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View Full Version : Gear heads wanted: I have a business idea I want to discuss



Sun Wukong
21st May 09, 10:24 AM
A few months ago I purchased a car and got all happy to modify the thing. I started pricing stuff out and generally saw there was a rather large price tag attached to many of the things I wanted to do with my car. Larger than I expected because I'm already familiar with industrial materials and costs of machining parts... in China.

Most of the parts I wanted were in fact manufactured or at least pieced together right here in the good ole U$A and buying over seas wasn't much of an option... or is it?

You see, I've found a few companies that make generic superchargers and turbo chargers in China and who provide the necessary equipment to attach them to some limited number of cars manufactured in Asia.

This is where I need input from you of the automotively inclined: Correct me if I'm wrong, but aren't most superchargers rather generic in function and the only limitation really being that the chargers must be made to fit specific vehicles with custom parts?

What, if anything would prevent me from taking some of these superchargers and modifying or crafting the parts necessary to attach them to other vehicles? What barriers do you perceive with this strategy?

Japuma
21st May 09, 11:05 AM
People do it all the time with turbos. The first time I put a turbo on a car I salvaged it from a Saab... It's really not that difficult to do as long as you can get the parts you need (custom intake manifold, piping, vac lines, oil lines, wastegate, exhaust modification...). Now as for superchargers, I don't belive it is that easy as you are drawing off the turning of a pully and not just rerouting the exhaust gasses. Check out this website for info on how to do a homemade turbo set up. www.Homemadeturbo.com

Neildo
21st May 09, 11:21 AM
a chinese made supercharger may be cheaper than an american one, but would it be as reliable? i have my doubts.

Scrapper
21st May 09, 11:47 AM
Superchargeer provides boost at a given volume. As long as the the hardware is connected properly (either through factory machining or personal fabrication) it will provide boost. It may not provide exactly what it is rated for if you mess with homemade adapters/hardware, but it will do the job.

Sun Wukong
21st May 09, 12:26 PM
a chinese made supercharger may be cheaper than an american one, but would it be as reliable? i have my doubts.
You can probably name about a hundred products that are chinese made that are sub-par quality, while literally millions exist that are not. Most of the things you own and like are probably mostly manufactured in China or at least the bulk of their parts are individually manufactured.

Believe it or not, superchargers aren't that complicated a machine and their cost is mostly markup.

I'll show you a few examples when I get the time, but the cost differences in manufacturing and retail are jaw dropping.

I'll give you a couple of major brand-names that are synonymous with quality and you might be surprised that entire production lines of theirs are based out of China. Volkswagen and BMW. They literally clog the streets of downtown Beijing and most of the government buys their cars exclusively just because their plants are based out of China and they get really great deals on them.

Luckily, I shouldn't have to worry about major quality issues as my wife has a masters degree in engineering, a BA in automated manufacture and her twin has a BA in industrial engineering. Minor quality issues may surface, but the obvious ones shouldn't be too hard to root out.

I'm not going in this with my eyes closed.

Sun Wukong
21st May 09, 12:29 PM
Superchargeer provides boost at a given volume. As long as the the hardware is connected properly (either through factory machining or personal fabrication) it will provide boost. It may not provide exactly what it is rated for if you mess with homemade adapters/hardware, but it will do the job.
Just to be clear, I'm not intending to buy them for personal use. My tentative plan is to buy them, put together kits for popular cars and sell them retail.

Japuma
21st May 09, 12:52 PM
Just to be clear, I'm not intending to buy them for personal use. My tentative plan is to buy them, put together kits for popular cars and sell them retail.

This basically what people are allready doing... It's like any thing else. You have 4-5 major t-shirt manufactures and then people buy the t-shirts print something on them and mark them up. I'm sure you can find all the parts you need through different manu.. the trick is to order in large qnty's to make labor and resale profitable.

Japuma
21st May 09, 12:55 PM
Another problem comes in because you can't just make a blanket "supercharger kit" as different cars have different needs and limitation. So then you are playing with R&D costs and about a bazillion dollars in start up.

