By on October 6, 2011

Remember the video of Volkswagen CEO Martin Winterkorn testing the quality of the new Hyundai i30? Thanks to Autobild, we’ve found a companion video from the Frankfurt Show, in which Winterkorn, along with VW Chairman Ferdinand Piech, gives the once-over to the new European-market Honda Civic. According to Autobild, Piech kept his nickname “Fugen-Ferdi” (Gap-Ferdi) relevant by checking the new Civic’s panel gaps. And, in contrast to the Hyundai video, the intelligible portions of Winterkorn’s commentary were less than entirely complimentary. The German magazine reports

A member of the VW entourage says that “(Honda) has had good role models.” But the big boss played down the praise for VW with a smile, and responded generously “they were once a role model for us.”

Note the use of the past tense, then contrast with Winterkorn’s reaction to the Hyundai. In just two videos you can see the balance of automotive power shifting…

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52 Comments on “Martin Winterkorn Less Impressed By New (European) Honda Civic...”


  • avatar
    mike978

    Fascinating – great find.
    The sales data in Europe points in the same direction with Hyundai and Kia having greater than a 5% market share whilst Honda bobs around 1%. Hyundai and Kia have done very well in such a short time and with such a bad reputation at the start.

  • avatar
    APaGttH

    Nein! Nein! Nein! Nein! Nein! Nein! Nein! Nein! Nein! Nein! Nein! Das Zivik is zill relevent and von of dov best Z-class zegment karz today. Dis must be true.

    Toyota phoning in the Corolla and Honda to a lesser extent phoning in the Civic, both need to wake up fast. Hyundai, Ford, and GM (in that order) are going to eat their lunch, and their customers, and their profits. As a starting point into brands for many buyers a good experience in a C-Segment car translates into future owner loyalty.

    Honda has to stop answering questions no one has asked (CR-Z, Crosstour) and phoning in product launches like the Civic and Insight, and bring back some excitement like the S2000 while taking the ugly out of Acura.

    Between the Sonic, Cruze, and the latest Hyundai and Kia offerings – Korea rules.

    • 0 avatar
      hreardon

      That’s actually the best summary of Honda’s issue these days: they’ve been phoning it in for the better part of the last 7 years, and that is finally starting to catch up to them.

      • 0 avatar
        APaGttH

        The part I don’t understand is Honda leadership stated that they know they’ve been phoning it in last year, and that they would work to have better products, and even delayed the Civic launch (imagine what it would have been without the delay!) and still appear to not even be trying.

        I was reading yesterday that the Ridgeline will live on past 2012 also. No S2000 because of a small market and platform aging, yet Honda can say with a straight face they have a market for the aging Ridgeline? Or the crippled CR-Z? Or the what were they thinking son of Aztek Crosstour?

  • avatar
    psarhjinian

    Martin Winterkorn’s requirements for a vehicle are a little different than your typical buyer and certainly different from a North American consumer’s.

    Remember, we’re not power-execs who get a ringer of a new car kept in perfect running order by the cream of the OEM’s technical crop. We like our cars to light up in expected places and not in unexpected ones, and our windows to go up and down without regular regulator replacement.

    This isn’t to say Honda and Toyota don’t have issues they need to work on, but Winterkorn and, say, Bob Lutz, aren’t really in the right headspace.

    • 0 avatar
      Zykotec

      ‘This isn’t to say Honda and Toyota don’t have issues they need to work on, but Winterkorn and, say, Bob Lutz, aren’t really in the right headspace.’
      If they want to succeed in Europe they are.
      Unfortunately Lutz doesn’t work in Europe anymore, and Honda doesn’t really try to sell cars in Europe (apart from the CR-V and Fit/Jazz ) I can’t remember the last time I saw a brand new Civic or Accord/TSX on the roads here. But I actually saw an Insight not long ago. I can’t remember the last time I saw a Honda commercial outside a car magazine either. They don’t seem to advertise on TV at all.

