back to article 1,000mph ROCKET CAR project dogged by beancounters

The hand-to-mouth existence of the incredible Bloodhound Supersonic car has been revealed in a blog post by project director Richard Noble. Noble slams the UK as a nation of bean counters for the difficulty he’s having in raising finance, stating that we have six times as many accountants as doctors and more than the rest of …

  1. Zog_but_not_the_first Silver badge
    Holmes

    The love of money is the root of all evil

    Dead right

    "Noble slams the UK as a nation of accountants for the difficulty he’s having in raising finance, stating that we have six times as many accountants as doctors and more than the rest of the EU put together. He also says that accountants only look at the downsides the lucre stuffed into their palms by those whom they serve."

    1. graeme leggett

      Re: The love of money is the root of all evil

      "six times as many accountants as doctors "

      Unsurprising since companies over a certain size will probably employ one or more, and at a much lower ratio than that of GPs to population (1:1000 to 1:2000 ?)

      1. Zog_but_not_the_first Silver badge

        Re: The love of money is the root of all evil

        And for other countries?

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Meh

          Re: The love of money is the root of all evil

          Well, depending on which report you read, and how you look at it, London is either THE financial capital of the world or second, with the other main player being New York.

          So hardly surprising it has more accountants.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: The love of money is the root of all evil

        Yes, but consider that Germany alone is larger than the UK, and produces significantly more than the UK. Quite why the UK might need more accountants than Germany, let alone the 24 other countries of the EU does raise some questions - if indeed it really is true.

        Let's not forget, it was beancounters who ultimately did for the UK car industry. It was run by them, whereas the German one was (and still is) run by engineers.

        The UK economy is largely based on people in suits shouting down telephones or juggling spreadsheets and shuffling money about. Very little actually being produced unfortunately, at least in comparison to other major industrialized countries.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: The love of money is the root of all evil

          it was beancounters who ultimately did for the UK car industry

          I thought it was a combination of shit car designs, shit quality control, shit managers and shit workers.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: The love of money is the root of all evil

            "I thought it was a combination of shit car designs, shit quality control, shit managers and shit workers"

            .....and imported half-decent Japanese cars?

            Though it wasn't as if they hadn't had a warning with the British motorcycle industry.

          2. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: The love of money is the root of all evil

            I thought it was a combination of shit car designs, shit quality control, shit managers and shit workers.

            Yes, however who is ultimately responsible for hiring shit designers, approving shit designs, implementing poor quality control, hiring poor staff and providing a very poor work environment, presumably because it saved a few quid? I am sure we've all had experience of being at companies run by people who do not fundamentally understand the products or processes that their business is based on.

            1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

              Re: The love of money is the root of all evil

              And yet the same shit workers operate Europe's most efficient car plant in Sunderland.

              All it needed was Japanese designs, Japanese management and Japanese accountants.

            2. I. Aproveofitspendingonspecificprojects

              Waiting lists... for rubbish?

              There is only that one explanation for world dominance such as the triumph Bonneville whose normally aspirated engine broke the world speed record in the 1950's IIC with speeds of over 200mph.

              And subsequently lead to the demise of a company that had the only upper class market "Landrover" for a decade and more -with both industries sporting decade long waiting lists. A calumny Honda and Nissan were only too keen to help assuage.

              The filled their output with rubbish because people were so willing to put up with rubbish just to get one. The thing is once they had the rubbish they learned it wasn't worth waiting for. It was all about strike powered unemployment for when production met targets for too long in a run.

              It wouldn't surprise me that some union leaders had a share in constructing the scenarios not because of communist interference but because they were stuck up the management backsides so far they waltzed to the toilets together.

          3. Chika

            Re: The love of money is the root of all evil

            Yes to all that. Shit workers, cars, management, the lot.

            Pay peanuts, after all...

          4. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: The love of money is the root of all evil

            There are no shit workers, just shit managers...

