it.

            It’s then a matter of applying arithmetic to the equation (volumes sold, multiplied by average wholesale price points) to be able to develop a decent SWAG. If the R&D costs make up a substantial percentage of that revenue, then the car is almost destined to be a money loser, as there aren’t many other categories in which those costs can be offset.

          • 0 avatar

            Look at an FR-S versus an Impreza and an Accent versus a Veloster. It’s not hard to tell which one required significant re-engineering and which one didn’t. Lowering and pushing back the engine alone is an enormous task from an engineering and regulatory compliance standpoint. Asserting that the FR-S and an Impreza are the same car because it shares the same FR layout as an Impreza is incorrect.

          • 0 avatar
            racer-esq.

            “You don’t seem to understand the difference between a drivetrain and a platform.”

            No, you do not understand the difference between a drivetrain and a platform.

            The FR-S/BRZ has a unique drivetrain. It uses an engine based on the Subaru boxer architecture, but not used by any other Subaru, and the manual transmission from the previous generation Lexus IS.

            It uses the Impreza platform.

            “The car was engineered by Subaru staff on an Impreza platform”

            http://www.stuff.co.nz/motoring/8122460/Subaru-BRZ-is-a-winner-by-another-name

            Jeez, if you are going to pompously lecture people at least be right.

          • 0 avatar

            > It uses the Impreza platform. http://www.stuff.co.nz/motoring/8122460/Subaru-BRZ-is-a-winner-by-another-name

            A platform would for example generally define the hard points before the firewall. The engines between the two aren’t in the same place; they specifically moved it back to make the twins rotate better. They don’t even have the same kind of rear sus. The people who claim this “sharing” clearly have no idea what they’re talking about so it’s best to avoid them as sources in the future. The engines in this case are more similar than the rest of the car.

            Even the Cayenne and Panamera share more of a platform than brz with imprezza if you look at overhead diagrams.

          • 0 avatar
            Pch101

            The 86 is based upon what Subaru refers to as its “BOXER Sports Car Architecture.”

            Per its 2011 press release for the Geneva reveal:
            ________

            Behind the new level of driving excitement that the “Rear-Wheel drive (RWD) Sports Car”, which is currently under joint development with Toyota Motor Corporation, delivers is Subaru’s new platform technology concept: the “BOXER Sports Car Architecture”. Built around Subaru’s core technology – the Horizontally-Opposed Boxer engine, ****a new platform was developed**** in order to extract the maximum performance potential required of the RWD Sports Car.

            http://www.fhi.co.jp/english/contents/pdf_en_69036.pdf‎
            ________

            Unless you have some evidence that Subaru was lying, I would assume that Subaru is aware of what it did. Given the differences in length, wheelbase and width between the 86 and the Impreza, I’m inclined to believe them.

          • 0 avatar

            > Unless you have some evidence that Subaru was lying, I would assume that Subaru is aware of what it did.

            To be fair, manufacturers have a vested interest to avoid the stigma of “platform sharing” with a lower or otherwise unsuitable model. For example, Porsche will never admit the aforementioned obvious sharing between Cayenne/Panamera (nor Cayenne to VAG large car platform), nor 911/Boxster.

          • 0 avatar
            Pch101

            In this case, the Imprezas get different platform designations, and the company admits that the Impreza’s platforms are used by other cars in the lineup (but not the 86.)

            Between that and some of the evident technical differences, it seems reasonable to conclude that this is what Subaru says that it is.

          • 0 avatar
            Power6

            I think the idea of a new “platform” is pretty well established, no hard points shared with an Impreza for the most part.

            But you guys are arguing based on some PR flack saying “everything is totally new and made just for this car” which is utter marketing BS. They say that about the new WRX too…

            This car clearly uses existing design, the rear suspension arms will swap with any Impreza, it is the same stuff. Front suspension is similar, and specifically engineered to use off the shelf Impreza parts. Brakes are all off the shelf Impreza parts. Call them Legacy or Outback parts if you like they are all the same stuff. Trans and rear diff are off the shelf Toyota. There was clearly some money saved here using existing engineering. This is how Subaru does it, if you think a different wheelbase means it uses no existing engineering, well let me introduce you to Subaru, new body shell, same parts underneath.

            This car is absolutely not a new “ground up” platform.

          • 0 avatar
            Pch101

            Nobody is claiming that Subaru reinvented the world of engineering for the sake of the car. Not even Subaru is saying that.

            But it is a new platform, and it is a different platform from what is used for the Impreza. To suggest that it is just a coupe body dropped onto Impreza architecture is inaccurate.

            And based upon those differences, we can reasonbly guess that the development was not particularly cheap, given the customary costs of platform R&D.

          • 0 avatar

            > I think the idea of a new “platform” is pretty well established, no hard points shared with an Impreza for the most part.

            It’s not a revelation that it shares many existing Subaru parts; that’s how they can bring a 50k/yr car to the market in the first place. Platform sharing on something of that volume really does matter since it means production on the same lines using similar (very expensive) dies, and re-using all of the same time-intensive crash structure engineering.

            The Twins took far more to develop and more to produce than the Z car; that’s the takeaway msg.

          • 0 avatar
            Big Al from Oz

            @agenthex
            What an overhead diagram???

            What projection is that?

          • 0 avatar
            Pch101

            “The Twins took far more to develop and more to produce than the Z car; that’s the takeaway msg.”

            It also doesn’t hurt that the Z sells at higher prices.

          • 0 avatar
            Power6

            I guess you guys have access to Toyota/Subaru financials or experience in the industry, so do enlighten me…

            Did this thing really cost more than the Z- car?? We are talking a different body on some existing stuff in both cases. A G37 coupe is not the same body and hard points as a 370Z or a G37 sedan. The biggest difference I see is the motor, though existing design they did adapt a new direct injection system not related to any other version where the Z uses a common drivetrain.

            Tell me what is so different between the two, looks similar situation to me.

          • 0 avatar
            Pch101

            New platforms cost several hundred million dollars to develop.

            Take that figure, and divide it by the size of the worldwide production run.

            Obviously, the cost per unit goes up when there are fewer units.

            If there are fewer units across which to amortize those costs, then the cost needs to be recovered through a higher price.

            But the 86 is not an expensive car.

            Put that all together: high costs, not spread across that many units, not recouped through the price. Guess where that math takes you.

          • 0 avatar

            > Did this thing really cost more than the Z- car?? We are talking a different body on some existing stuff in both cases. A G37 coupe is not the same body and hard points as a 370Z or a G37 sedan.

            By definition a platform implies the same hard points so many parts can be shared without redesign (eg. for crash-worthiness), and they can be assembled interchangeably to an extent at least in theory on the same lines with the same bending-bots or whatever without major reconfiguration. This not only allows physical part and design reuse but flexible production in event of market changes.

            Maybe the Nissan FM isn’t really a platform as they themselves refer to; perhaps someone else knows the relevant details.

          • 0 avatar
            Power6

            OK, so lets use existing subframes and suspension design. Let’s adapt existing drivetrain parts. Lets use similar geometry and handling principles to our existing (Subaru) cars to get a leg up on dynmaics tuning. How much did I save? Maybe we halved that cost? I don’t know I am just throwing out numbers. Or maybe the aim was to use existing parts to bring down the production cost rather than the R&D, the BRZ uses a load of off the shelf parts.

            PCH you didn’t address anything at all. This is maybe a slightly more expensive car to develop than the Z. Uses similar amount of parts sharing. Has unique body. Outsells the Z.

          • 0 avatar
            Pch101

            I certainly did address it.

            The costs of developing new platforms are typically in the nine figure range. This is a new platform, and there is no reason to assume that this one is exceptionally less costly to develop.

            The cost per unit is calculated by taking that nine figure cost and dividing it by the number of units.

            The cost as a percentage of revenue can be derived by dividing the development cost by the total revenue.

            The higher that this latter percentage is, the harder that it is to make a profit.

            The auto industry makes money through volume or margin. If you don’t have one, then you need the other. As of today, the 86 has neither, so we can safely assume that they aren’t making a bundle on it.

            The saving grace is that TMC didn’t pay for the total development cost by itself. That should help to some degree.

          • 0 avatar
            Power6

            Agreed on all those points. I thought we were discussing how much it really cost to bring this thing to market, the 370z was thrown out as an example of a cheaper way to do it, by all accounts these twins were done the same way.

            No disagreement this is not a big money maker. Subaru has said they had no plans for a car like this without Toyota. The same company that has said they could take or leave doing the WRX and STI which are hardly big volume and use existing platform.

          • 0 avatar

            There are other reasons Toyota partnered with Subaru for the FR-S/BRZ. Toyota owns 16.5% of Subaru, last I knew. Subaru has this wonderful boxer engine that lowers the center of gravity, is another. This engine has been turbocharged in a variety of forms. It can’t involve a lot of extra investment to start putting them in these cars.

            I just think Toyota is completely soured on the SCION experiment. They are gridlocked on what to do about it, hence the paralysis.

          • 0 avatar

            > Agreed on all those points. I thought we were discussing how much it really cost to bring this thing to market, the 370z was thrown out as an example of a cheaper way to do it, by all accounts these twins were done the same way.

            The Nissan FM *platform* or similar are generally planned from the get go to support multiple cars types with the engine & everything else in relative the same position to simplify design & reuse & production (you know, cut out the costs subaru seemed to incur by doing it after the fact).

            > No disagreement this is not a big money maker. Subaru has said they had no plans for a car like this without Toyota. The same company that has said they could take or leave doing the WRX and STI which are hardly big volume and use existing platform.

            The WRX/STI are practically free to develop compared to the Brz.

            BTW, consider prefacing what/who you’re replying to.

          • 0 avatar
            Pch101

            I’m not the one who brought up the Z, but a couple of obvious points:

            -There are more nameplates across which to spread the development cost, which should be a positive

            -The cars that do use the platform tend to sell for higher prices, which helps to recover the cost

            Platform sharing is key to the auto industry’s ability to make money. If Toyota and Subaru can’t get more mileage out of this thing, then that increases the likelihood that it will lose money.

            Margin or volume. You need to have at least one of them. Companies with neither tend to go out of business.

          • 0 avatar
            Power6

            agenthex ok that is making some sense, the development of multiple models from the beginning vs Subaru no doubt engineered this after the fact.

            At the end of the day, the Z is a unique body with existing parts bolted on, which is what the BRZ is too. It is actually quite clever how they have done that.

            pch maybe this car is as profitable per unit as the Z? They seemed to have focused on low production cost, existing mechanical parts, inexpensive interior, few model variations.

            Subaru would not have the enthusiast community believing the WRX/STI is free to develop…I understand it is the same platform. TBH without driving it, just reading the reviews, the new WRX looks to be a better car than the BRZ anyways.

          • 0 avatar

            > At the end of the day, the Z is a unique body with existing parts bolted on, which is what the BRZ is too. It is actually quite clever how they have done that.