      • 0 avatar
        mike978

        Zykotec – Exactly and that is why they only have a 1% market share. They can succeed in other regions and may have decided it sin`t worth trying too much in Europe.
        psarhjinian – I agree with your sentiments, but VW doesn`t , against the conventional wisdom of TTAC posters, produce complete crap. If they did they wouldn`t have 30% market share in Germany (VW Group) and over 20% Europe wide. Europeans don`t want their cars to breakdown any more than Americans do. Truedelta data seems to indicate recent model years have been average. Not great, but also not crap.

      • 0 avatar
        Zykotec

        Mike978-
        VW does make decent cars (I’ll always prefer Fords, but I admit it’s subjective ;) ), with (compared to Japanese cars, apart from Honda) good driving dynamics, and much better interiors/soundproofing, especially for their price range, and like other German cars, they are durable, but the reliability still can’t compete with Japanese cars at all.
        Luckily Europeans don’t seem to care much…and the Japanese haven’t really made a new attack on Europe yet. They did help put down the British auto-industry though :)

      • 0 avatar
        psarhjinian

        Europeans don`t want their cars to breakdown any more than Americans do.

        That’s not quite true.

        A better way to word it is “Americans are more sensitive to their cars breaking down.” There’s all sorts of reasons for this, between amounts driven, public transit infrastructure, percentage private vehicle ownership and psyche.

        I don’t think VW makes crap, either—though I like a little hyperbole as much as the next anonymous internet f_ckwad—but I think that people like Messrs Winterkorn and Lutz are not really good barometers of the current mass-market consumer.

      • 0 avatar
        Zykotec

        I think much of the bad reputation European cars have for reliability in the US comes from the fact that in Europe Automatic transmission, gadgets and powerful engines were (are?) considered luxury, so most of the cars sold here are manual transmission cars with less equipment and smaller engines. So there are less things to go wrong. And the rich have money to pay for repairs :P

      • 0 avatar
        psarhjinian

        I think much of the bad reputation European cars have for reliability in the US comes from the fact that in Europe Automatic transmission, gadgets and powerful engines were (are?) considered luxury,

        If that were the case, the reliability of Lexus or Infiniti would be similarly problematic. It isn’t

        No, the problem comes from the cars really being not that good for a very long time, all the way from the most basic Golfs to the most expensive Merc. Europeans, for some time, treated quality not as something you bake into a product, but as something you can add on.

        It was made worse in North America because a) we drive more, b) we own our own cars more and, most importantly, c) the American wings of the European marques are treated like red-headed stepchildren by their head offices. Warranty claim performance among European brands has been poor to abysmal for decades, and parts fulfilment has only recently gotten better.

        The European car owners’ response to this has been “Well, avoid the dealers and find a good independent”. And it works, except that it lets the mothership off the hook for screwing their dealers. You can hardly blame, for example, VW dealers’ service departments for their awful treatment of customers as they get the same from their own parents.

        And meanwhile, your average Toyota owner doesn’t need to put up with any of that crap.

      • 0 avatar
        mike978

        psarhjinian – you make good points about mass transit and the overall size of the country and open space. All valid reasons for some difference. However few cars (even VW’s) actually break down. I thought most warranty claims or complaints were around issues like informatics, rough transmissions etc. Not actually being left stranded by the road side. Cars have become much more reliable in that respect.
        My point still stands. Europeans wouldn`t pay (more in most cases than the comparable US car) their hard-earned money if the car was poor.

        PCH – as for company car drivers, that was a big deal years ago but at least in the UK it has been taxed so much that there is now no benefit to having a company car – except for a few whose driving habits fit in with the economics.

      • 0 avatar
        psarhjinian

        I thought most warranty claims or complaints were around issues like informatics, rough transmissions etc.

        This might be true, but it doesn’t matter for two reasons:

        One, in a modern car that doesn’t really matter: a sensor or solenoid can render it problematic as easily as gross mechanical malfunction.