          5. DanceMan

            Re: The love of money is the root of all evil

            It's not quite that simple. British engineers like Alec Issigonis were brilliant. He invented the Mini and Austin 1100, the prototype of all modern tranverse engine fwd cars. But the detail work was miserable. On the Austin 1100, the inside door pulls were a U-shaped plastic hinged handle held at each end by a single screw, which when it loosened and the metal holder pivoted, would allow the handle to fall out. Back in the day when I hitched a ride in one, the handle was often missing.

            Our family had one a couple of years old, decently maintained. The wipers would foul each other, throttle cable stuck wide open twice, rear brake stuck on almost burning up that wheel, rear subframe rubber mounts failed. Finally the transmission went. After fixing it, my dad got another cramped, 1930's design VW Beetle.

            Shit workers, crap detail engineering, miserable work environment? It all flows down from bad management. But don't knock Brit design. Where are most of the F1 teams located? And which country's teams have won most F1 races and championships over the last 20 or 30 years?

          6. Castor

            Re: The love of money is the root of all evil

            It was lack of investment by the bean counters who knew better than the engineers.

            I was there.

          7. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: The love of money is the root of all evil

            And the unions insisting doing up a nut and bolt was a 2 man job

        2. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: The love of money is the root of all evil

          > let alone the 24 other countries of the EU

          26.

          Plus Germany and the UK, for a total of 28.

          1. DougS Silver badge

            Shit managers, shit workers, et al

            Don't forget the shit unions. Can't speak for the UK, but in the US the unions acquired more and more power over the years to where they went from a position where the unions helped the workers in a big way because they worked terrible hours in unsafe conditions to where the unions were one of the major reasons why things went downhill.

            One of the ways unions protected workers in the early days was to require a certain number of people for a particular job, to insure it could be done safely. That was all well and good, but as better methods to do a job were found, the union contracts still specified the old number of workers, and the unions didn't want to give that up even when contracts were renegotiated. They wanted to protect people's jobs to the point that some US automakers had as many of a quarter of their workers being paid to do nothing, because they couldn't be laid off.

            When automation started to happen, Japan took the lead because they didn't have all the laws protecting workers from being replaced by machines. So they could move to more modern methods, while US companies couldn't because the unions would force them to keep the same number of people involved in that assembly step and even if they didn't would force them to keep the workers on the payroll.

            Had that not happened, a lot of that automation would have been developed in the US (and I assume the UK) which would have created jobs that more than made up for those lost by the unionized auto workers. I know, I know, that's small comfort to those workers who would be laid off and couldn't get jobs designing, building or maintaining the assembly line robots. All that did was delay the pain and cause much larger job losses down the line. Detroit is now a shadow of its former self because of this short sighted protectionism, and the auto workers who kept their jobs because of this now have smaller pensions because of the huge hit the automakers took by delaying the necessary changes for far too long.

            I know some people read this and think to themselves "attack on the unions, he must be a republican/tory, burn him at the stake!" but while the unions did a lot of necessary good in the past, the pendulum swung too far in their favor against company management and the fall from grace of unions over the past few decades was the inevitable result.

            1. Frankee Llonnygog

              Re: Shit managers, shit workers, et al

              With the erosion of workers' rights, rise in zero hours contracts, etc, maybe it's time the pendulum swung back again.

        3. I. Aproveofitspendingonspecificprojects

          Very little actually being produced

          > The UK economy is largely based on people in suits shouting down telephones or juggling spreadsheets and shuffling money about. Very little actually being produced.

          The reason for this is that in the first class for bean-counting: Office Practice 101 or whatever the newts are taught the first law of human beans:

          "First spend no money"

        4. GitMeMyShootinIrons

          Re: The love of money is the root of all evil

          "Let's not forget, it was beancounters who ultimately did for the UK car industry. It was run by them, whereas the German one was (and still is) run by engineers."

          Nationalisation handed it over to the unions and the bureaucrats in Whitehall. The former destroyed the work ethic and drove wages to uncompetitive levels and as a consequence, we built expensive, shoddy cars. The latter lead to poor business management leading to designing cars for non-existent markets, sometimes products that competed amongst themselves (better than they do against imports anyway!) and selling products at a loss because they couldn't 'do the numbers'.

