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VW brand experience - good or bad?



  • 600kgolfgt600kgolfgt Posts: 690
    Given what the Europeans (especially) the Germans have continously brought to the table in terms of automotive innovation throughout history, mistakes are bound to be made when you've pioneered the lions share of automotive technology - since the 1800's - for example:

    All the Japanese had to do was let the Germans do the pioneering and make the mistakes, then simply emulate the technology (having the benefit of learning from the errors the Germans made). If the two countries switched positions, Germany would probably have the most reliable vehicles on the market, too.
  • bpeeblesbpeebles Posts: 4,085
    I fully agree with you.... it is FARRR more expensive to break new ground and develop a product than it is to just build what somone else has figured out.

    This can be seen with computers too. IBM produced the first real "PC" -- everyone else just copied it. Even Microsoft purchased their "Internet Explorer" browser technology. (they did not invent "IE")...In fact, most of what Microsoft sells was purchased from other companies. (Spreadsheet, word-processor, disk-defragmenter...etc) Even the idea of Icons and a mouse was stolen from Apple!

    Another fact you did not touch on is that Asian cars are DESIGNED to be pretty much ignored. German vehicles NEED to be treated with respect and maintained per reccomendations. In return, you get a more civilized vehicle with far better handling and creature-comforts.

    I wonder how many people realize that the german company BOSCH actually INVENTED the sparkplug. To this very day, BOSCH sparkplugs are superiour to the others in many ways. From the copper core and platinum tips to the nickle finish, everyone else is just copying what BOSH has done for 30 years. BOSCH sparkplugs even use a special ceramic and has extra ribs on it to reduce hi-voltage leakage.
  • nippononlynippononly SF Bay AreaPosts: 12,726
    Of course, look at where IBM is in the PC industry today....oops, that's right, they're not in PCs any more! :-P

    Innovation is great, but cars are still fundamentally transportation first. I would say leave it to luxury brands to innovate. Non-luxury brands need to focus on making reliable cars that are cheap to operate and not too expensive to buy in the first place. Once they get THAT part down pat, then they can afford to experiment a bit...

    2014 Mini Cooper (stick shift of course), 2016 Camry hybrid, 2009 Outback Sport 5-spd (keeping the stick alive)

  • davem2001davem2001 Posts: 564
    IMO - all this "Germans innovate and the Japanese just copy"...might have been true 30, 40 years ago, but not so much today
  • rshollandrsholland Posts: 19,788
    Ditto that. The Japanese are as much innovators as the Germans these days. The difference being the Japanese care much more about keeping their customers happy via building reliable cars.

  • zillzzillz Posts: 21
    You know zero people who have had unproblematic VW's? Well, I guess I don't count, because you don't know me. I have a 1996 Golf GL, 121,000 miles. I have had a few repairs , but only on items that wear out eventually on ANY car. I still have original front brakes,alternator, and clutch. Unlike the obvious perception, I think VW's are EXCELLENT cars. The only thing that I will admit to is this: When something does need repair or replacement on a VW, it is very expensive, especially for someone like me, who has no mechanical skills. I am in the 2 out of 10 people who would get a Jetta over a Camry anyday. I'm not knocking Toyota. Obviously they make an excellent product, but they're so..........bland!!!!!!!!!!
  • zillzzillz Posts: 21
    The Golf is the second-best-selling car in the world.They just don't sell many in the US. American buyers like trunks. As far as not knowing anyone who has had a VW without problems, maybe I don't count because we don't know each other. My 1996 Golf is an EXCELLENT car. I have 121,000 miles and expect to get 100,000 more.It is unfortunate that most "Average Joes" rely on publications such as Consumer Reports to sway their car-buying decisions. Mathematically, CR's ratings are meaningless, and even the "worst" cars of today make cars 10 years ago look like Yugos. I am in the "niche" of happy VW owners. I just hope that VWOA's sales don't erode to the point of leaving us behind..........
  • nippononlynippononly SF Bay AreaPosts: 12,726
    "even the "worst" cars of today make cars 10 years ago look like Yugos"

    but it just isn't true in my case. My late 80s and early 90s Hondas and Toyotas were just as reliable as they are today. And never needed replacement window switches or any other warranty work.

    I am not saying all VWs suck, just that CR doesn't either. Rather it should be one of many data points you use. The VW coil pack problem was one thing, but power windows have been in cars for ages - nothing innovative there - and it was just plain old cost-cutting cheapness that gave VW problems there. If the surface is glossy (best interiors in the industry) but the substance underneath is riddled with holes, is the consumer getting the best value for their dollar?

