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Any data for that statement?


Wow...This got LONG, even for me.   Read at your own risk!!!

>BUT......................what I question is your original

>>"The cars are no longer made by skilled and educated German >craftsmen
>>and engineers.  They're made by underpaid workers in the Czek
> >Republic, Poland, East Germany and underdeveloped places all over the
>>The quality of the cars is suffering"

What I was trying to say is that BMW used to either make the components
themselves or source them to mostly German suppliers who made them in and
around Germany.  Now they're sourced all over the place to the lowest bidder.

I build component parts for consumer goods and I'm getting killed by threats
of globalization.  I have to pay good wages to my workers or lose them, but
these buyers come around and tell me they can buy everything cheaper somewhere
else.  Nothing to back it up.  It's the latest purchasing tactic.   Find a
foreign vendor that will give you a low bid and pound your good suppliers with
it until one or two go out of business.

BMW has lots more problems with vendors and components now.  They're no longer
any better than the domestics on that score.  In  fact, maybe worse.   Since
their quality levels are among the lowest in the industry, I'd have to say
they're doing something wrong someplace.   I do know that they're a company
that's really exported German jobs to other countries in a big way.  Assembly
plants as well as component plants and contracts for the little things have
moved to the cheap countries.  That's a fact.   I don't have DATA, but I know
German businessmen and they're all doing it.  Germany has the best rail
system, a great educational system, lots of holidays and sick leave for their
work force and good benefits.  It's the way we all should be doing it...but
globalization prevents it.   These multinationals just build plants in
Bangladesh and run it with slaves.   It's no secret.

There are also more assembly problems.  Maybe because the cars are so complex,
maybe because the workforce is so much bigger and more diverse.  Maybe because
of faulty components.  Maybe because the original designs are flawed.   I
can't say.  BMWs have always had occasional design tragadies, but the parts
they were made of always seemed nearly works of art.  Every component really
well conceived and pretty, down to the humblest little things.  Even if
something didn't work right, like the too small radiators in 2002s way back
when, it was MADE right.  My second gear synchros were worn out when I bought
the car with 40K miles on it.  I just double clutched it and drove it for
another 100K.  It was the best shifting gearbox I've ever used.   Now we're
starting to see things that just aren't made right.  Defective transmissions
that just quit after 8,000 miles, engine pieces that don't last...stuff like
that.    It just seems to be different now.

The Z4 is a whole lot better driving and engineered car than the Z3.  Why
don't I want a Z4?  Well, that's more of a design issue, I guess....nevermind.

It's great to say that you can make BMWs in Indonesia or someplace, pay worker
$8 a day, when the market is $5 a day and think that you'll get great quality.
I'm not saying it's not possible, but it's not so easy.   There is still some
skill and craftmanship involved in the assembly of these things.   They've
tried to take as much of that out of the thing as they can, but it's still
required in a lot of the work.

I've been through the Munich plant in the first year of production of the E36
3 series.   It was an amazing and the obvious pride and professionalism
everywhere in the plant was quite evident.   These people felt privledged to
work in this place....and they were!  Hell, I wanted to quit my job and apply
there myself when my plant tour was over.

Now, BMW seems to be graduating into being one of the world's big car makers.
Their cars are no longer cult cars, they're what every idiot who makes a
little money in business or the stock market aspires to owning...They're
status symbols.   I bought them because they were mostly reliable, quirky,
sporty, fascinating and way fun to drive machines that you could spend your
time working on because they were worth working on.  My BMW was a lifestyle.
If I wasn't fixing it, I was off to an autocross or track school on the

Nowadays, I don't feel that way about these cars.  The company has left the
enthusiast in the dust.  There's still a growing car club, but it's more
social and status conscious.  Less of the people are really car people.
They've commercialized enthusiasm and reduced it to a marketing tool.   Most
people who buy the cars now don't have any idea what's great about them and
may never find out. (Thankfully, there are a few cars still made by BMW that
are stonking performers that are very fun cars.)   They'll never drive them
near their limits.   I see BMWs slowing up traffic and being driven by
blue-hairs and all manner of pig drivers now.   Chicks with cell phones who
could care less what their driving so long as it has a roundel.

The new trendy designs were created to attract this larger, affluent element.
Good commercial move for the company, but kind of a sad comment on the state
of things lately.

>I'm not sure about the cars but it seems most bike workers are Turks and

I've never been to the Berlin plant....only Munich.

>do you know that the cars were ever assembled by "skilled and
>educated" Germans?

Well I know some Germans who stil have jobs in car plants and in component
plants.  They're educated in trade schools...The education system splits off
at mid high school.  Those inclined to working with their hands and not with
bookwork go to trade schools....great idea if you ask me.  These are not
dummies and they're not treated like dummies.  The Germans have figured out
that it's not the best idea to put everyone in college prep....and they're
bright and they're skilled and now they're counting the days before their jobs
are gone because their society is thought of by multinationals as too
expensive.  The rich German entraupreneurs who've benefited from this system
are building plants anywhere but Germany because Germany is about the most
expensive place in the world you can manufacture things. It's very sad.