          Government intervention in the UK from the 50's onwards was a heavy-handed disaster. The only segments not nationalised are the only ones that remain in any size and made money later - the financial and service industries.

    2. boltar Silver badge

      Re: The love of money is the root of all evil

      "Noble slams the UK as a nation of accountants for the difficulty he’s having in finding enough mugs to pay for his expensive and pointless boys ego toy"

      There, fixed it for you.

  2. Dr. Mouse Silver badge

    Bloodhound originally used a Cosworth Formula 1 engine as a fuel pump but with the new sponsorship from Jaguar Land Rover, a 550hp Jaguar engine has been pressed into service.

    I may be wrong, but I had heard the reason they are not using a Cosworth F1 engine is because there are no Cosworth F1 engines anymore. They are no longer being produced, due to the change in engine regulations.

    1. hardboiledphil

      Cosworth still make engines for other race series: http://www.cosworth.com/products/racing-engines/gp-series/

      It could also be an old F1 Cosworth engine - don't recall anything saying it had to be a current F1 engine.

    2. Malcolm 1

      The reason given by a member of the Bloodhound team was that Cosworth backed out because they needed to cut back on non revenue generating projects, presumably due to financial pressures.

      The less rarified jag engine is also far less likely to cause problems than the cosworth f1 exotica.

      1. Phil O'Sophical Silver badge

        Who cares who makes it, they're using a 550BHP engine as a fuel pump, FFS! That's proper sheddery :)

  3. Frankee Llonnygog

    There's no accounting for awesomeness.

    More's the pity.

    1. Robert Helpmann?? Silver badge
      Childcatcher

      Re: There's no accounting for awesomeness.

      ... and no awesomeness in accounting!

  4. BasicChimpTheory

    Curse those accountants for not recognising the broad utility of 1,000mph passenger vehicles!!!

    1. Steve Davies 3 Silver badge
      Pirate

      Accountants are BOF's

      Their sole goa lin life is to stop anyone from having fun.

      "It costs too much"

      "There is no viable ROCI on that plan."

      "The payback for this investment is more than three months. Anything longer is just not going to get approved."

      Maybe we should add Accountants to the list of processions that will be eliminated along with Politicians and Lawyers comd the revolution?

      {Only joking Mr NSA/GCHQ honest}

    2. Frankee Llonnygog

      Re: 1,000mph passenger vehicles

      Only 980mph in a school zone...

  5. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Common Sense Prevails

    Its not as if you can drive it on Britains roads, is it?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      FAIL

      Re: Common Sense Prevails

      Nor can you drive a Euro fighter on the roads either, so your point is?

      1. Elmer Phud

        Re: Common Sense Prevails

        A fully armed Euro fighter?

        Who's gonna argue?

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Common Sense Prevails

          But can it shoot backwards when it's got some t***er in a BMW tailgating.....

          (Does the highway code prohibit the use of afterburner?)

          1. chivo243 Silver badge
            Flame

            Re: Common Sense Prevails

            Afterburner prohibited, but call it a driving safety enhancement, and you're good! Accompanying icon is a close as I could get to said DSE.

          2. Simon Rockman

            Re: Common Sense Prevails

            Jay Leno has a gas turbine powered bike. he said that in traffic it can melt the fender of cars which get too close.

            https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sM7PK5d2Yug

      2. boltar Silver badge

        Re: Common Sense Prevails

        "Nor can you drive a Euro fighter on the roads either, so your point is?"

        Err, a eurofighter has a point. This idiotic car doesn't. If Richard Noble wants to go play with the ultimate boys toy then let him pay for it humself.

        1. Frankee Llonnygog

          Re: Common Sense Prevails

          Solving engineering challenges is never pointless - in the long run.

          1. boltar Silver badge

            Re: Common Sense Prevails

            "Solving engineering challenges is never pointless - in the long run."

