Daily Podcast: All of the People Most of the Time

Robert Farago
by Robert Farago
daily podcast all of the people most of the time

Michael Karesh's deconstruction of J.D. Powers' Initial Quality Survey (IQS) got me thinking. Clearly, J.D.'s mob shelter behind the [accurate] assumption that most people can't be bothered to, as they say, "do the math." Just as automakers draw strength (or not) from our natural instinct to slot brands into clear-cut categories, J.D. plays to the peanut gallery's desire to quickly identify "winners" and "losers." Add in a bit of Argumentum ad Ignorantiam (a proposition is true because it hasn't been proved false) and voila! Porsche is America's most reliable car brand. An Audi is more reliable than a BMW. Never mind the difference between initial quality and five years down the road. Never mind the varying definitions of quality, or the fact that J.D. won't tell you its exact methodology. Pay no attention to the man behind that curtain because he's an old bald guy– just like that pathetic pre-tornado snake oil salesman. The '08 IQS represents the same sort of lazy thinking Detroit has been feeding itself– and feeding off of– for decades. It's one thing to fool others, another to fool yourself. Here, Lieberman and I attempt a reality check.

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  • Pch101 Pch101 on Jun 05, 2008

    I see that nobody here mentioned the Mustang SVO. Probably because you don't remember it. I don't blame you, nobody else does, either. But its failure would suggest that a turbo four-banger installed in an American muscle car will not be successful. Everybody around here talks a lot about branding, and a four-cylinder Camaro is a branding mistake from the onset. While there is nothing wrong with four-cylinder turbocharged sporty cars, and while the Camaro has a pretty strong legacy brand, the the idea of one clashes with the brand of the other. If GM wants to sell a four-cylinder turbocharged sporty coupe, then it needs to give it a different name and make sure that it doesn't look like a Camaro if they expect to have even half a chance of selling it. The purists won't want it, the budget buyers wanting fuel economy will buy an entirely different car, and the rental agencies will be indifferent. If they are worried that $4 fuel is going to kill sales to the point that it won't sell, then either kill the project or else change the name and the look of it so that this doesn't become the Half Camaro.

  • Dolo54 Dolo54 on Jun 05, 2008

    haha My old neighbor had a beer can sealed into his k-kar door. The rattle drove him crazy the whole time he owned it.

  • Kazoomaloo Kazoomaloo on Jun 05, 2008

    Wait, does Wagoner really make more than the top 9 Toyota execs combined? Jeeeeezus. What a boob, what an awful company. People today need to stop being so damn greedy, but they won't, so that's just a stupid and naive thing to say. Still, the unions should stop demanding an arm and a leg to glue dashboards together and the CEOs should quit grabbing every penny they can (before they lose it along with the other billions, of course). Everybody's just a bunch of greedy pigs and they're killing their own companies. Sad...

  • Quay Quay on Jun 05, 2008

    RF: JD Power's methodology isn't a secret, nor is it complicated. It's a mail survey that goes out to new vehicle purchasers. That's it. They also find that IQS scores are a good predictor of vehicle dependability scores three years down the road. It's not a perfect system for identifying quality, but one of many measures that automakers should employ. I think we can all agree that relying on one quality-reporting system is a poor choice.