 >How is skill level measured?

Hey, all I know is that the new BMW cars are at the bottom of Consumer Reports
and JD Powers and they used to be near the top.   I'd say that represents the
skill level of someone.   I'm also hearing that defective components are the
cause for some of the big issues that have been happening...That's from bitter
owners writing in to the car club newsletter.

 >"Underpaid workers"?  Are they
>underpaid if their pay is relatively high in their own country even though
>very low
>in others?

I don't know.   I wish I had as good an education as the German kids get
nowadays and when I see the aptitude of the kids and young adults in this
country, I get a little sick to my stomach.   I've met workers in Shanghai and
in Zhong Chien (spelling?) and they're eager and productive, but they don't
know SHIT!  They depend totally on outsiders to bring in technology and teach
them how to run it.   When the vendors leave, they really are pretty out of
control.  I could tell long stories that would curl your hair.   However, they
are more disiplined than we are.  They are under more pressure.   They are not
raised to think creatively.   Under the right circumstances, that can be a
good thing.   Great laborers so long as the job doesn't involve too much
creativity.   Can they learn?  Sure.   But how many are available to train
them???  Taiwan is now a modern industrialized nation.  They have factories
that are very sophisticated, but it took many, many years..and now their labor
rates are much higher than other parts of the world.   The workers have been
exposed to the world and to its pressures and they want some reward for their
efforts just like we do.

These third world countries aren't a total bargain.  There is a trade off.

Oh yeah.  Then there's the "critical mass" thing.  How much industrialization
can this world take?   What happens when China and India become westernized?
A couple cars in every garage etc.   Will we be able to see out our windows?
Will the temperature of the earth rise until we're all underwater?    It's
clear that the current model of western status isn't going to cut it even 20
or 25 years from now.   We'll all have to find greener ways to get our ya-yas.
The problem becomes that the guys who make the money make the rules and
they're generally in it for their own gain.  This entrepreneural selfishness
that has served this country and this system so well for 200 years is bound to
become inadequate before too long.  Too many people.   Too many machines
consuming too much fuel, of whatever kind.

 >You seem to imply that it's impossible for quality to be
>maintained anywhere other than Germany,

Well, no, I don't mean to imply that.  What I'm trying to say is that the cars
were assembled and the components were made by German companies who had a
common culture and pride in their products....not a superior race or anything
like that.  That pride of product and place and that "Germanness" has been
"globalized" now and I think the goodness of the cars is suffering because of
it.  This lack of cohesion and pride in the effort to save a few bucks seems
to be hurting the product, in my opinion.  That's what I was trying to say.

The Germans didn't have a stranglehold on this sort of pride.  American cars
in the 50s and 60s were made with the same sort of pride.   The visuals on
many of those cars are still classic.   But the Germans, and BMW in
particular, made a car that performed rings around anything else and held 4
people and their luggage.   It's no wonder these little cars became cult
machines.   The only reason they are not going for the same sort of money that
other marques go for is that the BMWs are so DRIVEABLE that they seemed to get
driven.  You can't find any garage queens.   I bought my first BMW car in
1978.  After I bought it, I had to learn to fix it because I couldn't afford
the dealer.   That led me to the car club which led me to the history of the
marque, which is pretty interesting.  From then on, I've been sort of watching
this company as it goes through its ups and downs.   I believe that, while
it's new products are very successful in the market now, it's based a lot on
trendy looks, status  and showroom pizzazz.  Lots of near useless electronic
geegaws to break and some actual degradation of performance by some of these.
The value of used BMWs is probably going to plummet.  They have got to get
their reliability and driving goodness back.  A BMW needs to be fun
transportation, have a certain classic elegance and be a good investment too.
They've lost the classic elegance.   They're trying to redefine elegance, but
I don't think it's working.   They're losing the fun transportation thing too.
Whether these cars will end up a good investment (for a car) remains to be
seen, but Consumer Reports and JD Powers has a lot to say about that sort of
stuff.  Who wants a used car that's so hopelessly complex and expensive to fix
that a used car buyer can't possibly afford it?

>where's the DATA to support that?

No data.  You're welcomed to disagree.   I could be totally wrong.  This is
the internet, not a Congressional hearing....Oh wait...

 >Even IF
>quality has gone down after switching production to other countries that
>necessarily prove that's the causal factor.

Nope.  It doesn't.  Could be a bunch of other things.  Like too many model and
system changes too fast and the widely diversified vendors can't keep up with
it all.   Can't help thinking that strong local vendors would help this
situation though.    Shit, I don't know.  I try to imagine my little place
trying to deal with that many changes and I have to marvel at BMW's courage,
if nothing else.

- -TB