    I had a very interesting discussion with a co-worker last week, about her '99 Golf. She loves that car. She has had any many problems with it, both during warranty and at her own expense (windows, lights, wheel bearings, oil consumption, several occasions when it would not start and had to be towed, including two while it was still under warranty). Because she had a very responsive and competent dealer, the repairs have not bothered her and she is thinking of replacing it with an Audi. She has over 100K miles now. Her husband has a Toyota truck, and she chuckled and said that if he had had one tenth the problems she has had with her Golf, his truck would have been gone ages ago, because he has a lot less patience for those kinds of things than she does. Instead, his truck is pushing 200K miles with a minimum of fuss. Talk about an allegory for the market at large!

    2014 Mini Cooper (stick shift of course), 2016 Camry hybrid, 2009 Outback Sport 5-spd (keeping the stick alive)

  • rshollandrsholland Posts: 19,788
    Mathematically, CR's ratings are meaningless,

    Huh? CR reliability reports are based on reports what owners have found to be the case with their cars, be it good or bad. How is that meaningless? Sounds to me like your shooting the messenger, and ignoring the message.

  • kurtamaxxguykurtamaxxguy Posts: 677
    Edmunds posted an article today commenting - just an excerpt here - how VW dealers are fuming because VW America, focusing on profitability, is not supplying them cars they can sell or that customers want. VW, like nearly all Euro companies, blames the weak dollar for their troubles.

    Can VW USA stay the course long enough to build the "premium" small car they think we USAers might want, given that Toyota and Honda are already building them at higher quality levels and at a lower cost?

    Or do they truly believe the thrill of Euro performance overweighs poor quality and frequent repairs? Two other Euro companies went bust from this approach.

    I should add my first car was a VW Super beetle and still have a soft spot for the brand, if it finally decides the USA market is worth its time and delivers to it a quality car again. Hopefully VW can climb out of the hole it has dug itself into.
  • bricknordbricknord Posts: 85
    I have a 1983 VW Pickup with 157k miles. Exhaust has been replaced. Brakes, timing belt, etc. that are routine. My battery died once, no fault of the VW, was just old. The only non-routine failure was the heater core. I also have a 1986 Golf diesel that is the most reliable car on the planet. I drive it 50 miles a day round trip to work. It has over 200k miles. A/C still works! I finally had to put a muffler on it a month or two ago. Pretty routine. I think I replaced a ball joint a year ago on the Golf. It is starting to drip a little oil from the main seal, but with well over 200k miles, I would not say this is ridiculous, and I can have that fixed at a European car shop for $300, they tell me. My wife had a 2000 New Beetle from new to about 70k miles until the lease ended. In that entire time, we had exactly two problems with the car ( 3.5 years ). One, the cruise control module failed one day, and was repaired under warranty. Two, the power window switch on the driver's door broke, maybe from our abuse, maybe not. Again, was repaired under warranty. The Beetle was wonderful BTW, it was a TDI ( diesel ) model and returned fuel economy around 45 mpg average combined during it's tenure on our fleet. A great car. On an anecdotal note, I know someone who was once the GM of an Acura dealer. We were talking about cars one day and he laughed when we talked about the supposed bulletproof Acuras. He indicated that it was pretty routine for Acura transmissions to fail around 60k miles, and that they saw such occurrenced weekly at his store. Never owned an Acura myself, so just making an observation based on what he indicated. Oh, almost forgot...owned a 1997 Jetta for quite a while, and had no major issues there ( gas engine ) either. So, I'd say my experience is very good with VW. I owned one Honda, a Civic a while back, I think the car was a 1983 or 1984, so admittedly a while ago. One day, I got up, started to drive my girlfriend to work, and the engine seized out of the blue. I had maintained the car well and was picky about maintenance actually. Plenty of oil in the car. The mechanics said something internal went haywire and a cylinder liner moved and a piston seized and all kinds of stuff went kaboing. Totally random occurrence, and they could find no evidence that it was related to lack of maintenance in any way. My mother owned a Subaru that overheated one day when it suffered a coolant loss of some type. Problem was, no warning light ever came on of any sort on the dash, no telltale gauge, nothing. The car just finally overheated to the point where it stopped running because the head warped and compression was lost. I was in the car when it happened and can vouch that there was no warning at all, the car just quit running, we were stranded. The dealer investigated and found that there was a fault in coolant lamp warning circuit hence no warning when the car overheated and mom drove merrily along until the car died. Oh, and yeah, there was the 1985 Civic Wagon my family parents owned, that had a severe issue when the crank sheared due to a casting flaw driving normally in downtown Philadelphia one day when my mother was in grad school working on her doctorate. The Honda dealer verified that it was a manufacturing defect after tearing the engine down, but since the car was up around 90k miles or so and out of warranty, tough, and mom had to rebuild the engine on her dime. My family has also owned another Honda and a two Toyotas that were very good and on the level of my experience with VW. My point being, in my experience and that of my immediate family, the VWs probably have at least as good if not significantly better track record, Consumer Reports not withstanding. FWIW. Just my 2c.
  • bricknordbricknord Posts: 85
    sorry, should proofread better! of course my parents are in my family. sorry for the stupid " family parents" sentence in previous post. had been a long day with work and all so excuse my less than stellar oratory. peace.
  • nippononlynippononly SF Bay AreaPosts: 12,726
    now you have made me curious - what do VW dealers want that VWoA is not delivering? I will have to go see. Are we talking hypothetical models, or merely that the build mix is currently wrong for what they want to be selling?

