just saw an ad on ebay for a 2002 Coupe Spyder...the wheels on that look sportier in my opinion that what comes on the 2004; anyone else note they changed the wheels; was it price, manufacture or what.......
Manufacturers make minor appearance changes to cars every so often to differentiate the new product. You know it's a NEW one by the wheels, not one of those OLD ones with all the spokes. This ususally results in tacking on badges, chrome strips, spoilers and other superfluous trim that mucks up an otherwise nice original design. When a new body style comes along, the process starts over.
Your observation of cost as a factor could be right. On introduction, the main concern is market acceptance rather than profit margin. As time goes by, the "bean counters" (accountants) look for ways to squeeze more bits of profit out of a successful line. Save 3 cents on a bolt, 2 bucks on the sun visors, 6 dollars a wheel.... it adds up to a significant change in the profit margins. Then again, I doubt there's any difference in the cost of the 2 wheel styles.
I have an '02 Coupe GT with the 17 spoke wheels. I like 'em. My red calipers are plainly visible Either wheel looks fine on the car. I doubt there's much difference in unsprung weight but I doubt if such a performance consideration was the prime motivation for the change.
FFreddy . . . you nailed it. Cost (just like weight on a performance vehicle) is critical to performance and profitability. Thus, the "bean counters" try to cut dollars (after the introductory product . . . kinda like a concept car) in any place they can. The Performance Engineers rebut with the cuts they can live with. V.P.s make the fnal call. Contrary to the wide-spread public sentiment - - the first model year is often the best product to buy, particularly if you are looking for a "keeper". R & D today has tested the product in ways we couldn't imagine even 10 years ago. Therfore, when the product is finally distributed . . . not just introduced (and there are exceptions with large commercial auto makers on deadline schedules) it is market ready thus, any bugs are nominal, predicted and expected with capital funding set aside to deal with them.
. . . all this to say (and I haven't checked this yet) my guess is that you will find through research that the 02 wheels weigh the same or less the the next model year but the 02 were more expensive to manufacture. The newer ones also present an opportunity for the manufacturer to distingush a substantially unchanged product. If they looked exactly the same . . . how would the manufacturer pursuade the market spend more and trade up.
Manufacturing costs will increase with a change in the wheels. Production costs are only a piece of the puzzle. When making a change there are design costs, new molds are built, additional testing is incurred, old inventory that has to be considered, etc. This is a low production vehicle, even if the variable production costs were lower on the new model I would be absolutely shocked if they offset the additional one time costs assiciated with making a change.
Nearly all manufacturers improve their cars over a product's lifecycle. No amount of testing in a lab can replicate hundereds of thousands of miles (or millions in the case of a Honda, Ford, etc.) of customer feedback once a car is introduced. Plus, the competition is not standing still. Improvements need to me made to keep up with new models introduced by other manufacturers. Do you really think its in a company's best interest to make their product worse over time?
Besides the wheel change Maserati improved the Duo Select software, added a cup holder, stiffened the sway bars, and changed the rear bumper on the Coupe/Spider. Do you really think these changes were to reduce cost? How is that rear bumper going to save money?
With regards to the wheels, I suspect marketing was the biggest factor for the change, to differentiate the new model year from the old. However it is a fact that the design of the new wheel will improve brake cooling, though in real work use I am sure there is very little need for this improvement.
No disagreement, perhaps "clarification" is more appropriate. You are correct. Modification to a product line are costly. However, stale or obsolete inventory is generally not an issue these days. Planning is done far enough in advance so that parts associated with product line changes are rarely overstocked (or somebody gets canned).--Only government agencies can afford to still operate in those archaic modes.
Anyway, the point is there is a balancing of shaving costs, keeping mods to a min for increase profitability, increasing performance and yes reliability. So you are correct. However, I can assure you under no uncertain terms that costs shaving is one of the most critically monitored areas of production after the first production year of a flagship vehicle. I could go into more detail but dont wanna put everyone ta sleep.
Checked with the smart guys here (engys). While they agree that's possible, they say that the performance enhancement would be negligible . . . unless the composite was different or the weight was changed.
"Nearly all manufacturers improve their cars over a product's lifecycle." Sorry. False. While many do, I don't think you can state with certainty that "most" do. Not with the recall statistics I've seen in the last 5 years.
Recall data won't support your point as recalls are only issued for broad based safety concerns. You might look at Maintenance Campaigns instead, which include all the little things dealer's fix or update when you bring your car in for service.
However if you look at that data it only proves my point, which is product development does not catch everything and engineering fixes are made on the fly after a vehicle is introduced. What you see are campaigns to fix issues in early introduction model years and these fixes are then incorporated into the current production run. What you rarely see are engineering changes made in the middle of product life cycles that backfire into maintenance campaigns.
That said, even maintenance campaign data is only part of the story as many of the improvements made to a model are to improve performance, esthetics, etc. The cupholder was not introduced on the Maserati in 2004 because the big ashtray was broken, they did it because the US market demanded a cupholder in the car. That does not show up in repair data.
I can give you examples of enhancements during the product's lifecycle for every vehicle in my signature and every vehicle I have ever owned in the past. That would cover Porsche, Ferrari, Maserati, Ford, Acura, and BMW. Want an example from the world's largest manufacturer, GM? Check out what they are doing with the C6 Corvette for 2008.
I agree 100% that costs are critical after year 1. I run a manufacturing company and I have personally approved new product launches with the caveat that we must engineer costs out after the launch. However our focus is on the stuff our customer does not see or value, not on the product features themselves. The product itself we try and improve.
I simply disagree with your statement "the first model year is often the best product to buy". There just are not many examples of that these days.
Well, this is getting interesting. Vette is probably one of the worst examples to argue . . . on your behalf. The Corvette has gotten progressively cheaper in quality since 04. More power and less . . . everything else, so much so that vette owners are trying to sell 05s -06s to go back to 03-04zs. (check out fatherlarryscorvette site). Now i will concede this . . . the 02zo6 was substantially improved over the 01z.
Minor mods like a cupholder isn't exactly what i was referring to. I was only saying that it is not unusual for a maufacturer to put their best foot forward on the first model year (not as cost sensitive) these days and then get cheaper as the model years go on. Profit, profit profit . . . that what the shareholders want.
By the way, does the new GT have the trademark leather headliner? I haven't seen the inside of the car yet.
The seven spoke sport wheel was an option in '02. IMO the multi-spoke wheel looked too much like that on the 3200gt, just not as aggressive whereas the sport wheel greatly increases the curb appeal of the car.
BTW, leather headliner was never an option on the Spyder although you could choose from various shades of fabric for the canvas top.