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European car sales hit skids in USA
By Earle Eldridge / USA TODAY

U.S. sales of European cars are tanking as buyers switch to Japanese or Detroit brands.

Sales of European brands fell 6.9% in the first quarter, while Asian brands were up 9.5% and domestic sales grew 2.2%, according to Autodata.

Meanwhile, almost 40% of Volkswagen owners who bought a new car in the first quarter switched to an Asian brand, according to Power Information Network, an affiliate of J.D. Power and Associates. More than 22% of Mercedes-Benz owners switched to an Asian brand during that time.

"Owners of every European brand are moving away from the brand," says Tom Libby, director of industry analysis for the Power Information Network.

Quality might be an issue. While the quality of all brands has improved since 1998, Europeans have made the least gains, according to J.D. Power's initial quality survey.

The survey asks new vehicle buyers to identify problems in the first 90 days of ownership.

European brands went from ranking No. 1 in the 1998 survey to tying for second place with domestics behind Japanese brands in 2003.

Europeans particularly have problems in the survey with features such as electronic accessories, turn signals, power windows, sunroofs, trip computers and navigation systems, says Brian Walters, senior director of vehicle research for J.D. Power.

This year, for the first time in 24 years, the average domestic car was rated more reliable than the average European car in Consumer Reports magazine's annual survey of owners.

"It comes down to reliability," says David Champion, head of the magazine's auto test center. "Reliability of European brands has taken a toll on sales."

Volkswagen has set up a 50-person team to attack quality and reliability issues.

"Our goal is to find the root cause of any quality issue and get it resolved within eight weeks or less," says VW spokesman Tony Fouladpour.

But Fouladpour says VW's sales drop, 25% in the first quarter from a year ago, has more to do with the fact that VW models carry less rebate money than rivals.

Mercedes says its sales were down about 5% in the first quarter because of a changeover to new models. The brand has 10 new products coming for the 2005 model year.

Keith May, vice president of sales for Mercedes-Benz USA, predicts those new models "will take us to another record year this year, and our biggest product offensive in history (is) coming in 2005 and 2006, which will take us forward from there."

source
 

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1st nissan titan is going in the toilet now european cars have quality issues.. man o man what a good week we're having. all we need is another honda or toyota recall to top it off!
 

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I have 2 friends that have purchased European cars and have been frequent visitors to the dealers' service department.
The guy with the Mercedes has had electrical failures, a radiator hose failure and noisey tires (I like this one since the dealer acknowledges this fact but said that it is the owners' responsibility. The tires were delivered with the car). Everytime he takes it in, thecar iswashed but little else is done.
The Audi guy deserved his punishment. when he first got the car, he ranted how eveybody who doesn't own an Audi are assh---- (I just rolled my eyes). About a year and a half later, I meet him and he's driving a Maxima. Why? He claimes that he was in the shop every month for something else.

Just as American cars were punished in the 80's for poor quality, the public is transfering its allegiance away from the Europeans. No car looks that good on the side of the road.
 

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It appears that there are a number of reasons why the Europeans have been losing ground recently. While incentives may play a role, certainly a large part of the problem is that European quality has diminished (or at least not kept up with many domestic and Asian brands). Dissatisfied customers are less inclined to return to a brand.

While VW may play lip service to sales declining as a result of lesser incentives on their hoods, this certainly would not explain the fact that "...almost 40% of Volkswagen owners who bought a new car in the first quarter switched to an Asian brand, according to Power Information Network, an affiliate of J.D. Power and Associates." The Asian brands traditionally have lower rebates as a group than the Europeans and certainly the domestics. Again, I'm sure some people abandoned the European brands as a result of generous rebates that can be had at other makes, but I doubt it completely explains their poor showing this past quarter. Then again, the Europeans as a whole raised their incentives at a greater rate than the domestics or Asian brands in March, so they're catching up (so the incentive excuse may be less of a reason to explain failing sales in the future). Granted, the domestics still take top honors in the incentives race.

It also makes you wonder why "...Volkswagen has set up a 50-person team to attack quality and reliability issues..." if their sales problems are a result of things other than quality and reliability: "...But Fouladpour says VW's sales drop, 25% in the first quarter from a year ago, has more to do with the fact that VW models carry less rebate money than rivals."

