Sunday, October 08, 2006

Drive

It's quite obvious, judging by my last post here, that I have "issues" with certain big business practices. I have little time for companies who take the piss and especially those who boast and in doing so, completely lose the plot. I have now got a large cesspool full of special fishy-smelling ire reserved for a company that, through their ownership of Bentley Motors, has actually brought a degree of renewed prosperity to the town in which I live following the Witch's destruction of our domestic heavy industry (both my home town and my adopted one used to make trains). Step forward Volkswagen Audi and assume the position.

Audi are currently running an advertisement for their A6 model that boasts they have filed half as many patents again while developing a single model than NASA have filed during their lifetime. Pardon me if I get these figures wrong but I believe it was 9651 against 6502. Take a moment to pause and think about that. I don't know how many unique parts and processes are involved in producing a car but to have 9651 of them so substantially different to anything that has gone before that they warrant patents being filed fills me with a certain amount of trepidation. I'm not sure I would want to drive a car that relied so heavily on untried technology, radical new parts or engineering. To my mind that's 9651 things just waiting to go wrong because they've never worked together before. If you want any proof take a look at Nasa itself. Its track record in designing new things is spectacularly bad.

That's not all though. What is this obsession with producing "new" products, especially on such a scale as the A6? The resultant re-tooling of production systems, manufacture of an extra range of spare parts, scrapping of obsolete models, new promo material and goodness knows what else that goes into supporting new products is not being particularly planet friendly, is it? How much energy has been utilised in bringing this thing to market and to what overall benefit? Compare it with the amount required to subtly improve or just maintain existing models efficiently. Scrapping your old car in favour of one only slightly more efficient model is abuse of resources on a grand scale. Irv Gordon is my hero in this respect. His car may not be the most efficient on the road but how many cars have you owned in 37 years? How many are still going after 10?

Back to Audi. Drive past the front of Bentley Motors plant and the forecourt is not much of an advert for one of the world's premier luxury sporting marques (I don't have much of a problem with these oddly enough. They'll last for years, be well looked after and I can't see many doing 15,000 miles a year), it's full of the management's TTs, big VW Tauregs, Passats and Audi A series. All nice and new staff cars probably replacing equally nice and new previous cars except for the fact that VW don't want the competition's badges in front of their bulding. Very smart to look at but a minor ecological disaster otherwise. Back of the class please and 500 lines by morning: "I will not be so profligate with the planet's precious resources in the name of commercial arrogance and oneupmanship ever again".

0 Vegetable peelings:

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