    I see that VW has the $239/mo lease deal already (with quite a bit of money down) for the 2.5. I wonder if it is helping. Sales do not seem to have trended upwards since the 2.5 was introduced, but it has only been a couple of months I guess. I have seen two on the street now.

    2014 Mini Cooper (stick shift of course), 2016 Camry hybrid, 2009 Outback Sport 5-spd (keeping the stick alive)

  • zillzzillz Posts: 21
    Based on my anectdotal experience with VW's , I AM shooting the messenger to a point, because I think CR is unfair to VW. However, the owners they survey are made up of a very minute percentage of the actual numbers of car owners out there. They go back, how far, 7 years? In that time, probably 2 million new Volkswagens were registered. Out of the 2 million, CR may survey 10,000 VW owners that span that period of 7 years. Just because 15% or 20% of those 10,000 responses had, say, an "electrical " problem, it doesn't mean that 15-20% of the other 1,990,000 VW owners would experience the same problems. Secondly, their "Problems PER 100 Cars" chart is a joke. The "Industry Average" is something like 117 problems per 100 cars. VW is near the bottom of the list with something like, 141 problems per 100 cars.
    A VW will, in other words, have 24 more problems per 100 cars than one considered to be "average." All this means is that someone would have to buy 4 Volkswagens to get one more problem than an "average car." So what? Unfortunately, many people regard CR as Gospel, and it has really hurt VW in the past few years.
  • rl81rl81 Posts: 53
    So, what exatly did the Japanese invent in terms of new car technology...This is not really sarkastic or so, I just can't think of anything. SO just so we settle this, where do Toyota, Honda and co. invent because according to you two they must have something to show???

    No question their manufacturing is awesome...but invention :confuse:
    - double turbo, as in one small one big in the same row working together and no it's not a twin turbo(BMW 535d)
    - iDrive (like it or not a lot of them are copying it: Acura, Audi, Infinity...)
    - laser guided cruise control (first seen on MB S-Class???)
    - head up display (this was first on the Corvette)
    - movable lights (this was Lexus...)
    - well okay this doesn't apply to the US so much, but Diesel technology...only Europe
    - Hybrid, I give that to Toyota...

    I can really just recall anyone???
  • nippononlynippononly SF Bay AreaPosts: 12,726
    from the Edmunds news article today:

    "VW executives in Germany said the weak dollar meant America was not the best market for a European carmaker. VW has made a conscious decision to ship fewer cars to North America and focus on more profitable parts of the world"

    This kinda sounds like bull, doesn't it? Not only do they sell the $25K Audi A3 here with way more equipment at the same price AND the turbo 2.0, and stocking manual shifts in droves by the way (dealers are complaining that VW is only sending them loaded Jetta automatics, in order to maximize profit), but BMW has barely raised the price of the new 3-series despite loading on a WHOPPING load of additional standard equipment on the new model.

    And yet, every indication is that the new Passat due here in a few months is also going to climb in price by a good 20-25%.

    Seems like it is just VW that can't sell cars profitably in America. Why is that? And what a change in attitiude on their part, when just a few weeks ago they were talking about how the new Jetta would be the first part of a concerted effort to turn things around and stop the bleeding for VWoA. Jetta sales must be way off what they were hoping.

