Eat Danish, Consumer Reports!

What’s the big difference between Danes and Americans?

Have a look at the following list:

1) Toyota
2) Saab
3) BMW
4) Audi
5) Volvo
6) Honda
7) Alfa Romeo
8) VW
9) Mazda
10) Mercedes-Benz

With the exception of Alfa Romeo, all these brands are sold in the United States, and as this is a list from Denmark, they’re obviously available there.

The list you’re looking at is a list, based on 23,000 responses, of automotive brands with the highest rates of customer satisfaction.

With Saab at #2.

So what’s the big difference between Danes and Americans?

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  1. Customer satisfaction is not the same as reliability rating…It’s difficult to achieve a high satisfaction rating in the U.S. if most Americans don’t know enough about Saab to even have an opinion at all.

  2. Swade:

    I’ll refer you to my comments here:

    And, having revisited and read comments below mine (particularly those of Comfortably Numb, an apt name given his comments), I think that there is a common thread.

    Americans have great choice. And many of those choices have great price advantage.

    As far as ‘what have you done for me lately’ — isn’t that what we’re all complaining about? That Saab isn’t refeshing the 9-5 in any way, shape, form fast enough to meet the market at hand in any locale? How can you criticize for that while writing the same?

  3. It’s not that loaded a question, Eggs. Perhaps there’s something strange about the Danes (though the wife of the next-in-line to the throne there is a Tasmanian, so they must have some taste).

    But I’d tend to disagree about the amount of choice you have there. There’s a lot of brands you can’t buy there. I’d almost venture a guess and say we’ve got more real choice here in Oz. We don’t have all the GM, Ford or DCX brands, but do we need them? And even we don’t have all the choices they’ve got in Europe.

    You do have great price advantage, though, owing to the relative wealth of the population and the sheer size of the market.

    It’s just curious that the Danes could be so happy with Saabs and Americans, if CR are to be believed, so unhappy.

    The notions of reliability and consumer satisfaction are sufficiently linked to open up the conversation, I think.

    Saab and the USA II will be coming soon. Remember, I’m still learning as I go, coming from the sphincter of the world, as I do (Australia as a whole was once referred to as the arse-end of the world, making Tassie…..)

  4. denvernewbi:

    If my car wasn’t reliable, I wouldn’t be satisfied with it… But if my car was reliable as hell, it could be boooring and maybe I woulnd’t be loyal to the brand then. The suvey is a mix of things, as are customer satisfaction.

  5. I hope you dont want an honest answer to that question, Swade!?

    Anyhow I think denvernewbie hit the nail on the head with this on though!

  6. There is a level of self-selection bias in the Consumer Reports’ methodology that never gets discussed.

    For example, if a buyer purchases a Toyota because of its reputation for reliability, and something minor goes wrong, they are likely to overlook it because of their belief that the Toyota is reliable. In addition to the fact that most people simply will not accept data that conflicts with their pre-existing belief systems — we are subconsciously programmed to reassure ourselves that we made the right decision in the first place.

    It is my belief that much of the self-reported CR reliability data is simply a function of consumers’ pre-existing beliefs.

    However, for expensive European cars, there is a harsher environment. American consumers are very likely to highlight, even obsess over, extremely minor faults, because of the relatively high purchase price. (Didn’t someone comment on this blog about a Porsche owner who had counted the stitches in his front seats?).

    The only truly reliable data would be comparative warranty claims. However, for obvious reasons, the manufacturers don’t make that data public.

    At any rate, I’d bet money on the proposition that the Danes have a higher opinion of Saab **before** purchase, and that opinion translates to higher satisfaction after purchase. And the average Dane knows more about Saab than the average American.

  7. Gregg, the warranty data is available form Warranty Direct for cars over 3 years old. The 9-5 scores top of its class in the UK, the GM900/9-3 rather less well.

  8. Two quick observations.

    I think last time I was there I noticed that the Japanese manufacturers didn’t have much market penetration. So I think I would agree that there could be an expectations difference versus the USA, where many years of reliable Japanese cars have raised the reliability expectations for all cars.

    The other thing is, versus the USA anyway, you can get much more basic Saabs in Scandanavia/Europe. When I was in Sweden, a lot of the Saabs I saw had roll windows, no air conditioning, no info display, and very basic trim. Though I don’t have the current 9-3, I’m guessing that a lot of the things that are breaking and causing the owners grief are the more techy electronics that a lot of European Saabs don’t have. So as a whole, European Saabs could really be more reliable than US Saabs as a whole.

  9. @Gregg… I think you may have it a bit backwards. If an owner in the US who is very used to poor quality has a minor problem with his GM car, (s)he may not report it, but a Toyota onwer who expects very high quality may report an very minor issue that a GM owner may not even have noticed. This could be one reason Buick and Caddy both came in ahead of MB and Toyota on JD Power????

  10. The sad fact is and this is coming from someone who deals with the Saab product as part of my livelihood, the 2003 9-3 sport sedan overall has been Saab’s achilles heel. Prior to the new 9-3 coming out Saab was ranked in the top 10 consistently. Thanks in large part to the 9-5 but also to the fact that the prior 9-3 had gotten to a point where it was statistically almost as good as the 9-5. But the new 9-3 for the first few model years was an electrical nightmare. So we can try to sugarcoat the facts or try to come up with reasons why they are second from the bottom here in the U.S., the facts are the facts. That being said, hopefully over the next few years of data that position will change. As a big time Saab fan and owner nothing would please me more. But to say that CR uses personal bias or things of that nature is a little shortsighted and remember that CR does not accept advertising by anyone which may or may not influence the editors. And believe me Saab owners WANT their cars to be reliable on top of the fact that they are unique in the market place. There is no mystery why here in the U.S. the ratings are the ratings..the real mystery is what that ranking is and from whom it is from as it relates to the Danes.

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