            The marginal R&D before that point matters quite a bit when amortized over only 50k/yr units (derivative of 1/x function increases drastically approaching 0). If the Z can share lines or such with the other FM’s in Tochigi that’s a savings subaru can’t match.

            One of the functions of platform sharing is that niche models which fluctuate in demand can average their peaks and valleys into the rest of the lineup. That’s why Porsche is aligning with VAG because their cars benefit perfectly from that ideal.

      • 0 avatar

        Let’s face it, the car in either the SCION or Toyota form is a great car. But my twenty five year old Eagle Talon TSI had the same HP AND AWD. $20K for that car then would be a lot more than $20K today. But consumers don’t go to Subaru for sports cars and the FRS was misplaced at SCION. I believe the car would have achieved triple the sales results at a Toyota store. Yes, I know many SCION stores are incorporated into Toyota dealership properties. AND I know it was thought that the SCION selling method would better appeal to the FRS’ target market, but there just aren’t enough folks of that mindset to make that selling strategy viable. SATURN was starved for product because their selling method suited a niche, and didn’t suit the masses. Both the Aura and Sky were GREAT cars, but SATURN didn’t carry the weight to sell them in any real numbers. IMHO the AURA was the equal of Camry and Accord. Yet, people went in droves to the Honda and Toyota store to get beat up on a traditional deal when they could have had a soft sell high quality AURA.

        Let Toyota and Subaru handle a high zoot STI AWD version and watch what happens. Let SCION keep the vanilla version.

        • 0 avatar
          juicy sushi

          Just why would selling the FR-S as a Toyota instead of a Scion resulted in another 35,000 or so being sold? Exactly how would it have helped that much?

          The car is literally right next to the Corolla at my local dealership. Everyone going in for a Toyota knows that Toyota are also selling this car. How would a badge change triple the sales?

          And why do people keep on asking for an AWD version. It’s physically impossible. The engine is behind the front wheels, so unless they plan on developing an AWD system similar to the one in the Ferrari FF, from scratch, exactly how on earth is it possible? And if it’s $50 million to get a turbo version to market, how much would it cost? $200 million? How do you make that profitable?

          • 0 avatar
            Big Al from Oz

            Brand name and association.

            Why do then not call them Scion in Australia?

          • 0 avatar

            You’d have to understand the culture of a Toyota store to understand it, I suppose. Toyota dealers promote their products and sell aggressively. SCION dealers relax and allow people to buy. One produces a better buying experience. The other produces more sales.

            Besides there are MORE Toyota points with MANY more consumers running through them. Your local dealership is not necessarily typical of the country as a whole. And don’t assume that “everybody” knows everything.

            I don’t know the costs of AWD on this model You may be right, it might be prohibitive. But the STI engine already exists so I don’t get the $50 million part.

          • 0 avatar
            Ion

            I feel like the Toyota dealer would get them more exposure. Not all Toyota dealers carry Scion. On that vein I also feel that “celica” would carry more prestige.

          • 0 avatar

            Another thing not known without some research is the level of available incentives on these vehicles. I believe these vehicles are built on a flexible assembly line in Japan which brings with it less of a need to incentivize. Raising the MSRP and including a $1500. rebate would increase volume. This, of course, will NEVER happen. But the target audience for these cars is a group known for not having any down payment money. For some reasons, banks regard rebates as real money to be used for DPs and to overcome trade equity.

            I wonder if the OEMs have been surprised at the demographic buying these cars, as they were when they noticed “boomers” were buying SCION in much larger numbers than expected.

          • 0 avatar
            Power6

            Ruggles, from what I understand the engine is too far back in the chassis to fit the AWD system, the Subaru, like and Audi, needs to have the motor completely ahead of the front axle line.

            Subaru does however have a new turbo version of this “FA” motor in the Forester and WRX (and JDM Legacy) quite possible it could be fit in. This would not be a case of developing new. The STI is the old EJ motor FYI, carryover for now but considered dead as soon as Subaru can afford to phase it out.

  • avatar
    daiheadjai

    I’d be curious to know – if the Toyobarus haven’t been a sales success, what is the reason behind the small/cheap/RWD/sporty concepts from Nissan, Kia and Chevrolet (not including the ND Miata, because that was a long overdue update)?

    But I’d love to read the director’s cut as well.

    • 0 avatar
      mike978

      The question is also why do Nissan persist with the 370Z as its sales are much lower. Does it platform share a lot? Also the question someone else raised about the Hyundai Genesis Coupe – that is a slow seller, but has multiple engines and upgrades.

      • 0 avatar

        Yes, it rides on the FM platform that is spread across the Infiniti G/Q50/EX/FX series. It can be amortized across many vehicle lines.

        • 0 avatar
          mike978

          Thanks, that makes sense given the relatively low sales the Z achieves.

        • 0 avatar
          racer-esq.

          “This isn’t just an Impreza with a ‘top hat’ of a coupe put over it.”

          But the Z is just an Infiniti G with a “top hat” of a coupe put over it?

          • 0 avatar

            Yeah pretty much.

          • 0 avatar
            juicy sushi

            Which Nissan can afford to do, since as noted above they have already done most of the same engineering work for a platform spread across 6 or 7 models, at a variety of price points.

            Toyota and Subaru went into the parts bin, took the Imprezza chassis, chopped it up, cooked up custom suspension parts, and threw together the ingredients in such a way that all of the proprietary parts are the really expensive ones. This is the key point. It costs hundreds of millions to design, test (all over the planet) and then build all the new tooling needed to build this car. For a global volume of what, maybe 60,000 cars? It’s very, very hard to get profit on those kinds of numbers.

          • 0 avatar
            racer-esq.

            “Yeah pretty much.”

            Any sources or is that just how you feel?

            This was supposed to be a cheap way for Toyota to get a RWD car. Take the Impreza, a cheap compact car, drop the half-shafts, cut some weight, bingo.

            If you are somehow under the impression that was an expensive endeavor, platform sharing gone awry, it would be interesting for some auto journalist to find out why.

            Maybe Toyota would have been better off taking an IS and making a cheaper version of that platform, kind of like Ford making the Mustang out of a cheapened Lincoln LS/Jaguar S-Type platform.

          • 0 avatar
            Pch101

            “Take the Impreza, a cheap compact car, drop the half-shafts, cut some weight, bingo.”

            I think that it was sufficiently addressed already that your version of events did not occur.

            The platform ended up being unique because Toyota insisted on a RWD configuration. If Subaru had had its way, the car would have been AWD, in which case it probably could have been less costly, since there would have been more units across which to amortize the costs.

            In any case, savings would have been realized for each of the individual companies by sharing the development costs between them. I would presume that there were expectations of having more savings down the road by spawning various derivatives from this base, such as the rumored sedan, but none of that has hit the market yet.

          • 0 avatar
            Power6

            Ahh now we see where your lack of understanding is pch. Forstly Subaru would not have built this car at all without Toyota.

            Secondly the fact that is AWD is immaterial with repsect to development costs, the current gen Legacy has a completely different body shell then an Impreza, but uses the same subframes and suspension, and same driveline as the Impreza.

            Developing a new body that uses the same bones seems to be no big deal for Subaru. Now they are amortizing those other platforms over greater volume.

            But your assertion that RWD added development cost is poppycock for the way Subaru develops cars, they moved the engine back and literally dropped the halfshafts (well they mounted a Toyota trans and diff) which is baked into developing a new body just the same as if they chose to go AWD.

          • 0 avatar
            Pch101

            Subaru had to develop a unique platform in order to give TMC the RWD car that it wanted.

            You seem insistent on this already disproven belief that this car is a cheap knockoff. Why you would believe this, I don’t know, but the position has already been debunked and there’s no reason for you to continue to believe it.

          • 0 avatar

            RE: “Subaru had to develop a unique platform in order to give TMC the RWD car that it wanted.”

            I don’t get this. Toyota has all the resources. They also have a number of RWD cars they sell in Japan that we never see.

          • 0 avatar

            > I don’t get this. Toyota has all the resources. They also have a number of RWD cars they sell in Japan that we never see.

            Of course you don’t grasp that the base unit of a cars isn’t which wheels are turned despite decades in the business. If this other thread is any indication it wouldn’t be a surprise if you kept boasting that 2+2=22:

            http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/02/tesla-q4-fall-16-million-in-losses-annual-revenue-climbs-to-2-billion/

          • 0 avatar
            Power6

            Not a cheap knockoff, a new platform that uses lots of existing engineering. Guess I missed the debunking, I see lots of speculative talk from people who don’t work in the industry. IT cost about what Subaru would spend to develep a new platform. AWD vs. RWD is moot. No disagreement that there are not currently a lot of cars to spread this development cost over.

            Eh forget it you are all about winning on the Internet, not actually offering any useful knowledge. Take your blowhard stuff elsewhere pch101.

          • 0 avatar
            juicy sushi

            Ruggles,

            Toyota has money, but the majority of R&D was committed to hybrid/fuel cell and other stuff. No real resources free for this project. Also, no small RWD platforms that would be appropriate. Hence the Subaru Imprezza base. It was the easiest way.

          • 0 avatar
            Pch101

            A new platform was also developed to aid weight reduction as neither Toyota’s nor Subaru’s architectures were adequate. “We had no front engine, rear-wheel drive architecture suitable, and Subaru’s were designed for all-wheel drive,” says Tada.

            http://ae-plus.com/vehicle-development/toyota-gt-86/page:2
            ______________

            Tada served as TMC’s chief engineer for this car.

            So, in summary:

            -Subaru says that it’s a new platform
            -Toyota says that it’s a new platform, and provides an explanation of why a new platform was needed
            -Comparing the specs of the 86 to the Impreza shows differences that aren’t typical of shared platforms

            At this point, I’m trying to figure out why I’m supposed to believe some anonymous dudes on the internet, instead of the chief engineer for the car.

            The only war going on here is a war against accuracy, and I’m not the one waging it. If somebody has something substantive from a reliable third-party source that can contradict Tada, then provide it.

          • 0 avatar
            Pch101

            “I don’t get this. Toyota has all the resources.”

            Toyota wanted the boxer engine.

            And I doubt that approval could have been secured to obtain resources for such a low volume car without another automaker to bear some of the burden. It just seems to be lower volume than they expected.

            The development deal recently announced with BMW is being undertaken for similar reasons. R&D is costly, and the drive for efficiency leads to these kind of partnerships.

          • 0 avatar

            > A new platform was also developed to aid weight reduction as neither Toyota’s nor Subaru’s architectures were adequate.

            In order to understand the present situation it’s necessary to step back and clarify what is meant by “platform”. In the K-car vein of (Nissan/VAG/etc)’s approach it means something which was designed from day 1 to be extended towards multiple cars (types), while in the Subaru’s older/traditional approach derivative cars which inherits some sub-assembly designs & many parts are new platforms. They’re two fundamentally differently engineering paths and the vocabulary for one doesn’t mirror to the other. Power6 agrees that the latter is perhaps more expensive, but proffers the point that it’s not as cut&dry as it might seem.

