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No. of Recommendations: 2
You know.... Toyota's new Camry is the first one that I didn't think was ridiculously boring. I like the little ugly trunk on it. And I followed a new Lexus GS 430 (?) out of my sub yesterday morning and thought, "wow, that's a nice looking car." For the sake of comparison, the driver of it recently replaced his 10 year old Honda Accord with it... He's got children who are probably 3 and 5 and I would say is in his mid 30s. So I think Toyota/Lexus is going in the right direction as far as their new designs go.

Now, take that for what it's worth, this is coming from a guy (me) who would be driving a Malibu Maxx if his wife didn't nix it. That's ok, I love my 9-3! (not a wagon, sadly)

Quality wise, however, when I worked at GM the engineers would always complain because every new car got an entirely new part. Even global platforms only had something like 10-15% common parts. At one point GM had 51 different models and 55 different electrical architectures. That's a recipe for quality issues not to mention costs that didn't need to spent. We'd look at Toyota and see the 2002 Camry using the same ignition switch or wheel hub as a 1985 Camry. The only thing different about that part is they'd made it more robust and it now cost a lot less. Of course the problem with this is when you discover a defect on that part, you've got a lot to replace. Toyota didn't have that issue until recently.

By the way, speaking of electrical architectures, GM is heading to a common one. The 900s all have a single architecture. Lambda has the same. Pretty much every new vehicle has that same architecture. And they were retrofitting existing vehicles like the STS / Impala / Grand Prix to have the same architecture. I think by the changes in the 07 SAAB from the 06 model, and the look of my HVAC control head, the 07 9-3 also has the same architecture.

Now why is this so good? Well they've got one BCM (body control module) they need to validate. It now has 3m units a year instead of having 25 different BCMs with at most 500k units a year, so the individual cost is less. You've got one engineer in charge of it and then people working for him who adapt it for each program, who turn on / off features using the software as requested by the geniuses in Marketing, and decide which pins to use as far as the harnesses go. When it comes time to build the vehicles (the test vehicles, that is), there are less troubles, and everyone working on the vehicle (ie the UAW / salaried techs on the floor) understand how it's supposed to work, so the issues that do come up are fixed a lot quicker. It's definitely a huge step forward for GM. Of course, if there's a problem with the BCM, then warranty costs will increase. But then again, if you've got OnStar, most BCM issues can be fixed with a simple software upgrade done without ever coming in to a dealer.

Cameron
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