    2014 Mini Cooper (stick shift of course), 2016 Camry hybrid, 2009 Outback Sport 5-spd (keeping the stick alive)

  • zillzzillz Posts: 21
    The Jetta V hasn't been out long enough to assess what the sales will be like, but it is true that the only ones you see are the high-priced (close to Audi, yes) ones. Once the "Value Editions" priced at 18-19K come, you'll see more sales, but a good portion of enthusiasts are disappointed because they think the new Jetta looks too much like a Toyota Corolla, so I think we'll see a shift to older family people as buyers. The Passat is supposed to be priced similarly to the outgoing model, but as with the Jetta, you'll probably see the higher-priced ones first. Because of the fact that VW lost a billion.2 last year here, it makes sense to ship less cars to dealers. While I agree that 26K is too much money to pay for a Jetta, it is more profitable to sell those models.They can set their goals to a more realistic, attainable level here, and save their [non-permissible content removed] at the same time. BUT...........Since the Jetta has moved upscale, this leaves a hole for the twentysomething enthusiasts, unless the Golf V will fill that void. New Beetle convertible sales should also pick up as we approach summer. A question that burns in my mind that nobody has answered is this: I try to remain optimistic, but if VW were to eventually fail here, is Audi a seperate enough entity to keep selling cars in the US? I am an admitted hardcore VW "fanboy."
    Well, "fan 45-year-old." If the alarmist prophets over in the Car Lounge are correct and VW eventually pulls out of the US market, I have 3 plans: A) Attempt to import one, anyway, B) Start driving Audis (provided they don't go, too), or C) retire in Mexico, which would be nice since you can see the sun there more than 4 days out of a month.
    (I live in Wisconsin. Florida's license plates say: THE SUNSHINE STATE. Wisconsin's should say, THE OVERCAST STATE.)
  • 600kgolfgt600kgolfgt Posts: 690
    Actually, hybrid vehicles were pioneered in the U.S. by Thomas Alva Edison and others at the turn of the century (late 1800's - Early 1900's):
  • 600kgolfgt600kgolfgt Posts: 690
    Also, most fuel injection systems today are either Bosch or licensed from Bosch...
  • 600kgolfgt600kgolfgt Posts: 690
    I'd say the electric/hydraulic steering and direct fuel injection are two major German innovations that the Japanese are starting to incorporate into their own vehicles. So I'd still say the Germans have the lions share of innovations - even today
  • 600kgolfgt600kgolfgt Posts: 690
    My dealership just took delivery of a few "Value Priced" $18-19K models (of course the dealership add-ons made the price more like $20-21K).
  • bricknordbricknord Posts: 85
    Yes, new Jetta sales ARE way off what was expected. From VW's point of view, it is their most volume seller, with a very loyal following, and great popularity in the US market. When a major and much awaited redesign of your volume leader comes out only once every 6 or 7 years, it is a huge deal.

    The response given these circumstances has been very lukewarm at best. I sell Audis at a decent sized VW-Audi store. I've been observing new Jetta sales. Very, very slow. A few are rolling out the door, but nowhere near what was anticipated internally. The main reaction seems to be like this: the real traditional VW fans think the car has become too Japanese and the majority of them don't like the new body style and several other issues. A few conquest buyers like it and are buying it, but not many. A very few VW fans are so loyal they are buying it anyway although they aren't crazy about the looks. Also, there are other issues, for instance, when you shut the door now, you hear a "BOING", it sounds very tinny compared to the outgoing model. The sheetmetal seems thinner and more like a cheap car. Myself ( long time VW owner of about a dozen or so ) and many others at our dealership along with a significant number of clients agree very much with the Edmunds review that something has been lost in translation with this car, the "VW-ness" has been distilled out.

    At least in my area, the general reaction is one of disappointment. Kind of like when you read a good book, then go to the movie and are let down. It is a great car on paper, and the interior is nice, but something is missing. The gaudy chrome front end does not help. It would look better on a larger car, perhaps, but I've seen photoshops of the car with a body-color nose and the reaction is much more positive.

    If anything, the market on the old Jettas shot up when the new one came out as folks scrambled to get those while they could. This move upscale with the Jetta is very calculated by VW, and by early results ( 2 months on market almost now ) if I was VW I would be concerned. However, the new Passat, which I think will be a lot better car, is on the horizon and should help.
  • mariner7mariner7 Posts: 509
    I don't know if it's possible to pinpoint national origin of technology innovations today. Case in point: commercial F1 style gearbox first appeared in German cars. But long before that, it appeared first in a Ferrari F1 car. So is it an Italian invention? Who knows, maybe, maybe not!

    Commercially Honda pioneered the use of variable valve timing. But maybe it was used long before that in F1.

    A lot of engine innovations originate in F1, which is dominated by Europeans, so you'd expect many of these innovations have European origin. But the Japanese are well represented in F1 by Honda and Toyota. Right now Honda reputedly makes the most powerful F1 engine, followed by Renault and Ferrari.
  • rshollandrsholland Posts: 19,788
    Well, Honda back in the 1960s had a 5-cylinder 125cc DOHC GP racing motorcycle and in the '80s a 500cc motorcycle with oval cylinders. I'm sure there are other inventions too, but that's besides the point. Probably the biggest invention that the Japanese made is to take modern automotive advances—regardless of where they came from—and make them reliable and useful for the consumer. That's something the Germans have not done.