        Two, and this is the important part, consumers don’t care. They don’t care that the engine might go a million miles with the window regulators won’t last a tenth of that or the car eats sensors and switches quarterly. All they see is the repair bill for hundreds or thousands of dollars and, to them, it doesn’t matter what it was for.

        Gearheads don’t get the latter. You see it in, eg, Panther Love. No normal person really cares that you can hop curbs or that the engine will last forever. They care about all the little things that add up.

        Again, this is where Toyota has, and still is, largely very good: the cars do not cost a lot of money to keep up.

        This is also what Winterkorn doesn’t get: consumers, especially in North America, will forgive a steering column that clunks when you adjust it if the car doesn’t cost them a lot to keep running. But all the soft-touch materials and great dynamics in the world will go by the wayside when, come the five- to seven-year point in the relationship, you’ve spent much more than your Camry-owning neighbour.

      • 0 avatar
        Zykotec

        ‘Gearheads don’t get the latter. You see it in, eg, Panther Love.’
        We really don’t, do we ;)
        Well, not when it comes to our ‘objects of affection’ as in -’project car’.
        On the other hand, when looking for a decent, slightly used ,every day, family car, I didn’t even look at either German or American cars ;)
        (tbh, I did hope for a while that I’d find a nice B-body Caprice stationwagon, but my ‘significant other’ thinks it’s out of the question with 10$/gallon gas…)

      • 0 avatar
        86er

        Zykotec:(tbh, I did hope for a while that I’d find a nice B-body Caprice stationwagon, but my ‘significant other’ thinks it’s out of the question with 10$/gallon gas…)

        Why not, it can be a weekend car for vacations. Life’s too short: we’ll all be driving crowdcans, and nothing but, soon enough.

        Don’t listen to Psar’s crack (as in the narcotic) disparagements, as he’s got a secret fetish for good ol’ American iron, since he brings it up more than Sajeev and I put together. :)

      • 0 avatar
        jmo

        Europeans don`t want their cars to breakdown any more than Americans do.

        The typical America driver drives 50% more than the typical German driver. So, to the degree that failures are a function of miles driver – I think Germans would tend to be less concerned about reliability than an America.

      • 0 avatar
        Zykotec

        @ 86er
        I was looking for an everyday car ;) And finding a nice example in Norway with less than 15 Caprices for sale at any given time, most owned by people with the confederate flag in the rear window, isn’t easy :P
        And I’m currently rebuilding a Ford Sierra with a stroked carbed screamer of a 2.9 v6, so that will be the ‘fun’ weekend car ;)
        Until my garage is done, and the kids grow up, then it will be Hot Rods and classics all the way :)

    • 0 avatar
      cstoc

      I my experience, reliability is not as high a priority for Europeans (or at least Germans) compared to Americans. I think one reason is the mandatory car maintenance there catches small problems before they get big, and another reason is in Germany you’re never very far from a city, town, village, or farmhouse, i.e. someone that can help you.

      I’ve taken Germans out to places like Anza-Borrego Desert State Park, and they’re flabbergasted by the open space and lack of development. I think Americans instinctively know they could be stuck 100 miles from any help, but I don’t Europeans feel it to the same degree.

      • 0 avatar
        srogers

        Maybe the Europeans have never bought enough Japanese cars to figure out how much better reliability they could be enjoying.
        We, in North America, learned to appreciate Japanese cars because the “Big 3″ were making cars that were so big, ugly, inefficient and no fun to drive that the door was left wide open for the Asian car makers to get in.

      • 0 avatar
        Pch101

        Europeans drive fewer miles than do Americans, so reliability doesn’t become an issue as often.

        Many European middle class workers receive some sort of company car benefit, so the costs and problems associated with reliability aren’t as much as an issue. (BMW has done an excellent job of replicating aspects of this in the US with its subsidized leasing; they can use driving dynamics, service and convenience to compensate for high sales prices and questionable reliability, while using the company’s control over large amounts of its used car inventory to support high residuals.)