          • 0 avatar
            Pch101

            Even with component sharing and evolutionary development practices, the costs of the process of developing the platform are still considerable, and they still need to be recovered through sales of the car. We don’t need to know the exact cost of development in order to reasonably surmise that volumes that don’t meet expectations combined with the modest price point will pose a challenge to achieving that.

          • 0 avatar
            racer-esq.

            “Toyota wanted the boxer engine.” Ha, what a joke. Toyota wanting a Subaru engine.

            The boxer/flat-4 engine in GT86/FR-S/BRZ has the same external shape as other Subaru boxer engines, but is an engine developed specifically for this car, that is not shared with any other Subarus. Instead of developing a new engine Toyota could have achieved the same power with its existing 2ZZ-GE inline-4. While the 2ZZ-GE is inexpensive enough that it has powered various Celicas, Matrixes and Corollas, it is good enough that it powers the Lotus Elise and Exige.

            The GT86/FR-S/BRZ is supposed to be a callback to the Toyota Corolla AE86, that used an inline-4, so Toyota’s existing, ~200 HP inline-4 would have made a lot of sense. Particularly since these are being serviced predominantly by Toyota dealers.

            The only problem is that the Subaru Impreza platform is designed to work with a boxer/flat-4, not an inline-4.

            Yes, I am aware of the boxer/flat-4 center-of-gravity marketing. It is just that, marketing that is being used since the Impreza platform mandated a boxer/flat-4 engine instead of Toyota’s inline-4 engine. Look at the V8 in the Toyota group flagship Lexus LFA if you think Toyota thinks sports cars need boxer engines.

            There is a lot of pride and PR management going on in Toyota and Subaru’s media communications. Toyota does not want to admit that it is using a Subaru derivative platform, and Subaru does not want to admit that its amazing new sports car is an Impreza derivative (not that there is anything wrong with the Impreza).

            Piston Heads ran an analysis of the PR/marketing driven claims that the GT86/FR-S/BRZ has a unique platform.

            “We were told that the BRZ/GT 86 is an entirely new platform and yet one of the information boards at the press conference proclaimed the rear suspension is based on that of the Impreza and the front uses a similar basic design, albeit with the lower arms reversed.”

            http://www.pistonheads.com/news/default.asp?storyId=25437

            Looking at the key wheelbase and width dimensions the BRZ is very close to the current and previous generation Imprezas:

            http://autos.msn.com/research/compare/exterior.aspx?c=0&i=0&ph1=t0&ph2=t0&tb=0&dt=0&v=t111576&v=t115412&v=t116598

            In addition to the similar wheelbase and width dimensions it is clear that the Impreza rear suspension is being used in the GT86/FR-S/BRZ . And that the GT86/FR-S/BRZ has a longitudinally mounted flat-4 like the Impreza. And that in the GT86/FR-S/BRZ a driveshaft connects the longitudinally mounted flat-4 to the rear differential, just like the Impreza.

            So either there is a LOT of Impreza unibody/chassis (platform) in the GT86/FR-S/BRZ. Or Subaru is a wasteful company that developed a completely new platform almost exactly the same in layout, weight, wheelbase and width as an existing Subaru platform. And Toyota did not reach out to Subaru because Subaru had an adaptable platform, but because Toyota wanted another company to develop a car from scratch for Toyota, instead of Toyota just developing the car on its own. I find those latter scenarios very unlikely.

          • 0 avatar

            > Toyota does not want to admit that it is using a Subaru derivative platform, and Subaru does not want to admit that its amazing new car is an Impreza derivative.

            Except under their approach, what they’re doing is by definition a new platform. The parts that can be shared are mostly peripheral ones, and what they manage to save are mostly some of the design costs for basic sub-assembly structure.

            In general cars from the same manufacturer of a type/size tend to be similar in general design since there’s only so many ways to make a car and each company picks one for consistency. If the BRZ had coincidentally came first, your type would be talking about the impressive “BRZ-derived impreza”.

          • 0 avatar

            > Looking at the key wheelbase and width dimensions the BRZ is very close to the current and previous generation Imprezas:

            Also, cars of a certain size tend to have similar dimensions anyway. I used that tool and arbitrily picked a lexus 200h and it’s even closer to impreza dimensions than the brz. Toyota MC platform cars are all in that range, and probably vary more if you can be bothered to look it up.

          • 0 avatar
            Pch101

            “Shared suspension components” and “new platform” are not mutually exclusive.

            The entire car does not need to be comprised of completely new parts or technology in order for the platform to be new.

            The platform is just one aspect of the car. It just so happens that the platform is a rather expensive and time consuming aspect of the car to develop, hence the need to amortize those associated costs across a lot of units.

            The math: High R&D cost per unit + Low revenue per unit = Losses.

          • 0 avatar

            When in a hole, one needs to stop digging. Z and its contemporary G37 unquestionably shared the platform, with the difference being only the wheelbase, and only in the driveshaft. All the hardpoints were exactly the same between the two. This is clearly not the case between BRZ and Imprezza.

    • 0 avatar
      APaGttH

      Concept does not equal production.

      I would speculate that others are watching the FR-S and going, “hmmmmmm…”

      From a product management stand point you can look at the issues:

      1) Price point (questionably)

      2) Interior quality (definitely)

      3) Overall product quality (surprising but probably an issue)

      4) Engine/tranny combo (e.g. performance versus MPG)

      Then you can ask yourself (as a product manager) can I wrap up a better package that addresses these issues. Can I create a car that shifts better (read a number of complaints from the B&B), with better power delivery (e.g. no wonky torque curve and better HP numbers out of the box, since people fixate on HP and consider six seconds to 60 “slow”), better interior materials, options for more GT style options, but the same road feel and a practical back seat.

      If the answers become yes – the concept becomes production. If the answer is no – well – you know.

      I doubt the GM Alpha compact RWD cheapster will see the light of day.

  • avatar

    It seems like the editors are in an introspective mood today. That’s always a good thing, in my opinion. I think the Director’s cut was short and to the point so there was no reason that it couldn’t have been run here, but as you suggest here I think the true strength of TTAC really does lie in its readership. All you really do is need to get people talking and to be honest the article you ran here did that in spades.

    That story also attracted a lot of attention at Reddit where it drew more than 200 comments in r/autos. That means a great many new users were introduced to our community here and I think that’s a good thing, too. Over all, I’d say you threaded the needle just perfectly.

  • avatar
    APaGttH

    Knowledge is power. I love reading the full story.

    Directors cut. Every – single – time. I get we’re in a Twitter universe, 140 characters or less or give me the two minute video. Will readily admit my brain is not wired like the masses.

    Directors cut – PLEASE!

  • avatar
    Kenmore

    For cars like these simply including their names in the article title is adequate info to make me veer away.

    Only got caught here as the title didn’t indicate “Belly-Button Tall Ground Scraper (Red!)”

  • avatar
    krayzie

    Derek how is the Japanese economy better than Europe when they have the highest Debt to GDP ratio in the western world and in a technical depression? Devaluing its currency thru massive quantitative easing doesn’t make the real economy better either.

    Mazda is doing 0% financing for 84 months on a new Miata so they must be doing really well but nobody ever talks about that.

    Anyway you need to come up to Scarborough / Markham / Richmond Hill more often I see way too many FRS and BRZ around here.

  • avatar
    burgersandbeer

    Director’s cut for me.

  • avatar
    ravenchris

    More details please, to reduce the incidence of some people presenting their opinions as facts.

  • avatar
    LeeK

    I made a similar comment about the two pro/con VW-UAW vote pieces that were run earlier this week (and were very poorly written in my opinion): we TTAC readers want well-written blog monographs. More is better than less, and intelligent, thoughtful analyses of automobile industry issues is always appreciated. While one may not have agreed with Farago, he certainly laid out his arguments in a logical manner. You are good writer Derek, and we certainly want to be able to read that, and in depth.

  • avatar
    juicy sushi

    Derek,

    Please always, always, always give us the director’s cut. For the people who don’t get the point, they likely wouldn’t have gotten the point of the Disney version either. They probably didn’t bother reading the article before commenting in the first place.

  • avatar

    For anyone who didn’t catch it the first time around, I highly recommend juicy sushi’s director cut of the situation:

    http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/02/slow-sales-of-scion-fr-s-disappoint-toyota-jeopardize-engine-upgrades/#comment-2838609

    Sometimes it takes more words to penetrate thicker skulls so the answer to the question should be self-evident.

  • avatar
    Atum

    Director’s Cut please. I’m too lazy to go to AutoBlog.

  • avatar
    jco

    why are we continuing the argument about the car in this post? perhaps maybe giving guidance to the actual question Derek posed; whether we the commenters and ‘insiders’ should be sharing the journalism when it comes to industry instead of letting the editors fill in all the blanks.

    i don’t think the actual course of action is ever going to be black and white. sometimes the staff will have the capability and knowledge to crank out those long articles (Alex’s recent Jeep transmission article was awesome and came out of left field). sometimes you won’t have the time but there’s a press release or new model that needs to be talked about and a few paragraphs will do.

  • avatar
    Ryoku75

    I prefer Directors Cuts for the extra knowledge, like in the article linked above I never knew that the latest Miata shares bits with the RX-8.

    I know that in some cases publications may want a story to be an “exclusive” to them, so if you get in a pickle like that please link us to the full write-up.

    DCs may get less hits (todays attention spans and all), but there will be a bit more food for thought for those who can read more than 3 words.

  • avatar
    Zackman

    Always the “Director’s Cut”. I like all the objective info I can get on a vehicle I find interesting.

    However, with one caveat, although no one asked me:

    Abstain from using profanity – it’s not necessary, and doesn’t bring anything useful to the table.

    Anyway, that’s just my opinion, and if I find something that offends me, I just move on, besides no one appointed me judge.

  • avatar
    bkmurph

    +1, Director’s Cut.

  • avatar
    AndyZ4MR

    Director’s cut for me as well, please – but as noted above, if you have a breaking story and need the clicks, shoot out the basics and then add a link later to the full story. No need to have separate stories for related articles, just boot the updated original back to the top of the front page with an “UPDATED” tag. Sort of like “conversation” mode for email…

  • avatar

    RE: “I don’t get this. Toyota has all the resources. They also have a number of RWD cars they sell in Japan that we never see. Of course you don’t grasp that the base unit of a cars isn’t which wheels are turned despite decades in the business. If this other thread is any indication it wouldn’t be a surprise if you kept boasting that 2+2=22:”

    So now tell us what a “base unit” is.

    • 0 avatar

      I guess you just make up your own terms. “Base Unit?” Really.

      • 0 avatar

        No, that’s a representation of what’s going on in your head: “They also have a number of RWD cars they sell in Japan that we never see”

        Meaning: base unit of “RWD” Crown –> “RWD” 86. I guess that’s what decades of experience in the industry bring to the table.