VW's, and probably to a lesser extent MB's, problems are not simply incentive-related. They seem to have quality issues that they've only begun to address, and particularly in the case of VW, an aging vehicle line continues to dog chances of rapidly increasing sales. As long as they continue to minimize the quality and age issues, I think the domestics and Asians will continue to grab share.

I also agree with IMPALAon20s: it's nice to see others experiencing some grief for a change.
 

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Meanwhile, almost 40% of Volkswagen owners who bought a new car in the first quarter switched to an Asian brand, according to Power Information Network
Quality issues with her Passat forced a friend of mine out of it - and into an Accord, within 1 1/2 years of purchasing the Passat.
 

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And unloading a 1.5 year old car means that you take a pounding on selling it. So, it's a double whammy.
But, how are they doing lease-wise?
 

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Originally posted by IMPALAon20s@Apr 13 2004, 10:13 AM
1st nissan titan is going in the toilet now european cars have quality issues.. man o man what a good week we're having. all we need is another honda or toyota recall to top it off!
:lol: :lol:

It's about time people woke up and relized that VWs are junk for quality. They are high in perceived quality, but low in terms of real quality.

BMW's were once nice and now they are ugly and come with the stupid iDrive. MB has terrible quality from adding too many unasked for technologies, etc. What a turn of events.

Mark
 

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Originally posted by usa1+Apr 13 2004, 06:56 PM--></div><table border='0' align='center' width='95%' cellpadding='3' cellspacing='1'><tr><td>QUOTE (usa1 @ Apr 13 2004, 06:56 PM)</td></tr><tr><td id='QUOTE'> <!--QuoteBegin-IMPALAon20s@Apr 13 2004, 10:13 AM
1st nissan titan is going in the toilet now european cars have quality issues..  man o man what a good week we're having.  all we need is another honda or toyota recall to top it off!
:lol: :lol:

It's about time people woke up and relized that VWs are junk for quality. They are high in perceived quality, but low in terms of real quality.

BMW's were once nice and now they are ugly and come with the stupid iDrive. MB has terrible quality from adding too many unasked for technologies, etc. What a turn of events.

Mark [/b][/quote]
Yeah, but some people are hard to convince (or simply live in denial). My friend Tim raves about his Audi and how wonderful the AWD is in the snow. I asked him after he got towed three times(!) this winter alone about how he felt about his Audi A4, and he continues to endorse its fine engineering. This even after his 1.8T required recall engine work. Of course, I take a perverse delight in letting him know that the "fuddy-duddy" CTS ranked highly in recent quality studies, with a mere 88 defects per hundred vehicles. Gee, I've yet to see a [wonderfully styled, more powerful, higher-quality] CTS on the side of the road, Tim! ;)

I'm not sure everyone will be convinced, unfortunately.
 

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Originally posted by 69nova@Apr 13 2004, 11:59 AM
The Audi guy deserved his punishment. when he first got the car, he ranted how eveybody who doesn't own an Audi are assh---- (I just rolled my eyes). About a year and a half later, I meet him and he's driving a Maxima. Why? He claimes that he was in the shop every month for something else.
Funny....
Every single persion I know who had an Audi has spent thousands upon thousands of dollars and hours without the car for one thing after another.
And to think I only had 1 major problem with my car in 4 years of owning it. (TCS throttlebody died). I have no problems with hoses, turbocharger (knock on wood), pumps, filters, etc.

And to think I was inches awy from getting an A6.
 

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Originally posted by tgagneguam@Apr 13 2004, 04:03 PM
I take a perverse delight in letting him know that the "fuddy-duddy" CTS ranked highly in recent quality studies, with a mere 88 defects per hundred vehicles. Gee, I've yet to see a [wonderfully styled, more powerful, higher-quality] CTS on the side of the road, Tim! ;)

I'm not sure everyone will be convinced, unfortunately.
belive me... I take a perverse delight too. :roflmao:

You can tell you friend that GM's Sigma plant has matched or exceed the best Toyota plants in quality. :lol:
 

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The European manufacturers are having some problems of late especially VW and Mercedes.
But keep in mind that many of the US cars that pull high JD Power numbers are bought by older people who simply can't hear problems and are less likely to complain about things not working properly or at all.
Does anybody here think the Buick LeSabre deserves it's high JD Power rating.
Also the CTS is still being bought by older people and this will heavily sway it's ranking.

I have owned my SRX for 5 weeks now and have already had a new camshaft put in and a seat belt retractor.

it is a hell of a car but it is a GM product and will have those 3-5 things that all of my GM cars have had.
 

