A report out of Germany today from the country's top automotive support service, ADAC, claims that the most reliable cars - based on analysis of their receipt of 2 million calls for help - in Germany are of German make. BMW's X3 tops the list, and is followed by Audi's A2 and BMW's 1-series. But there's a small problem in the analysis: the X3 isn't made by BMW.
For those familiar with the inner workings of the car industry, the name Magna Steyr is well-known. For those less aware of how cars actually get made, Magna Steyr is a full-service engineering and manufacturing firm, which does serious work in everything from automobiles to space propulsion systems. One of their bigger projects is production of the X3 for BMW. And Magna Steyr is an Austrian firm - not German. Their vehicle assembly plants are located in Austria, France and the U.S. - but not Germany.
So, BMW's most reliable car isn't even made by BMW. That's not particularly surprising, given the company's history - and present, in the U.S. and U.K. - at or near the bottom of reliability rankings. The rest of the cars in the list published in the Spiegel Online includes BMW's MINI and 3-series as well as the Mercedes CLK and SLK, Mazda's 3, Audi's A4 and Mitsubishi's Space Star. Despite the BMW X3's non-German heritage, the country still managed to dominate the list - itself a questionable result, given the rest of the world's findings. The ADAC thinks the fall of the Japanese, who once held nine of ten spots on their most reliable list, is directly attributable to their massive increases in sales volume, especially in the case of Toyota.
Toyota has been dropping in reliability surveys around the world for the past several years - and it is probably largely due to their increased volume. However, such increases in volume apparently do not hamper German firms, because BMW's last few years have seen sales and revenue growth near 10% annually. In the U.S., BMW has seen 16 continuous years of growth. And while global sales of around 1.5 million certainly do not put BMW in the same league with Toyota or GM, it does put them on a level with Mazda and Mitsubishi - the only Japanese makers on the list.
Not that BMW doesn't make some great cars - they certainly do - but ADAC putting an Austrian car at the top of a list and calling it German while demoting some of the worlds most reliable cars and replacing them with luxurious but notoriously unreliable hometown heroes (Mercedes) has to raise a few red flags. Right?