        Don’t worry folks, ruggles will find some way to weaseling up some word games and generally make this even more pointless.

        • 0 avatar
          Big Al from Oz

          @agenthex
          After dealing with you the other day, you appear to be a sham. As I inferred.

          You are a nothing who thinks he’s a something in the blogosphere.

          I actually asked you the other day if you were posing a question to me or an audience.

          From your statement above you think your on stage.

          Remember professionalism. Remember what the definition of a professional is.

          What is your profession?

          • 0 avatar
            Big Al from Oz

            @agentschlunk
            You are?

          • 0 avatar

            Is this comment replying to something?

            Are you trying to outdo ruggles? Good luck.

          • 0 avatar
            Big Al from Oz

            agenthex
            Quit with the crap.

            What is your profession. You put forward that to me the other day and I responded. Actually DocOlds responded, as well.

            The only two that didn’t respond and were part of the discussion was Pch101 and yourself.

            So, what is your profession? Not a hard question to answer.

            Or, if you don’t have a profession what do you do to fill in your day for a wage.

          • 0 avatar

            Ruggles and Big Al are like platform twins who just happened to flop into auto sales and “engineering background”, respectively. At this point I don’t even think it’s willful dishonesty or trolling; it’s the same delusional lack of correspondence between what goes on in the head vs. reality. Ie. both will argue their “opinion” that 2+2=22 to the end using the means at their disposal, because they literally believe it’s equal in value to all other “opinions” and they have the upper hand in experience at this sort of thing.

          • 0 avatar
            Pch101

            Come now. Ruggles may have drunk the Koolaid of his industry, but he does work in it and he provides a reliable source of information for knowing how dealerships tick. You can question whether his methods are sound or if his industry’s hands are clean (OK, they aren’t), but you can’t doubt his credentials.

            On the other hand, Al is some kind of mechanic or other hourly worker who wants to fool us into believing that he has some sort of academic pedigree and skills that he doesn’t have. It’s not fair to compare the two of them.

          • 0 avatar
            Scoutdude

            Now that is some funny stuff, you are the one that constantly resorts to name calling, which is not in the least bit professional.

          • 0 avatar

            > Ruggles may have drunk the Koolaid of his industry, but he does work in it and he provides a reliable source of information for knowing how dealerships tick.

            I suspect Al remembers a lot of facts about how flight support or whatever he does works, but it’s simply not applicable here which puts him at a disadvantage. If you look at the Tesla thread ruggles similar deems his opinions equal to an academic paper which he didn’t read much less understand, and genuinely believes he also writes such “papers”. Or this RWD Crown = RWD 86 business despite a lifetime selling product. Differences in writing ability can accentuate minor diffs. Outside of their comfort zone it’s IMO a crapshoot.

          • 0 avatar
            Big Al from Oz

            @agenthex and Pch101
            So, what do you guys do?

            So far, my assessment of the situation is you guys are trying to deflect my question with bull$hit.

            What’s there to hide? Perceived stature on TTAC? Embarrassment?

          • 0 avatar

            @ Al – I have also observed that the anonymity involved in TTAC, compared to other blogs I participate in when I have time, enables certain cowardly types to hide behind that anonymity. It creates a particularly toxic atmosphere and enables no nothing flame throwers who make arbitrary and baseless statements because they can. There isn’t any real accountability to their comments. They confuse an unschooled opinion with fact. You can have lifetime employee types (nothing wrong with that choice) telling lifetime entrepreneurs how business should be done. You can have amateurs telling career accountants about accounting. You can have rank amateurs counseling career engineers. etc. etc. IMHO it detracts from the discussion. Why not have everyone come out with who they are and what their credentials might be? Then readers can decide whose comments and opinions might carry more weight than others.

          • 0 avatar
            highdesertcat

            “Why not have everyone come out with who they are and what their credentials might be? Then readers can decide whose comments and opinions might carry more weight than others.”

            ————

            In the first place we would lose many BS artists, wikepedia researchers, google experts, and other faux experts who make comments without a basis in their own real life to draw from.

            And in the second place, some commenters and other readers who refrain from commenting, are still actively a part of the industry in real life and may be in jeopardy if they in any way laid bare some of the ugly truths within the industry or in any way criticized their employers or source of income.

          • 0 avatar

            RE: “In the first place we would lose many BS artists, wikepedia researchers, google experts, and other BS artists who make comments without a basis in real their own life to draw from.”

            Would the blog be better of for that? Its not my blog, and not for me to say.

            RE: “And in the second place, some commenters and other readers who refrain from commenting, are still actively a part of the industry in real life and may be in jeopardy if they in any way laid bare some of the ugly truths within the industry or in any way criticized their employers or source of income.”

            TRU DAT! I guess everyone isn’t in the position of not having an employer and being free to speak the truth without fear of consequence. Regardless, we seem to have a few poseurs here hiding behind that curtain of anonymity.

          • 0 avatar
            highdesertcat

            “we seem to have a few poseurs here hiding behind that curtain of anonymity”

            Yes, you’re right! The finesse comes in deciding which of these contributors from the peanut gallery are the true knowledgeable, and reply to their comments based on the merits of their comments.

            We’ve got some decent people who choose to comment and derive their background in assembly, management, sales, marketing, advertising, maintenance and service, all the aspects of industry.

            You can readily tell the real-deal people, men and women alike, as you can the phony baloneys.

            It is a joy to read the comments of the experienced regardless of whether one agrees or disagrees with their philosophy or perception from the angle of their insight into the topic.

            The poseurs seem to delight in putting on an aire of all-knowing superiority and self aggrandizement when in fact it is evident that they have never been in a position where they had to make critical decisions or make payroll.

            These can be classified as individuals who fail to dazzle us with brilliance and instead baffle us with bullsh!t.

          • 0 avatar
            Kenmore

            All right, I’m not really a refrigerator.

            But I can hold just as much food.

          • 0 avatar

            > It is a joy to read the comments of the experienced regardless of whether one agrees or disagrees with their philosophy or perception from the angle of their insight into the topic.

            Experience matters to the extent that knowledge of specifics matters; some situations are not conducive to generalization and depend on nuanced understanding of details. However most careers are built on very narrow realms of knowledge, and the more specific the “experience” the less likely it can be extrapolated to even adjacent fields. This is where the illusion of experience comes from: the appearance of greater utility in one’s own realm is due to tunnel vision. People aware of what’s outside are under no such delusion. That’s why for example we have all these srs bidness types who’re marginally competent in a specialized niche and *cannot* conceive that their economic or similar views are literally worthless due to lackluster cognition of basic systems.

            In order to overcome this short of literal polymathy it’s critical to learn & apply common conceptual patterns that stem either from design (eg a company) or nature (eg a collection of companies). Those competent at this (and it’s easy to tell) will be the first and probably only ones to grasp what’s going on in the absence of domain expertise. Even when all else fails they’ll ask the right question whereas the deluded are busy trying to apply some irrelevant trivia.

          • 0 avatar
            Pch101

            It’s the forest-trees problem. If you spend too much time staring at minutiae, it can be easy to miss the big picture, particularly if you immerse yourself within a closed culture that reinforces your desire to miss it.

            Car dealers are widely despised, except among car dealers themselves. One can debate why that is, but there is a certain lack of introspection that causes them to miss it. (Then again, that’s probably necessary if one is to endure a career that is built on milking maximum profits out of the naive and the timid.)

          • 0 avatar
            Big Al from Oz

            @highdesertcat and ruggles.
            I was born on Long Island to a French mother who registered me with the French on my birth. Moved to Australia when I was 9. One summer vacation my father grabbed me and my sister and took us to Australia, we lived in a tent for a year or so, welfare didn’t exist back then.

            We didn’t have a TV until I was sixteen. I didn’t miss it either. I read.

            I started life out as a carpenter and believe it or not made my money in real estate.

            Started a joinery when I was 21 and built a small factory producing knock down kits for chain stores. Had family problems and joined the military.

            When I was 29 when I joined and sought a better education, engineering.

            Whenever an opportune moment arose, generally on a posting I would buy a parcel of land and build a house on weekends. Keep them and rent them out on a posting.

            Busted my balls.

            My current military job has given me opportunities I could of only dreamed of.

            I was responsible for our maths and physics department at our college, believe it or not wrote courseware and precis material covering engineering. Everything from ECS or environmental control systems, hydraulics, fuel systems, undercarriage systems, flight controls and on and on.

            I retire in a couple of years, I’ve already seen most of the world, but a little more exposure of the world wouldn’t hurt.

            Now I’m what’s termed a Maintenance Manager. It’s interesting, not purely engineering, but a mix of managing a maintenance team and the engineering involved in aircraft operations.

            One thing I don’t do on these blog sites is proof read. I just slam ‘stuff’ out. That’s probably why some get offended by my language and tone;) But like you guys I don’t really give two $hits.

            Nothing to be embarrassed about. I’ve achieved more than most, through my own effort. That’s is another reason why I lean to the right, I earnt my place in life.

          • 0 avatar
            highdesertcat

            “That’s is another reason why I lean to the right, I earnt my place in life.”

            BAFO, my political leanings are toward any politician who does the most good for me and mine, so to call me anything other than Independent would be a misnomer.

            When it comes to sites like ttac et al where the contributions and comments of the hoi polloi do not need to be based on qualifications on the subject, I am mindful of the fact that we have to be inclusive and make room for all varieties of opinions and perceptions. At least in America and, I presume, Canada as well.

            And I’m cool with that. I actually read ALL the comments within the topics and threads that appeal to me and only comment when I have something that I believe contributes, at least from my experience and value system. I skip over the nonsensical contributions and comments by those who have never done battle in this arena.

            That said, ttac is still the best site for this genre. Cutting the wheat from the chaff is up to the readers themselves when it comes to the commentary.

            Having people actually find enough merit in my comments or replies to warrant a response or reply, is surprising to me since I do not seek an audience and don’t care what people think of my insights.

            On balance, I have already determined for myself who the real contributors are and which ones are only commenting to read their own writings and regurgitations.

            Maybe it’s the clean air and blue skies of the stress-free gas&sip where I live in the high desert of Southcentral NM that gets me past the preconceived notions of others.

  • avatar

    > So now tell us what a “base unit” is.

    There’s plenty of explanation above, and plenty to search on should that be insufficient. Nobody cares you can’t understand it.

    Btw, some context on ruggles: http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/02/tesla-q4-fall-16-million-in-losses-annual-revenue-climbs-to-2-billion/

  • avatar

    Derek, in theory I appreciate longer pieces and the 700-word format at least allows for casual reading rather than a real sit-down-with-pencil reading. But this particular piece didn’t provide any new insights that the TTAC version didn’t deliver (or at least that was my possibly flawed impression).

  • avatar

    So does anyone else use the term “base unit?” Or did you just make that up? Are you describing a platform or an actual model?

  • avatar

    > So does anyone else use the term “base unit?” Or did you just make that up?