Neildo
21st May 09, 01:07 PM
not if he just does 'stangs. there's tons of them and a big after-market community...branch out into other models if it's successful.

VW and BMW are great, but you're mostly paying for badge. now a name like roush is worth every penny IMO.

Scrapper
21st May 09, 05:45 PM
INtake manifold properties and engine geometry will cause variations in charger performance as well.

You will have to rate each kit for each make/model. that's gonna be some R&D.

Sun Wukong
21st May 09, 10:05 PM
Another problem comes in because you can't just make a blanket "supercharger kit" as different cars have different needs and limitation.

Yeah, I figured that one out already.


So then you are playing with R&D costs and about a bazillion dollars in start up.

That's a very hard thing to say, too many unknowns. I'm still in the exploratory phase of this operation.

Sun Wukong
22nd May 09, 01:32 AM
I just got off the phone with an autoparts manufacturer in China and have a discussion lined up with a automotive engineer for tomorrow. This. Can. Be. Done.

MEGA JESUS-SAMA
22nd May 09, 01:33 AM
hey
would you happen to know where to source bulk textiles? i'm looking for a bunch of hemp yarn, preferably ghost white

Sun Wukong
22nd May 09, 01:37 AM
how much are we talking? I don't know much about textiles or much about hemp fabric from China; anything with any amount of THC is strictly forbidden in the PRC.

I can ask about it though, there are loads of manufacturing facilities in china who post materials directly on the internet. the major barrier to the west and east doing business on a small business level is purely language for the most part; try shopping around online to see what you can find. maybe toy with some of the babel fish translators though that will probably be extremely tedious and annoying.

MEGA JESUS-SAMA
22nd May 09, 01:41 AM
I'm not sure how much I need exactly. My plan is TOP SECRET.
no
actually i'm thinking about producing vintage style self-edged denim, only with hemp. there's hemp denim already of the mundane wide-loom variety, but as far as I've been able to find super-tight vintage style is an untapped market.

Sun Wukong
22nd May 09, 02:04 AM
not if he just does 'stangs. there's tons of them and a big after-market community...branch out into other models if it's successful.

VW and BMW are great, but you're mostly paying for badge. now a name like roush is worth every penny IMO.
Right on about that dude; I was just saying that not everything made in China is sub-par or even half of it. The major problem with manufacturing in China is the tendency among many greedy manufacturers to cut corners regardless of buyer's required specs.

There isn't much a of an Underwriter's League presence in China. It's actually a pretty common problem with developing industrial economies. Japanese electronics used to be synonymous with complete crap; these days, things are different because they realized that quality products sell far better and generate enormous amounts of goodwill with consumers.

As soon as that kind of individual accountability becomes part of the culture of industry in China as a standard, then they'll be a more more effective economic power; I wouldn't hold my breath though. They have a long way to go and have only just crossed the halfway point.

Sirc
22nd May 09, 01:30 PM
You are much better off with turbochargers. Superchargers are horribly specific, while there is much much much much much much much much much more flexibility with turbochargers.

The need for affordable turbocharger kits is in higher demand than supercharger kits anyway.

Sun Wukong
22nd May 09, 05:35 PM
Hey, what are the most common car mod communities right now?

Sirc
22nd May 09, 08:12 PM
Hey, what are the most common car mod communities right now?

Right now Subaru is the big market. I'd get into it because I have the knowledge and the skillbase, but none of the money.

I'd invest in Perrin, SPT, STi, and Subaru related items.

If you want to go big, do it the same way HMO or Password: JDM did it. They just bought crates and crates of Japanese Motors for hondas before they really got big. If I had the money, I would import complete/wrecked Imprezas from Japan and set up shop here in Fresno.

You can get a wrecked Impreza WRX/STi for about $400-2000 and part it out for several thousands of dollars.

Edit:

Brakes (rotors/calipers/hubs) $600-1000 is the normal rate. You can undercut pretty much everyone and still make a profit. These range from the 4 piston front and 2 piston rear SUMIMOTO brakes and then there are the 4/2 piston Brembo brakes. Those usually go for about $1000-$1500 with complete hubs.

