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Are 'new car' and 'quality' antonyms?

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Peter Anderson:
Is another explanation peoples high expectations?

For example I filled in one of those JD Power type quality surveys for a 2003 Mini Cooper S, and i slated it. The car rattled, had a rubbish engine, used really shoddy materials, and the dealer service was terrible. However it never it never missed a beat or let me down. My poor rating of the car was because i expected more both because of the price I paid (huge for such a small car) and the reputation of the manufacturer BMW.

My W116 squeaks, rattles, and has the same low quality plastics in places - but i love it. I choose where I get it maintained - if they're not nice they don't get the business. What I couldn't stand in an 'expensive' new car with a good name badge, i don't even notice in a loved classic, that I'm prepared to forgive just about anything because of it's age.

So are all those people buying Toyotas just expecting less? They're not exciting cars, the interior plastics are all hard and shiny, and they are in no way inspiring (apologies to anyone with a Toyota - just my opinion!). But people expect them to be like that so they get a rank to show that they've met expectations.

John Hubertz:
I think it goes deeper - I think "we" (car buying public in advanced countries) are simply jaded beyond belief.

The car companies are simply pandering to the bewildering so-called "tastes" of consumers - and you know what, I bet it was hard to keep the tile and gold leaf on Roman Villas around the time of Caligula....

It is easy to build wonderful automobiles - evidence Subaru and Toyota and even the Indian or Korean brands....

Rolling mansions celebrating grotesque consumption on the other hand are a smidge more difficult to build with dignity.

Gentlemen, the Emperor simply has a new suit - and unfortunately, it fits.  Let's call this automotive era what it truly is - wretched excess.

michaeld:

--- Quote from: 450SE on 16 March 2006, 10:13 PM ---The thing I perceive has happened in the automotive industry is that the traditional 'luxury' brands have not focused on quality and reliability but have worked on broadening their markets.
--- End quote ---


--- Quote from: Peter Anderson on 17 March 2006, 12:22 AM ---Is another explanation peoples high expectations?
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--- Quote from: John Hubertz on 17 March 2006, 05:38 AM ---I think it goes deeper - I think "we" (car buying public in advanced countries) are simply jaded beyond belief....The car companies are simply pandering to the bewildering so-called "tastes" of consumers
--- End quote ---

The common thread of these quotes is that the automotive industry is driven by marketing today - not by the cars themselves.  John had a post about collecting old car ads; it would be interesting to compare those ads with today's car ads, wouldn't it?

Carmakers have transformed our perception through marketing. I can't even remember the last time I saw a new car ad that had ANYTHING to do with the actual car. It's no longer about the engineering at all, but about the marketing (which at best presents us with the appearance of engineering). As one example, I remember seeing a truck ad in which something unimaginably huge and heavy (an asteroid in one, a huge load of rocks in another, etc) slams into it, and the truck isn't even scratched. But in reality that's just a laugh; most trucks have the flimsiest of bumpers (if any at all), and are among the most expensive of all vehicles for body work.  These babies dent all too easy, and then they cost a fortune to fix!  Marketers don't even bother to present reality anymore, do they?  Advertising is absolutely useless today; most of it is geared simply to make you think you'll look cool if you have that car. It's like all auto advertising is geared toward the impulse buyer (you know, like the candy bars at the sales register).

We're talking about quality vs. the perception of quality (the illusion of quality?).  For me - unless we're talking about a missile that's designed to blow up at the end of its maiden voyage - quality in a vehicle means performance, reliability, durability, ease of maintenance, build construction, and excellence of materials. It means ALL of these things, not one or two on the list to the disregard of the remainder.  But does it mean that in today's ads?  Today's perception seems only to mean horsepower and sex appeal.
And it's all about "right now."  We have become a culture of instant gratification.  It really seems as though cars are designed the way VCRs are designed; use them for awhile and then throw them away.  This is an enormous departure from the mindset of previous times.  Cars are lasting more miles today partially because maintenance has been taken out of owner's hands and because we're driving more miles in less time than ever before; but they're not lasting as LONG because they're simply not made to last.  Metal lasts longer than microchips.

There is no question that today's cars COULD be better made than anything that ever came before.  We've had advances in technology that guarantee that.  But I don't think they are.  I think (along with 450SE) that today's cars are stamped out as cheaply as each market segment will allow them to be.  One of the articles I read said that Mercedes used to build cars, and then set the price.  Now it is clearly the other way around.

Now, we're seeing a real drop-off in both the actual reliability AND the perception of reliability in European and American cars.  I don't believe this phenomenon can be attributed to the fact that the Japanese are competing for a strictly different market segment, with American and European car buyers being heedless of reliability and Japanese car buyers caring about it.  That just doesn't make sense to me.  That the West is slipping, and is trying to compensate by marketing campaigns makes more sense.  We'd build better cars if we could; we just can't.  U.S. cars cost $1400 more than Japanese cars solely because of the cost of employee health care - and we're bound to be bleeding red ink in other areas as well.  And Europe has even bigger problems in these departments.  These things HAVE to impact our ability to produce top notch stuff.  It forces us to think in terms of bare survival and the bottom line - and that kind of thinking (mindset) is probably not conducive to creating great cars. 

