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
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
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 Dudenhöffer, who led the survey, said the emphasis German
companies like Mercedes place on innovation comes at the expense of
"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.
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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