By contrast: there are many reasons to criticize pharma companies but they don't take suppliers' word for any materials. Dell doesn't blame Delta when they ship bad power supplies, they take responsibility. But some industries (cars, aircraft, et al) are perfectly happy to blame someone else.
Note: it's OK if you say "we got some bad products and we failed to detect it..." That's defect analysis. But own it.
It's hilarious the mental gymnastics these fictional people will leap through to avoid earning the ire of their employer, and it's absolutely shocking how true-to-life it often is.
Another related excuse is "you aren't paying for this."
Just see for example how shitty phone bots have replaced call centers which were already outsourced. The thing is no one chooses a cellular provider based on the customer service, we generally just accept the service will be terrible and optimize on cost of plan which will be what we use it for primarily anyway.
I pay more for our internet company (Aussie Broadband) because they promise not to over-provision and they have local support staff on the phone. They've been very quick to answer and helpful when I had to call and are willing to skip the basic troubleshooting when I explain what I've done already. And I've never had the evening peak slowdowns that my friends have had. But is it worth $20 a month more? Probably not, but it's nice not having those worries occupy my mind.
There's reason to doubt that (from 3 days ago):
Sandoz and GSK are pulling their products anyway which you could take either way.
I am somewhat surprised to find myself defending big pharma and this event is only recently reported so we'll see how it turns out. But for now I think my example holds.
Pharmacies, on the other hand, can only do so much. Much like a car dealer can't properly ensure the reliability of the cars they sell.
And then there's Tesla: "We fixed issue XYZ, which affected people in exactly this particular way." "We proactively send bulletins and over-the-air fixes." "This particular issue was for this particular year, and has long since been fixed."
They’re under investigation for possibly hiding recall and issuing OTA instead that surprised people with sudden range loss (https://www.businessinsider.com/nhtsa-investigating-tesla-up...)
They force customers to go over arbitration to fix yellowing entertainment screen on cars as young as few months. They tell people it’s normal wear and tear due to using cat in the sun (https://teslamotorsclub.com/tmc/threads/yellow-screen-force-...)
Their service centers are over the capacity for years and cars can be stuck waiting for repairs and parts for months.
Otherwise it would strike me as odd that someone would boost a vehicle manufacturer that doesn’t sell spare parts, in a thread on vehicle reliability.
Edited a few words to better express my point.
Or just walk into a service center. Tesla now undercuts all third party prices on parts.
The last time I saw that site, every single part down to the simplest screw said "Contact Tesla for pricing" and instead of adding to a cart, it too had a button "Contact Tesla for sales"...
... almost like they were trying to barely scrape by a state mandate on spare parts being available for sale.
Anyone with current info? If they got a parts catalog with Amazon style fulfillment they'd be in business.
Has anyone tried this? Are parts delivered in a reasonable time frame?
Ford has had to recall over a million trucks due to engine block heaters that would cause your engine block to catch fire.
Disclaimer: TSLA investor and owner, opted out of arbitration and have yellow banding on my MCU screens. Compromise is inevitable.
I don't want a power plant that is advertised as "more earthquake resistant than Fukushima" in my backyard.
All depends on what you're optimizing for. I can't get an EV from Toyota or Honda (at least not one that competes with our S and X), so I deal with some fit and finish and reliability issues. Powertrain has been rock solid. Charging network has been rock solid (having driven coast to coast in the US in both of our Teslas).
Tesla was incorporated in 2003, and has existed for only 16 years. What's Toyota's (an 80 year old manufacturing and logistics behemoth) excuse? Rhetorical. Entrenched interests (both internally and at dealers) and a lack of courage.
Without Toyota, Tesla wouldn't exist.
Having a charging network doesn't solve all the problems of going >50 miles from home.
And solar charging only works if you live in suburbia or rural neighborhoods. If you live in a city, you're SOL.
And gas pumps can be powered by diesel generators. Especially because they happen to be built on top of giant-tanks of diesel.
I mean, the Tesla Supercharger at Nuburgring was a diesel generator for this very reason. Diesel (and gasoline) takes up very little space or weight, while giving a significant amount of energy storage. So its ideal for storage, transport, and distribution.
Diesel is of course a fine solution for isolated locations that require energy for whatever reason when utility or renewables are down, if you have to transport it a great distance, or you absolutely need a store of energy on site because you're concerned that natural gas would be down at the same time utility mains were.
> "It was a supplier-related issue".
Passing the buck is really not a great look to start with. It makes the rest of the response seem like a series of excuses.
Tesla chose the supplier. Tesla built and inspected and sold and shipped the car with those parts. This is a Tesla-related issue. The only time Tesla should mention a supplier issue is in response to, "why can't you sell me a car?"
> "[It] did not pose any threat to vehicle safety".
That's good, but this isn't the safety survey.
> "[T]here was a[...] false service alert [... that was fixed] within two weeks of being reported".
I'm not even sure how to react to this one. Bringing my car in to be told "false alarm" is really not reassuring. And two weeks to fix a false alert doesn't help me - I've probably already brought it in for service.
> "This proactive approach to improved reliability is one of the reasons why Tesla is the highest rated car brand among consumers, according to Consumer Reports." (Paraphrased:) Our cars are the safest and best performing, and Model S is #1 in satisfaction.
To me, blaming a supplier for the issues is a terrible way to start, and this is likewise a terrible closing.
"You just fell in the rankings to come in 3rd to last in our reliability survey. Any comments?" "Our cars are the safest and fastest and we have always ranked #1 on your customer satisfaction survey."
Those stats are undeniably good. They also make me think those are the stats the company cares about a lot more than reliability.
They are new at mass manufacturing and no doubt learned a lesson from this incident. And that is the whole point of their response, unlike the other American manufacturers they are successfully working away at rapidly improving quality and reliability. And you are angry at them for that.
Nothing in the statement tells me that there won't be another "supplier-related issue" down the line. There should be controls in place for this.
(I have no idea what "quality" means here, and how you can put a number on that, that rises 3.5x, but that's beside the point).
With one sentence, Tesla is telling 2015 customers that they got screwed over, and future customers that they should wait 4 years after a new model comes out before buying it, because they need that time to figure out all the quality issues.
On the other hand, you don't have to fix a problem you haven't created.
Most of Tesla problems are self inflicted.
Moreover "Model X vehicles today is 3.5 times better than the quality of brand new Model X cars from 2015."
According to which metric?
It sounds a lot like "this is the fastest Mac ever built, 2.5x faster than the previous generation" but on the market cheaper or faster options (or both) were already available.
 in small writings "according to bench X and taking the best result. On average the improvement is about +0.3%"
As much as I think they are doing a great job and deserve to be there, I've also never seen a car in the $40k range (more 50-60k euros on this side of the ocean) not being "a pleasure to drive" or not having a good customer service.
For the same price I can buy this
This is probably Tesla's strongest point, having a problem with the product you paind for and not having personalized response makes you feel powerless while response from someone who seems to understand the problem and the issues it creates is a such a huge difference even if the issue is not resolved. I always forgive companies that did sloppy job but cared enough to appologise and explain why it happend. You don't have to have a celebrity CEO to do that.
It had a great wee 4 cylinder 2.4L engine, a hell of a lot of fun to drive, but it was of notorious build quality (which I learned after the fact). I spent a lot of time trying to keep it running, and in the end, it was worth a surprising amount at sale simply for the spare parts, because these buggers chewed through them and as they were gray imports into NZ, very hard to find official parts for them.
It was the little things - like the interior light you could only turn on by turning the dashboard brightness dial all the way up - the boot/trunk latch that was made entirely of plastic, and was held onto the boot/trunk by plastic pins. The perpetual thirst for an odd (for Jap imports) grade of oil (5W30 only). The coolant that drained out if you parked on a slope. The sunroof that always leaked and you could never quite fix.
The park lights that involved taking the entire bumper off merely to replace a bulb - in a country used to actual Japanese built cars, such European levels of PITA maintenance earned the Cavalier a deserved bad name.
I don't know if GM just half-assed it on purpose, or by mistake, but it was hardly a soaring endorsement of American engineering.
The J-cars (cavalier/sunfire/sunbird) existed b/c of the second oil crisis in '78. GM needed something FWD, smaller than the X-cars, that could get better fuel economy than the RWD V-6 and V-8 cars it had been selling in the '70s. The thought was that people in the US would buy these because they had to, not because small cars would suddenly become appealing to Americans in their own right.
The Js were never terribly profitable, the lower-end ones were almost certainly sold at cost to boost the company's mileage compliance numbers. The traditional easy way of squeezing costs out of a car is to pull them out of the interior & trim, which would explain the sunroof, the dash electronics, the trunk closures and taillights.
