Wednesday, April 01, 2009

"Detroit Makes Crappy Cars" NOT

How many times do we have hear that Detroit makes crappy cars and that's why the American auto business is in such trouble? For sure GM, Ford and Chrysler have some huge problems but the quality gap is really not one of them.

According to the J.D. Power and Associates 2009 Vehicle Dependability Study Buick joins Jaguar in the top spot. Yes, that Buick, a GM product.

J.D. Power and Associates - self described - a global marketing information services firm operating in key business sectors including market research, forecasting, performance improvement, Web intelligence and customer satisfaction. Their highly respected results are based on quality and satisfaction measurements that are based on responses from millions of consumers annually.

Everyone of us has a horror story of a past experience with a car that has forever tainted us. Being Americans that probably means it was an American car. Mine was with a Chrysler - I haven't bought one since. Of course my experience was in the 80's and one would think that things at Chrysler might have improved since then. Still, I would hesitate to even consider another Chrysler product. Am I being fair? Probably not. Am I being human? Definitely.

Imagine then in the 80's into 90's when Honda and Toyota were selling rock solid sedans to Americans who had just had a lousy experience with GM, Ford or Chrysler and you'd have your answer to why the American auto business is in such trouble. Bottom line: they lost their customers to a better product. Now that Detroit is building much, much better cars it is too little too late. It really is as simple as that. Why would they go back to the Big Three when they have been so happy with the foreign names.

The 2009 study also revealed that Toyota/Lexus still build fantastic cars as does Honda/Acura.

highlights from this year’s study:

* Buick and Jaguar (122 PP100 each) tie for the highest-ranking nameplates in vehicle dependability. Jaguar moves up nine rank positions from No. 10 in the 2008 study. Buick, which ranked No. 6 in 2008 and tied for the highest ranking with premium make Lexus in 2007, has ranked among the top 10 since 2003.

* Lexus ranks No. 3, with more than half of its eligible models receiving a segment award. In addition, the Lexus LS 430 sets a new standard in dependability, achieving an industry-best 61 PP100. Toyota (No. 4) and Mercury (No. 5) round out the top five brands.

“Buick has ranked among the top 10 nameplates each year since the study was last redesigned in 2003, while Jaguar has moved rapidly up the rankings,” said David Sargent, vice president of automotive research at J.D. Power and Associates. “Lexus remains a very strong competitor in long-term quality. In particular, the Lexus LS 430 sets the industry standard for dependability, with fewer problems reported than any other model in the study.”

With a GM and a Ford nameplate in the top five and 4 in the top 10 (out of 38) one should not continue to claim that Detroit builds crappy cars - but perception is reality and the fact is Detroit is to blame for not changing that perception. Being a GM owner and booster I am very sad for the condition the company finds itself in. Some of it is beyond their control, but most of it is of their own making.

Here's hoping that the Chevy Volt becomes the little engine that could... Change that perception, I mean.