I'm telling you; our 116s emerged from a completely different philosophy than what we are seeing ANYWHERE today.   

Well, gotta climb off the soapbox and get along with my morning routine.

OzBenzHead:

--- Quote from: styria on 17 March 2006, 02:08 PM --- ... can anyone tell me the meaning of "antonyms"-I cannot find it in my dictionary.
--- End quote ---

Styria: Good to see you back on (the) board! Figured you had your head buried under a bonnet somewhere.   ;D

An antonym is a word of opposite meaning: e.g. "bad" is an antonym to "good".
"Antonym" is the antonym to "synonym" - a term for words meaning the same: e.g. "exhausted" is a synonym for (synonymous with) "fatigued" or "tired" or "spent".

There are many "~nym" words:

Pseudonym = a false name or pet name: e.g. "styria" is a pseudonym for [your real name which I shan't disclose here in public].

Ananym = a name formed by reversing letters of another name: e.g. Talk show host Oprah's production company is named Harpo.

Phananym = a "nearly" ananym: e.g. fleshpot = top-shelf.

Charactonym = a name of a fictional character that suggests the personality traits of that character: e.g. Mrs Malaprop in Richard Sheridan's play, "The Rivals" was known for misusing words with humorous results; such misuse is a "malapropism".

Aptronym = a name that's especially suited to one's profession: e.g. Dr Pain, the dentist.

Allonym = name of a person, usually historical, taken by an author as a pen name (as opposed to using a fictional pseudonym).

And so on and so forth ...

Sorry to blather on with stuff of probably little interest to most posters, but, after all, words are my business.   :)

michaeld:
Hiya, Ozbenzhead, thanks for your definitions.  You know more abot those "word-play" words than I do - and I'm a nerd!  Did you get the PM I sent to you last week by the way?

The post I left this morning may have partially been influenced by too much coffee and too little time to reflect before hitting the "post" button.  I apologize if I came across as overly intense.  I'll be more  8) now.
 
I find the whole "new car thing" interesting even for us old Benz folk for the following reasons: 1) New Mercedes quality/reliability is clearly under question, and we're Benz-lovers; 2) Some of us have to choose between buying a newer car or keeping our old one; 3) there's a question as to how our old cars relate to the newer models; 4) If Mercedes' new models are maligned, what impact does that have on the value of our w116s?  5) I for one find it interesting to talk about new cars vs. old cars knowing full well they come from different eras and different philosophies.

I just got rid of my '94 Buick Skylark because it had become a piece of junk.  It looked nice (given that they were actually ugly even when brand new), but there were too many non-maintenance-related issues (a loose steering wheel and a bad torque converter solenoid were the biggest culprits) whose repair was beyond the value of the car.  It had 130,000 miles.  Now, 1994 aint brand new, but it's still pretty close to the modern era.  And there are an awful lot of modern cars that aren't lasting a whole lot more than 130,000 miles.  ARE modern cars really lasting longer than older ones?

This is kind of interesting for discussion: If you bought an old Benz (as we all have), what made you decide the car was reliable and roadworthy?  I mean, my car is 28 years old; doesn't it like belong in a museum or something?  For me, the biggest reason I trusted a 1977 Mercedes with 124,000 miles is because I've HAD SEVERAL 70's American cars that made that distance and a lot more easily - and I believed that Mercedes quality was even better.  Are new cars really that much better?  Not judging by my Skylark, they aint!  And at least when I look at my 450 SEL motor, I have some idea of what in the world I'm looking at; new cars have increasingly taken even basic maintenance out of owners' hands.

I'm with Styria.  I don't need most of the high-tech garbage they're putting on new cars.  And it seems like that's the biggest difference between older cars and newer ones.  New cars definitely get better mileage and better smog performace.  But in most respects I think that new cars are kind of disappoining performance-wise compared to what they could have been after 30 years of engineering.  I actually think the fact that Mercedes is so "top end" - and so has the most high-end and high-tech luxury systems - is one of the reasons they're having reliability issues.  Maybe microchips and cars don't mix as well as a lot of people think.

Our cars performance (other than fuel efficiency  :'() haven't given up a whole lot in comparison with most of today's cars.  My 450 might not be the fastest thing out of the stoplight, but it wasn't desgined to be.  Rather, it was designed to pull hard from its mid and upper end, cruise at 120 mph, and go up to 134-137 mph with a hundred rpm from redline to spare.  Aint too many modern cars doing much better than that!  My M117 is a darned sight stronger than either my 90 Cadillac with a 5.7L, my 92 Lincoln Town Car with a 4.6L, or the Skylark with its 3.1 v6.  And I feel pretty good about my 4-wheel disc brakes and my zero-offset front and anti-squat rear suspension [my brother, who drives a '05 high-end Infinity, made the comment that my Benz has a real nice ride quality].  Frankly, I almost feel like I'd be getting LESS performance for just about any new car that I could afford.

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