The engine you got in yours is almost certainly the Quad OHC, one of the last Oldsmobile powertrain designs...in its original 2.3L config, Olds had it making 185hp (in 1989, with no turbo!). Powerful but with no balance shafts, it pulled well but sounded & shook like a pair of wolverines trapped in a dryer, which is why the 2.4L version got balance shafts and was detuned to 150hp.
The bigger reason that Japanese buyers stayed away from the Cavalier was probably due to it's engine size (JP taxes at certain displacements, I know going over 2.0L is a bump) as well as vehicle size (at least according to Wikipedia, it was too big to be taxed as a compact there.)
Of course, being a J body doesn't help. The fact that many of the automakers had/have an unfortunate tendency to cannibalize themselves doesn't help either. Another example of this behavior from the 80s was the way GM would treat any project that could hurt sales of the Corvette (That whole mess with the Fiero, the way the Turbo 3.8 was quietly shooed away and ignored...)
This infighting was at least part of the reason GM tried to start another car company in the US called Saturn. If you thought Subaru people were culty... Saturn had a whole thing where people across the country drove to the headquarters every year. They managed to build cars that were a bit more reliable than the rest of the GM line (Oh, they still had a couple of problems though. And the engines loved oil.) The original models also had a unique part line and were built in a plant that tried to follow a more Toyota/Honda style mentality. Oh. And plastic body panels. In any case, I tend to see more Saturns still on the road than any other GM small car of the 90s.
It worked for a bit, until GM got tired of waiting for their sales to get up to speed, and started meddling with them TOO.
...thing is, the designs for the car, the plant, the tooling, the engines and the transmissions (unique to the Saturn SL1&2, used in no other GM product) the marketing, the dealership subsidies...all cost $12,000,000,000 in today's dollars.
Chevy and Pontiac execs were fond of pointing out that the overhead of the Saturn project was so huge, that if GM just described the car to customers, and gave anyone who wanted a Saturn a new Cavalier, GM would actually lose less money than building and selling Saturns. You can buy a shitload of Cavaliers for twelve billion dollars.
Of course, the original SL1 and 2 were updated with new-looking plastic interiors and body panels, but the basic car was still the same one that they debuted in 1989 when they stopped selling them in 2003. If it costs you that much to design a new economy car, you can't do it often, so the product goes stale, and fewer people buy it, and it costs more per unit to pay for upgrades etc.
GM's inability to make its warring individual states cooperate is a goldmine of WTF moments in business history. Though I lay the Saturn debacle mostly at the Alden-shod feet of the late Roger B. Smith (of Roger & Me fame...)
My next car will not be made in the US, regardless of manufacturer.
My sister is still driving that 2007 Camry.
You should contact your local dealer and ask them about this. You are most likely covered. If they don't help, find a way to contact Toyota corporate.
you should go to https://www.nhtsa.gov/recalls and put your VIN anyways just for your peace of mind
here's scotty kilmer explaining the issue: https://youtu.be/B0NwnbVN1cw
I've linked them below, but just looking at the factory processes, the workers, and the methods used it seems the German process is just designed to build cars with tighter tolerances. The cars don't move down assembly lines with humans touching them (in the 911 factory). When a human is working on the car, the car isn't moving. Compared to the Corvette (much cheaper, but still "high end") you can see how quantity is prioritized, and how the car never really stops for any extended period of time, before moving down the line.
Again, this is a totally subjective opinion, but comparing my current car (VW) to a similarly priced Ford I test drove the other day (GT350) the difference in build quality is night and day.
This is a Porsche factory, building an expensive, high end 911 - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BbcKZ1lRDuA
Here is the Chevrolet Factory building a Corvette - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9ccOrwFs3No
Sometimes I wonder if the US auto industry suffers a bit competitively vs Germany and Japan due to a higher amount of "brain drain" to other higher-paying forms of STEM jobs in tech.
German cars tend to be over-engineered; lots of modern tech in the vehicle + manufacturing, whereas American cars tend to be quite the opposite.
Think of the fourth-gen Toyota Supra or any version of the Nissan Skyline GT-R. Or the Toyota Soarer/Lexus SC, which was basically a detuned Supra packed with luxury equipment and unique styling. They were technological marvels whose engines were overengineered beasts that could take ridiculous amounts of abuse.
The Supra was a fundamentally ahead of its time design. Not without flaws but definitely pushing into new territory.
The reason it was likely thru-hole construction probably had more to do with reliability, as SMT work is more prone to damage from vibration (mainly), unless properly potted or conformal coated (and there may have been issues as to why they couldn't do that, either).
That said, consumer-level use of SMT components didn't really start until the early 1990s - but examples of earlier use do exist (for instance, one of my floppy drives off my first computer in 1986-ish had SMT components on the controller board - but it was still mostly thru-hole construction).
The sheer number of Supras, Lexus IS300s (1st generation), and GS300s that are still running today, most with over 200k miles, is a testament to the amount of over-engineering that went into that engine.
And then there are the crazies who took the NA version and added turbos...
Took a lot of concepts we take for granted today, put them together to build "lean" manufacturing; also loosely inspiring modern agile/kanban software development.
Most manufacturing is based on these methods.
Here is video of a Mercedes C-lass production line moving as workers assemble by the way: https://youtu.be/z6c_Zs5DG0s?t=531
Time for anecdotes! I'm in the process of changing our families vehicles: I've sold our Toyota Tundra and purchased a Toyota Sequoia, and I'm currently selling our Honda CR-V and will be downsizing to a Toyota Matrix or Honda Fit.
The Tundra has been one of the most amazing vehicles I've ever owned. I bought it used with 160k miles on it, and sold it at 200k. Over 5 years I have done my own brakes and oil changes, and have only had to replace the starter. I sold it for $1k less than I bought it (I got a good deal). We bought essentially the exact same vehicle, just in SUV.
The Honda has been a little less stellar, but still good. AC compressor has gone out multiple times (a known issue affecting multiple models), but we replaced it with a warrantied aftermarket part the first time it failed. It's currently at 220k and still kicking.
We only buy used and in cash, so finding the right car can take some time. Toyotas and Hondas have unbelievable resell value in the used market. A used Toyota can fetch a similar price as a brand new American made equivalent.
I had a friend's dad who was one of the few people I talked to who, as a Japanese brand enthusiast, went out of his way to find a Chevy/Geo prizm - same mechanical bits as a Corolla, built in the same factory, but way cheaper because of all the people who reflexively avoided American brands.
OP seems to have a reverence for autos made by foreign-based companies (Toyota and Honda).
While you are rightly pointing out that both Toyota and Honda manufacture in America.
The key difference in OP's enthusiasm seems to be not in location of manufacture but in company process/ethos/culture that delivers reliable vehicles.
I've driven GM, VWs, Hondas, Toyotas and currently drive a Ford F150.
I've had the fortune of rarely having serious problems with any of them, but we haven't kept most of the vehicles for more than 4-5 years for a variety of reasons (VW Golfs are fine when you're single, but not when you have a couple of kids (at least not in America...we're spoiled.)
Hats off to Toyota though. My parents have been driving my wife's old 2003 Camry for the past 3-4 years. It still runs great and up until this past weekend had zero issues. The master power window switch failed and now the rear driver side window fails to come up. Amazon is delivering the replacement part today for a whopping $23.50.
A regular maintenance schedule does wonders for the reliability of a vehicle.
So much this. I have an entire fleet (7) of 25+yo shitboxes including three of one model (so my observations are fairly scientific). Amount of shit that breaks is proportional to how hard of a life each vehicle lived regardless of brand.
Toyota and Honda cost a little more up front and they don't do crazy financing deals so the people with a 350 credit score and barely enough to make the down payment don't wind up owning them so they get maintained and rarely get used hard This makes them hold a little value better so the people who are gonna be hard on them don't buy them on the used market.
Meanwhile the kind of person who buys a Journey because it is the cheapest thing with three rows doesn't maintain it until it cannot function without maintenance and uses it for literally any task it can possibly accomplish. That's a hard life. One 4Runner year is like 7 Journey years.
It's all a self feeding cycle. Vehicle reliability outside of the first part of the bathtub curve is simply a reflection of how it's treated and that's a reflection of who owns it. The longer a vehicle can stay high in the socio-economic ladder the longer it will live an easy life.
This pattern holds even if you take brand and model out of the equation. Look on Craigslist for 1990s Ford SUVs. You will see a lot of Eddie Baur trim ones relative to the number of Eddie Baur ones that were actually sold back in the day. This is because that's the most expensive trim and the people who bought those had the disposable income to maintain them so they hit the used market in nicer condition, were bought by relatively more wealthy people and so on and so forth.
Every single "downgrade" I read about is either infotainment or transmission or both.
Except Honda, which apparently has shit locks on it's kid hauler.
I'm a bit skeptical of consumer reports after actually reading it. My car, a Subaru WRX is given low marks for "stiff ride and constant engine noise", which I think re reason why people buy WRXs, not avoid them.
