Pickin' cotton in Alabama (instead of concentrating on cars)

While most of you don't have the pleasure of reading our very own Jeremy Clarkson's words of wisdom on cars every Sunday (in the UK Sunday Times), I know that many of you have heard of him through other ways, so you may like
to hear about his comments on the results of a recent BBC Top Gear customer satisfaction survey. Top Gear is a top motoring programme and has a classy magazine associated with it.
http://www.bbc.co.uk/topgear/survey /
Of 142 cars surveyed in the UK, the M-Class was BOTTOM for reliability.
Clarkson gives two reasons two reasons..."appalling dealer network but also because it's made in Alabama, where the locals are good at picking cotton, singing mournful songs and listening to Lynyrd Skynyrd but not so good at attaching complicated pieces of machinery to one another."
You can read the whole article -- which is mainly about the new Peugeot 407 -- here (see page 2): http://driving.timesonline.co.uk/article/0,,12529-1376145,00.html
(Just for comparison, only one west European brand was in the top ten, Jag at No. 2).
What do you think about the workers of Alabama...?...
DAS
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I hear Alabama is a nice place and the workers just do what they are told.
Mr. Clarkson sounds like a colorful person. Peugeot sounds like it has an excellent market niche.
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Yes and yes.
I like Peugeot's smaller cars but their reliablity may not be up to scratch. Did pretty badly in the same BBC customer satisfaction survey.
DAS
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I don't know about the survey, but I've watched 'Top Gear' on BBC World (now on Speed Channel as 'Fifth Gear') many times, and it seems Clarkson can't mention any German car he's reviewing without some mention of WW II. Even though (I think) he actually bought an SL55 with his own money, nearly every show segment on a German car makes an oblique (and sometimes not so oblique) reference to the Battle of Britain, Spitfires, Messerschmitts, The Blitz, &c, &c. The 'cotton picking in Alabama' remark would suggest he's got a problem with stereotyping.
John M. '94 E320 Made in Sindelfingen
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     snipped-for-privacy@SPAMtelusplanet.net writes:

IMHO, Mr Clarkson's big problem is that he is superficial, brash, glib and head-over-heels in love with his own sheer wondrousness. Cannot bring myself to waste more life time in watching the fool. -- Andrew Stephenson
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I believe that reliability issues are primarily caused by low cost/quality commponents. MB's and Chrysler's track records are not very good in this regard. Assembly operations are pretty well automated and quality control processes are very effective in a modern assembly plant. Please note that Nissan (similar reliability record to Toyota) is assembled in Smyrna, TN not to far from Alabama. The workers there probably have the same music preferences. I find it interesting that the Jag was at N0.2. Any BBC bias here? An acquaintance recently purchased one of these. After numerous electrical problems, transmission failure all within 6,000 miles she traded it for a Lexus.
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In the past Jag was a byword for techical crappiness (except for great appearance and ride) but after Ford's billions things went very much uphill. For quite a while Jaguar has been doing well in satisfaction surveys, incl J D Power in UK.
Regarding your acquaintance's experience I am a bit surprised. Well, everyone can produce a lemon.
My brother-in-law has a large Jag saloon, bought as a used company car off his brother-in-law and he is very happy with it.
DAS
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Nice try to blame the workers. If this was true, why are Toyota's built few hundred miles from there very reliable. I think MB just went down hill since the whole Chrysler fiasco. Nothing beats an older diesel Mercedes in terms of reliability, but everything built now is junk.
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On Wed, 1 Dec 2004 13:06:46 -0600, "Dan J.S." wrote:

Ahhh the sweet smell of a broad sweeping generalisation :o) Mike
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Nope.. All models inclusive...
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Mine isn't (we're talking Mercs here, I take it).
DAS
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On Thu, 2 Dec 2004 14:41:49 -0000, "Dori A Schmetterling" wrote:

Well, I read it as it was written, "everything"! Mike
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It was my firm belief that the british journalists are the best examples of this profession, and that the good old Times is one of the most serious periodicals around the world. But I was wrong. They are giving room to bloody storytellers where we expect unbiased facts;-)
Actually I have heard about some reliabilty issues with the M-class, but I do not take these customer satisfaction indices too serious. Maybe it is much, much harder to satisfy the buyer of a 50.000 $ Mercedes than the buyer of a 10.000 $ Nissan Micra? And maybe the current Jaguar owners are pleased with the fact that Jaguar nowadays uses Bosch starters which sometimes work instead of the Lucas starters they used to install in the 60's?
The other day I read a customer satisfaction survey in Germany, and the headline said something like "Japanese brands beat German brands, Mercedes only rated position 8". Then I looked into the figures and found out that there was a range of indices, starting Toyota with .84, and ending with Fiat at .74. So the difference between the best and the worst brand was only 10%, which means that the difference between the single brands is close to zero.
Frank
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