        The Europeans maintain an import tariff on cars, which limits the Japanese ability to compete on price; US tariffs are very low and don’t pose much of an issue.

        Years of trade barriers and contract limitations confined the Japanese to relatively small dealer networks in Europe as of today. (For years, many European governments observed what was happening in the US and tried to prevent the same thing from happening to their domestic industries.) In contrast, the US has court rulings dating back to the late 1940s that allowed dealers to operates multiple brand franchises and that could not be barred by their Detroit manufacturer relationships, which facilitated the ability of foreign car makers to obtain distribution.

        And there’s still a lot of automotive nationalism in much of Europe. The Germans like German cars, many Italians will willingly buy Fiats, the Spanish will happily buy Seats (which benefits VW, of course), etc.

      • 0 avatar
        Zykotec

        ‘And there’s still a lot of automotive nationalism in much of Europe. The Germans like German cars, many Italians will willingly buy Fiats, the Spanish will happily buy Seats (which benefits VW, of course), etc.’

        Which is probably one of the reasons Norway, with no domestic automakers, is one of the few countries in Europe where the Japanese (most of them, even Suzuki) have a decent market share, Toyota being the 2nd biggest after VW, (which really means my fellow Norwegians prefer boring cars, whether they are reliable or not…)

      • 0 avatar
        epc

        “I think Americans instinctively know they could be stuck 100 miles from any help, but I don’t Europeans feel it to the same degree.”

        I think that’s true. How else can BMW foist the RFT on every single car buyer? “Got a flat? You can drive for another 50 miles to find a place to obtain another tire.” Great. Cold comfort for me if I ever get stuck in Upstate NY at night in the middle of the winter.

  • avatar
    redliner

    If it’s anything like the warmed-up left-overs american Civic, I can see why. 5 years ago, Civic and Mazda 3 where “it.” Not anymore.

  • avatar
    psarhjinian

    The last European Civic is a bigger, lower, more avant-garde Honda Fit. Our Civic was probably a better car, save for cargo space.

    • 0 avatar
      Zykotec

      Actually the sedan and hybrid is the same as the US one I think. The Euro-hatch really is a beauty in my eyes, and I’m guessing Honda found out there’s no need for more than Fit rear suspension to compete in Europe. On the other hand, they haven’t learned how obsessive Europeans can be when it comes to soundproofing and panel gaps. Honestly, my 2003 CR-V has similar panel gaps and soundproofing to my 1984 Ford Sierra, and less soft interior materials, and I think I may be the only person in Europe who likes it that way :) I will add soundproofing in the CR-V as soon as the 3-month dealer warranty wears off, I want the Sierra to be the streetracer of the two…

      • 0 avatar
        psarhjinian

        True, I just never really think of the sedan as a European car.

        The nice thing about the Fit-like floorplan is the seating it allows, though if you’re going to give up the rear suspension and the refinement it allows, why opt for the Civic (and the lower roof and less space) at all?

        That said, I thought the Euro Civic, with a better engine, would have made a nice RSX.

  • avatar
    racer-esq.

    He wasn’t reminded to check the steering column adjustment lever for rattling, someone is getting fired.

  • avatar
    wsn

    Well, VW occupies less than 2% market share in the US, while Honda has 8%.

    The top 3 VW models in China are all crappy econobox that you don’t want to be caught dead in. Honda’s top model in China is the Accord, which is also the class leader.

    Of course, Honda barely sells any car in Germany. Neither does VW in Japan.

    • 0 avatar
      mike978

      WSN – don`t snap my head off and become all defensive.