What they do, they do well. Their reviews are consistently: "what my mom would say if she drove it".
Consumer Reports is not Car and Driver.
Where CR really starts to diverge from my needs is when you are, as you say, an enthusiast or a prosumer type user of something like a camera, about which you have a lot of definite opinions. To the degree that CR lines up with what's important to you, it's mostly a coincidence.
Safety, infotainment, door locks, and so on are of the utmost importance if you're carting a bunch of kids around. Stiff suspensions and engine noise are anti-features. Those priorities are reversed among driving enthusiasts, but that's not who the magazine's written for.
As far as the WRX goes I would say you're in the minority. There was quite an uproar when Subaru ditched the unequal length headers on the WRX, eliminating the famous boxer rumble. That unique exhaust note is one of the reasons people love the WRX.
>IMO a quieter engine is always desirable - akin to how I always want my computers to have quieter fans for any given level of performance.
Aftermarket exhaust systems are quite popular, but I can't say that I've ever seen a computer fan noise amplification system. I understand not everyone wants a loud car, but there are plenty of cars coming out with factory valved exhaust so you can make the car scream when appropriate, and not just on high end sports cars either.
Among various other car things, I'm very enthusiastic for in-car noise cancelling: https://www.theverge.com/2019/1/9/18175748/bose-noise-cancel...
But I can't shake the suspicion that a significant percentage of loudness fans want other people to listen to their vehicle (With bikers, this is explicitly acknowledged in the name of security: "Loud Pipes Save Lives").
This is one of the biggest gripes of automotive reviewers when it comes to cabin noise and I agree. My GT-R has it (that exact Bose technology you linked) and I find it quite obnoxious. It neuters the sound of engine and all I'm left with is more road and wind noise. Save that for an S-Class, it has no place in sports cars.
That is the intended functionality Bose's current tech, but it doesn't work very well for sports cars in my opinion. It's probably just an update that they're re-branding as an entirely different technology.
Same here. That said, the flat 4 has a really nice note (engines with a flat plane crankshaft generally do) so I can understand why people want it to sing when they step on it.
Given some places are requiring EVs to actually emit a little more sound for the benefit of blind and partially sighted people, I'm surprised we're not moving towards choosing vehicle sound packs along with paint colours...
CR give my other car, a Jaguar F-Pace low marks for "loud engine and cabin, stiff choppy ride and bad infotainment."
Which to me sounds like a lot of soccer mom's thought they were getting "luxury" utility vehicle but accidentally purchase a 350hp supercharged v6 "sport" utility vehicle.
Cars are for driving, not "infotainment".
If you're one of the ~30 million Americans, crawling along in your single-occupant vehicle through rush-hour gridlock, you will care a lot more about the 'infotainment' part of your car than the 'driving' part.
Infotainment includes maps, air conditioning, heat, radio. Those are important things to do easily in a car.
The Japanese seem to have almost the opposite attitude to finance where they will keep putting money into loss making stuff for ages out of a kind of loyalty which may lead to it's own issues of course.
It was a frustrating experience. Their obsession with quality made even the smallest tasks difficult and tedious. 3,000-line testing spreadsheets, where even one failure pooched the whole deal.
But you can’t argue with the results.
Good quality is difficult and tedious. I like to think that the work I do is of exceptional quality, but I am often met with outright hostility by American engineers, when I talk about my methodology.
I’m not being snooty, or projecting onto others. I’m merely talking about what I do, and I’m treated as if I’m eating a ham sandwich in Temple.
I quickly learned never to use the word "agile" in Tokyo. Frowny faces everywhere.
Since leaving that company, I have gone to "ultra-agile" methodology, but quality is still one of my principal axes.
Sounds good to me.
That obsession was not the problem. Frustrating, but it set them apart.
Note that I worked there for many years. That indicates that we probably shared many values, and that I was respected; despite sometimes holding orthogonal points of view.
I do feel as if we could have done more with software, though. What works for hardware does not necessarily scale to software.
"Tesla CEO Elon Musk ordered his employees to stop putting nearly finished Model 3s through a critical test before leaving the company’s factory in Fremont, California, according to an internal document viewed by Business Insider. It’s called the brake-and-roll test, and it ensures the car is correctly aligned. An industry expert told Business Insider that every automaker does this test to ensure quality and function."†
Tesla constantly make short term decisions that cost them massively down the line.
It's a funny thing to me that no one ever points this out in advance. Where were the articles about Boeing's move from an engineering culture to a financial one? Instead, we wait for the natural cycle of a business to arrive, then make up some answer, like "financialization" to explain it.
How come a hacker site doesn't acknowledge how difficult it is to "stay on top" as a business?
>You see the effect a bit with Tesla where I'm sure Musk would love to focus on quality but has to rush things out to make decent quarterly numbers or risk going bust by not getting ongoing financing
Again, more post hoc reasoning.
Elon Musk negotiated the biggest corporate pay package in history, but he didn't tie it to product quality, did he? Maybe that's why he focuses so much on share price and market cap and quarterly numbers? Nah, couldn't be...
I had a google out of curiosity.
There was this from 2003: https://slate.com/business/2003/12/how-boeing-blew-it.html
>...The trouble is that his successor, Harry Stonecipher, is very much of the short-term-profits school... ...As one aircraft worker told a Seattle newspaper reporter after hearing the news of Stonecipher’s accession: “We are doomed.”
Although I don't know if that was really in advance - they had problems then too.
If we're talking about Tesla in particular, if you've ever watched those transplant drivetrain videos you can see that aside for the battery temperature control and a few other things it isn't super complex.
Where Teslas are complex is everything else. Tesla started as a luxury brand and you can really tell even in the Model 3. Everything is electrified. Everything. Even the door handles themselves have electric motors in them. That little flap that changes the direction of the airflow in other cars? Electric motor in a Model 3. The design aesthetic is almost a contradiction with the reality: minimalism brought to you by huge increases in back-end complexity.
I'm not claiming this is intrinsically bad (nor good). But I am pointing out that when you complicate simple things you add more points of failure. The "debate" is if the assembly/maintenance/etc costs are worth the benefits provided, and that is largely a matter of opinion (and how much people value the benefits).
Isn't this the point of a lot of software?
Make things as simple as possible, regardless of what's happening behind the scenes.
What makes you think that other automaker aren't using third party suppliers? Borgwarner, Denso, etc... are all third party suppliers that many company uses.
After the recession of 2008, many third party suppliers went bankrupt. There is a consolidation of third party so now many automaker share similar parts among each other.
Even the new Supra, Toyota tested the BMW engine and ask BMW to change some stuff.
It still up to Tesla to test the reliability.
I would have tough you did some quality assurance on all parts you put in the car, and not use the bad ones.
The design of a car has a great impact on how long those parts last. It's easy to blame a parts supplier for faults that are because of your own design.
Let's take an example. The water that rains down on your windshield is cleared away by windscreen wipers. If the wiper motor or mechanism doesn't work, the car is not roadworthy.
Were does the water go from the windscreen? It flushes down along the edge into the scuttle between windscreen and bonnet (hood), and then usually goes down scuttle drains, to be released underneath the car. What happens if your scuttle drains are designed so that tree leaves that always fall on the windscreen in some places get stuck and block the scuttle drains? The water is not drained. Instead, the water level raises in the scuttle. The water may flush inside your car if the seams are not tight. Or the level just raises above the bearings of your windscreen wipers, you have a little pool in front of the windscreen.
So you have water in your wiper mechanism bearings. This water will freeze in the winter. It will push out and flush away any grease in the bearings. There will be corrosion. Eventually, your windscreen wiper won't move because the bearing is stuck.
Now, do you blame the wiper mechanism and bearing manufacturer (like Musk appears to do) or do you blame the design that floods the standard parts that everyone is using?
The former is of course tempting, but in the end, it's your responsibility to design and manufacture the car so that it keeps running for long enough.
If certain units are manufactured "perfectly" while others come off the line in spec but close to their limits, I could see the suppliers prioritizing their bigger customers.
I have absolutely no idea if this the case, I think your point about the system design is most likely the bigger factor here, but I'm curious nonetheless.
Just found your example a really interesting read and would like to read more!
What I wrote I've learned by fixing cars myself and by listening to the mechanics who've been doing things for me (I've been driving for over 30 years and mostly rather cheap cars, so I've seen a mechanic or two).
This creates a dilemma of either not delivering cars because then they'd have to wait for replacements, or delivering cars that have parts that are not 100% to spec.
And no, it's not about people cancelling orders because of waits IMO. If you're waiting for the part to finish the car, you can't really finish selling it and get the money you have tied up in that incomplete build.
The drivetrain is simpler, but most parts of the car are similar and share the same potential weaknesses.