Suspension $500-700. This includes control arms, radius rods, struts, springs. Depending on the package the stock suspension sells for around this much.

Interior is your bread and butter. The front seats on a 95 Sti go for about $600 alone. There's some differences in prices depending on the popularity of the seats. The Version 4 through Version 6 seats are the most sought after and sell for about $600. The rear seats all usually go for about $2-300. The dashboards sell for about $400. The Cluster sells for $300. The buttons go for like $100. The steering wheels sell for $300. Everything in the interior is worth more than it should be.

92-94 EJ20G goes for about $800
95-96 EJ20K goes for about $1200ish
97-99 EJ207 goes for about $2500-3000
00-04+ EJ207 goes for random amounts anywhere between $2000-4000 this is because of all the special edition motors, the legacy motors, the STi, the Spec-C motors, etc. It's all very variable.
EJ257 motors run anywhere between $3-4000. They are the US spec Sti motors and are very popular.

And that's just the STi motors. The WRX motors, EJ20K, EJ205, EJ255, etc. motors run everywhere between 800-$2000.

There's so much more too. Bumpers, lights, spoilers, trunks, tail lights, wheels, exhaust, turbos, hoods, etc. etc.

A single car can be bought from japan for anywhere between $400-2000 and profit more than $10k.

The biggest problem with the Subaru Market is that there isn't any kind of standardization of prices. For example.

The turbo/intercooler I bought cost $150. The Intercooler itself I've seen sold for as low as $50 to as much as $300. It's not just like some guy wanting to just get rid of it. This is very common. I basically got both for $75/piece.

I've already done this locally with some friends. We'll split a wrecked STi and make a small profit, but mostly we do it to try to break even, we just wanted the parts.

theotherserge
22nd May 09, 10:18 PM
Just to be clear, I'm not intending to buy them for personal use. My tentative plan is to buy them, put together kits for popular cars and sell them retail.

on the one hand, I applaud you for any creative, niche-breaking idea. ON the other hand, I know quite a few owners/contractors/architects who tried a similar idea and got themselves screwed.

There is a reason that doors made in Brazil are so cheap, same goes with raw lumber from Siberia, Sambo jackets from Pakistan or superchargers from China. There is also a reason(s) that shit costs what it does by the time it gets to the "first world".

Just be careful. You'll probably need to get 5,000 units to justify the production run and the sample piece you get will not necessarily be anything like what you get in the shipment. Buyer beware, for sure.

Sun Wukong
24th May 09, 08:18 PM
Right now Subaru is the big market. I'd get into it because I have the knowledge and the skillbase, but none of the money.

I'd invest in Perrin, SPT, STi, and Subaru related items.

If you want to go big, do it the same way HMO or Password: JDM did it. They just bought crates and crates of Japanese Motors for hondas before they really got big. If I had the money, I would import complete/wrecked Imprezas from Japan and set up shop here in Fresno.

You can get a wrecked Impreza WRX/STi for about $400-2000 and part it out for several thousands of dollars.

Edit:

Brakes (rotors/calipers/hubs) $600-1000 is the normal rate. You can undercut pretty much everyone and still make a profit. These range from the 4 piston front and 2 piston rear SUMIMOTO brakes and then there are the 4/2 piston Brembo brakes. Those usually go for about $1000-$1500 with complete hubs.

Suspension $500-700. This includes control arms, radius rods, struts, springs. Depending on the package the stock suspension sells for around this much.

Interior is your bread and butter. The front seats on a 95 Sti go for about $600 alone. There's some differences in prices depending on the popularity of the seats. The Version 4 through Version 6 seats are the most sought after and sell for about $600. The rear seats all usually go for about $2-300. The dashboards sell for about $400. The Cluster sells for $300. The buttons go for like $100. The steering wheels sell for $300. Everything in the interior is worth more than it should be.