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Originally posted by mgescuro+Apr 14 2004, 05:41 AM--></div><table border='0' align='center' width='95%' cellpadding='3' cellspacing='1'><tr><td>QUOTE (mgescuro @ Apr 14 2004, 05:41 AM)</td></tr><tr><td id='QUOTE'> <!--QuoteBegin-69nova@Apr 13 2004, 11:59 AM
The Audi guy deserved his punishment. when he first got the car, he ranted how eveybody who doesn't own an Audi are assh---- (I just rolled my eyes). About a year and a half later, I meet him and he's driving a Maxima. Why? He claimes that he was in the shop every month for something else.
Funny....
Every single persion I know who had an Audi has spent thousands upon thousands of dollars and hours without the car for one thing after another.
And to think I only had 1 major problem with my car in 4 years of owning it. (TCS throttlebody died). I have no problems with hoses, turbocharger (knock on wood), pumps, filters, etc.

And to think I was inches awy from getting an A6. [/b][/quote]
i'm a GM fan but i still couldn't help but want an audi the other day... saw a quattro A4 wagon yesterday... black.... ohhhh good lord they're a beautiful car! when it came down to it i'd be too scared of the poor quality ratings... but i can see why people are still tempted! just gotta be strong... i'm sure a drive in a CTS is all it would take :)
 

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No, I think that domestic car buyers expect more of their car-especially in terms of reliability. This is especially true of people with lesser incomes.
It's easier on the pocket book for somebody who has shelled out $thousands more for a Mercedes and must take it in for constant check ups than a guy who is laboring with a wife and kids and trying to make ends meet. A buck means more to this guy.
As far as older people being easier to please, this is probably more an individual issue. In another thread discussing th JD Power ratings, some fella stated how his aunt (?) gave a domestic car a crappy rating across the board because of some slight given by the dealership (something of this nature). Don't lump us together because we'd be the first to cry about the seats.
Better watch out, one of these old fogies in their CTS-V may light you up one day!
 

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I can personally vouch on the quality issue. My friend’s dad bought a 2000 Beetle Turbo. As soon as he got it, he had to put in 400 dollars for a fuel system glitch (not under warranty because the warranty on this car is worthless). He traded in a nice car to save money so he was obviously PO. A few months later the entire speedometer, RPM and mileage gauges stopped working and he didn't even want to deal with it. He still doesn’t even want to know how much its going to cost to fix. To this day, the cars mileage is the same as the day it stopped working but it drives fine. You just never know how fast you are going, how much gas you have left, or how many miles since your last oil change. How’s that for trusting the mileage on a VW? Forget someone messing with it, it just messed with itself. Then there is the window controls - all broken buttons with no abuse. They still work but they hang loosely and you have to play with it to get the window to work (this is a well documented rampant problem). They do come out if you try to take them out and then pop back in and hang again. The sunroof makes a loud bang each and every time its placed in the full open position and then it bangs again when you close it as if it breaks every time you use it. The automatic spoiler comes out on the freeway and then gets stuck in the open position and won’t come back down. Other than that, it’s a fast and fun car that would have made loyal buyers if it didn't scare the owners who are afraid of the next thing that is going to break. Oh yea, the flower/pen holder works just fine.
 

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The 2004 vs. 2003 sales numbers don't lie:

VW: -25% YTD (despite the Touareg)
Audi: -5.6% YTD
MB: -4.7% YTD
BMW: -1.8% YTD (despite the new X3, 6-series)

(And surprisingly)

Honda: -5.5%

There is no way you can rationalize this as being an 'anomaly'. In a year where the market has expanded 4%, to post a sales decrease of greater than 20% is a sign that you've got something seriously wrong. Even LINCOLN increased 2.3%!

So where are the sales going?

Chevrolet: +10%
Pontiac: +17.6%
GMC: +20.4%
Cadillac: +10.6%
Chrysler: +12.8%
Nissan: +38%
Toyota: +8.7%
Acura: +28.5% (on the strength of the TSX & TL)

There are other winners and losers, but no losers bigger than VW. And the Public seems to be figuring it out.

Looks like German arrogance is catching up with them too.
 

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GM quality was always better than Europes, then came the 70's. Now that the old guard GM suit sleezballs that screwed it all up are all retiring or have retired. GM quality is improving at an astonishing rate. It's going back to what it once was.
 
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