J D Power has just published the results of its 2008 Vehicle Dependability Study, which summarises the problems experienced by owners of three-year-old vehicles in the US. http://www.jdpower.com/autos/ratings/dependability-ratings-by-brand
Lexus comes top, as it has in the past. This has happened enough times in the past that it is approaching the point at which it is no longer newsworthy. Sadly, the name at the bottom of the list is not a newcomer either. Land Rover comes last with 344 problems per 100 cars.
It's easy to imagine that Land Rovers are put through more extreme conditions than the other cars on the list and therefore suffer more problems. But as every Land Rover owner I've ever met has pointed out, that's missing the point: the cars are now too complicated.
I was camping in Sussex last weekend. I scrabbled up the hill to the camp site in my Land Cruiser and got out to find a LWB Land Rover and a 55-plate Discovery parked at the top alongside some heavy-duty ex-army kit. I soon got chatting to the drivers of the cars and found out that the air suspension on the Discovery has collapsed onto the bumpstops a couple of weeks previously due to a faulty compressor. The owner of the 15-year-old 110 Land Rover was horrified. But not nearly as horrified as he was to hear that new Defenders come with electric windows as standard.
Tata has many challenges ahead with Land Rover: to make the cars more economical, to make them lighter, to make them more reliable. The biggest challenge of all, however, is to come up with a solution for the undoubted demand for a powerful, robust 4x4 with a minimum of gadgets and an interior you can hose down.
The Defender is iconic and its longevity gives the Land Rover brand a reputation for reliability and dependability that is often at odds with anecdotal evidence. It won't matter how many hybrid 4x4s Land Rover makes, if it doesn't have the workhorse it won't have the image. Over to you, Ratan. Here are the results of the J D Power survey, showing the number of problems per 100 cars. The industry average is 206.
Lexus 120 Mercury 151 Cadillac 155 Toyota 159 Acura 160 Buick 163 BMW 164 Lincoln 165 Honda 177 Jaguar 178 Porsche 193 Mitsubishi 197 Hyundai 200 Ford 204 Infiniti 204 Audi 207 Mercedes-Benz 215 Nissan 224 Pontiac 225 GMC 226 Mazda 228 Subaru 228 Chrysler 229 Dodge 230 Mini 233 Chevrolet 239 Hummer 241 Scion 243 Volvo 244 Saturn 250 Jeep 253 Volkswagen 253 Saab 254 Isuzu 274 Kia 278 Suzuki 302 Land Rover 344