92-94 EJ20G goes for about $800
95-96 EJ20K goes for about $1200ish
97-99 EJ207 goes for about $2500-3000
00-04+ EJ207 goes for random amounts anywhere between $2000-4000 this is because of all the special edition motors, the legacy motors, the STi, the Spec-C motors, etc. It's all very variable.
EJ257 motors run anywhere between $3-4000. They are the US spec Sti motors and are very popular.

And that's just the STi motors. The WRX motors, EJ20K, EJ205, EJ255, etc. motors run everywhere between 800-$2000.

There's so much more too. Bumpers, lights, spoilers, trunks, tail lights, wheels, exhaust, turbos, hoods, etc. etc.

A single car can be bought from japan for anywhere between $400-2000 and profit more than $10k.

The biggest problem with the Subaru Market is that there isn't any kind of standardization of prices. For example.

The turbo/intercooler I bought cost $150. The Intercooler itself I've seen sold for as low as $50 to as much as $300. It's not just like some guy wanting to just get rid of it. This is very common. I basically got both for $75/piece.

I've already done this locally with some friends. We'll split a wrecked STi and make a small profit, but mostly we do it to try to break even, we just wanted the parts.

You're a prince among men, Sirc. Thank you, thank you.

Sun Wukong
24th May 09, 08:21 PM
What resources do you use to find deals or sell parts?

Sun Wukong
24th May 09, 09:06 PM
There is a reason that doors made in Brazil are so cheap, same goes with raw lumber from Siberia, Sambo jackets from Pakistan or superchargers from China. There is also a reason(s) that shit costs what it does by the time it gets to the "first world".

That reason is primarily the massive difference in costs of labor, land, real estate and the difficulties of international business relationships. Write off these industrial cultures as inferior at your own expense. They are not inferior, merely underdeveloped; there is a difference.

I've already taken into account problems with machining and the likely nature of manufacturer's defects. That's why I have no intention of mass producing or machining anything beyond cutting the hoses to the correct length and perhaps some drilling.

I have no intention of creating any individual part that is necessarily new. I've looked all over the internet for deals on parts and chargers of various kinds. What I keep running into are these extremely specific chargers and pieces that are custom made for individual cars in the most popular venues (i realize there are many reasons for this, including the need to meet specific requirements found in different cars). There are many, many existing parts today, and many of them do the same job, but are merely tooled as to be incompatible. What I'm looking to do is find parts that I can put together in a modular form that can be adapted to different vehicles starting from a nice firm, functional and generic base on one car then building outward from there.




Just be careful. You'll probably need to get 5,000 units to justify the production run and the sample piece you get will not necessarily be anything like what you get in the shipment. Buyer beware, for sure.
5,000 units is a very steep estimate for an initial investment. I'm not planning on doing anything that big at first or taking the world by blitzkrieg; that would be like playing financial Russian roulette.

My plan is to start very small just to prove to myself that it can be done. Maybe 10 or 20 chargers at first once I have a prototype. The parts I expect I'll have to buy from multiple vendors. I'll keep overhead low by simply using my garage as work and storage space while having a virtual store front. So in the meantime, I plan to enlist at least a proficient full time mechanic to help get me started on the prototype.

Sirc
24th May 09, 09:30 PM
What resources do you use to find deals or sell parts?

Currently I just run around on the internet looking for deals on craigslist.

I have a friend in Oregon who just buys them up at auctions. And a family friend here has been importing japanese cars/parts for the last decade. That's how he's done made his living for the past 2 decades.

Basically, I have a large network. If I ever wanted to seriously get into it, it would be really easy.

Central California is the best for it because warehouse costs are cheap and everyone from LA to SF will come here to get stuff, they always do.

If I were seriously going to get into it, I would enlist the help of the family friend to hook me up with "Junkyards" in Japan. Ship the cars over here on containers and then strip them down and sell the parts using NASIOC, RS25, I-club, dirtyimpreza, etc.

Advertising isn't hard, it's getting the money to start is. Profit margins are really really really really high. There are hardly any vendors at the moment because the big thing was Hondas and those guys are still trying to sell all of their honda stuff before they dump a BUNCH of money into the Subaru stuff.