            There are plenty of more worthwhile challenges that could be solved with the money. Going extremely fast in a straight line on an extremely flat surface using a rocket strapped on to 4 wheels probably isn't quite in the top 10.

        2. Tall41

          Re: Common Sense Prevails

          There would be no new things if people with vision didn't attempt the impossible. this kind of project in isolation doesn't make sense but all of the collateral knowledge gained is what helps us move forward with new technology.

          1. boltar Silver badge

            Re: Common Sense Prevails

            "There would be no new things if people with vision didn't attempt the impossible. this kind of project in isolation doesn't make sense but all of the collateral knowledge gained is what helps us move forward with new technology."

            Ok, like what? Ground breaking new jet or rocket technology? No. Aerodynamics? No. Control systems? No. Oversized egos? Yes!

            1. Vladimir Plouzhnikov

              Re: Common Sense Prevails

              I agree with Boltar. This "project" has all the engineering and scientific value of a sausage speed-eating competition except there isn't even a competition.

              I mean, I don't mind a bunch of guys building a rocket on wheels for fun in their spare time but that in itself does not entitle them to sulk at the world for not showering them in cash and rose petals.

              As one of my kids said when we visited their stand at RIAT'13 - "it already looks like an unfinished aeroplane, why don't they just add wings to their contraption and fly it?"

  6. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Right

    Everyone should fund someone else's entertainment. I don' think so. If you don't have the beans then maybe you should try something less expensive for entertainment.

  7. Mystic Megabyte Silver badge
    Meh

    Meh!

    It's just a rocket on wheels, who gives a toss. Donald Campbell's Bluebird was the last true super-car.

  8. CN Hill

    Nice to see HTP + catalyst pack making a comeback.

    http://www.spaceuk.org/htp/htp.htm

    1. Vic

      Nice to see HTP + catalyst pack making a comeback.

      I was chatting to a REME engineer on the Bloodhound stand a while back.

      He was somewhat surprised that this HTP lark wasn't new technology. I told him the story of the Sidon...

      Vic.

  9. Florida1920
    Pint

    The love of horsepower

    A 550-hp fuel pump! Be still, my heart.

    1. Titus Aduxass
      Pint

      Re: The love of horsepower

      550 hp is peanuts.

      One of my favourite facts is that the fuel pump for the F1 rocket engine (which powered the Saturn V) was 50,000 horse power. But then it did have to pump *three* *tons* of propellant per second. And there were five F1 engines in the first stage don't forget...

      Be still, my heart, indeed.

      1. boltar Silver badge

        Re: The love of horsepower

        "But then it did have to pump *three* *tons* of propellant per second."

        3 tons per second is no big deal - plenty of municipal water pumps manage far more than that.

        1. Steven Raith

          Re: The love of horsepower

          Municipal water pumps aren't constrained by weight, power supply or tend make things explode big time if they go wrong.

          1. boltar Silver badge

            Re: The love of horsepower

            "Municipal water pumps aren't constrained by weight, power supply or tend make things explode big time if they go wrong."

            No, but water pumps do have to work pretty much 24/7/365 for decades, not just last for 60 seconds then get binned. And they have to be built not to contaminate the water they're pumping or risk making a million people sick.

            1. Steven Raith

              Re: The love of horsepower

              You've missed the point so spectacularly that I can barely believe it.

              They are completely, utterly different usage cases - the only similarity being that both are required to push liquids around at high speed/pressure.

  10. Gordon 10 Silver badge
    FAIL

    I wonder if

    Mr Noble would be so quick to slag off the accountants at Jaguar and Rolex who signed off his lucrative sponsorship deals?

  11. 2+2=5 Silver badge

    Nobel gas bag

    > Noble slams the UK as a nation of accountants for the difficulty he’s having in raising finance, stating that we have six times as many accountants as doctors

    There are 320K accountants registered as members of UK accountancy bodies (not all working in the UK)[1] and 267K doctors registered[2].

    With maths like that, I hope Nobel isn't doing the engineering on the car.