The body may rust, the doors have hinges and seals that may leak water, the windscreen may crack or its seams may leak, the brake discs will wear out (even if more slowly due to energy regeneration feature), the brake fluid pipes may corrode and leak, the suspension system wears out with every bump on the road and the springs may break or the shock absorbers become ineffective; the steering has ball joints and tie rod ends that will become loose and need to be replaced, there are heaters and A/C which have pumps and pipes and sensors and controlling electronics, the lights have to work and they have alignment motors, the windscreen has wipers and their controls, there are mirrors and their adjustment systems...
All these parts need to work, and getting the design right requires immense competence and experience from the manufacturer. All of these are required in an electric car just like in an ICE car.
I've been frugal about cars and over the past 10 years have bought cheap ones (here it means French cars, because their quality reputation is worse than their actual quality, and therefore they are cheap to run).
None of the cars have needed replacing or major repairs in the drivetrain or fuel system (apart from one Suzuki 20 years ago that had rust in the gas tank). I've always given them up because the things that wear out are in the other mechanical parts, mostly steering, suspension and brakes. None of the cars I've had have been beyond repair, but the cost of new parts and work to make them roadworthy exceed the price of the car (I don't want to do too much of that work myself.)
Prius gets more rejects in the annual inspection in my country (Finland) than e.g. Avensis or Corolla which are powered by gasoline or diesel ICE, but the primary defect sources are
- suspension faults
- front wheel assembly defects (typically ball joints and tie rod ends)
- tyres (which are too worn)
Why are suspension faults are more common in Prius than in other Toyotas? I would guess it is because of the weight of the drivetrains, engines and batteries.
It may also be the case that everything is reliable enough for that to no longer be a significant differentiator between brands, and development money will be spent elsewhere.
Similarly I had a VW that was prone to flooding the interior due to poor design of the battery compartment - if the drain hole from the battery compartment was blocked it would overflow into the interior of the car (we're in Scotland so problems inevitably involved water).
Edit: To anyone asking why we bought a car in Scotland with a sunroof, I do wonder and we'd never do it again!
Actually I really enjoy a sunroof especially in cloudy weather as it makes the interior a lot brighter and less claustrophobic even in dark days.
Electric motors are fundamentally simpler than gasoline engines, and motor controllers, charge control systems, and battery management systems aren't particularly complicated either, especially when compared to a modern engine and all its emission-control apparatuses.
I hope some manufacturer at some point decides to actually build a simple electric car for the mainstream market, with no over-the-air updates, no self-driving, no location tracking, no touchscreen infotainment system, or any of that. Just an FM radio and an aux port, and the minimum amount of software and hardware to manage the motor and battery and airbags and anti-lock brakes.
That's only one side of the problem out of many. It has more to do with the general attitude and culture withing the company, which ultimately stems from wider culture.
Tesla is currently enthusiastically repeating all of GM's failures with their engineers screaming murder, and being dismissed.
I just got a recent year Mazda3 that came with the free (from Mazda) upgrade to Android Auto/Apple Carplay. I'm and Android guy so can't speak to Carplay but the basic functions provided by AA like music/podcast playback, navigation, and overall interface are solid even without a touch screen. In fact, I'd say the lack of touch screen is a perk as I'm not reaching out to tap something vs using the console/cup holder area interface that I picked up quickly and like (other than a so far not re-mapable star/favorites button that only goes to the Mazda audio favorites list outside of AA). It's less distracting than a mounted phone, has a bigger screen for navigation, and works really well for me. I don't think Id buy a newer car without either a basic BT stereo setup or full blown AA.
That being said, I have the trade off now of requiring a cable for AA to work otherwise I'm only on the built in BT infotainment (which I still find way better than the Toyota Corolla interface I tested out recently). I'm still used to leaving my phone in my pocket or jacket so I have to remember to pull it out and often end up leaving it plugged in and walking away (the spot where it sits is well hidden so not too worried about theft in my location). According to forums, it is possible to hook my phone to AA setup via wifi and project wirelessly with some lag which I am interested in setting up but I think I need to update the software in my unit before it can make the wifi connection.
I'm really liking the AA setup in this car. It's pretty intuitive, easy to set up and control, and feels safer than another setup with the caveat that it needs a cable. Good news is it keeps the phone charged up (the Toyota Corolla USB didn't provide enough power to charge my phone, for some reason). I would recommend it.
Some of the newer vehicles I've had the misfortune of driving require three of four clicks to turn on the air conditioning.
To your point though, FCA might have something pretty similar to that 3rd party player. Their Uconnect 4 drops into a pretty wide variety of brands they own, I dont know if any car company still makes as many skus and variants as FCA does. Abarth, Alfa Romeo, Chrysler, Dodge, Fiat,Jeep, Lancia, Maserati, and Ram Trucks, with Peugeot and Citroën coming.
FCAs infotainment system consistently ranks highly in multiple roundups. Overall, European companies rank much higher than Japanese ones.
But inexpensive "made in USA" stuff I tend to find (folding outdoor chairs and the like) seems to pretty much last a short time or even single use, and as has been lamented publicly, is rarely exported. Most of the everyday product purchases seem to come from SE Asia.
I go to peoples houses in the US sometimes. Some of these houses are multimillion dollar homes. The doors are all terrible. The plumbing is crap. The furniture just feels bad. The cheapest studio apartment in Western Europe or Japan ends up with better infrastructure than the $2M duplex in California
Then you get to grocery stores, and you have to go to the “fancy places” to even get the baseline of quality you see in the rest of the developed world. All the chocolate is bad.
My dad has a really expensive american-made fridge. It sucks. The UX is awful and it basically just looks shiny.
Maybe this is the result of 30 years of wage stagnation. I like to think it’s the result of people not really traveling abroad (reasonable! It’s expensive and far away). People don’t get that so many other places are just nicer and have higher quality things for cheaper.
There’s some quote about how somebody was super poor when growing up but was fine about it because they didn’t realize it. I think about that all the time when looking at some stuff in the US.
I really do hear you on the housing quality - it's ridiculous what people are willing to put up with over there. We have friends living in the southern bay area who pay 3.5k for a 2.5 bedroom apartment in an apartment complex - the whole thing calls itself "Luxury Residencies". Ain't no luxury there. Like you describe everything is built extra cheap: from the walls, to the kitchen appliances and the plumbing. There is a massive top-loader in their supply closet that sounds like it runs on it's own ICE, built in the 50s. In Europe this would be considered a very basic apartment but it's already considered 1-2 levels higher than average and not even 3 years old.
I do think there is something to your Galapagos syndrome theory.
Million dollars houses would be regarded as unliveable in other parts of the US.
The first time one of these places sells (with black mold still in the basement, asbestos in the walls, and lead paint the children's room) the value of the nearby houses goes up and everyone starts looking to sell THEIR old beat up black mold and asbestos special. It starts a boom and suddenly a whole neighborhood of 300k$ houses become 1million$ grey monstrosities.
This all drives up the cost of new construction as well (which is always a little more pricey than buying an older home) and so you get overpriced mansions that you describe as well, but the root cause is the removal of the entire "bottom" of the market. It is now almost impossible to find what Americans call a "fixer-upper" in some cities.
I'm currently living in Leipzig, which still has bombed-out looking empty buildings from the time of the Iron Curtain (although things have finally been picking up over the past few years). And yet even here the infrastructure is better than in San Francisco or any other part of the USA I've visited. I'm originally from Canada, and I'm sad to say that, although some things are better than the USA (like the roads and the trash), it's not by much, and it's still terrible compared to the rest of the first world.
Thank the market: the food companies have prioritized durability, yield, and appearance over taste.
> On top of that, the tomatoes you see in those supermarkets have been bred for high yields and durability, not flavor. "As a farmer once said — an honest farmer — 'I don't get paid a cent for flavor,'" Estabrook says.
Similarly for universities, the quality differs. Go to Munich's technical university and you'll see buildings in the top percentiles. Go to other universities and the substance is easily going to be much older - but then again, Germany sets its priorities to a good quality education without student debt, and the buildings themselves don't matter much for the education.
Generally, I feel like all these complaints need to be measured against what the alternative is. Which cities have a busy subway system where commuters aren't complaining?
Literally any city in Asia (or at least Japan, Taiwan, Singapore and Hong Kong, whose subway company has now branched out to run subways in many parts of the world like Stockholm). In one year of living in Nagoya the subway was late once.
That said it has a way more sensible layout than Munich where one failure in a central point does not cascade to paralyze the entire rest of the network. It is not the worst of course, since it is pretty extensive, but routing nearly every single line through Hbf or Sendlinger Tor couldn't ever have been a good idea.
That is true to some extent. However, the noise of the rainwater dripping into many buckets at the central library of the University of Regensburg made it hard to concentrate on anything.
That was around 2010. Not sure if the leaky roof has been fixed since. Wouldn't be surprised if the answer is no.
At least there is public transportation at all, unlike in the US.
Now if the public transportation didn't exist you'd just shrug and go by your car saving yourself a whole bunch of stress and fist clenching and cursing.
