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In INDIA: light-weight = poor safety, poor ride quality etc BUT: high profits ?

Discussion in 'Non FIAT Cars and two wheelers' started by prabhjot, Aug 3, 2016.

  1. prabhjot

    prabhjot Esperto

    delhi ncr
    There is no evidence of India light-weighting (i.e., by Maruti, Honda and hyundai, as well as now Ford too) being at all about high-strength materials in order to boost safety, and every evidence that is exclusively for the purposes of boosting profit margins (and fuel efficiency) while maintaining some minimal chassis rigidity levels. That is how Maruti has a higher profit margin than almost any car firm IN THE WORLD (over 14%, net, AFTER taxes, debt-costs etc). Hyundai's margins in India are also ultra, and disproportionately high (though they are not a listed company in india).

    Light weight body panels also mean vastly higher repair costs (which suits service centres very well), since they get so easily dinged, crumpled even in shunts let alone craches. Light weighting comes across the board from weight taken out of components on a systematic basis (tyres, alloy wheels, suspension parts, bumpers, nvh damping, door panels, use of soft low density seat foam, thinner window glass, low service interval engine parts....).

    The Linea and Punto's added weight comes more from these components being of a much higher spec (tolerance, redundancy) than from the famous 'heavy sheet metal' (which last is exactly the sort of guage of sheet metal used even on ultra light, hyper-expensive sportscars, and premium/luxury cars). Longer travel suspension, vastly more nvh paddings, denser seat foam, and of course engines that have long service intervals and yet are highly mod-able to higher-stress power/torque/heat parameters. Plus of course, more rigid chassis (components). Bigger, wider tyres, better brake system, etc.

    There is no doubt that the East Asian firms (barring Toyota) have deliberately light-weighted cars compromising ride, chassis rigidity (needed for good ride, good braking, goodhandling and good nvh), etc, and of course safety, in an effort to boost their profit margins in a practically-UNregulated market.

    As for safety, they can happily continue to do so in the absence of credible, honest crash testing of their indian (eg., the European suzuki Swift has heavy guage sheet metal, the European Baleno is much heavier, the SX4 and now SCross were/are much heavier and better-built) models.

    When the crash tests come they will do the bare minimum to pass them, and those tests (eg., the Asean ncap ones) are already very diluted compared to even the Latin ncap let alone the euro and usa standards. The cynicism of the dominant car firms (almost an oligopoly: MS, HY, H + Mahindra) in India is breathtaking, which is just a cause as well as effect of them being the 'dominant' firms in the first place, since the much-higher margins they've been able to extract from even low-cost, third-world-spec models (14%+ for Maruti, almost as high as Ferrari!) has lead to huge scale-economies for them and esp their dealers+after-sales centres.

    And it is not as if many of their lower-tolerance components and parts have been economically priced either. The Competition Commission of India has found them all guilty of price rigging in the dealers' spare parts pricing. Moreover, spare part costs at even Maruti are now at-par and especially for Honda and Hyundai are, on average, notably higher than say for Ford or Fiat.
    Turbothinghy, Sujit508 and gpunto75 like this.

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