German unreliability

I suspect that many people, at least in these parts, think of German cars as maybe a little more expensive than others, but to compensate they are better designed, safer and more reliable; whereas Japanese ones, say, are cheaper, less solid and less well made. In fact, advertisements by Volkswagen, Audi, Mercedes and others often play on the particular image  of quality and solidity. But is it a correct one? Think again.

One of the consistent findings of car reliability surveys is that Japanese cars are best, and German luxury cars are worst. The latest American one, from consumerreports.org, finds that Acura, Honda, Hyundai, Infiniti, Scion, and Toyota are the most reliable cars, while BMW and Audi do very badly, and Mercedes is the least reliable of all. And just in case you think that might be a flawed survey, the evidence is the same in this report from CNN.

What amazes me is that German carmakers, who have clearly had some quality problems for some time, have still managed to retain the image of themselves as the main quality brands. How long can this last, if they do not improve reliability?

I must now confess that I am a Mercedes owner, and actually a satisfied one (not one of the largest models…).

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10 Comments on “German unreliability”

  1. wendymr Says:

    And I am a former (very satisfied) Honda owner, and a current Lexus (aka Toyota) owner, also extremely satisfied. We didn’t even bother test-driving the Mercedes in the same class, as it was considerably more expensive and offered far fewer features. The Audi we did test-drive ended up at the bottom of our list, for reasons of both comfort and performance.

    Yep, I don’t know what it is about the Germans these days…

  2. Vincent Says:

    When you say Carmakers you give the impression of Cabinetmaker. I’m fairly certain them days are long gone. It’s a bit like using Boulevard for Gardener Street or Baggots Street, or Capri for Dalkey Island.

  3. sartenada Says:

    LOL. I am smiling when reading this post. Statistics are statistics and real life is real life. In our family we have had since 1986 a German car called Opel. I had Opel Kadett 1.6 from 1986, Opel Vectra 1.8 1995, Opel Vectra 2.5 V6 turbo from 2003 and now I have Opel Vectra OPC 2.8 turbo V6 since 2007. Never had I had problems with all these Opel I have driven 950000 km / 590300 miles.

    My wife had Opel Kadett 1.2 from 1973, Opel Corsa 1.4 1993 and now Opel Vectra 2.2 from 2003.

    Also my father-in-law had Opel Astra 1.6, but he does not drive anymore because he is 93 years old.

    When I started driving cars in 1972, my car was Datsun 100a. Datsun is nowadays called Nissan. I had two Datsun 100a, first from 1972 and the second 1978. Although I drove with that last car about 10 years, I had small problems with it all the time. I was not so called “content customer”. I changed car model to Opel in 1986 and I have been very content with that car model since then. This is verified because I have driving different Opels during 24 years. Why change car model if one is content and do not have problems?

    My car Opel Vectra OPC 2.8 turbo V6 with 280 hp is not luxury car although it has all the same “yummies” than those so called luxury cars like Audi. It is a very typical family car with five doors and it is nearly fast. It is speeding from zero to 100km/h or 62 mi/h in 6.3 seconds. Top speed is 250km/h or 155mi/h and the top speed is electronically limited.

    When reading Your post I started to think that I am wrong with my experience since 1986 with Opel and the rest of world is right. LOL.

    Here is my post from my Opel with photos:

    http://sartenada.wordpress.com/2009/10/28/photographing-cars-fotografiando-coches-photographiant-voitures/

    Happy blogging to You.

  4. anna notaro Says:

    I think you just put your finger on what in media discourse is known as ‘brand power’, which in turn is cleverly constructed around long held (pseudo)notions of national character etc. As the founder and CEO of Nike once said ‘Nike does not simply sells shoes, it sells an image’

  5. copernicus Says:

    I do not drive, and hence have very little knowledge of cars and their engineering quality. But all my German friends own German cars, that is is to be applauded. My first job some decades ago was in an engineering company (I was a fresh EE degree holder) where my boss was a German engineer (I wish I can say more about this remarkable engineer), and all the machines we had-mechanical and electrical were German made and worked flawlessly. He trained me through leading, and I never forget the high value he placed on process and product quality. Like in all areas the Japanese emulated German engineering excellence (There were Japanese engineers from Toshiba in the above engineering company I mentioned and they were very eager to learn from our German boss), and took it to another level.

  6. Fred Says:

    Well, I think that German manufacturers marketing their car’s quality of interior space as a proof of a mechanical quality and thus reliability. I can not say if this is actualy true but I can say that I had an Italian car in the past which despite any statistics was actualy pretty reliable!

  7. Al Says:

    Me 01 BMW is still going well at 170,000, touch wood!!
    Mahogany- on the dash….


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