I used to hate public transport in munich, but compared to US (e.g. SF or NYC) it seems incredibly good.
Even in NY, the traditional "American" food carts sell hotdogs, pretzels, ice cream or $1 pizza. All of which are IMO, pretty sub-par for street food. It is only since halal carts became a thing, that NY street food has started becoming alright. There are some other great food carts, but 1 off carts get overshadowed by the dozens of familiar NYC foods.
US's culinary strength lies in the diversity of cuisines. However, most affordable international food places are not opened by aspiring chefs. Rather, it is usually struggling immigrants who use it as a way to survive in the absence of other employable skills. While I respect the hustle, these people can obviously not cook at the same level as ones that run their operations in their country of origin out of more passion driven reasons.
When American born people with a passion for cooking start affordable restaurants in the cuisine of their roots, it is often heavily colored by their American upbringing. (which for me ends up meaning more sugar, more fat and less intense flavors) Not gate keeping, but at the end of the say the experiences of someone fully immersed in a culture will always be richer than those who've vicariously experienced them.
That being said, for every cuisine in every big city in the US, there is a gem. They can be hard to find, are often not the most accessible (non-commercial area, language barrier, sketchy hygiene), but damn are they worth it. The ability to have a gem for each cuisine of the world, is a trait possibly unique to the US metro cities and their biggest strength.
I enjoy the street food scene in London, but I'd choose Portland over it any day.
In China, street food might cost 20 yuan for a dish of something. The median income for all of China’s is 18,000 yuan.
In Portland, the median income is $53,230. A street dish might cost $10.
In China, street food is actually a lot more expensive than Portland, adjusting for median income levels. Even if you bought a dish for 10¥ it is still more than twice as expensive as Portland.
Are we to say that China’s street food ain’t street food? Because that’s what you are suggesting which basically means that no street food is street food.
A number of popular food carts in Portland have a median price of $10 or above. For things like Mediterranean food I've often found restaurants charging the same or less. At the end of the day, I'm paying for the privilege of standing in the cold/rain.
What makes you say that Europe has a better food quality?
Japan has a huge problem with counterfeit fish meat (substituting inferior, sometimes toxin tainted, different species meat).
Japan's non-seaweed vegetables are generally watery and not as nutrient rich as what you can get in Europe (rucola & feldsalat, for example). Their staple "vegetable" tends to be a nasty variety of cabbage, and daikon and pumpkin.
Bread in Japan is blanched wheat flour. In Europe there are dozens of grains to choose from. Even grau brot tastes amazing. Japan's XYZ pan couldn't even compare. Home cooked food in France was a truly magical experience.
Bio (organic) is very popular and very strictly regulated in Europe. In Japan they don't care as much, and in the USA its a joke.
It's relatively easy in Europe to get prepackaged foods (such as canned goods/soups & frozen foods) made strictly from first ingredients (there's nothing in the ingredients list you can't pronounce, or that you wouldn't add yourself if making it from scratch).
More space to grow food and a large open market between EU countries, whereas Japan grows a lot of rice on the very limited space they have and is very restrictive wrt. importing foods from abroad. Which is why you can good food in Japan but sometimes fruits are ridiculously expensive. Also, bread in Japan is terrible (but then again, good Japanese food in Europe is tricky too).
If you're from Canada you probably realize that it's a big place, and impossible to draw sweeping generalizations about. Saying Canadian infrastructure is terrible "compared to the rest of the world" is an ignorant statement.
After a tedious search, we wound up buying $2.60 "Sara Lee Artesano Style Bread" which is still less good than a 70c loaf of Hovis in the UK, and certainly less good than fresh made French bread (which in my opinion is world class). But it is very notable that it has a 7~10 shelf life, not one month like other supermarket breads, is actually soft, and not overly sweet.
It is kind of unfortunately that in the US basically passable bread is called "Artesano" and earns a price premium. Many living in the US haven't had the opportunity to try elsewhere to compare. The strangest thing about this is that you'd expect the US's bread to be much cheaper (given the quality reduction) but that wasn't at all my experience (in fact fresher bread in Europe was substantially cheaper than long-shelf-life-bagged bread in the US).
For better or worse, a lot of Americans like fluffy white bread that’s loaded with preservatives to give it a long shelf life. That’s what they ate as kids & they’ve never branched out.
I’m not defending US mass market bread, but I do think it’s largely a matter of differing tastes and values. Your comment (and much of this thread) comes off as “I have different values, I don’t understand mainstream American values in this or that regard so let me tell you why they suck and why we’re better than you”.
So yeah, it’s flame-baity & perhaps even unkind. Even if you’re right. A gentle reminder: https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=21490714
If supermarkets don't offer good products, that may also be a discussion worth having.
> I have different values, I don’t understand mainstream American values in this or that regard so let me tell you why they suck and why we’re better than you
But this critique doesn't address why the price is higher. You can call it "values" if you want but ultimately we're talking about a lower quality product at a higher price and shoppers that likely don't know they have other choices/are getting a worse product.
> So yeah, it’s flame-baity & perhaps even unkind.
I feel like attempting to place words into my mouth ("why they suck and why we’re better than you") that don't remotely match my tone or substance of my post and then calling it "unkind" is a much larger departure from expected decorum than anything I actually posted above.
To quote the site's guidelines:
> Please respond to the strongest plausible interpretation of what someone says, not a weaker one that's easier to criticize. Assume good faith.
Re-stated my argument in a much more negative and judgemental way then attacking it doesn't feel like a good faith argument or trying to argue the strongest interpretation but YMMV.
Every major supermarket I've ever been to in the US and Canada has a million styles of bread, including many freshly baked right there at the store.
>but ultimately we're talking about a lower quality product at a higher price
Do you have evidence for lower quality, outside of the roundly debunked "shelf life" argument? Or are these your preferences?
What would you consider objectively lower quality anyway? Is use of preservatives and corn syrup lower quality, or is that a preference for shelf life and sweets? Is a McDonalds burger low quality or is that just preference? I can take you to a generic bakery in my old rural small town in Germany where the 25-cent pretzel would blow the socks off any pretzel you can find for any price in any store in the US, but maybe you'd call that preference.
Reminds me of coffee discussions. “Peet’s is good coffee!”, “No it’s shit, you don’t know good coffee!”, “You just have an unsophisticated palate!”.
If your "values" are medically unhealthy... I'll let you draw your own conclusions ;-)
So yeah, there's that thing again where they don't know that better is possible.
P.S. This advice was hyper-local (near Boston). Just a few miles away, I'm sure there are great Armenian bakeries and I would have suggested those. In some other city, who even knows? Local patterns vary, but there always seems to be someone filling this niche.
But, it's down to volume and consumption; in my country (NL), bread is a daily staple, often featured in two meals a day - so a family will easily go through a loaf a day. It makes more sense to optimize the production and logistics for a shelf life of days instead of weeks. We can get reasonably fresh (factory-produced) bread daily, and a lot of grocery stores have an in-house bakery as well nowadays if you want to go super fancy. (I'm sure that's a logistical optimization as well, that is, dough or its components are easier to transport than ready-made bread, especially because some (like croissants) are very fragile).
From my experience, Americans often do grocery once every couple of weeks, because the super market is usually a non-trivial drive away.
I can see how a lot of their foods developed to accommodate that shopping cycle, and forced preservatives that make things last those 2-3 weeks while compromising on freshness and taste.
Overwhelming majority of Americans live less than 20 minutes drive from a proper grocery story (i.e. not a gas station convenience store), and most probably live 10 minutes drive. In my metropolitan area of 4 million, I can't think of a place that's more than 10 minutes from a large supermarket.
Americans don't do grocery shopping very often simply because it's such a waste of time: there are 5 large supermarkets (two Safeways, one QFC, one Whole Foods and one local chain) 5 minutes drive from my home, and there's also Costco 10 minutes drive. Despite that, I go grocery shopping once a week, because it usually takes an hour. Doing this more often would replace one hour-long trip with three 45 minutes trip. Since the drive is only 5 minutes, living literally next to them wouldn't change my habits much.
Also, let me assure you that most Europeans don't live in 5 minutes walking distance from grocery stores, so the travel time here is not what makes the habits different.
And even though we have a selection 2 to 3 stores in 20 minutes drive ( one we could walk to if we chose to forego convenience of one trip a week ), I remember living in locations where access was not as simple.
The bread they bake is genius it has just the right amount(little) sourness and never tastes soaky, crispy around but soft inside.
But the point being is that some of the couchsurfers would hilariously laugh at the strangeness of having bread that isn't white fluffy toast. I got that reaction from Brits and South Americans. The French would appreciate it and the cheese choices with it.
The UK is an interesting little phenomenon IMHO. Not quite the US but also not quite Europe. In a lot of ways more similar to the US(not always in a bad way). You also get plenty of HFCS there
FWIW brown bread in the UK has been "a thing" since well before I was born, so there there is not just an expectation for white.
