German Cars Disappoint Car Owners

From Deutsche Welle 28/11/03
Mercedes and BMW for all their glamour, aren't the preferred choice of German car-owners, according to two surprising new surveys released this
week.
When it comes to overall ratings, nothing tops the charts like a Mercedes Benz. But for everyday use, German car-owners prefer Japanese cars to the legendary names of their native country.
The stunning news is the result of two surveys conducted separately by car magazine AutoBILD and German car-insurer ADAC. The so-called Automarxx survey, conducted by ADAC with the Center for Automotive Research at Gelsenkirchen Technical College, asked more than 38,000 car owners to rank international car companies in terms of consumer satisfaction.
The German automobile industry's first entry on the list is Porsche at number eight. Toyota and Honda lead a pack of Asian rivals in the first seven spots.
The study, which will first be released to the public next week, is sure to disappoint the likes of Mercedes and Audi, who apparently enjoy a better reputation abroad than at home.
Not even in the top five
Covering a range of areas from company strength and market position to design and environmental friendliness, the latest Automarxx survey is the first to feature a Consumer Satisfaction section.
The consumer questionnaires looked at both the products and service of 33 manufacturers, and included ratings of electronics, motor power and comfort as well as of cost and standards of garage work.
While German brands Mercedes, BMW, Audi, Volkswagen and Porsche still occupy the top five of the Overall Rating section, they barely figure in the Consumer Satisfaction top ten, beaten by Toyota at number one, followed by other Asian competitors such as Subaru, Honda and Mazda.
Quality over image
The competition is not surprised by the results. Speaking from the Essen Motor Show, which opened on Thursday, Mazda's Peter Tuhl told Deutsche Welle that Mazda's position in the top five reflected the Japanese company's enduringly high technical standards.
He said a Mazda owner experiences "lasting satisfaction." A German car owner, on the other hand, is more like a "disappointed lover who realizes the first promises aren't going to come true".
The survey results seem to back up the mark. Mercedes has no problem with its image, but rather with its follow-through, according to the results.
Dr. Ferdinand Dudenhffer, who led the survey, said the emphasis German companies like Mercedes place on innovation comes at the expense of production quality.
"Every technical innovation increases the risk of a break-down," he says."In this respect, Toyota is more conservative, which may not be good for its image, but is very beneficial in terms of reliability."
"Made in Germany" loses clout
The AutoBILD survey confirms the trend. The first German entry on the list is BMW at number five, again trumped by Asian rivals.
VW CEO Dr. Bernd Pischetsrieder admitted to AutoBILD that "in technical terms, Toyota is better then us. But not just us."
The results of the Automarxx survey are a blow to Stuttgart-based Mercedes in particular, which comes in at an astonishingly low number 32. Other German manufacturers fared equally badly, with Volkswagen at number 31 and Opel only four places higher.
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Motor Show Optimism Spreads to Market The guarded optimism that surrounded the Frankfurt Motor Show last month is proving to be well founded. ( Oct. 9, 2003) German Auto Industry Experiences a Revival After a strike-plagued summer, things are looking up for the German automobile industry. (Aug. 11, 2003)
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Toyota and Honda actually have a simbiotic relationship with Mercedes-Benz. If Mercedes stopped making cars, the Japanese would soon follow- as they would soon have nothing to copy.
Bill Ditmire Ditmire Motorworks,Inc. 425 White Horse Pike Absecon,NJ 08201 http://www.ditmire.com 609-641-3392
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That's absolutely true. I remember in college a classmate of mine who bet me to allow him to see my test sheet actually always gets better grade than I did. There're people who is capable of nothing except copying, cleverly done though, but are still copiers, and stay that way,.....
cheers,