      VW group (VW and Audi) is currently 3.5% and Honda group (Honda and Acura) is 9.0%. So Honda outsells VW roughly 3 to 1 in the US. In the EU (not just Germany) which is a comparably sized market VW group outsells Honda group by 20 to 1. Not exactly equals. Honda is showing no signs of growing in Europe and VW is showing signs of growing market share in the US so the disparity will grow. The data is from the link below :

      http://www.autoobserver.com/car-data-center/sales-market-share/market-share/by-manufacturer-market-share/

      As for VW not selling in Japan – that is very true. But then again name me any non-Japanese car manufacturer that sells sizable numbers (say 5% market share) in Japan? Japan is also a much smaller market (and declining as Bertel regularly informs us.

      As for China – I don`t knwo what the top selling models are for VW (I recall some old Golf variant). But so what. The market will decide or are you calling consumers fools? Also the key metric is profitability (and sustained profit). VW seems to be doing OK on the front.

      • 0 avatar
        srogers

        Nobody snapped your head off. You’re just sensitive to your status as a VW shill.

      • 0 avatar
        mike978

        srogers – a shill? I think not. I call it as I see it and have on occasion criticized VW and other companies. Just as I have complimented them all on different things. I wouldn`t even call wsn a shill even though his perception is well known from looking at his comments.

        Was there anything factual in my last post that was wrong. Or do you just not like to hear anything “pro” VW or “anti” Honda?

        Bertel – thanks for the information on sales in Japan. I had thought it was more closed than it seems.

        And Bertel is right (as I have said before) that global sales and profit is what matters. On that score it is indisputable who is doing well and who is not.

    • 0 avatar

      Excuse me, gentlemen, for as long as I can remember (and that’s a long time – but it won’t be long until I lose it) Volkswagen had been the largest importer to Japan. After many decades, the company has been overtaken – by Nissan.

      Also, these national penis comparisons are totally inconsequential. What counts in this business are global sales. What counts for growth are sales in the emerging markets. U.S., EU, and JP are stagnant.

      • 0 avatar
        hreardon

        Thank you, Bertel.

        Anyone wondering why there was such a production made out of the new Up! at Frankfurt need only recognize that these cars are tailored for two things: emerging markets and the future, less affluent US, EU and JP consumers.

      • 0 avatar
        psarhjinian

        Also, these national penis comparisons are totally inconsequential. What counts in this business are global sales

        Just a proviso: what counts are global profits, not sales. You can sell a lot and lose money.

      • 0 avatar
        wsn

        BS “What counts in this business are global sales.”

        According to Wiki,

        VW achieved US$119 billion revenue(2010 data) by 368,500 employees (2009 data).

        Honda achieved US$120.27 billion revenue(2009 data) by 181,876 employees (2008 data).

        Honda achieved the same global sales with half the work force. Yep Honda saw decline this year due to the earthquake, but the reasoning holds true. Honda is a much stronger company than VW.

      • 0 avatar
        Fusion

        You are comparing the Revenue of the VW brand to the entire Honda group and then comparing the employees of the entire group.

        VW AG (the group)’s revenue in 2010 was 127 billion €, meaning about 190 billion US$. Also, Hondas revenue has been declining since FY 2008, while VW’s is growing.

        Also, comparing employees between japanese and european car makers is a bit “unfair”, because japanese car companies can “outsource” a lot of their employees to other companies in their Keiretsu, while still basically making the parts. Companies like Denso, Aisin etc. are part of the Toyota Groups for all intentions, but usually aren’t part of the employee numbers since they aren’t majority owned by the car manufacturer.

        Revenue/employees is a remarkably useless statistic when this sort of unbalance is involved.

      • 0 avatar
        APaGttH

        THANK YOU Bertel!

      • 0 avatar
        APaGttH

        What counts in this business are global sales. What counts for growth are sales in the emerging markets.

        You know, BRIC.

        Thank you Bertel!

      • 0 avatar
        wsn

        Fusion:

        1) Even if we use the entire VW Group revenue/employee, Honda still beats VW in that regard.