I would wager that the typical couch surfer is the sort of person who as well as focusing on value on where they choose to sleep probably also subsists on fairly cheap basic foods.
Certainly in the past decade or two the UK you'll see a lot more variety in what you can get even in convenience stores in London: white, brown, granary, soda, rye, sourdough, bagels, barbari, boule brioche, baguette, challa, chapati, ciabatta - you name it. It all seems to get sold and presumably eaten. Not saying it is any good of particularly authentic or "correct" but there is a lot of variety in the most common of shops.
I don’t recognise your statement on most bread being made for a toaster.
Edit: admittedly not as good as some other European countries.
So if the Polish baseline is super fancy for NL, NL is better than UK and UK baseline is artisanal US bread, I wonder what baseline US bread looks like. It's made of sponge and sugar?
Yes, pretty much. It’s very bad.
It’s popular to characterize American stuff as “bad,” but America is a huge country.
Tortillas in France are pretty terrible and good luck finding a Jalapeño or a Habenero, but in any grocery store in the US, I can find high quality ingredients to make almost anything. Try finding a spice in the average French grocery store any stronger than “hot” Paprika.
These “other countries are better than the US” arguments are ridiculous. In the US, you have access to pretty much anything you want. Mostly not true in many European countries and definitely not true outside the capitals.
Outside of New York City area, I wouldn't think of doing groceries more than once a week. The place I've lived at are all terrible in terms of how grocery stores are walkable.
I'm more leery of manufactured breads that keep forever.
Once you get into the swing of it, you can whittle it down to 10 minutes of preparation in the morning, set it on automatic timer, and have fresh, hot bread waiting for you when you get home from work. Just make sure the yeast is in a pile on top so that it stays dry during the day.
(Source, traveling around Europe now, with recent experience of French, Portuguese, and Spanish grocery stores)
(in case anybody wonders what that is, see:
Nothing local has a crumb anything like https://www.pepperidgefarm.com/product/multi-grain-boule/
Good chocolate is even rarer. I’m from belgium and chocolate abroad is almost always disappointing. Most of the time if you look at the composition it wouldn’t actually be allowed to even call it chocolate when selling it in belgium.
I have had American visitors marvel at the (German built) windows in my French home, calling them something you'd see on a space station. On the other hand they think I must be having money problems for not having a tumble dryer (only poor people hang their laundry to dry) or not having airco.
I find it amusing that from a climate change point of view, both their comments are basically negative:
* good windows provide better insulation and reduce the need to heat/cool down a building, plus their reduce dampness since they keep moisture out
* while a tumble dryer uses electricity for something which is not much of a chore (it takes like, 5 minutes, to hang the laundry and 5 more minutes to pick it up when it's done)
There's also an issue with general social cohesion, inequality, and safety in American urban environments: many people are afraid people will steal their clothes if they just hang them up for a while. This is less of an issue in small rural towns, and indeed, hanging your clothes out to dry in your yard is considered more socially acceptable in small towns.
Personally I never liked the smell of clothes that had hung dry, much preferred them "done properly" in the drier :)
It's almost like countries like Germany (350k sq km area) and the US (10 million sq km) have different climates and needs. This thread is filled with Europeans saying, "I went to the US once, and their grocery store didn't have produce like my French neighborhood market!"
- I'm not German and most of my points apply in quite a bit of the EU
- the EU is about 4m sqkm, which while smaller than the US, puts them in roughly the same ballpark (they'd both qualify as "huge countries")
- the EU as a whole has at least as diverse climates as the US
- I'm not even sure what to respond to the "needs" part
- I've been to the US more than once, to different places
Let's track back a bit and find out what exactly your argument against high quality German windows is.
Is it that you don't need them in hot climates? You do, to reduce the need for cooling.
Is it that you don't need them in cold climates? I don't even know what to reply to this :-)
Is it that you don't need them in Mediterranean climates, a la California (stable relatively warm and dry climate)? Even there, there is variation, houses do need heating and cooling and it can't hurt to have better windows. I'll grant you this, but that's probably an area which is 1/30th or less of the US territory.
Or was it about normal drying vs tumble drying? The only solid argument against normal drying that I can find is that normal drying requires more space (and a bit more time, but you can easily plan around that). But US homes, on average, are way bigger than EU homes. So Americans could easily find room to dry their clothes. If I can do it in 65sqm, an American definitely can do it in 120+ sqm.
It's laughable to talk about "the EU" as if it's in any way homogeneous. It's an economic union, not a country. We are talking about France and Germany, which are tiny and far less diverse in their climate than the US.
>I'm not even sure what to respond to the "needs" part
Perhaps you're unaware that there are places in the US that have frigid winters, and others that have debilitating summer heat. But please, tell us about how you don't need air conditioning in France. That fact is relevant to those in Arizona.
>Let's track back a bit and find out what exactly your argument against high quality German windows is.
My argument here is that it's ridiculous to think that we don't have or use "high quality windows" in North America because you once had friends over to your home that were impressed.
That is indeed ridiculous, I agree! You're the one inferring that story though. I'm not about to write an essay with quotations of industry figures and national polls here.
I'm not the original poster :-)
No, this is not true: https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=16131314
From the Guidelines:
> Please don't comment about the voting on comments. It never does any good, and it makes boring reading.
> Be kind. Don't be snarky. Comments should get more thoughtful and substantive, not less, as a topic gets more divisive.
I am American. I grew up in Texas and generally feel at home with other Americans (to a degree, politics is weird).
At times in my life I’ve thought about moving back to the US and I still thought that it was easier to pay the quality of life costs of being a foreigner in other countries (being half illiterate and having a hard time with banking and real estate) rather than deal with the quality of life gap in the US.
My life would not be bad in America, but I feel like it would be less comfortable. In the future the feeling of belongingness might outweigh this, but right now that’s not the case, and it makes me sad
There is a reason they call them modern conveniences.
Do you always have dry non-freezing weather? If the humidity stays high, the clothes will get moldy before they dry. If the temperature is low, you'll get ice in your clothes. There may even be rain.
The clothes dry on a rack next to the washing machine. I have a large enough house with wooden floors and high ceilings that the humidity is not an issue.
They really made a difference in terms of inside temperature.
Also the ability to tilt windows and even doors (vertically) was an amazing feature.
I didn't know it wasn't common all over Europe.
The most recent example - Vaillant vs Honeywell heating controllers. Vaillant looks fancy with decorative, smoothly flowing elements, knobs and fancy backlight, and the Honeywell unit is, well, spartan: big LCD letters, primitive graphics. Vaillant is crazy - it is too slow to react on temperature changes, the interface is just horrible: imagine no escape or back button - you just have to idle a minute to go back to the "main screen." It takes 30 seconds or so to connect wirelessly to the boiler, sometimes it fails or even freezes and requires a reset, and I can go on forever. I hate the fucking thing. Honeywell... Well it just works.
I have this a bit uneasy impression that a really significant chunk of US is basically a developing country with bigger cars.
 Based only on visiting a few developing countries as well as a few states of US. Not on any statistics or data whatsoever.
Ignoring Super-PACs for a second, we don't need to grease some palms to get things done in this country. USA does not rank that high in corruption. It's not that big a part of day to day government compared to countries that have a serious problem. We have effective government institutaions. Fox news is not state run, it panders to one political party that happens to be in power.
The metric system is not the best example or even a good one. I'm not going to defend the decision, but it's simply a tough thing to handle politically. Depite the issues that it causes, it's not a good indicator of living conditions in a country. It's a costly nuisance more than anything.
I can definitely agree we have our issues. Specifically, high incarceration rates, medicare, and infrastructure. These are issues I'm very upset about. That doesn't make us a third world country though. Just below average (amoung developed countries). You have to be delutional or out of touch if you think living in the USA is like living in a third world country.
Still doesn't stop the nutters from opposing it because it's supposedly a tool by the NWO to take over the world, with the US remaining as sole resistance 
The FPLA requires metric units to be included on labeling.
But even if you haven't read any of the text on a milk jug over the past half-century, surely you've seen one of these before?:
"I want a pound of sugar, not 453g!"
Turns out the world didn't actually burn down. The containers mostly stayed the same size, but I think they slowly gravitated towards logical sizes (so e.g. that 453g package became 500g or 400g at some point)
Is this because of lack of diversity or actually accommodating masses ? Genuine question.
I think this is one of America's problems: living far apart from each other has a lot of disadvantages and inefficiencies. Homes are much more expensive to build and maintain (just think of the road infrastructure and all the utilities alone). In a typical suburban there can be virtually no public areas other than shopping malls, which are owned by someone.
There's also research that confirms people are more productive in higher density areas from the point of view of economics.
We'll have to see if America can fix itself by moving to bigger cities, which seems to be the current trend among the millennials and younger, I hear.