    [1] https://www.frc.org.uk/Our-Work/Publications/Professional-Oversight/Key-Facts-and-Trends-in-the-Accountancy-Profession.aspx

    [2] http://www.gmc-uk.org/doctors/register/search_stats.asp

    1. jonathanb Silver badge

      Re: Nobel gas bag

      The Financial Reporting Council covers Ireland as well as the UK, and a lot of the accountants in Malaysia are registered with one of the UK accountancy bodies.

      1. Gordon 10 Silver badge

        Re: Nobel gas bag

        And probably India and Poland as well. Although no doubt some of the quacks are too.

  12. Banksy
    FAIL

    So?

    What has the number of accountants got to do with anything? This sort of venture needs a madcap billionaire to fund it (a Branson or Musk). Not being able to raise funds has little to do with accountants unless they are solely approaching limited companies for sponsorship.

    1. Francis Boyle Silver badge

      Branson maybe

      but Musk has real vision. Even when the project is a bit out there like the hyperloop it's not mere dick measuring. (And if Branson has any aspiration to be the British Musk he'd be better off funding SABRE.)

  13. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Which tosspot consultants?

    God I hope that Crapita, Pissy WC or Assenture aren't supplying bean counters given how well they've bean UNcounted on other public projects...

  14. Sorry that handle is already taken. Silver badge

    Fundraising

    I have a feeling that every Reg reader who wants to might already have done so, but it might have been worth mentioning that they also take donations from the public on their website. They'll even stick your name (in 8pt type...) on the substantial vertical tail if you do!

    1. Jan 0
      Flame

      Re: Fundraising

      Well, now that they're accepting funding from Swiss and Indian companies, the project seems a lot less British and a lot more international. As a British subject, I feel less inclined to contribute. Also, as Mystic MegaByte points out, this is hardly a worthy successor to Bluebird.

      1. david bates

        Re: Fundraising

        Theres a completely different record for cars with driven wheels.

        This is an engineering challenge that is involving schools, universities etc. Its also a great adventure. Noone has EVER done this before and I think it'll be not only the largest ever numerical increase in the land speed record, but the largest percentage increase as well.

        Anyway, designed in Britain, engineered as far as possible in Britain, Jaguar fuel pump, Eurofighter jet engine...hoe much more British do you want?

  15. Tim99 Silver badge
    Flame

    Ignition

    Simon,

    Thanks for the link to "Ignition!". I worked at one of the places mentioned with a number of the materials discussed. A particular joy of HTP was that, when over about 85%, it could set your clothing and hair on fire...

    1. Squeezer

      Re: Ignition

      Clothing and hair -- you were lucky! Chlorine trifluoride (CTF) even sets sand and asbestos on fire...

  16. Tall41

    example of bean count failure

    Can you work this one out...

    multi million production facility has a million pound machine that is vital to its operation cost £1000 per minute when it doesn't run and is therefore regularly serviced. a vital part on this machine costs £10,000 and lasts for 5 years.

    spare purchased when machine installed and put in stores(doesn't deteriorate)....

    Enter the bean counters who each year rite off a part of the cost of this part until after 4 years it has no value and is thrown away and removed from stock.

    9 months later the machine is broken and has to stop for 3 weeks as the new part is made and shipped.???????

    Don't know about you guys but this doesn't seem to add up to me.

    Perhaps a friendly bean counter can let me in on the secret!

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: example of bean count failure

      "Enter the bean counters who each year rite off a part of the cost of this part until after 4 years it has no value and is thrown away and removed from stock."

      Bean counters should value it as a true and fair value - which would be something like the lowest between resale and scrap values. Write downs each year are more to do with offsetting against tax.

      Throwing something of actual value away because an arbitrary paper value hits/nears zero sounds more like a problem of employing idiots than anything to do with bean counters.

  17. Rick Brasche

    a V8 as the pump?

    a hydrazine powered turbopump was good enough for my ancestors, it's good enough for kids these days! :) sheesh. It's not like it's rocket surgery or anything ;)

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