01 September 2007

Paraphrasing Bob Lutz . . .

Mickey Kaus speculates regarding recent satisfaction stats regarding some American brands like Buick, Cadillac and Lincoln-Mecury.

Mickey's speculation in a nutshell, those cars are bought by the elderly, who don't demand a lot from their cars, and therefore are easily satisfied.

(BMW uses the counter of that argument to justify their consistently low JD Power numbers, 'our customers demand absolute perfection and are more willing than most to complain aka our customers are major league assholes')

Kaus links to a video clip of GM Vice Chairman Bob Lutz where he boasts that at GM they "shoot for infinite life" with regards to vehicle reliability (at least with the luxury brands).

Of course it's easier for a vehicle to have "infinite life" if the lifetime of their main customers is more limited. For the average buyer of a new Buick, you could reach near "infinite life" with a car that can go for 75,000 miles. I'm having trouble finding recent stats on this, but for the sake of argument let's say the average 70 year old Buick driver no longer drives more than 5,000 miles a year, and at 80+ years old that same Buick driver drops to 2,000 miles a year (I don't think those are unreasonable assumptions), so if you bought a Buick on your 70th birthday, and averaged 5,000 miles till your 80 then 2,000 miles after that, you wouldn't reach 70,000 until your 90th birthday, and even by your 100th birthday your car would only have 90,000 miles. Meanwhile, there are plenty of Toyota drivers who would do 70,000 miles in 3-5 years. To paraphrase Bob Lutz, 'I'm confident that our cars will outlast our customers' (but that's not a good thing).

To put it in Yakov Smirnoff terms:

"You buy Toyota, you outlive car"
"You buy Buick, car outlives you!"

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