Re­li­able sources

The Courier-Mail - Motoring - - Carsguide Confidential -

THIS week’s cover story is bound to spark a few dis­grun­tled phone calls from car in­dus­try ex­ec­u­tives.

They’ll point out that the fig­ures we’ve used to rank var­i­ous brands on their re­li­a­bil­ity and qual­ity could be in­ac­cu­rate and mis­lead­ing — and they may well be right. But if they’re look­ing for some­one to blame, the mir­ror might be a good place to start.

The ta­ble we’ve used for our story is from ar­guably the most re­spected au­to­mo­tive re­search com­pany in the world, JD Power.

Prob­lem is, the fig­ures are based on a sur­vey of US own­ers rather than Aus­tralian. Some of their cars are built in dif­fer­ent fac­to­ries from ours, so the re­sults may not di­rectly cor­re­late with Aus­tralian buy­ers’ ex­pe­ri­ence.

That’s not our fault. The fig­ures are the only ones avail­able be­cause car com­pany ex­ec­u­tives in Aus­tralia refuse to share sim­i­lar re­search with cus­tomers here. They col­lect it, but have a gen­tle­men’s agree­ment not to pub­lish it.

It’s a ridicu­lous sit­u­a­tion — their par­ent com­pa­nies over­seas are happy to be judged pub­licly but they are not.

It all goes back to a time when the lo­cal car in­dus­try ruled the roost. Holden and Ford — and to a lesser ex­tent Mit­subishi and Toy­ota — con­trolled the Fed­eral Cham­ber of Au­to­mo­tive In­dus­tries.

They also built some pretty slip­shod cars, hence the veil of se­crecy over the qual­ity data.

When the re­sults were leaked about a decade ago, the witch hunt would have done Salem proud.

With the lo­cal in­dus­try wind­ing up — and the qual­ity of most cars im­prov­ing markedly — surely it’s time to lift the veil.

US mak­ers have openly said that the pub­lic scru­tiny of qual­ity fig­ures has forced them to fo­cus more on qual­ity.

As for the find­ings, they are no sur­prise to the crew at Cars­guide, largely be­cause they cor­re­late with our read­ers’ let­ters. Some brands gen­er­ate lots of mail, oth­ers not so much.

Some tech­nol­ogy is also more trou­ble-prone than oth­ers. JD Power re­ports that one in five prob­lems re­lates to au­dio, com­mu­ni­ca­tion, en­ter­tain­ment and nav­i­ga­tion. Again, that’s no sur­prise to our road testers — the qual­ity of Blue­tooth, au­dio and nav­i­ga­tion is one of our most com­mon gripes.

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