        2) The reason that I used revenue/employee is that I don’t believe bigger is better. If GM and Chrysler/Fiat merges tomorrow, does that mean they are better combined than being separate? Not necessarily, even if the total revenue grows bigger. Of course, revenue/employee isn’t perfect. If you have better ideas, please share.

        3) Some suggested profit (/employee?). That’s also good. For the time being, Honda is hurt by the very high Japanese Yen, but still making money. If you look at the past 10 years, Honda essentially beats everyone in terms of profit/employee.

      • 0 avatar
        Fusion

        Revenue/Employee is a pretty useless figure. If a company is more vertically integrated (building their own parts), they will need more employees. Yet those employees won’t be generating a single dollar (or euro) in sales.

        And, again, the japanese Keiretsus don’t have an equivalent in the west, but reduce the number of employees in japanese car companies. If a “western” car company wants to build a part themselves, they’ll need to build it themelves, using their employees. Thats the reason why german car companies with high percentages of self-build parts are high in employees. US firms used to be, until they divested their suppliers a decade or so ago.
        For the japanese firms, the close ties in their individual Keiretsus replace this need for employees. Denso is, for all intents and purposes, a part of Toyota. But since Toyota doesn’t own a majority share, they don’t have (get to?) count their employees or their revenue. But if they were integrated, a lot of the Denso revenue wouldn’t exist, because it would be internal…

        There is no one number that tells you how good a company is working. ROI, ROS, etc. there are a lot of numbers I don’t really want to run now. Per Employee numbers might be good to evaluate how lean a company is running, but even then they can easily be distorted on their own.

      • 0 avatar
        mike978

        wsn – does your Honda figures include their non-automotive sections?

        As has been mentioned profitability is the key metric. I don`t know why people, including you, must pit companies against each other in a zero sum game. Both Honda and VW are successful companies that are profitable and make some good products. Why do we need to build up one company and tear another down? And to think someone called me a shill – when you seem to fit the description to a tee.

  • avatar
    minneapolis_lakers

    Ahh, herr Winterkorn, the final arbiter of all things automotive.

    If you know the Japanese you will know that they thrive as underdogs –that’s when they bring their A game.

  • avatar
    Robert Schwartz

    Well Mr. Winterkorn and Consumer Reports seem to be on the same page. It will be interesting to see if Car & Driver joins them.

  • avatar
    gslippy

    VW simply needs a strong dose of humility. Perhaps this is a start.

    Its corporate arrogance seeps out in every advertisement and encounter with dealerships. The very term “German engineering” is an expression of it.

    As long as US VWs remain maintenance black holes, VW will remain surprised at its inability to gain much ground here. Like GM, they have decades of bad reputation to rebuild. Selling decontented cars may temporarily drive sales up, but if their reliability is similar to the former full-contented vehicles, VW will fail in its plans for world domination.

  • avatar
    wmba

    Already seen two new Jettas with one burned out headlight apiece. Some things never change. Where does VW buy it’s bulbs anyway? In fact, where does it get its electrical parts from?

    I see Herr Professor Doktor Winterkorn was appointed head of VW Quality Assurance in 1993, and gradually got promoted. Great job you did there, Martin.

    My experience with 20 years of Audis suggest that electrical problems seem high on VWs problem list. And now, speaking to his new 100 researchers in California, where blue sky research into EVs isthework du jour, Winterkorn said that VW will lead the world in electric cars by 2014.

    VW and electricity. Do they mix?

    • 0 avatar
      snoproblem

      A Volkswagen… EV. Right.

      I can just picture these bad boys spontaneously combusting at the 40 000 mile mark. Pass.

    • 0 avatar
      mike978

      You may be right about VW and electricity but you need something more substantive than two burned out bulbs. The bulbs would, I suspect, come from an external supplier and all bulbs burn out at somepoint with a few right at the start. It is fair to complain about VW reliability (or any companies) when yo have facts, not anecdotes about bulbs.

