One of the tenets of free market theory is that the freer the market, the more accurate the price. The problem is that free markets aren't controlled by the assumptions made by economists and so greed overpowers the mechanism that is supposed to provide negative feedback required to control prices. Therefore, greed and excessive optimism takes over and prices rise until collapse, which directly refutes free market theory.
Now that is in no way implying that a market must be heavily regulated, only to the point that it provides the required negative feedback to control what Greenspan defined as irrational exuberance. So, we need rational, good sense regulation in every market.
In line with the auto market, regulating that safety and efficiency be design considerations is good. Also, forcing manufacturers to correct design flaws is good too. the problem is doing it correctly to not stifle beneficial innovation.
You couldn't have had a CRX as they were a two person vehicle. I'm sure that engineers can produce a powerplant/vehicle combo that can get far better than what we see now. the problem is the American public. Most people see cheap oil as their birthright and so auto makers are sort of coerced into producing poor mileage vehicles. Sort of because the bigger the vehicle, the greater the profit.
I agree that we have failed policies in regulating the auto and energy industries but disagree with it being called a failure of the "free market". I call it the failed policies of greedy politicians making backroom deals with greedy industrialists with the "regulations" being used to squeeze out inovative competition.
One particularly key statement, as the article concludes, is copied and re-pasted here:
"In contrast, North American companies tend to appease stockholders who want short-term profits -- often at the expense of long-term reliability, he said. As a result, the focus shifts to cost-cutting, instead of to engineering and quality."
This statement applies to a bigger picture than automotive only.It is the absolutely a myopic American view of the dollar. When, oh when, will the American Corporation ever learn TRUE value-? The article speaks for itself. Systems Engineering, for example.
Regulation is a double-edged sword, but when applied correctly produces better results than a free market, as the market is people and they don't care about consequences, until it's too late.
The fact is that free market theory is a failed theory is proven by the existence of financial crises and bubbles. This is simply fact. Then there's your point that free markets really don't and can't exist, except in small arenas, precisely because people use their clout to improve their situation. Real human nature refutes ideology about human nature.
From what I've heard there are designs for power plants providing far higher mileage, but they are not produced for a number of reasons, including the fact that the market is more concerned about power and speed and having the government supply them with cheap fuel. Ah, the delusion and ignorance of the market! Therefore, there's little impetus for manufacturers to produce high mileage vehicles, which results in pressures to extract more of a finite resource at ever increasing financial and environmental costs.
Failed free market? The auto industry hasn't operated in a free market in decades. If it did I might be driving a diesel car getting 100 mpg burning fuel made from garbage squeezings. Regulation stifles innovation.
I know that this comment doesn't fit neatly under this article's topic, but I'm going to gripe anyway. My 1984 Honda CRX got better gas mileage than any cars built today. It got between 45 and 50 local and 58 to 61 on the highway and it had a kludge carburetor setup. We're past peak oil, and the car companies can't produce far better mileage with today's far more sophisticated technology? Come on!
Whining about "quality" continues to miss the bigger problem, that we are wasting resources that carry very heavy consequences. But as most Americans don't believe in anything other than failed free market ideology, I suppose the fact that today's cars are worse performers than a 1984 design doesn't matter in their minds. After all, CEOs drive teir engineers to meet customer demand and customers only complain about high gas prices because they're clueless.
@Dave Palmer >A Chinese friend of mine, who is a philosophy professor, says that Western cultures tend to be reductionist, while Asian cultures tend to be holistic.<
Based on this article, that certainly seems to apply in the automakers culture. But I believe that tendency is more pronounced in the medical viewpoint than anywhere else.
My wife recently had her gall bladder and then her appendix removed within a span of a few months. I told her that something her system isn't working right, but who do you go to see about your body as a system in our standard medical community? She ended up going to an accupuncturist who told her that her liver is overloaded and out of sync. She's been working to clean out her liver and many of the symptoms she's had for several years, that our regular doctors have had difficulty finding the root cause to, have begun to disappear. The accupuncturist was able to tell my wife the symptoms she had been experiencing several years ago, and why she was having them, in less than an hour. My wife had been going to doctors about those same problems for years, with the result that later on the "bad parts" were removed.
@williamweaver - I believe you nailed it that the magic happens when we can view a problem from both aspects, both reductionist and holistic. Unfortunatley, I think the Western mindset has a long ways to go before the acceptance of a holistic approach is commonplace. Although the world is changing ever faster...
Robots that walk have come a long way from simple barebones walking machines or pairs of legs without an upper body and head. Much of the research these days focuses on making more humanoid robots. But they are not all created equal.
The IEEE Computer Society has named the top 10 trends for 2014. You can expect the convergence of cloud computing and mobile devices, advances in health care data and devices, as well as privacy issues in social media to make the headlines. And 3D printing came out of nowhere to make a big splash.
For industrial control applications, or even a simple assembly line, that machine can go almost 24/7 without a break. But what happens when the task is a little more complex? That’s where the “smart” machine would come in. The smart machine is one that has some simple (or complex in some cases) processing capability to be able to adapt to changing conditions. Such machines are suited for a host of applications, including automotive, aerospace, defense, medical, computers and electronics, telecommunications, consumer goods, and so on. This discussion will examine what’s possible with smart machines, and what tradeoffs need to be made to implement such a solution.