Mercedes-Benz. If

would
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Mercedes-Benz. If Mercedes stopped making cars, the Japanese would soon follow- as they would soon have nothing to copy. <
This is an old perception that is simply no longer true, Bill. However, there's no doubt the Germans innovate at a level beyond much of the auto industry. However, the law of diminishing returns may be at play here, as, for example, the BMW I Drive system is not being well received and is really hurting BMW reliability ratings.
What I think this survey points out is the surprising decline in the home market's perception of German cars' dependability vs. the Japanese competition. Like most of the EU, Germany has very strict import controls on Japanese auto imports, so the domestic brands will never be challenged in terms of market share. However, Japanese brands have a very good reputation in Germany now and are considered very desirable. One of my former bosses at VW of America is an executive with Lexus in Germany, their entire allocation is sold out for 18 - 24 months in advance.
Given their engineering prowess and the strong and sound business positions the German companies find themselves in, there's no reason why they should be having these kinds of reliability problems. Most of this is driven by finance goons ordering senseless cost cutting at the expense of quality.
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big
Well, this whole "the Japanese can only copy" issue is mostly just a fable. However, they rarely come to market with new innovations, it's just that when they do finally install piece of technology, like Navigation or smart cruise, the stuff works. Plus, it's clear they do a far better job in the USA of getting their dealers ready for new technology, and have done a massively better job of getting their retail organization capable of handling increased volumes. Both MB and BMW have been in a knee-jerk mode for 5 years trying to get their dealers to increase service capacity. Add to this many quality problems and you have customers with expensive, broken cars they can't get fixed.
Having been in and around the Euro luxury auto industry for years one thing became clear, Lexus is for real. They build fine automobiles and provide great service. We "reverse engineered" (i.e., stripped to the bones) several LS 400s and SC 400s and our engineering folks were extremely impressed. In fact, we ultimately just began to source componentry like engine management systems and climate control from Denso, etc., rather than continuing with the European vendors we'd been using. They simply couldn't match the Japanese vendors for quality.
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Well which is it? They either copy, or they innovate. According to YOU, they do not innovate. Therefore...
Bill Ditmire Ditmire Motorworks,Inc. 425 White Horse Pike Absecon,NJ 08201 http://www.ditmire.com 609-641-3392
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they do not innovate. Therefore... <
Using well tested, tried & true technology is not "copying", in my book anyway. If all they did was steal the technology right down to the casting, yeah, that's copying, but using contemporary styling (which, btw, they don;t seem to be doiung any longer) or adoting competitive feature content that, WORKS, no, that's not copying.
One thing I'm certain they won't do is adopt the MB Command system, or the BMW I Drive nonsense.
I once asked asked Greg Penske who was better MB or Lexus. (Greg is Roger Penske's son and owner of every high end luxury car franchise.) Greg canbdidly stated there was no comparison in terms of quality & reliability, Lexus was tops, hands down. He qualified that by saying Lexus rarely took chances with tecxhnology, they let others pioneer, have their problems, etc. He claimed MBs technology was superior in general, but far more trouble prone. This was in '98, not sure what he'd say now, but he's as good a source as any.
MB doesn't have any edge on long term reliability either, Lexus has a very active high mileage club going, many cars over 200k miles & still going strong.
In the end there's the old story about how to identify the pioneers....they're the ones full of arrows.

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thing
several
management
Who is "we" and what product were you reverse engineering for?
Larry 99 S 420
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In
with
Jaguar
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dies gedichtet:

All these consumer surveys are rubbish. The Germans have copied them from the USA, where JD Powers and such are THE big thing. I do not believe them.
It is a fact that currently there is public rumble about a lack of durability with german cars, so many people like to say such things as "My Mercedes breaks twice a week, next time I'll be buying a japanese". If you look at the markte share of japanese cars in Germany, you will easily find that even french cars sell better over here.
IIRC these surveys do not answer the question: How good is this car?", but "How far does this car fulfill your expectations?" Japanese cars seem to deliver what their customers want. I seriously doubt that drivers, who are not satisfied with a german car, would be satisfied with a japanese car.
I assume that the main reason for the disappointment over german cars is the bad ratio between price and value. If you buy a Golf for 30.000 bucks, for sure you expect a dream car. But it is not. It is just a quite well made compact car with some flaws. Some months ago I had a Golf TDI with manual 6 speed gearbox and 130 HP diesel direct injection engine. The thing ran like hell, the finish was stunning and the EPS helped me out of a winter storm although the car did not have the right tires. I liked that very much. OTOH I found the engine way too loud and the steereing wheel mounted too low for my taste. I would never spend 30.000 bucks for such a car.
To make a long story short: If Germans would rate japanese cars higher than german cars, they would buy them in larger numbers. Japanese cars are not rare in Germany but their market share is far from confirming the survey results.
I think you can compare that to the current political situation in Germany: 75 percent of the people dislike the politics of Federal Chancellor Schroeder - but 62 percent think that the opposition would neither do a good job.
Frank
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I drive a 1990 300TE, and have had my share of repairs. I still enjoy the car for what it is: a solid, safe automobile that drives well (with purpose-specific studless snow tires) in the snow despite rear wheel drive. It has a certain reassuring, consistent feel. It can cruise at 90mph without the "cheap" road feel of a Honda Accord, or even the slightly harsher feel of a Lexus ES300 at the same speed. It has a high-quality, safe feel, even with 200,000 miles. I have replaced bushings and front struts, and it rides extremely smooth and competently. It burns through brake pads and rotors with alarming speed, but I enjoy the heavy solid feel on the road.
If you can find a good, fair mechanic (NOT a dealership) you can have repair costs that aren't prohibitive.
I have owned 3 Subarus, and have enjoyed their reliability and traction in snow/rain/gravel. My arse didn't enjoy the thin, cheap seats. I have owned a Toyota pickup that I drove from Colorado to Los Angeles, twice, with a dry radiator, in the summer!!! Absolutely reliable and low-maintenance.
I drove a 1996 BMW 325i from Pheonix to Colorado, through some canyons. The car was amazing. I could add 35mph to any posted speed limit at a curve, and the car handled with aplomb, not feeling rushed or hurried at all. It jittered and rattled a little bit (fit and finish issues?), even though it had < 60k miles. My Subarus didn't handle like that. And my 300TE doesn't jitter or rattle at all. It is tight, like a bank vault.
I guess it comes down to the total experience. There are trade-offs in terms of reliability, driving experience, safety, quality of materials, ergonomics, etc.
Drive what you want. Make yourself happy. :-)
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