    It describes the idea of “RWD X = RWD Y” in your head. It’s possible someone else has mocked it before using different words.

    > Are you describing a platform or an actual model?

    Does it really matter to someone who thinks “RWD X = RWD Y”?

  • avatar
    Acd

    Director’s cut please. More information is better; there are plenty of other places to get the dumbed down version.

  • avatar
    robc123

    Appreciate the gesture but maybe your talent is better spent on,…. well any other topic.

    Fact is the west is regressing to the world mean. Translation, the eastern billions are catching up to the western standard but that standard will to go lower. Hence the “boom” in bicycles in the west- the next trend will be grads in tut-tut bikes supporting their broken down old folks. yah globalization.

    It also doesn’t help if the actual car sucks, the brand sucks.

  • avatar
    el scotto

    Oh for Pete’s sake. A car whose hype was hyped to include TTAC. It’s a 25K car that kinda sucks and has honest competition. Now there’s over a hundred replies to this blog. Bertel’s lapdog has been able to milk this for click bait for the hype, the release, and now the overall suckingness of it. Getting such a large amount of reactions over this car is the true “game changer” and we’ve all been had. I do want to know how you tuck Loonies?

  • avatar

    RE: “Even when all else fails they’ll ask the right question whereas the deluded are busy trying to apply some irrelevant trivia.”

    You would know.

    • 0 avatar

      A mirror sometimes comes in handy.

      Do you intend to remain in the closet? I thihk we know he answer.

      • 0 avatar

        RE: “For example you area of trivia competence is dealer operations and its peripheries, and pretense at expertise beyond this (such as epistemology of fact vs opinion) is indicative of cognitive isolation. Regardless, this trivia should be useful at appropriate times here but unfortunately that industry’s allergy to integrity is so ingrained the results are often worse than nothing.”

        Now this is quite a paragraph. First, you don’t know what my area of expertise is. But I’d be glad to compare credentials if you are willing to come out of your closet. Second, people who put this kind effort into trying to impress people with their knowledge of words are mostly pathetic. WFB you ain’t. Unfortunately, they tend to outsmart themselves, and come up with non sequiturs and phrases that make no sense like “consumers resort to transparency” and terms like “base units” which don’t fit the discussion at all.

        So put me in the camp of not being impressed with your attempted “baffling with BS.”

  • avatar

    RE: “Car dealers are widely despised, except among car dealers themselves”

    No doubt. Merchants have been despised down through history. If an individual is particularly sensitive, they need to find another line of work. Lawyers, oil company execs, politicians, Wall Street bankers, and some others deal with the same stuff.

    RE: “One can debate why that is, but there is a certain lack of introspection that causes them to miss it.”

    Actually, there is considerable introspection and being universally liked must not be the priority.

    RE: “(Then again, that’s probably necessary if one is to endure a career that is built on milking maximum profits out of the naive and the timid.”

    Yes it is. We learn early, “you’d better make money off your friends and relatives cuz your enemies ain’t coming in the door.” But this begs the question I’ve asked repeatedly. Since everyone hates dealers and EVERYBODY knows better how to run a car dealership, why aren’t there more people making a fortune by doing things consumers like? Wouldn’t word travel rapidly that an honest car dealer just opened its doors so everyone would go there to do business?

    • 0 avatar

      Why don’t outsiders come in to auto retail? That way they could avoid the immersion in the culture you mention? Oh, Michael Dell did that. How has that been working out. Perhaps the culture seeped into him the moment he entered the business?

  • avatar

    > You would know.

    Yes, because it’s easy to observe per my comment above: http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/02/housekeeping-do-you-want-the-directors-cut/#comment-2846177

    For example you area of trivia competence is dealer operations and its peripheries, and pretense at expertise beyond this (such as epistemology of fact vs opinion) is indicative of cognitive isolation. Regardless, this trivia should be useful at appropriate times here but unfortunately that industry’s allergy to integrity is so ingrained the results are often worse than nothing.

  • avatar

    RE: “The platform is just one aspect of the car. It just so happens that the platform is a rather expensive and time consuming aspect of the car to develop, hence the need to amortize those associated costs across a lot of units.”

    Educate me. In your opinion, does a platform have anything to do with a “base unit?”

    • 0 avatar

      > Educate me. In your opinion, does a platform have anything to do with a “base unit?”

      Ruggles here provides no shortage of examples for demonstrating the principle that proclaimed expertise/experience/background has essentially zero value outside of its small comfort zone. Instead of improving a limited grasp of how cars work to reduce any knowledge gap the focus appears to be on semantics used to mock him for this very issue. The results of decades of experience/expertise at this is evident.

  • avatar

    > Michael Dell did that. How has that been working out.

    The dell model is the direct model of sales (eg via the internet), skipping the middle-man. Ruggles is aware of everything his friends in the dealer industry does to oppose such a model, but expect him to do the usual dance to distract from that problem.

    This is a good example of how even applicable niche expertise can be negated by disingenuous character.

    • 0 avatar
      Pch101

      To be fair, dependency on an online model for car sales is much tougher than for most other consumer products.

      For one, the buyer may have a trade-in that factors into the deal. For another, the buyer may need credit. (Some of them can’t or won’t get credit from a conventional lender.)

      These aren’t issues with other consumer products, but they certainly are with cars.

      There also isn’t much impetus for OEM’s to own the entire sales channel. The cost is too high, the margins are too low and they would rather focus on the things that they know well and that offer less competition, namely design and production. The franchise model is well suited for car sales, from the manufacturer’s standpoint.

      (What this has to do with the thread, I don’t know.)

      • 0 avatar

        In any case the hurdles shouldn’t be technical. The mechanical processes underlying credit are not much more complex than payment verification systems and such already ubiquitous on the web. People can already buy insurance with its myriad of complex options online.

        Rather it seems the dealer’s profit centers are mainly with service & used sales (ie those trades), so the new sales those subsidize really aren’t the main issue anyway. A manufacturer which runs its own service and used operation may have inherent advantages to an external party.

        • 0 avatar
          Pch101

          For manufacturers of many goods, retail is a PITA. It’s too competitive, which squeezes margins, and the core competency is outside of their skill set.

          Many industries are like this. For example, the oil companies have largely exited the gas station business. They are good at finding and controlling oil and they know that there are few other companies that can compete against them in finding and controlling oil, while the margins for retail fuel sales are so low that they have to operate convenience stores in order to turn a profit.

          People who get into the petroleum business don’t want to focus on selling Doritos and soft-serve ice cream; that just isn’t their thing. Retail is drudgery and not as profitable.

          • 0 avatar

            But surely service and CPO operations (ie controlling the used market) are more relevant to car making than ice cream to oil drilling. Maybe manufacturer already have enough leverage to get what they want out of those (indirect via parts prices, etc), but in general that didn’t seem to be case (eg. GM).

          • 0 avatar
            Pch101

            BMW has proven that it can operate a CPO program just fine without direct ownership of the sales channel.

            The former editor of this site lamented his failure to get his bosses to succeed in its operation of oil change outlets in Germany. He failed to realize that his bosses see more glamour and glory in designing and building cars than in swapping out oil filters for the working classes.

            During the 60s, we had a boom in conglomeration, during which corporations began to try to do everything. That proved to be a failure; most companies aren’t good at doing more than a few things.

            We don’t expect farmers to own the supermarkets or pharmaceutical companies to own all of the drugstores, nor would we want them to. If the OEMs run the dealerships, then they’ll just be motivated as are other vertically integrated businesses to avoid price competition and charge more.

          • 0 avatar

            > That proved to be a failure; most companies aren’t good at doing more than a few things.

            Your point seems to be concentrate on core competencies, but business is also about competitive advantages. If customers have issues with the general dealership experience (whether sales/service/etc, which gas station generally don’t), it seems the smart manufacturer can offer that advantage over competitors by running the same network with zero profit and using that margin to address those issues.

            Is there something inherent about this specific issue or general financial market bias other than “it’s probably/marginally not worth it?”.

          • 0 avatar
            Pch101

            A well-run car manufacturer in decent shape will produce after tax net income equal to about of 4-10% of revenue.

            The average car dealership in the US will produce pre-tax margins of about 2%.

            If I was in the business of manufacturing and designing cars, it’s obvious which one of those that I would choose to do myself, and which one I would farm out. The returns on retail suck, and I probably won’t be that good at it, anyway. Even worse, I probably won’t have fun doing it — these guys got into the business in order to turn ideas into moving metal, not to sell Mop and Glo to old ladies.

          • 0 avatar

            RE: Your point seems to be concentrate on core competencies, but business is also about competitive advantages. If customers have issues with the general dealership experience (whether sales/service/etc, which gas station generally don’t), it seems the smart manufacturer can offer that advantage over competitors by running the same network with zero profit and using that margin to address those issues.”

            Now this is BRILLIANT. No doubt, the OEMs will run the “same network” for zero profit even though the point of business IS profit. But the OEMs have a consistent record of doing retail at a loss already, which is why if you offered to “gift” them their dealer network, they’d take a pass. By “gift” I mean asset value only with no “Blue Sky.” Of course, that is NEVER going to happen.

            Would the OEMs just terminate all of their finance contracts at once? I know some attorneys who would be thrilled at that prospect. Or would they open up their own points and drive their partner dealers out of business? I know some attorneys who would be thrilled at that too. And this has NOTHING to do with franchise law.

            Then there is the stubborn fact that all of the franchise agreements might not come due at the same time. Some dealers might be on “term” agreements while others are on conventional agreements. So do you terminate, or just fail to renew. And what will the dealers still under contract do when they see their OEM failing to renew their brethren?

            Where does the OEM get the money to buy out its dealer body or do they just somehow grab them? Maybe the factory only needs a few service points so they’ll just cancel these their contracts arbitrarily and force the dealer to sell his real estate cheap? FLASH. Many of these dealers have other franchises they can move into these facilities and in many markets it is the dealer who owns the prime real estate. I can only imagine the OEM to try to do this first or do you suggest all OEMs trying to do them all at the same time because consumers are pissed off at traditional dealers? What would the FTC say about such a move? They frown on collaboration to take control of a market. After all, it is the FTC that likes the idea of every consumer negotiating their own car deal. Of course, consumers will be thrilled with the OEM owned stores.

            RE: “Is there something inherent about this specific issue or general financial market bias other than “it’s probably/marginally not worth it?”

            “General financial market bias?” WTF?

            Do the math. Take any OEM you want. First, multiply the number of dealers times the number of cars they hold in inventory times their dollar value. The OEM has to buy them back. Then calculate all of the real estate and other fixed assets times the number of dealers. Use a calculator that can handle a lot of zeros. And that’s not including any Blue Sky.

            Which OEM will go first?

          • 0 avatar

            RE: “To be fair, dependency on an online model for car sales is much tougher than for most other consumer products.”

            Bingo!

            RE: “For one, the buyer may have a trade-in that factors into the deal.”

