23 September 2013

Dependability In Cars

We expect things to work. With technological advances, why wouldn't they? Humans are pretty clever designing things to work and work when we need them....well maybe not.

Anyone familiar with this site will know that I am totally underwhelmed by Google. This was once a simple blog with limited features, but it worked 100%. Then it was upgraded with features that would enhance the experience for the blog owner and you the user. The problem is it is now so seemingly overloaded with amazing features that barely works at all from my end! It now offers less than the simpler, reliable blog did.

This reminds me of cars. I bought a new car eight years ago now. It was simple in design but user friendly. It didn't have all the bells and whistles of other models but I don't want them anyway. It has has never broken down once. This is what I want and expect.

Unfortunately when cars get more technical, they seem to break down more often, much like Google. I was at the Car Reliability Index website and noted the ten least reliable cars listed:

1) Audi RS6
2) BMW M5
3) Mercedes V Class
4) Porsche 911 996
5) Mercedes CL
6) Mercedes SL
7) Audi Q7
8) Bentley Continental GT
9) Audi A6 Allroad
10) Mercedes R Class

I looked at that list and thought nine German brands, and all ten German owned. All premium quality and all at the forefront of vehicle technology. All these marques are respected and very popular. Yet do car buyers really want features over dependability? Can't these car makers make sure that things work before releasing them on the public? Lexus can.

The more complex things are, the more likely to breakdown. This is because not enough testing is done these days to sort the issues out before they are released. Everything has to be better to impress. However, I am not impressed with undependable products and frankly human technology. Compared to design in nature - which works splendidly and is superbly executed - it isn't very clever. Often it doesn't even work very well at all.

PS. If you want to know what I drive,  it's at the top of this list.


  1. Hi Ray

    RS6 - nice choice! I hope yours hasn't had any problems.

    I agree with you that some gadgets appear to have no use whatsoever. I have a new car that comes with an electric tailgate. I can honestly say that it is completely useless...what is wrong with the old gas strut? As far as I can see this is simply a gadget that adds more weight to the car and will probably malfunction quite soon.

    Chris G

  2. And I am glad some-one else came across them from the right angle. You can't argue with those numbers... It is of course logical that more complexity tends to lead to lower reliability.

    In the end it is simply market driven: if those cars are good enough for those who buy them, then that is how they are designed. It is possible to produce complex and reliable cars; Lexus does this. But sales figures for Lexus here in Europe are an embarrasment, so in the end apparently people accept the risk.

    To add nuance: probably in absolute terms even the least reliable cars are still doing quite OK. An RS6 on average may break down about once a year, and that is apparently good enough for the RS6 buyers...

    More nuance is that this Reliability Index comprises 2 elements: number of failures and cost of the repairs. And you won't be surprised that the repair cost of a Bentley is often slightly higher than of a Daihatsu...

    In the end it is great that we have the choice to decide how much we are prepared to spend, and what we want in return.
    I entirely agree with your earlier post about the need for more simple cars on the market; many brands would do well to look at the success of Dacia in Europe and ask themselves if they would not rather be in that position...

  3. Hi Chis, I seem to have given the wrong impression about the car I drive. I don't own an Audi.

    These gadgets that are not really needed by many will fail, especially for those buying the car on the used market long after the warranty has expired.

  4. Hello Grunt.

    I was thinking about exploring 'why people ignore such data when buying' on my next blog.