What all the metrophiles advocating for the abolishment of suburbia either willfully forget or misunderstand, is that people like the suburbs. Especially people raising families.
Car dependence, massive maintenance costs, density that's too low to support any social or public programs....so many problems created by an idea that is described as the American dream.
There's no space for a farmer's market in the park, but there is a dedicated space on main street.
It is a very nice park, and is quite large. In addition to the above, there are tennis courts, a relatively modern kids playground, a pavilion, accessible fishing piers, a basketball court, sand volleyball courts, a softball backstop, many picnic tables and grills and benches, a disc golf course, a few miles of multiuse trail, a public beach that is guarded during the summer, a boat launch, a decent marina and a sledding hill. There's also a historic lighthouse and small museum.
This is just a normal small town on Lake Michigan (the members of the Yacht Club have medium sized sail boats...). I guess the density matches up with lots of older suburbs, more dense than a lot of newer stuff, but not a lot of large apartment buildings either.
A more charitable interpretation is "American consumers care more about price than quality."
Or perhaps it's a market for lemons. American consumers don't know which products are of good quality, and don't want to pay extra for the same quality, so they buy cheap to not be taken advantage of.
There is nothing stopping people from making good bread and chocolate in the US, and many do. They would/will succeed in the market if the demand is there. Trouble is, even though people will tell you they're willing to pay a bit more for nice things, for the most part those preferences don't come out where it matters -- in supermarket aisles.
I've had others from overseas comment on this. The nice restaurants with the freshest, highest quality foods, and really talented chefs take a back seat to cheap lowest common denominator choices. The "mexican" place with $1 tacos and $2 margaritas is packed, and the great spanish restaurant next door is empty.
Or you know, it could just be differences in tastes!
Meanwhile, they are rioting over gas taxes and speed limit changes.
Where in the US? First mistake is acting as if a house built in northern California is representative of a house built in rural Maine, or suburban Texas.
If you think it's remotely monolithic, it absolutely isn't. But there's definitely a pattern of lower quality building in very high-growth, high cost of living areas where the property's value isn't related much to the building, but mostly reflective of the land and it's location.
My apartment in the Netherlands is 100% drywall but I need to run into it at full force to even make a dent. To make a hole in it I need tools.
Did that last year. Went to stretch and pressed my palms firmly on the wall and one side punched in. Apartment complex made me fix it too. You could also easily hear neighbors and whatever domestic dispute they were having that week. I live in a nice place now. Advertised as "luxury", but everything still seems cheaply built
If foreigners are willing to give Americans stuff for paper there is a real pressure for Americans not to bother making stuff and printing more paper instead. That probably influences a lot of the decisions behind American made consumer goods.
> The cheapest studio apartment in Western Europe or Japan ends up with better infrastructure than the $2M duplex in California.
I live a long way from California, but the first stop should always be to check the local tax code, financial incentives and regulations. Most countries I've been to end up having strange tax incentives that influence how much money gets spent on primary residences; and taxes can put a real dampener on what gets done. I speak mainly from experience in Australia where there are massive tax incentives for a person to spend money on their primary home.
What are the tax incentives to spending money on my home?
1) Put it in your primary residence. Wealth is stored, no future tax liability, you are more comfortable
2) Buy a productive asset. Wealth stored, you will pay capital gains tax on the asset price rises due to asset inflation.
The most tax-effective place to store money long term is capital improvements to your primary residence, mainly due to how inflation and CGT interact. And the capital value of the property could reasonably rise more than the cost of the work done.
There are risks but there is also a lot of incentive to remodel the kitchen or upgrade something if money is available.
It seems like a pretty useful metaphor that I wasn't familiar with.
Those of us “of a certain age” will remember that this is not new at all.
I can’t speculate on the reasons, but I agree about standard quality levels being higher in Japan and Western Europe; but so are costs.
That may sound overly simplistic but I think there's an element of truth to it. Foreign vehicle companies needed to fight to gain market share in the US, often needing to be much better just to be compared as equals. Look at KIA recently doing so, now they're doing very well reliability wise and offer a substantial free warranty, but ask random people and they'll be described as unreliable foreign cars.
The real mystery is why Americans still buy American made cars. The foreign competition has eclipsed them for whole generations at this point, but yet demand remains.
The US imposed a 25% tax on imported light trucks and has for decades (the "chicken tax"). I think that this has resulted in a weird distortion where American auto makers focus heavily on that one more profitable market segment, and advertise most heavily on that one market segment, and have done so for generations.
There's a reason that Musk is building a Tesla truck.
1.) Much of the housing in Silicon Valley was built in the 1950s and 60s by a wave of migrants coming to work in the nascent defense & semiconductor industries there, sometimes with their own hands. They'd go to the hardware store, buy some lumber and build a house, something you definitely can't do today. Oftentimes they were in a rush to do so because they'd just taken a job in the area and were otherwise living in a tent. Of the ones that are professionally built, they were often quickly mass-produced to keep up with the flood of new migrants.
2.) There are a variety of disincentives to upgrading your house from the original build: you have to bring it up to the (now vastly upgraded) building codes, you need to deal with the year-long permitting process, you often need to get written permission from your neighbors if you're doing something big like adding a second story or rebuilding the house, you may lose your Prop 13 grandfathering if the value changes significantly. That's why you end up with ridiculous situations where the land under your house is worth $1.5M and the structure is worth $100K.
3.) California has forgiving weather. You can get away with stupid stuff like having doors & windows that don't completely seal, no heating (let alone air conditioning), no basements, etc.
4.) California has unforgiving natural disasters. Between earthquakes, wildfires, termites, mudslides, and floods, it's often not worth sinking a lot into your primary residence if it's just gonna get destroyed with the next earthquake anyway.
I lived in Massachusetts before California and there were houses in my town still standing from the 1700s. They were a bit drafty since they still had the original windows from then, but the build quality was a lot better than what you see in California.
This is a strange comparison, housing prices depend on many different factors and you can get really crappy small apartments (including the plumbing) in expensive parts of London or Monaco for that kind of money.
If the $2m home in California has mediocre doors and plumbing, it's probably just due to lack of attention/clue by previous owners, possibly also from abundance of crappy plumbers because everyone in the business makes plenty of money from rich people in the area.
Tiles misaligned, not sealed off, some bathrooms have no tiles but a bulge-ridden plastic ground cover. All the cupboards are loose. Doors don’t close. I have to manually fuck around with the boiler to get water for my shower. And it still has low pressure. It’s atrocious.
No idea where that comes from. I have a feeling that there’s a disregard for craftsmen. Plumbers, joiners, painters, are all looked down upon. There’s no pride in doing a good job in these areas.
I wouldn't bundle the UK in with the rest of Western Europe. We're much more interested in the American model.
Third Sydney apartment block abandoned
The OP's comments remind me of how much nicer everything seems on the continent, groceries included (though increasingly everyone shops at Aldi/Lidl anyway)
Landlords especially don't care about quality so long as the yield is good. Who gives a shit if you can hear the neighbors behaving sex or taking a piss if you are not living there, but someone else is paying you £1500-3000 a month for the pleasure? A fancy "luxury" apartment with a flash looking kitchen worktop and fashionable bathroom allows charging a premium.
Any damage or breakage of the low quality construction comes out of the tenants' deposit at the end of the tenancy, and repairs are tax deductible too.
I lived in a very expensive, up scale apartment in Japan, and everything in it was very poor quality in comparison to the quality of my (not mcmansion) house in the US. My doors are good quality, plumbing works fine, furniture is much nicer and less expensive by an order of magnitude.
I do most of my grocery shopping at Aldis, and certainly you can get fresh fish more easily at the corner grocery in Japan, but otherwise the selection is better even at Aldis than at most groceries in Japan. There's nothing like a Wegmans or a Harris Teeter in Japan at all that I ever saw -- maybe somewhere upscale in Tokyo or something.
Wait, what UX does a fridge need? Mine just has a scroll wheel which goes from cool to cold.
The Design of Everyday Things, by Donald Norman, had a nice example of how even the wheels for regulating the temperature can be very confusing (and indeed, in basic fridges you don't regulate the temperature, you set a number on the scrollwheel e.g. between 1-7. But is 7 a higher temperature or higher cooling power?).
- The drawers are all basically impossible to use without fully opening the door, but (see above) fully opening the door makes it swing back super hard as well so now you're fighting two different parts of your fridge at once
- It's huge but somehow the space inside the fridge is super small compared to comparable fridges. Probably a shelf thing.
- Some of the design leads to little cracks that are hard to clean up without pinching yourself with the door.
It's basically door-related stuff but it's also stuff I don't experience with my ... $200? Fridge from Hitachi. I feel like my own fridge is fine. It's a fridge. Nothing to write home about. It would probably get a wirecutter recommendation if they did "small-ish fridges for 1-2 people"
1) The door glides smoothly on its hinge toward the body.