    Great ideas, that don't work properly or reliably, are useless, and if anything are counterproductive. The Germans (and other Europeans too) have shot themselves in the foot many times over by releasing "Beta" versions of great ideas. I don't know about you, but I've been a guinea pig with Euro cars several times over before I got smart and gave up on them. My ownership experience with German and Swedish cars was pure hell. Frankly I could care less who "invented" something. I just want it to work—properly and reliably.

  • carlisimocarlisimo Posts: 1,280
    Technical innovation is usually reserved for high-price brands. That means some German brands, but not VW... I think posts about that would fit better in the thread about the reliability of all the German brands as a whole. It's a little fuzzy now that VW owns Audi, but I don't think VW as an economy car maker had much time and money for innovation. Economy cars are best served by innovations such as the Toyota Production System...

    Anyway I saw a new Jetta in person and I think it looks much better in person. It's awesome! But yeah, the reliability thing still scares me. I know a lot of people here are saying that CR is unfair to VW, but there are just so many real-life stories that make CR's reports sound accurate. If I include people who've written about their experiences in these forums, I still have to say that more than half the VW owners I know have had problems with theirs. And it's never just one problem, but many.

    Congrats on having good experiences; kill the people who've had bad ones (car "accident" due to system failure?), and I won't be able to make the same argument.
  • rshollandrsholland Posts: 19,788
    It is good looking even if it looks like a new 2006 Buick Lucerne from the rear. w.leftsidenav..2.Buick*

    It's also very Japanese looking too. Hmmm... Is VW is now trying to copy the Japanese?

    I'm sure it will be the best Jetta to date. Still, I'd take a several year wait-and-see before thinking about buying one.

  • nippononlynippononly SF Bay AreaPosts: 12,726
    I don't think you have to worry about Audi, if VW pulls out of America. Audi has always been pretty profitable here, from what I can tell, and has never had the huge peaks and valleys that VW has (although it did have a broader, less deep valley back in the late 80s/early 90s).

    As for Jetta V, not only does its move upmarket leave a big hole for VW fans looking in the $18-20K range, it kind of strands the Beetle as the glaringly low end VW model. But no worries - I am sure if this model even makes it to a gen II, it will increase 25% in price under the new "VW plan".

    I have seen articles listing the expected price of a loaded next-gen Passat as being over $35K. To me, that says base price won't be much less than $26-27K. For a Passat?

    I appreciate that VW is trying to increase profits to get VWoA out of the red, and that they are willing to sacrifice sales and become more of a niche brand if that is what it takes to accomplish that purpose, but they should remember you do have to sell SOME cars, or there will be NO profit!

    bricknord: I know a couple of people who like VWs, one recently had a Golf for several years, and they both seem to agree that the new Jetta "grew up a little too much". Everyone seems to agree it looks very much like a Corolla. Although one or two folks have mentioned they like the chrome on the front - go figure! I am personally not surprised that sales have been lukewarm.

    2014 Mini Cooper (stick shift of course), 2016 Camry hybrid, 2009 Outback Sport 5-spd (keeping the stick alive)

  • pernaperna Posts: 533
    The reason VW is losing has little to do with Consumer Reports. It has everything to do with the very real experiences of people like me who bought a VW car and regret every tick spent in the service department.

    Their cars are beautiful, fun to drive, and complete turds on wheels. Everything electrical failed in my Jetta at least once.

    What's funny is you may think that my experience is "anecdotal" (which it is), but how anecdotal is it, really? Do you read the Toyota forums full of people with nothing but vitriol in their hearts towards that brand of car? No? Think about it.
  • rshollandrsholland Posts: 19,788
    I agree that CR is not the main reason VW is losing ground—but it is a reason. They report the problems you have experienced. Having said that, people DO read CR, and believe in their ratings, whether they're accurate or not. A poor rating in CR is not something any car maker wants to have, because they will lose sales as a result. Getting that same poor rating year in and year out will take its toll, for sure.

  • mariner7mariner7 Posts: 509
    W8, W12, anyone? 250 mph Veyron? Ferrari wannabe Lamboghini? Phaeton?

    If VW didn't sink billions into these projects, it could compete better with the Civics and Accords of the world!

    I think the German equivalent of AAA gave top reliability ratings to Japanese makes. German makes, including VW, receive middling to poor ratings. That was in Automobile issue a few months back.
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