Why German Autos Struggle with Reliability

Consumer Reports

Among auto industry report cards, the Consumer Reportsannual ranking of top makes and models is considered among the most important to watch.

Mainly because it's based on results from CR tests as well as consumer surveys on reliability.

And this year, the report tells us three things:

The overall quality of cars and trucks continues to improve.

Ford and Hyundai showed big improvements

The German automakers still don't get it when it comes to reliability

Here are the rankings of the top brands:

  1. Honda
  2. Subaru
  3. Toyota
  4. Volvo
  5. Ford
  6. Hyundai
  7. Mazda/Nissan
  8. Volkswagen
  9. Mercedes-Benz/BMW
  10. GM
  11. Chrysler

When you look at the list, you might say, "Well heck, why aren't you writing a blog about GM and Chrysler? After all, they finished below the German automakers."

That's right, they did. They also were both in bankruptcy a year and half ago.

Nobody's saying the GM and Chrysler don't have a long ways to go, but what stuck me about the conversation with Jon Linkov at Consumer Reports is why VW, BMW, and Mercedes are lagging in quality. Linkov compared the reliability of the Asian automakers with the German automakers saying, "Their (Toyota and Honda) systems don't fail. They don't seem to go on the fritz nearly the same way as the Germans. And it's the same thing year after year after year."

Linkov was pointing out how German cars/SUV's are still too complex, especially when it comes to electronics in the car. When I've been to Germany and have talked with designers at Mercedes, they've been quick to point out some of the latest innovations. And yes, they have some amazing technology - but gadgets and gizmos are only mind blowing if they work consistently.

It's a lesson the German automakers have yet to learn, based on the latest Consumer Reports rankings.

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