            Tesla gets a bid from CarMax but there aren’t Carmax’s everywhere. You could use AutoTrader Tradein Marketplace. After all, OEMs are in the new vehicle business, not pre-owned. Leave that to others, right? Pre-owned expertise won’t be needed. Hell, anyone can do used cars. Appraisals? Just look in the book, right? Then there’s that pesky sales tax issue.

            RE: “For another, the buyer may need credit. (Some of them can’t or won’t get credit from a conventional lender.)”

            Not without the help of a dealer. It might help to know the number of consumers that can get financing over the Internet as opposed to those who need help, packaging or BHPH. You’ll need to understand the vagaries of a 4 credit tiers, sub prime, and BHPH/LHPH. All you’ll want to do is to get people financed, not make any money at it. After all, you’re running a public service, not a for profit venture. And success is in the selling of cars, not the making of money on them.

            RE: “These aren’t issues with other consumer products, but they certainly are with cars.”

            So true. Cars ain’t gadgets.

            RE: “There also isn’t much impetus for OEM’s to own the entire sales channel.”

            They don’t even want to.

            RE: “The cost is too high, the margins are too low and they would rather focus on the things that they know well and offer less competition, namely design and production. The franchise model is well suited for car sales, from the manufacturer’s standpoint.”

            All true.

            RE: “(What this has to do with the thread, I don’t know.)”

            Beats me.

          • 0 avatar

            RE: “In any case the hurdles shouldn’t be technical.”

            Nothing to it. You just send the lender the information, and they tell you yes or no, what tier, how much down is required, if any, and what documentation needs to be supplied. AND if you think that’s all there is to it, you’ll be losing a lot of deals that your competitors will be glad to pick up.

            RE: “The mechanical processes underlying credit are not much more complex than payment verification systems and such already ubiquitous on the web.”

            Spoken like one who has never done it.

            RE: “People can already buy insurance with its myriad of complex options online.”

            I’ve been doing that for 15 years. Its a tad different than auto finance.

            RE: “Rather it seems the dealer’s profit centers are mainly with service & used sales (ie those trades), so the new sales those subsidize really aren’t the main issue anyway.”

            Take away retail recon from a dealer’s service, parts, and BS and see what the P&L looks like.

            RE: “A manufacturer which runs its own service and used operation may have inherent advantages to an external party.”

            Ask Ford how that works out in actual practice.

          • 0 avatar

            Since I’m obviously not reading through your replies to me given they’re substantially inaccurate, and I seriously doubt anyone else is, can you just not post them after writing so they don’t get mixed up with email alert I might care about? Thanks.

  • avatar

    RE: “Michael Dell did that. How has that been working out.

    The dell model is the direct model of sales (eg via the internet), skipping the middle-man. Ruggles is aware of everything his friends in the dealer industry does to oppose such a model, but expect him to do the usual dance to distract from that problem.

    This is a good example of how even applicable niche expertise can be negated by disingenuous character.”

    I made reference to the fact that Dell entered the auto business to show us how to satisfy consumers. He knew well that he wasn’t an auto manufacturer, so how could he have brought a direct sales model to the auto industry. I made reference to the idea that the best way to be successful in the uto business is to provide consumers with what they say they want. I was clear about it. Sorry you didn’t understand.

    I see you’re still cowering in your closet.

    • 0 avatar

      RE: “I made reference to the fact that Dell entered the auto business to show us how to satisfy consumers. He knew well that he wasn’t an auto manufacturer, so how could he have brought a direct sales model to the auto industry.” Aw, yes, distracting from the dealer problem as predicted, with more dancing to come. I rest my case.”

      No, you’ve been refudiated and shown as one who doesn’t know why Michael Dell can’t sell cars direct. You must be confused.

      There is no dealer problem. New car dealers are in good shape. They are small business people. They have their trade associations. Consumers have theirs. Dealers hold great sway over the collection of sales tax which gives them additional influence. And they’ve leveraged it well. Regardless, have you worked out the transition for when franchise law goes away in your dreams?

      • 0 avatar

        So does a platform have anything to do with a “base unit?”

        The difference between is that I know when I don’t know. But I wasn’t asking you. If you can’t google it, you really don’t know a lot. Even then you have trouble interpreting info. But I DO know what a “base unit” is and you don’t if you can’t google it. :)

        I guess you’ll have to remain behind the curtain. Your employer might be concerned about your activities. That, and innate cowardice.

  • avatar

    > I made reference to the fact that Dell entered the auto business to show us how to satisfy consumers. He knew well that he wasn’t an auto manufacturer, so how could he have brought a direct sales model to the auto industry.

    Aw, yes, distracting from the dealer problem as predicted, with more dancing to come. I rest my case.

  • avatar
    Beerboy12

    We are enthusiasts, don’t skimp, please.

  • avatar
    wmba

    Amazing what a little knowledge will generate in ridiculous responses. Little knowledge in that people are far more interested in their own opinion, facts be damned, being thrust into the faces of others, just because.

    I have watched this squabble since I pointed out the deficiencies of the GT86 the other day, the majority of my time since spent in mourning with my family over the passing of my mother at the grand old age of 93.

    But it’s back to the fray for a change of pace and mood for me.

    I said the other day I spent hundreds of hours drooling over this car on ft86club.com before it was ever released. I sat for over an hour in BRZ VIN 0001, while the President of Subaru Canada and a genyooine Sumo wrestler entertained the crowd at the opening of a huge new Subaru dealership in Halifax, NS in April 2012 before the cars were ever released. I drank the Kool Aid.

    Toyota wanted this car, and is Subaru’s (FHI) main single shareholder at 16.7%. Subaru knocks together Camrys for Toyota in their Indiana plant until 2016, and started doing that about 2007. That plant utilization helped Subaru a lot at the time, as sales weren’t great.

    The story has been published how Toyota made a twin-cylinder boxer-engined mini sports car decades ago, and wanted to have a new sports car that would be minimally costly to develop. To read the Toyota essay, as big a piece of fluff as marketers could conceive, a boxer-engined RWD sports car would hearken back to this early model. Plus, the AE86 sedan with the 1600cc engine made in the ’80s was a rallying point for Toyota enthusiasts due to its drifting abilities when insanely overtuned. 86 Hachiroku.

    Toyota had a corporate friend, Subaru, who had boxer engines suitable for rear wheel drive, and car styling reminiscent of startled frogs. Thus Toyota and Subaru shook hands on cheaply developing a new sports car. Toyota handled the styling and handed Subaru the task of engineering the car.

    Toyota also wanted the D4S dual port/direct injection cylinder heads and no turbo for snappy response, and 100 hp per litre, so they opened up their engineering knowledge to Subaru on the subject. Yamaha may have been involved as a subcontractor, that’s not clear at least to me.

    In any case Subaru dragged their heels a bit, and the first prototype was a chopped up Gen 4 Legacy to establish the main mechanical parameters. At the same time, they had just designed the 2 litre diesel engine, sold everywhere but North America to this day.

    This new engine was the first new 4 cylinder boxer block since the EJ gas motor that came out first in 1989. EJs have a big bore, short stroke architecture to minimize engine width to allow reasonable vehicle turning circles, while using great big cogged belt-driven pulley wheels to drive the camshafts, which adds width. Also, big bores make it difficult to get a high compression ratio with a short stroke, especially as twin cam heads with large cam belt pulleys don’t easily allow narrow included valve angles for a compact combustion chamber and high compression ratios. Unless you add big lumps on top of the pistons which are not elegant.

    So the Subaru diesel went to a square bore/stroke, which for 2 litres and 4 cylinders is 86mm apiece. The split-angle connecting rods reminiscent of ancient BMC engines allowed them to assemble the engines more easily. The EJ requires the crank have (too much detail – skipped). Also, Subaru designed chain driven twin cams for the diesel, so that although the the stroke was longer, the smaller chain sprockets meant engine width did not increase.

    So, they knew how to make a new engine. Toyota, in its delirium over the number 86 and its relevance to Toyota heritage wanted an 86×86 mm engine come what may. Probably great feng shui or whatever. The Japanese seem to worship superstition.

    The recession put development of the car in hold. Subaru continued on with the designs of their new gas type FB engines featuring 90mm stroke in both 2.0 and 2.5 form That’s what you get in everyday cooking Imprezas, Legacies, Foresters and Outbacks plus the mutant Crosstrek. Port fuel injected, chain driven twin cams and a pulse just slightly short of tepid.

    So, the FB was treated to a bit of a doll-up and stroke reduced to 86mm from 90, the compression ratio was flogged out to 12.5 to 1 for some reason, D4S was fitted and voila, you have the Subaru FA20. Long spidery intake tracts were forced by the flat boxer engine design, and the result was a noisy screamer of an engine with lumpy torque delivery, suitable for the GT86. GT86 encompasses FR-S, BRZ and GT86, its real name.

    Subaru came up with a brand new body for this car. It is not an Impreza makeover at all. Toyota’s constant styling changes caused Subaru no end of grief in the design of the body, if you read Subaru’s self-congratulatory monogram on the car, issued after Toyota’s which basically claimed they did it all, of course. If you trawl through ft86club.com, you’ll find links – this stuff is imprinted on my brain! The rocker panel/sill area was the difficulty, which is probably why the car is so heavy at 2750 lbs. The result is undeniable strength, its main virtue in the 3 cars I’ve driven. The body is solid even on the crappiest of broken pavement.

    Subaru is the master of cheap but durable parts engineering, though, and since they were to be responsible for building the thing, they dipped into the parts box. Lookee here! Take the Impreza front A arm, turn it upside down, swap car sides and you have the GT86.

    But darn! The hood is so low, they had to design and make new short MacPherson struts to fit that Toyota style. $$. Ouch!

    The rear subframe from a new model Impreza was slightly modified to accomodate a Torsen diff (Toyota owns Torsen, btw), the upper A arm was cast instead of stamped tin, probably for geometry reasons and strength and there you have it.

    The engine couldn’t be put any further back towards the firewall, because the darn steering rack got in the way. So suddenly, Toyota marketing decided 53/47 front rear balance was “ideal”.

    Toyota owns Aisin, so in went one of their 6MT transmissions, now regarded as of questionable quality, and optional 6 speed auto with characteristics like early lockup torque converter not unlike Mazda’s new SkyActiv internals. I wonder how – Japanese companies use the same suppliers, of course and a lot of nudge, nudge, wink, wink.

    Well, the Toyota PR machine was at full chat. Subaru decided to stop making mini-trucks like the Sanbar and Rex descendants, and completely refitted their earliest Gunma factory to make the GT86. Early preorders for the car were so high in Japan, that on March 12, 2012 Subaru’s President announced the plant was being expanded/refitted yet again to make 100,000 GT86s per year instead of the originally planned 60,000. This was before more than a few had actually been made. Production began in earnest in April. Nobody knows for sure, but $800 million has been suggested as the price tag for all this, if I remember a Reuters report from a couple of years ago correctly.

