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What are the odds?
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(+2, -1)
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Everyone knows about lemons - those automobiles which, for whatever reason, simply never work properly. However, if some cars are of exceptionally poor quality then (statistically speaking) some cars must be of exceptionally high quality. Sell them with an extended warranty (assured that it won't be needed) at a premium, get rich, retire to Tahiti. Alternately, sell the secret to the automobile manufacturers (who pay for your discretion), get rich, retire to Tahiti.

The key of course is in devising a way to identify these vehicles.

phoenix, Aug 22 2001

The Holden Kingswood Shrine http://members.trip..._tom/kingswood.html
I guess they just don't make 'em like that any more. [angel, Aug 22 2001]


       Statistics being the funny thing that it is, the basic premise here is flawed. If everything is averagely good, reducing the quality of some doesn't make the rest any better, it just makes them relatively better than the bad ones. Otherwise you could avoid punctures by sticking a load of nails into your spare tyre.
The version of this fallacy that I like is the notion that if the odds of there being a bomb on a commercial aircraft are, say, one in a million, and the odds of there being *two* bombs are one in ten million, the safest thing to do is to take your own bomb.
angel, Aug 22 2001

       There is no problem with the statistical probability principles cited by this idea. Although the distribution would, I beleive, be negatively skewed (ie there are more cars that are significantly below standard than above), it does stand to reason that one in ten million cars, by a freak of automated manufacturing, have more perfect parts and are assembled flawlessly, and thus have less chance of breaking down and drive better and whatever else.
Having said that, between the quality difference (which probably cannot be significant) and the sheer impossibility of identifying such an "anti-lemon", it is, I am afraid, impractical.
jabbers, Aug 22 2001

       I think the fallacy here is the assumption that the probability distribution is a symmetrical bell curve - i.e. with most cars having a few dodgy components, a few having a lot and a few having hardly any. The curve is more likely to be skewed towards the low end (so, most cars are OK, a few havea lot of dodgy components and a very few are real lemons). This is because the imperfections may be (inadvertently) designed into the components. For example, if the anti-rust coating is just not very good then chance and environmental factors will cause some cars to get little or no rust, but all the rest will get some or lots of rust.

Hmmm - this is kind of what UnaBubba was saying...
hippo, Aug 22 2001

       I thought this idea was going to be some sort of tirade against me. I wondered what I'd done to deserve it.

       Getting back on topic, I think it's worth noting that it's not in the interest of automobile manufacturers to produce excellent quality, low maintenance, long lasting vehicles, or they'll find demand for their product is very short lived.
Lemon, Aug 22 2001

       Maybe one of the Australian Half-bakers will be able to confirm this but I believe that the 1970's design classic GM Holden Kingswood was discontinued because it was too durable and people weren't needing to replace it.
stupop, Aug 22 2001

       I can confirm that a UK steel company (when there were such things) developed a type of steel suitable for car bodies which would outlast standard steel by a factor of six. The idea was dropped when their biggest customer (British Leyland) threatened to end their contract.
angel, Aug 22 2001

       stupop: Aah, the Kingswood, that sounds about right. Crafted from a solid piece of steel amid the crash of lightening and the rumble of Timpani, the Kingswood backfired onto the Australian market where it has stayed, it glorious existence a testimate to how far eighty litres of fuel will get you. (In a Kingswood, eighty litres would get you around the block) A durable car, it is. A graceful car it is not. But long after the last Kingswood is stolen from a parking lot, thrashed, burned and consigned to a secluded piece of bushland somewhere in Sydney's outer west, it's legend will live on.
sdm, Aug 22 2001

       Even if "anti-lemon" cars exist, the way to identify them is the same as the way lemons are identified: the time before/between failures. In either case, by the time the car is identified, it's too late.   

       angel, I had not heard about the "bomb on an aircraft" fallacy, but I like it. It made me laugh to think of the stupidity of someone carrying his own bomb onto the plane. Obviously, the safer thing would be for him to carry *two* bombs of his own.
beauxeault, Aug 22 2001

       Of course. The more bombs you can carry, the safer you'll be.
angel, Aug 22 2001

       If you carry too many bombs, however, the risk of accidental detonation of one of them will outweigh the reduction caused by taking them onto the flight in the first place. I estimate the optimum figure to be around 4.8 bombs.
-alx, Aug 22 2001

       Perhaps they should start selling bombs in airport shops. A sort of Talisman if you like.
stupop, Aug 22 2001

       UnaBubba: // the kingswood is a squeaking, rattling, fuel-guzzling shit-box ....//   

       Not just a squeaking, rattling, fuel-guzzling shit-box, undeniably THE squeaking, rattling, fuel-guzzling shit-box.
sdm, Aug 23 2001

       I think phoenix made less of the use of statistcs in his idea than everyone else ( tho yes it's there in the subtitle )....he in no way indicated stats could be used to actually identify these individual non-lemons, just that they must be there, somewhere.   

       sdm So that's where my kingswood is !   

       actually it's still out the front, i hope. it runs on gas and it's mighty fine. rear ended by a rav4 5 weeks ago . two bulbs and some cellophane for the kw $6.5k for the plastic toy that hit it....what is economy again ?   

       I saw kids tv show (great research...not) which talked of the 20 or so robots on the factory floor at one of the car manufacturers in aust. . It bragged these metal marvels put panels together within an accuracy of 1mm. .Adding up any number of such alignments along or across a car body produces innaccuracies well into the range of "lumpy". I guess that's in the area of design of the manufacturing process.
peter2, Nov 09 2001

       Thank you, [peter2] for your support. However, I stand confident that none of my Anti-Lemons makes it passed the Quality Control department of any major automobile manufacturer.
phoenix, Nov 09 2001

       If anyone is interested, my Kingswood has been added to 'Big Tom's shrine' (see link). Gallery>Sedans>Barry.
stupop, Nov 12 2001

       Actually, this idea is baked already, but to a different recipe. But in this case, the warranty is sold as part of the package, up front.   

       As an auto engineer I can tell you that they _do_ track all sorts of statistics on quality and identifying good lines from bad ones. Heck, just read Consumer Reports.   

       There are all sorts of data available to the manufacturers that the public isn't given.   

       No, I'm not going to tell you which car company I work for, out of sheer embarrasment... but hey, it's a job.   

       Cars are like any other product. See Deming. Quality is primarily a function of management structure.
RayfordSteele, Jan 01 2002

       So, what is Hyundai like to work for, Rayford?
bristolz, Jan 01 2002

       Hmm... no. Guess again.   

       US domestic.   

       Engineering = blue collar?
RayfordSteele, Jan 07 2002

       GM? Ford?
Starmanz, Jan 07 2002

RayfordSteele, Feb 13 2002

       No way is engineering blue collar and sorry about the "Hyundai" remark. Working for Ford is nothing to be embarrased about, imho.
bristolz, Feb 13 2002

       Heh. Ever *drive* one?
phoenix, Feb 13 2002


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