2) The door connects with the body and provides haptic feedback that it is closed
3) The door remains closed.
The last one is the most important because user will likely walk away and stop monitoring the state of the fridge. If it changes to an open-state, it could remain open and thereby let the food inside spoil.
It not having a touch screen doesn't mean there is no UX.
I think there’s truth in this, but the factors behind it are tricky. Unlike something like bread, it’s not easy for consumers to actively choose good plumbing over bad plumbing.
Installing new plumbing is something you do very rarely. Most often it’s done by a developer rather than the person who will actually live in a property. And when you’re buying or renting a property, plumbing quality is lower priority than other factors, notably price and location.
So developers go for the cheapest option they can get away with, property owners don’t necessarily like it but don’t push back enough because they have bigger concerns, and the result is that most plumbing is low quality.
Even if you yourself are the developer, it’s hard to ensure decent quality unless you spend a lot of money, do a lot of research, have a lot of time available, or ideally all three.
I’ve learned this to my own cost - on a renovation project, we ended up with some crappy fittings and crappy installation because we didn’t manage it closely enough and the builders don’t care. I would like nice stuff, but how do I get it?
Edit to clarify: I think building standards are driven much more by builders than by homeowners. I’d like to know more about the driving factors - is it purely a matter of cost? I hope not, because that suggests everything everywhere will inevitably become crap.
My thesis on this is that people do what they can get away with. If you think you can get away with really low quality stuff, you do that.
Definitely helps to have a housing shortage, where there's probably no other choice anyways. So everything is cheap (since there's no incentive to make a nice place. You're gonna get someone in the apartment anyways!) and so nobody actually knows what "nice" is and just assume it's normal to be able to punch through your door.
While I agree with you on other points, I take issue with this. American grocery stores are a real treat when visiting. Produce is colorful, plentiful, and delicious thanks to American embrace of GMO's and subsidies for farmers. Raw ingredients such as flour are available in huge variety (try finding something as simple as peanut oil at your local Lidl). Even the quality of "junk" food is comparably fantastic, as you won't find a frozen pizza like DiGiorno anywhere else. This is all before you visit a Whole Foods, which takes quality and variety to a point which organic supermarkets elsewhere in the world can't compare.
Europe, on the other hand, is so obsessed with the discount model, so disinterested in variety, and so opposed to GMO's, that their supermarkets are downright frustrating. Yes, the meat, cheese, and chocolate is great, but it stops there.
And "colorful" doesn't mean tasty with produce, unfortunately.
The only better one's I've seen are local 1-off stores and sometimes kirkland brand stuff from Costco for good VFM.
There are two problems with this statement. One is that the availability of plentiful and colorful produce is very much dependent on where you are in the US, and there are a large number of people who really don't have convenient access to it.
The other is that while produce is generally inexpensive, it is hardly generally delicious. Perfect looking tasteless hothouse tomatoes and peppers etc. are the rule, not the exception in a typical grocery store. Lot's of 'convenience' packaging (e.g. "baby spring mix" boxes), mountains of last years apples, not so much flavor.
If you have the means and live in the right places, you can buy very good produce from farmers markets and specialty stores, but it is expensive; the baseline is often pretty mediocre. And if you don't have the location and time and money to use these alternative sources, that's often what you are stuck with.
The silver lining on all this is that the industrial food system in the US has proven to work well as a very large scale optimization algorithm; unfortunately it's been optimizing on thing like shelf-stability, appearance, shipping convenience and food-science inputs while mostly ignoring flavor and nutritional content (see also why there are so many Holstien cows and so little decent butter). If the consumer demand is there for better food though, it should respond to that also.
What I suspect is happening is that the "variance" of America is much higher - the nice neighbourhoods are full of vast houses and plentiful food, while down the road the not-so-nice areas are way below what would attract some sort of social intervention in Europe.
The UK has a smaller version of the same effect, containing some of the poorest (well, lowest GDP) regions in Europe. https://fullfact.org/economy/does-uk-have-poorest-regions-no...
It is really not.
Nobody goes to LIDL to buy food, unless has some real money problem.
You have to make a different comparison: buy quality food from a local farmer and the same food from a local European farmer.
You will notice that in Europe is much more common than you think, it can usually be found in the local market in your neighborhood and it's much cheaper than in the US.
> the meat, cheese, and chocolate is great, but it stops there.
Basically every kind of raw food, except maybe for raw meat, in Europe taste better.
Including vegetables and fruit.
Sorry, not trying to be disrespectful, I was referring to where I live: Italy.
They usually don't even sell fresh food here and when they do, they are not much cheaper than the better alternatives.
Then I guess most of Poland has "real money problems", as LIDL and equivalents is where we shop. However, I think it's just that we don't like to overpay for stuff.
If you compare it to other western supermarket chains like Carrefour, or Auchan, their food is of a lower quality, despite being not much cheaper.
LIDL is convenient for packaged or canned food or "everything not related to food", but it's a discount, not exactly popular for quality.
Even Simply, the discount branch of Auchan, sells better food than LIDL.
At least in this part of Europe.
And they are all of lower quality than Esselunga or Coop or Conad (but that could just be the Italian in me talking).
But honestly I've never been at LIDL in Poland, maybe it's better over there.
On a side note: many Polish people have a real money problem.
The average Polish salary is below 1k euros, while in Germany is over 2.5k euros.
I was always left with the impression that everything in Europe except for trains and windows (why do Europeans have such nice windows and we do not?!?) is rundown crap.
I’m not saying I’m necessarily objectively correct. But I’m definitely not endorsing your subjective impression, either.
Less profit, though still plenty of it, can be made from high-quality goods. It's not that profit is inherently wrong, rather it's widespread business and corporate attitudes. An obsession with numbers and statistics rather than any pride in work.
Don't think so. My family moved to the US in the early 80s and all the same observations applied back then.
These differences shape all of our opinions, whether it's you visiting the US, or me visiting the EU. Don't assume that your values are as equally important to someone in the US as they are to you, though. Many of our cultural preferences are just that -- preferences -- which all come with an associated set of pros and cons.
One person's "crappy hollow-core door" is another persons "ADA accessible, 2018 IRC-compliant, lead-free, contemporary-style door".
You hear people wanting stainless steel appliances...but never discussing their quality.
What's next? Comparing an American ivy league university building to a newly built apartment somewhere in Brussels and prove that not everything is older in Europe?
Of course every place has all kind of extremes. I look down on West European cheese too because they don't have proper white cheese that is available in the Balkans and Turkey and when abroad I have to rely on low quality feta as a substitute and get depressed. That said, I am not going to claim that Balkans and Turkey have the best chease, it's just that the kind of the cheese I like is not available in western Europe in good quality and I am better of to stick with the local cheese(which is superior to the versions found in the Balkans and Turkey).
All those "country X is superior to the country Y" is inherently flawed unless you talk about specifics. Otherwise, all you do is some kind nationalistic masturbation.
I think quartirolo (https://it.wikipedia.org/wiki/Quartirolo_Lombardo) is the closest to the white cheese you're looking for and also salty ewe's ricotta is pretty similar.
I live in Western New Zealand (Tasmania), and we have to adjust the temperature too.
I think most US showers have just a single faucet where you can control the temperature but not the pressure/flow. You always have to go from cold to hot (it looks like this: https://www.americanstandard-us.com/-/media/sites/asus/image...)
I've seen the thermostatic faucets before (I assume those're the ones where you twist to adjust temperature & pull to adjust pressure). They show up in more modern upscale hotels, and in people's homes when they've remodeled their bathroom. I think they tend to be an aftermarket add-on rather than a typical part of construction, though - no idea why, they're much more convenient than the alternatives.
You should try Arizona in the summer next time you're in the USA - we have instant hot water 24/7 - even our cold water is hot.
Yes - I'm serious. In the summertime, our water from the "cold side" is typically luke-warmish at best. From the hot side, we can actually turn the temperature down on our water heaters and save some money.
It gets a bit better during "winter" (in quotes because right now, the temperature is around 32C - yep, shorts weather in the middle of November!).
Anyhow - you can purchase the tankless circulation system you describe, but it isn't cheap so you only usually see it on new houses, and only as an upgrade. Retrofitting old houses just isn't really possible without a complete interior teardown. The only other option is tankless water heaters, but those require a decent electrical circuit to each sink. So, most of us just have the central water heater tank, and when we want hot water, we turn it on and let it run (ain't like the water is going to disappear, thanks to the "water cycle"). Or we deal with the cold water (except here in Arizona - where again, our cold water is warm).
Electricity and gas are relatively expensive in Australia compared Europe or US, so I’m lead to believe. Might be better in a new house with good insulation on the pipes.
Europe, especially its non-Mediterranean part, is boring in this sense (everything is kinda OK but mostly not that fun)