    With the highest hopes, not least from me.

    I detested the car as I pointed out, when I drove it on May 30, 2012. It was the classic case of overpromise and underdeliver – to me. I’ve driven two others since and my opinion has not changed.

    As you can tell, I had the car’s development story memorized I was so into it, so the actual car’s driving experience was like a slap in the face with a wet fish. I have NEVER been so disappointed in a new car in all my life.

    Then the quality problems began to surface. Condensation in taillamps, chirping high pressure fuel pump, rattling rear deck, crappy weatherstripping and on and on. Consumer Reports grades it below average – imagine that, a Toyota/ Subaru below normal.

    So sales are running less than 50,000 per year globally, the factory is geared to make 100,000. So, of course you’re going to hear Toyota execs muttering under their breath loud enough for bystanders to hear.

    Who’s to blame for the boondoggle? Both companies. Somebody wasn’t in overall charge of the project, in my opinion, and both companies cannot believe what’s happened – they’re used to unqualified success. I’m certain the vehicle would do better if it had a nicer engine – that’s the main problem. That and a bit of sound deadening/insulation and a change to the superior high pressure fuel pump Subaru uses in its turbo version of this engine, which works great at whisking turbo Foresters around with little effort.

    Build a great product and they will come. Build a meh one, and everyone forgets about it. The fanbois who overlook the GT86’s faults already have theirs, but there’s no greatness to continue the sales to the average consumer looking for something sporty. So the car will soon disappear since the principals have no appetite for investing in it to correct its faults.

    How’s that for the director’s cut?

    Now, if someone knows some material fact I have incorrect, let’s hear about it. I’d like to know too.

    And for Big Al, I’m a recently retired licensed professional mechanical engineer with lifetime membership in the association.

    • 0 avatar

      Excellent!!!! Commentary like this is why I came to TTAC. Actually, from reading you didn’t have to post your credentials, unlike some others here. You obviously know what you are talking about. In fact, this is info worth sharing. I still think the vehicle would have sold greater numbers in the U.S. had it been sold by Toyota dealers instead of SCION. But if the quality is suspect and the driving experience so so, it wouldn’t have made a lot of difference in the long run.

      Is the car salvageable in your opinion?

      We’ve been hearing a lot about internal strife at Toyota over its overly hasty product development process, which I’ve heard has been slowed down in an attempt to minimize the niggling quality issues. Have you heard anything about that. I’ve also heard the SCION is the pet of the Akio Toyoda. I’m always looking for confirmation.

      Thanks for your comments.

    • 0 avatar
      racer-esq.

      “Subaru came up with a brand new body for this car. It is not an Impreza makeover at all.”

      Do you have something to base that on other than the official PR guided releases from the companies, which can define platform however they want (it’s not like the SAE or anyone else defines the term at any specific level of sharing).

      Because if this is truly a ground up car it is not credible to me that Toyota wouldn’t just build its own RWD car from the ground up, putting the proper 2ZZ-GE in it.

      Why go though this cluster-f_ck of a joint venture, with not many sales hoped for on the Subaru side, unless, at least at the start, there was hope for cost savings by leveraging the Impreza platform.

      A platform that makes a lot of sense given that it is the correct size and weight, and more importantly has the correct longitudinal engine layout for rear wheel drive (whether an engine is longitudinal or transverse is critical to defining a platform, note that those are the two VW platforms, longitudinal and transverse).

      Also, on another note, what do you think of the reports that the Toyota engineers consider the Impreza rear suspension used “weak and terrible”? If those reports are true then I think that is what might be holding back more power.

      • 0 avatar
        Pch101

        Occam’s Razor would suggest that TMC wanted to create a business case for the car by reducing its R&D costs.

        Sharing those costs with another firm would theoretically achieve that goal; someone else is helping to pay for some of them. The thing that provides fodder for speculation is whether this particular partnership created reverse synergies, i.e. the relationship producing less than the sum of its parts.

        • 0 avatar
          racer-esq.

          If the question is why did Toyota work with Subaru on development then shared costs is the simplest answer.

          But then that raises the question of why Toyota let Subaru take the development and manufacturing lead in a car which Toyota projected that it would, as is, selling the vast majority. Roughly 4 to 1.

          At that point the simplest answer, to me, is that an existing Subaru platform is being heavily leveraged.

          To the other comment – nobody has mentioned any unibody difference behind the firewall.

          • 0 avatar

            > To the other comment – nobody has mentioned any unibody difference behind the firewall.

            The answer should be obvious if you looked at you own size comparison above. The heights are almost 10″ apart.

          • 0 avatar
            Pch101

            Based upon what I’ve read, this would be my presumption:

            -This car was Akio Toyoda’s personal wet dream. This was not your standard initiative — this was coming from the then-heir apparent of the company. In that sense, it was a bit like the Phaeton, with all of the executive fervor and passion-over-rationality that that would imply.

            -But he does have a board, which required him to have a tangible business case. That means trying to shave off whatever costs that were possible, and backing into the numbers in order to make them work.

            -Toyoda wanted a low-slung hood — this was important to him. Subaru could provide that with a boxer. Point #1 in favor of the JV: he gets a free motor out of it, providing savings to the program.

            -Subaru would cover some of the development costs, and provide the suspension assembly more or less off the rack. Point # 2 for the partnership: More savings, at least on paper.

            -Now the problem: In this relationship, the major partner was dictating design, which is the most fuzzy, touchy feely aspect of the program. When the dreamer has a disproportionate amount of authority, that’s a recipe for problems.

            -Meanwhile, you have the junior partner that is already stuck with a design protocol (RWD) that it didn’t want and that necessarily drove up the costs. And the design/dreamer in the relationship keeps calling shots that the junior guy probably doesn’t like yet has to follow.

            -The result is a bit of mishmash, with the dreamer interfering with the guys doing the day-to-day engineering. A recipe for conflict.

            Assuming that assessment is largely correct, what they probably should have done was to have TMC be in charge of the overall program but sub-out specific components to Subaru, so that TMC had to own any of the downsides that came from the process. By giving design (art) to the boss and engineering (reality) to the junior, they were begging for a classic conflict between the dreamers and the pragmatists — a textbook culture clash.

            Everyone loves partnerships because of the cost savings on paper, but they are often difficult to implement in practice. During an era when cost savings are mission critical, you can expect to see more of these things, and some of them are going to fall flat on their faces.

            To add to this, the problem with the need to prove a business case is the incentive that creates to produce overly optimistic aggressive sales projections. Some of the alleged disappointment may be the byproduct of estimates that were backed into in order to prove out the business case. There is no way that the car could be profitable at 50k units per year and at these prices; if anyone had forecasted that, this thing would have probably been dead in the water.

          • 0 avatar
            racer-esq.

            “The answer should be obvious if you looked at you own size comparison above. The heights are almost 10″ apart.”

            This is just showing your ignorance with regard to platform sharing. The height range within the acknowledged VW and Nissan programs is greater.

            Re PCH – There are reasons why within the auto industry shared development, as opposed to shared manufacturing and/or distribution, almost never happens.

            If this was a test to see how well Toyota and Subaru engineers work together, therefore if there is a case for greater integration and merging of the companies, it looks like they failed.

          • 0 avatar

            Comparing VW and Nissan modular platforms to the Toyobaru is an apples to oranges comparison.

          • 0 avatar

            The Japanese keiretsu model has been steadily adopted over the years, although perhaps not to the same extent as those who devised it. Anyone who hasn’t read “The Machine that Changed the World” should do so. Womack, Roos, and Jones predicted much of what has happened in the last 20 some years. They talk about the benefits of keiretsu.

          • 0 avatar

            > This is just showing your ignorance with regard to platform sharing. The height range within the acknowledged VW and Nissan programs is greater.

            It’s quite different to design from the start to support a raised chassis (make bigger) than cut down from an existing already compact sedan (make smaller). Note the bodies are still different, but more fundamental changes are necessary when important hard mountings for engines, etc are moved. This isn’t rocket science here, you can literally line up the pictures side-by-side and compare fundamental dimensions.

            Again, this was all discussed in context above, you just didn’t read it or think or something.

          • 0 avatar

            > this would be my presumption:

            Occam’s presumption would be that out of the two partners it was a marriage of convenience for one to provide the money and what’s called “design” in the car world (aka art concept elsewhere), and the other to provide the engineering. It’s the same for VW and porsche or any number of partnerships. The impreza is the only car Sub make near that size so it’s no mystery what they’re going to raid for parts to reuse.

            People are reading way too much into the “conflict” angle. In any large project there’s going to be some back and force followed by compromises, though the magnitude of this varies. That’s why production cars aren’t quite like their concept demonstrations.

            > To add to this, the problem with the need to prove a business case is the incentive that creates to produce overly optimistic aggressive sales projections.

            I don’t know if there’s evidence of that but this is one of the big reasons why platforms are the way forward for niche cars. Any production fluctuation can absorbed into the same sets of lines.

          • 0 avatar

            I was thinking of an example, and the closest is probably the porsche/vw 924. It was also originally paid for by vw to be engineered by porsche and sold as a vw, but through various circumstances it ended up with porsche. I’m sure a similar tale of woe and then some can be told for that design, but it went on to become porsche’s “boxster”-type lineup of the time (saved the company, etc, etc). But then that was sold with porsche margins.

          • 0 avatar

            RE: “I was thinking of an example, and the closest is probably the porsche/vw 924. It was also originally paid for by vw to be engineered by porsche and sold as a vw, but through various circumstances it ended up with porsche.”

            Correction: 914 NOT 924. Of course, expert that you are, it must have been a typo.

            924 was a straight 4 cyl front engine rear drive with a transaxle in the rear for balance. It NEVER had a boxster engine. It morphed into the 944.

            The 914 never sold well and never saved VW OR Porsche.

            RE: “I’m sure a similar tale of woe and then some can be told for that design, but it went on to become porsche’s “boxster”-type lineup of the time (saved the company, etc, etc). But then that was sold with porsche margins.”

            Where do you get this stuff?

          • 0 avatar

            > Correction: 914 NOT 924. Of course, expert that you are, it must have been a typo.

            Sigh, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Porsche_924#History

            Why don’t you go figure out how to use google or wiki or *something* before wasting everyone’s time *every single time*? Please, have some self-respect even if you can’t get it from anyone else.

          • 0 avatar

            BTW I anticipate you’ll attempt to follow me around to catch some error, however minute or semantic or pointless, sh1tposting throughout the process just to proclaim some kind of victory in your mind. Consider this a reminder that I’ve unfortunately had to deal with this from the same sorts before and have every intention to head it off at the pass.

          • 0 avatar

            You referenced the one with the boxster engine:

            http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Porsche_914

            Sorry.

            RE: “Why don’t you go figure out how to use google or wiki or *something* before wasting everyone’s time *every single time*? Please, have some self-respect even if you can’t get it from anyone else.”

            Look in the mirror.

