Friday, April 10, 2009

Your Tax Dollars at Work

There's a problem:

Not a single product Chrysler, Dodge or Jeep sells is currently recommended by Consumer Reports, largely because of below average "predicted reliability" as measured by owner surveys. Chrysler brands also rank low in J.D. Power surveys of dependability and usability.
Which is to say, Chrysler-Dodge-Jeep vehicles are pieces of shit. But worry not! They've hired a new guy, Doug Betts, who's going to fix it!
Progress has already been made, he said, and will begin showing up in surveys over the next year or so. The 2011 Jeep Grand Cherokee, with its richer interior treatments, is the first Chrysler vehicle to show Betts' influence in a big way. Basically, he's redefining priorities and making sure the designers' work actually makes it into the finished product.
At long last, a high-ranking manager at Chrysler is dedicated to the proposition that the work of designers and engineers should actually manifest in the finished product. Brilliant!

And speaking of priorities, when you're broken down and facing costly repairs on your 2011 Jeep Grand Cherokee, you'll face them amid richer interior treatments. Which is to say, more cup-holders, differently-scented seat fabrics, and quite possibly a sound system featuring this bleeding edge MP3-playback capability all the kids are talking about. I can feel the evaluators at Consumer Reports swooning already.

As with each of these monotonously repetitive corner-turnings by American car makers, the important takeaway is that Chrysler has found a new face and name to supply the quotes, catchphrases, and buzzwords for the puff journalism heralding always-next-year's quality improvements.

3 comments:

twoblueday said...

I got a wry chuckle out of this post. I hold a very low opinion of Chrysler products, and intend never to own one if I can help it.

Example 1: years ago we leased a Grand Cherokee. It started stalling. We had it analyzed/repaired by the dealer. On a trip, it let us down again. We went elsewhere. The upshot of this was that a short in the electrical stuff in the power driver seat was blowing a fuse, and something necessary to run the car was on that same circuit. I was flabbergasted when I got this info. No competent engineer would every let a froo-fraw luxury item be on the same circuit as something necessary for utility/safety. But, then, I have no idea if Chrysler employs competent engineers.

Example 2: Once, not long ago, on a short trip, my Honey rented a PT Cruiser. She hated it. It was underpowered but got bad gas mileage. It's steering was flaky. In short, it was a piece of crap.

So, the new guy says the interior is going to be more zippy. Hallelujah! Meanwhile GM is pouring millions into an ad campaign to try to regain customers. Not one word of the ad campaign mentions anything they've done to improve their vehicles.

And the beat goes on.

Dale said...

twoblue, what bugs me about it is taht I *want* American car makers to be good at what they do. They just aren't. I wouldn't even mention it if I didn't care -- cars aren't exactly my focus.

twoblueday said...

Cars aren't my focus, either. I have not successfully relegated them in my mind to the status of any other tool or utilitarian device, say, a hammer, or a refrigerator, but I'm working on it. I was as much a victim of the deluge of the "romance of the auto" ad campaigns as anyone else. I'm trying to do a self-help self-therapy on this.