Honestly, Chris, now is the best time to get into the market. EVERYONE is fucking buying a god damned impreza right now. There aren't any good vendors and if you can establish a good reputation, you're golden.

For example, my friends and I run a side shop doing installs, selling small parts, etc. We make pretty decent side cash just doing it. Everyone with an Impreza in town comes to us because of our good relationship with them. We're very knowledgable in cars in general and have a good reputation.

We just don't have the money to expand ourselves. We're all 20somethings. The need for a reputable shop is in high demand. Google Perrin. They are the only reputable Subaru shop in America. They have enough money to have their own manufacturing plant just from selling Subaru parts. They have no competition.

Sun Wukong
25th May 09, 05:54 PM
I do like Subaru as a company. They make some damn fine automobiles; I just don't really like the look of the cars so much. Quality trumps aesthetics though.

Do you guys have your own shop you work out of?

Sun Wukong
25th May 09, 05:54 PM
Do you have a fully equipped shop, I should say.

Sun Wukong
25th May 09, 06:03 PM
From the research I've done so far, the most common cars on the modding scene are as follows:

Nissan 350z
Subaru WRX
Subaru STi
Honda Civic SI
Ford Mustang GT
Dodge Neon ST4
Mitsubishi Lancer EVO
Ford Focus
Chevy Cobalt
Volkswagen Jetta GLI
Volkswagen GTi


OK, that is a good list I think. Can anyone add to that? I'm trying to concentrate on newer model cars from around 2005 forward.

Sun Wukong
25th May 09, 06:05 PM
Naturally, I fully intend to purchase one of those vehicles after the planning stage is completely finished and go about violating factory guidelines like a raging barbarian.

theotherserge
25th May 09, 07:32 PM
That reason is primarily the massive difference in costs of labor, land, real estate and the difficulties of international business relationships. Write off these industrial cultures as inferior at your own expense. They are not inferior, merely underdeveloped; there is a difference.

oh, by "first world" I mean more directly: the over-regulated, fucktarded customs, government interference, UL standards, Union jackassery, special interest groups, local bureaucrats and the whole lot. They are there to make it more difficult to succeed and if you do, they are also there to take as much money from you as they can!



I've already taken into account problems with machining and the likely nature of manufacturer's defects. That's why I have no intention of mass producing or machining anything beyond cutting the hoses to the correct length and perhaps some drilling.

I have no intention of creating any individual part that is necessarily new. I've looked all over the internet for deals on parts and chargers of various kinds. What I keep running into are these extremely specific chargers and pieces that are custom made for individual cars in the most popular venues (i realize there are many reasons for this, including the need to meet specific requirements found in different cars). There are many, many existing parts today, and many of them do the same job, but are merely tooled as to be incompatible. What I'm looking to do is find parts that I can put together in a modular form that can be adapted to different vehicles starting from a nice firm, functional and generic base on one car then building outward from there.

this^is good. I missed this part and don't wanna re-read but are you fluent in Chinese or whichever language for where your manufacturer is? I know this is one of the biggest issues that people I know failed in, there is so much subtlety in an endeavour like this.




5,000 units is a very steep estimate for an initial investment. I'm not planning on doing anything that big at first or taking the world by blitzkrieg; that would be like playing financial Russian roulette.

that was based on something my dad looked into recently and an earlier associate was investigating (doors in Brazil). Basically, the cheaper the unit, the more they wanted you to commit to making. However, if you are culling parts they already produce then there is a better prospect of a smaller production run.


My plan is to start very small just to prove to myself that it can be done. Maybe 10 or 20 chargers at first once I have a prototype. The parts I expect I'll have to buy from multiple vendors. I'll keep overhead low by simply using my garage as work and storage space while having a virtual store front. So in the meantime, I plan to enlist at least a proficient full time mechanic to help get me started on the prototype.

good, good. This is where others have failed. The door guy was an architect who thought he could undercut everybody in NYC, he got himself royally screwed because he didn't understand the many vagarities of international business and importing.