      • 0 avatar

        > Do you have something to base that on other than the official PR guided releases from the companies,

        Most enthusiasts should be aware that the “body” on a modern unibody car is closely integrated with the stuff inside. When the front of the car is clearly much lower and engine well back it should then imply that the whole innards are quite different (eg shorter strut tower given the impreza one would stick up through the fenders). Power6 above claims the suspension setups (ie basic geometries, etc) are the same which saves on some eng design costs and allows some part reuse (eg arms).

        Modern cars aren’t lego toys where the pieces snap together. The closest thing are trucks mostly because they aren’t under many packaging constraints as a sports care obviously is.

        Again, most all of this stuff was already mentioned before for those that read carefully.

        > Why go though this cluster-f_ck of a joint venture, with not many sales hoped for on the Subaru side, unless, at least at the start, there was hope for cost savings by leveraging the Impreza platform.

        If you read the story carefully instead of getting caught in the rhetorical narrative, it’s pretty standard product dev stuff. The only anomaly for the car is below Subaru’s usual reliability standards, but that might be explained by the initial rush to build stock. Lights fogging up or whatever are a parts supplier issue, and questionable weatherstripping isn’t exactly some kind of design blunder.

    • 0 avatar

      >At the same time, they had just designed the 2 litre diesel engine, sold everywhere but North America to this day.
      >Toyota, in its delirium over the number 86 and its relevance to Toyota heritage wanted an 86×86 mm engine come what may. Probably great feng shui or whatever. The Japanese seem to worship superstition.

      Given subaru designed the square diesel (in 86mm 2L forum convenient for taxes), how is Toyota the crazy superstitious one? Why not typical engineering tradeoffs such as shorter stroke for higher revs in a sport car engine?

      There seems to be some priority here to construct an entertaining story which is certain any author’s prerogative, even an engineer’s, but the bulk of the discussion above was hardly memorized by the marketing pitch.

      >Build a great product and they will come. Build a meh one, and everyone forgets about it. The fanbois who overlook the GT86′s faults already have theirs, but there’s no greatness to continue the sales to the average consumer looking for something sporty. So the car will soon disappear since the principals have no appetite for investing in it to correct its faults.

      Instead of looking at history with rosy colored glasses, the reality is that the whole sports car market has been the same tale since forever. Dreams of sales to enthusiasts only to find there’s more “car enthusiasts” (ie the type for the marketing dept) than “driving enthusiasts” (ie the type for engineering), and there’s a distinct difference. The new 86 will be remembered with the same fondness as the old one when it goes away and the cycle repeats again.

  • avatar

    RE: “If I I was in the business of manufacturing and design cars, it’s obvious which one of those that I would choose to do myself, and which one I would farm out. The returns on retail suck, and I probably won’t that good at it, anyway. Even worse, I probably won’t have fun doing it.”

    Retail is a blast, but its not for everyone. While the reported returns on the average car dealership aren’t so good on paper, add in the dealer’s salary and the many fringe benefits and dealers will take their 2%. With a track record, one can get into the business for little unencumbered capital and let the business pay off the cap loans.

  • avatar
    wmba

    Thanks for the responses, especially the one complimenting me on an entertaining story! And then suggesting that a lot of what I’ve said isn’t in the published stories. I’ll say it one last time: if you’re really interested go to ft86club.com. There’s bucketloads of translated Japanese copy, detailed articles on Toyota’s D4S dual fuel injection system and on and on. I glanced through some of it again before writing what I did, but frankly you cannot condense dozens of pages into a few paragraphs, nor is it my job to feed you. If you want to disagree, then put in some time to learn the subject yourself!

    To get a high CR, Subaru lengthened the stroke in their diesel engine, narrowed the valve angle and left most of the combustion chamber in the piston. 86mm bore and stroke, i.e. square gives the least area per swept volume to lose heat through. The GM 2.0T engine in the ATS, etc., etc, is guess what? 86 by 86 mm. Coincidence? C’mon it will be for some conspiracy theorists out there. The Ford has an 87mm bore and teensy weensy shorter stroke. The BMW has the 84 by 90mm dimensions of the regular Impreza FB engine and is the outlier.

    All the newer engines are designed with similar software and CFD analysis, and none has the classic big bore short stroke configuration. The old EJ two litre is 92 by 75mm, the EJ25 is 99.5 by 79.5mm. These engines like to rev given a decent induction system, but are not particularly fuel efficient – remember all the moaning about Subaru fuel economy? Despite that, I prefer the EJ25 in the 2010 Forester to the noisier FB25 in the 2011. I am not a proponent of cheap single row chain cam drives over belts anyway. You add complexity, have no guarantee it’ll last longer than the belt, it’s noisier and it stretches more with age. But ..

    And it’s a biggie, the belt replacement schedule is no longer in the owner’s manual. So one more barrier to purchase removed. Now when the chain fails, the owner can just feel unlucky and alone. Mr. Baruth’s new V6 Accord engine is belt drive to the cams and port fuel injection. At idle you can barely hear it, it’s that harmonious and quiet. And where are the legions of J series engine owners with failed belt drives?

    The chassis. If someone can squint at a cutaway chassis picture of an Impreza or the new WRX same thing, a four door configuration, then at the GT86 cutaway with two doors and confidently pronounce them the same, you are a natural for a career in PR. It isn’t even a cut and hack job.

    The GT86 lower chassis ends just forward of the strut, and it’s only the fender liner that keeps road dust out. Go and look at a BRZ, and then at an Impreza. I have many times as I wait for service on my Legacy GT. They even have an Impreza hanging like art on the wall so you can see the guts.

    As I say, one is a four door, the other two. Even a cursory glance underneath shows the different arrangement of cross members, the greater distance between firewall and front suspension in the BRZ. What is going to satisfy the doubters? A personal signed affidavit from the Subaru Chief Structural Engineer? I already mentioned the problems they had because Toyota was continually fiddling with the style, necessitating recalcalculation of the unibody stressing. Enough.

    It does illustrate the biases of mostly Toyota enthusiasts about the car. And it also highlights the dichotomy between the Toyota PR fluff claiming the GT86 being all theirs, and that the chief stylist drew inspiration from the boxer design for all sorts of decoration including dash design. Subaru is hardly mentioned in Toyota PR.

    Subaru then put out a much more matter of fact brief, listing all the engineering personnel who led work on various aspects of the car design, and Toyota is hardly mentioned.

    Where is the joint article by Toyota AND Subaru personnel announcing the collaboration, shaking hands pictures and all that stuff? I’ve never seen such. If you read these articles, you’d think they were nattering on about different vehicles!

    Then you have the Toyota fanbois, all too happy to disregard any Subaru contribution. Even today, you get questions on the forum from people unable to read or concentrate for 5 minutes before popping the question: “Uh, are the FR-S and the BRZ the same car?” Duh.

    And even today, the appropriate twits come out with half-truth replies based on whether they favor one make or the other. The different headlights are enough to make them different cars for some people.

    I think Subaru got sold a bill of goods by Toyota, feeling an obligation because of the 100,000 Camrys per year they got to fill up their Lafayette IN factory. They were unsure about the GT86 volume, but got sold by Toyota PR to increase capacity to 100,000 from 60,000. As I said, it was on March 12, 2012 that Subaru announced the expansion.

    Now, with Subaru sales on the ascendant in the US and Canada, they needed the production capacity back from Toyota in Indiana. Subaru, (Fuji Heavy Industries) are a conservative company. Six months ago they were agonizing over whether to build a brand new factory to accomodate sales, or remain a niche outfit because another factory would cost huge sums, and they weren’t confident that sales would remain high enough to justify the investment. All over the business news.

    So Toyota steps forward and says the contract for Subaru to build Camrys is going to end. Subaru announces the same. All very businesslike and quite curt. Just the bare minimum of flowery words. But now Subaru can make Foresters in the US without a new factory, just as they are gearing up to making extra Foresters and Crosstreks in the Gunma Plant No.1, and cutting back on the GT86. The Impreza and Forester are definitely the same basic platform, always have been.

    Pure speculation on my part, but Toyota and Subaru do not seem to be quite so friendly anymore based on those Camry production announcements. This GT86 boondoggle cost someone a lot of money and mutual trust.

    That’s enough I think.

    • 0 avatar

      Wonderful stuff! You are greatly appreciated. I lot more people are seeing your stuff than just those here on this blog.

    • 0 avatar
      daiheadjai

      I have to object to your portrayal of TMC as the villain, and Subaru as the saviour of the cheap sports car here.

      Subaru wanted nothing to do with a RWD coupe in the early stages of this project.
      It wasn’t until Toyota took an Impreza (or Legacy, I forget) and chopped it up as a proof-of-concept that Subaru started showing some interest.

      The truth about this particular car is that Toyota couldn’t have done it in 2012 without Subaru (it might have been cancelled or in a best-case scenario, taken several years more to deliver), but it absolutely would not have existed without Toyota.

      As for Aisin, this “questionable” gearbox apparently also finds its way into the S2000, S15, MX5, Altezza/IS200 and RX8. The S2000, MX5 and RX8 are consistently complimented (in reviews, of course) for the quality of their shifter/transmission.
      Also, I’m not sure if it was “superstition” or just plain engineering that led to the 86×86 bore/stroke – IIRC, the 2nd gen MR2 with its 3S-GE/GTE series uses the same.

      Just curious – what was it that disappointed you so much about this car?
      Was it the straightline speed?
      Was it not as “hard-edged” as you expected?

      FWIW, the quality issues that Consumers Report mentions do not prevent the car from operating and being driven as a sports coupe should.
      Not to mention the CR crew actually lauded the handling traits of the 86 twins as well.

      Are you sure the problem rested with the car? Or perhaps unreachable expectations?

    • 0 avatar

      > And then suggesting that a lot of what I’ve said isn’t in the published stories

      Just because a story is published doesn’t mean it’s accurate. Retell it line-by-line and it still won’t be accurate. It’s your summary and your choice to pick the aspects you like, but it’s also others’ choice to discuss the aspects they like. Personally I liked the technical aspects in both posts.

      > The GM 2.0T engine in the ATS, etc., etc, is guess what? 86 by 86 mm. Coincidence?

      People who know how things work can see it’s not really a coincidence (that was alluded even in your original post); yet the summary picks aspects of superstition. No doubt good for the narrative, less so for presenting the most accurate picture. I don’t hold it against anyone to make that compromise, but still noteworthy least the less technical bits are retold as a definitive tale.

      > got sold by Toyota PR to increase capacity to 100,000 from 60,000. As I said, it was on March 12, 2012 that Subaru announced the expansion.

      I wonder how much of that actually got done, but regardless it would antagonize the relationship. Things sometimes get a little personal in japan, but in the end it’s just business. Subaru couldn’t have foreseen their success elsewhere, and it just makes more sense to focus on that.

  • avatar
    jbreuckm

    Directors Cut, for all of the various and sundry reasons mentioned above.


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