This august publication has proven more than willing in the past to criticize Dutch Mandel’s writing. The Autoweek editor-in-chief has long been not so much a journalist as a junketeer and upscale-meal-consumer of the first rank, dispensing harsh words without fear unless the potential target for those words is an automobile manufacturer of some type.
It would appear, however, that Mr. Mandel is finally ready to take a carmaker to the woodshed over customer service and product reliability.
Porsche IMS and RMS failures have long been a painfully taboo subject in the car-magazine world. Although the Porsche owners’ groups have long discussed the issue, any attempt to bring it forward to a public discussion in general-interest “books” usually runs up against a fairly sturdy wall of Porsche PR goodwill. Although there was eventually a class-action settlement, Porsche managed to delay it to the point that very few affected owners will ever see a dime.
Which is where Dutch comes in. In a bold new editorial entitled Porsche whiffs on customer care, Mr. Mandel does not spare the rod:
From 2001 to 2005, Porsche sold 39,633 Boxsters and a whopping 51,375 Porsche 911 models (including rarer and unattached-to-this-suit GT2s, GT3s and Turbos). The point is, a lot of cars could be affected—and the cost to fix them could be high—but the cost to Porsche’s rep could be far, far dearer.
The heart of the matter is the heart of what matters: If you can’t trust Porsche to build bullet-proof engines and stand by their products, what can you do?
You bet Schoelzel has a bad taste in his mouth. The company he loved—the brand that showed the world he made it, a company to which over years he gladly, willingly wrote large checks—jettisoned and betrayed him. Schoelzel, a fellow dad whom I met at my son’s fraternity house a few years back, won’t buy another Porsche. That pains him. He figures he had another two or three cars in his future, as he’s been on a 10-year buying-and-owning cycle. Now, he openly believes that, yes, Porsche, there is a substitute.
Who can blame him?
Because it’s Dutch, there has to be a little bit in there about having rich friends and a kid in a fraternity, the same way I’m not going to let a sports-car test happen without putting some single mom or depraved adventuress in the passenger seat. But the man’s point is valid, and it’s being broadcast from one of the largest bully pulpits in American auto writing.
Had Autoweek done this ten years ago, when people started experiencing the failures, it would have saved a lot of people a lot of money and hassle — and probably sold a few extra Corvettes to boot. When I bought my Boxster more than eight years ago, I had no idea the failures were occurring, but a lot of people in the magazine business already knew. Their failure to share that information cost me money; a Boxster that cost $62,000 in 2004 is now worth $20K or less and has been for a while. But when it comes to finding your courage to speak up, now always beats never.
A few more articles like this, and I’ll subscribe to AW again, no matter how many “Gift Guides” I have to read between their pages.