    • 0 avatar
      darex

      It does seem to be a pattern though. For every one-eyed monster you see, it sure seems like it’s on a VW or Audi 80% of the time, and maybe on a Prius 10% of the time (and they have a known issue in this area too). I definitely have noticed the propensity of VW/Audis to have at least one burnt-out headlamp. I don’t see the same phenomenon exhibited on BMW’s, for example, and have not noted such a pattern in any of the other brands.

  • avatar
    svenmeier

    I’m European and I’ve been driving a handful of French and German cars over the least three decades. I honestly cannot relate to these “reliability nightmares” that people keep associating with European cars. My cars have been very reliable overall – and I put a lot of mileage on each of them.

    I’ve owned two Renault 21s, a Renault Safrane 2.1 diesel, an Opel Ascona, a Peugeot 604, a Renault Laguna estate and a Mercedes 230E. In those days I worked in the wood business and part of my job required me to drive across much of France, Germany, Italy, Switzerland and Austria and negotiate deals. Flying may have been cheaper, but many of our suppliers were located in regions far from airports and public transportation and it made more sense to simply drive because it allowed me to stay within a region for a few days or weeks and follow through the list of suppliers. So, this meant that I put a lot of mileage on my cars. It wasn’t uncommon for me to have over 150,000-200,000 km on these cars after a few years.

    I can honestly say, I’ve never had any major problems with these cars. None whatsoever. Oh sure, there were tiny issues like rust and a rattling interior in my Opel once it hit 100,000 km. The radio in my Safrane stopped working at around 230,000 km if I recall correctly, but Renault didn’t produce that radio.

    The biggest issue on the Renault 21s was rust, but that was it. These cars held up fine for all the years of abuse I put them through. I loved those Renault 21s. They looked good at the time and they were spacious and comfortable and economical as well. I had two 2.1 turbodiesels. Great cars.

    Every car can suffer a problem at one point, even the most high-quality car. Cars are complex machines that are put together by a manufacturer using parts produced in-house and parts that are bought from suppliers who by the way have their own quality control system in place (good or bad).

    I currently drive a Volkswagen Jetta TDI product with about 87,000 km on it. I am now retired and spend my days traveling across Europe photographing cities and wildlife (I’m an amateur photographer). No issues with the car. No electrical issues or falling trim parts and so forth.

    If many Europeans like me have these good experiences with our cars, then don’t be surprised why we don’t buy many Japanese cars. Many of the Japanese cars sold here are also not as versatile inside as their European competitors. When it comes to attention to detail the European cars are better than the Japanese, much better.

    • 0 avatar
      cstoc

      Interesting post. Much of the issue must be the environment, as European cars seem to do better in Europe than in the US. For one thing 100,000km, or 62,000 miles, isn’t considered very much here. A car with problems at that point is frowned upon.

      Perhaps the cars are optioned differently, too. For example, I’ve found that A/C on European cars is awful. It’s OK on Japanese cars (Honda’s controllers are unsteady, though) and best on American cars, in my experience. Maintenance and parts are expensive on European cars here, too, probably due to dealer gouging.

      Your mileage may vary.

      • 0 avatar
        svenmeier

        100,000 km isn’t exactly considered high mileage here. 200,000 km is “high mileage” but it’s not uncommon to see people average such mileages within a few years. We have many traveling salesmen, businessmen and families here who put such mileages on their cars.

        I’ve just never experienced any major problems in my European cars. There were small annoying issues that may have popped up from time to time but they could easily be fixed and didn’t require a trip to the dealer. And they never came up again. And they also didn’t affect the drivability of the car in any way.

        Most people seem to talk about “unreliable cars” in the sense that they leave you stranded. This is extremely rare today. In fact it hardly ever happens.

        I thoroughly enjoyed my French and German cars (not so much the Opel Ascona, which was reliable but dull to look at and to drive) and I have no fear of walking into a German or French car dealership and buying a car that I like. :-)


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