Same with another party who thought they could get a huge shipment of Russian made plywood at 30% of the cost of local retail. They never saw their money again, the main dude was a Rhodes Scholar which I thought was hilarious cause when I asked him "How/why?" he told us that the Russians had contacted him via email. DUH.

Anyhow, just as many cautionary tales as I can think of cause I hate to see peeps get into trouble, if you have a good rapport building and you've thought of alot of details beyond "Gee, this should be cheep!" which is very good.

Sun Wukong
25th May 09, 08:57 PM
In answer to your question, no, I personally am not fully fluent in Chinese but I can speak it very poorly in a conversational sense. My wife however, is fluent and her father works as an industrial assessor for the asian stock market. Plus, both her parents plus herself and twin sister all have industrial engineering backgrounds. I'm not completely blind, but I have to rely on other informed people for my information for the most part.

theotherserge
25th May 09, 10:40 PM
OMG that^is a very big advantage. There are so many little parts to business transaction like this, the more you tell us, the better it sounds. I think you have a very good operating basis, but just IMO via internet ya'know.

Go out there and kick some a$$!

Sirc
26th May 09, 01:58 PM
Do you have a fully equipped shop, I should say.

Yep. We have that.



From the research I've done so far, the most common cars on the modding scene are as follows:

Nissan 350z
Subaru WRX
Subaru STi
Honda Civic SI
Ford Mustang GT
Dodge Neon ST4
Mitsubishi Lancer EVO
Ford Focus
Chevy Cobalt
Volkswagen Jetta GLI
Volkswagen GTi


OK, that is a good list I think. Can anyone add to that? I'm trying to concentrate on newer model cars from around 2005 forward.

Why only on newer cars?

The most commonly modded vehicles are 92-99 Civics and 94-2001 integras.

Sun Wukong
26th May 09, 06:31 PM
Well, I think that wave has already reached it's high water mark. I'd like to be able to find one that I won't have to discontinue or cancel within the next few years as I compete with already highly successful and modestly priced competitors already dominating the market. Plus, intuition would suggest there are so many used parts from those manufacturers in the market already, I don't think I'd like to take a chance on being able to compete with those products already in my target selling range.

See, I'm pretty much expecting to be able to put together a bare bones, modest turbo/super charger for a low reasonable price for people who want to add power, but don't want to drop $3000 to $7,500.00 on it.

Many of those people are going to be looking at used parts already and I'm not comfortable competing with a market that is already flooded with quality used parts.

That may be a mistake on my part, as I'm not completely familiar with this market yet. I'm educating myself as fast as possible on all this, but I'm still a little too ignorant about the market to make any definite declarations. Newer cars just seem like the safer option.

Sun Wukong
26th May 09, 06:34 PM
Of course, I won't really know how much HP I can safely squeeze out with stock pre-fabricated parts until I put together a prototype.

Edit: However, if I can put together a real contender on a reasonable budget, that would be ideal wouldn't it?

Sirc
28th May 09, 07:05 PM
It would be "ideal"

But you have to understand, Chris, that even if you could get a turbo kit out there for $1000, there will hardly be anybody who will buy it.

Most people want to buy cheap shit that gives them the illusion that they're buying something. For example, that company I was telling you about before, Perrin. They put out an awesome little gadget that allowed you to do on the fly engine management from your OBDII port. It was cool, it was cheap and it worked. A lot of people bought it.

Of course, now that they've established themselves, they haven't put anything out that is actually worth anything. They just made a bunch of cheap shit. Most recently they've been putting out cheap turbo kits. But they fucking suck ass. The intercoolers are made of steel, the turbos they use are shitty.

If you want to get into the market, the best car make is Subaru right now it's the new "it" company. Get some cheap products pushed out for it like intakes and exhausts. The biggest profit margins are from pistons actually. Even the forged ones. They're usually just stamped sheets of metal that cost like $5 to make and sell for something like $150/each.

If you have any questions, I'm sure I can educate you on the market much quicker than looking for the answers. You've got my number, call me, pm me, email me, etc.