Why are German luxury car brands such as Mercedes and BMW so unreliable after 3 -4 years according to Consumer Reports vs 5 star rated Japanese cars?

Why are German luxury car brands such as Mercedes and BMW so unreliable after 3 -4 years according to Consumer Reports vs 5 star rated Japanese cars?

*Consumer Reports is a A nonprofit organization providing unbiased product ratings and reviews in strict interest of the consumer.

Dan's reply..

Wonderful question and a very good observation actually. German luxury brands like Mercedes and BMW used to be more durable and reliable than anything on the road. Then along came Lexus, Infinity and Acura. In the marketplace, these lower-priced cars started to erode marketshare from the German luxury cars. The Germans responded aggressively on subsequent models with lower prices by removing much of the build quality from their cars with the rationale that consumers were no longer willing to pay extra for durability in a tight market place. The rationale was further re-enforced by the fact that most consumers leased their cars for three or four years and had no intention to own them long term. My 1993 Mercedes E class cost USD74K new in the showroom. But you can walk into a Mercedes dealer and get an E class for less than USD70K today —and that is with very many additional features and technology. But ask yourself what came OUT of the current car to make this possible? The engineering, the durability and the reliability that was put into my car —when the engineers were in charge compared to today when the accountants are in charge. The only thing that these new cars have in common with mine… is the hood ornament. None of them will last 23 years and none of them will travel one million kilometres or more before they are completely worn out. I would not trade my E for a new S class, and by that I mean swap keys even. The cars went from durable to disposable in a blink of an eye. To me, when Mercedes said “the best or nothing” it used to mean durable, but now it means the most complicated with the most gadgets because the race today is to the bottom for features, and Best no longer means durable or reliable or cost effective on repairs and maintenance. Oh, it is not that the Japanese cars are so durable or reliable —they are just a bit more durable and reliable than the German cars are. Gadgets are NO one’s friends; they are complications that will aggravate owners, not please them. Today’s cars are sold on gadgets, most of which few people need. When someone complained that my car had no coffee cup holders, well, the engineers’ response from Mercedes was “we built this car for you to drive, not to drink coffee in”. They never added cup holders in my W124.

I don't drink coffee. I drive…. in my case, one of the finest automobiles the world has ever seen and might ever see. Now you know why.

Look: don't get me wrong. My W124 is not devoid of creature comforts. It is NOT a Toyota Corolla; it is a Mercedes and it is quick, powerful and it is capable: It has tremendously comfortable seats (both front electrically adjustable); the wheel is electrically telescopic; the rear headrests tilt back with a push of a button; the AC is ice cold and the cabin temp is automatically adjustable. It has a great stereo; the windows and the sun roof, electrically operated, work perfectly. And there is a central locking system. But every part was engineered to be durable over the long haul —this car was built to a high and unyielding standard. No car currently made is engineered like my car was: Every single component had to be proven to be good enough. Well, actually I take that back… as I like the engineering in the Tesla because it is simplistic and minimalistic; because it is so simple it is inherently durable.

*The Tesla has only 17 moving parts.

Nawaz Khan  replies..

The answer is in decades-long continual product development, Japanese obsession to quality, German arrogance and well, the Japanese caught up (Almost)... the price difference is HUUGE, so Japanese are better value...

Not as good... but better value... Then the Germans make some things tooooo electrinic and sophisticated, so the odd glitch... hammers them... because what came before was pretty much impervious and above reproach.

Then they moved from double-timing chains to single timing chains... because something nasty called REDUCING fuel consumption... Oooohhhh biiig mistake.... those engine components are heavy!!! Single chains stretch...

6 and a half dozen of this... 3/4 of that...

Fact - when you have serious money - Mercedes... then BMW... then Japanese...

I say this because nobody in Kenya can really afford a NEW Rolls Royce...

The Japanese in the meantime - went from making recycled tin cans see early Corolla 1,200 to better and better. Nobody is going to say a 2017 S-65 and an 2017 Lexus Blah are even in the same league... but 5 years down the road - when the Night-Fighter Projector on your screen fails...

Fact - BMW 7Series clock fails... motherboard needs to be replaced... New is $1,500. Ama we send it to Wilson Airport for repair? Japanese clock fails - it will be cheeeeeap...

A wiring component made for LR cost 900/-. The SAME Part for a Range Rover cost 2,700/-.
The same with a starter for an S-Class... if it costs less than $1,000 I will be surprised. Same with Alternator. Same with Rims. Tyres. Forget Propeller shafts!

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