In January 2004, the J.D. Power and Associates, named Honda as the highest non-luxury brand of car. This same study looked at buyer's perceptions of problems such as engineering problems, quality of workmanship and worker errors in production. Buyers were happy with Honda, and it ranked fourth behind Lexus, Cadillac and Jaguar. The Honda also ranked first in Van and entry level SUV, and in the top three in compact, sports car, and midsize SUV (Honda Ranks, 2004). This study clearly shows that reliability and quality workmanship are important to the public when they are looking for an automobile to purchase.
Clearly, there are differences in the markets that each automobile company targets for sales and this makes the individual qualities of the vehicle important to the consumer. By 1990, the public could choose from 572 models of vehicles. Advertising and the public's perception of the automobiles are important. The European automobile market has been unfavorably compared to the Japanese and the American markets in terms of quantity, but the buyers of European automobiles are generally more loyal to their usual brand of vehicle. They will continue to buy their BMW and Mercedes Benz automobiles instead of the luxury vehicles introduced by other manufactures, such as Nissan and Toyota. The BMW management suggests that people who buy BMW automobiles know the quality of the luxury vehicles they usually buy and they will not be swayed by the blitz of "new" luxury cars (the Automobile Market, 1991).
When a consumer thinks of a BMW, they think of a luxury automobile whether it is a sports car, a coupe or a sedan. The engine is powerful and the interior of a BMW is well appointed. The BMW is all wheel or rear wheel drive. The ride of a BMW, no matter what model, is firm and controlled and the steering is the benchmark for all vehicles. The larger sedan has many safety features with several airbags and the joystick knob has all of the special features on it, like phone, climate, stereo and navigation. The seats are ventilated, and there is obstacle detection and an adaptive cruise control. It is as if all of the amenities that can be considered, are a part of these vehicles. The seats are roomy, the wind is minimal and luxury is the fundamental quality. The BMW management may be right when they say that other manufacturers may produce luxury vehicles, but that doesn't mean BMW buyers will switch. The hefty price tags of BMW automobiles may deter some buyers who want luxury, but it may be hard to match the quality without spending the money.
The Honda has the reputation of quality workmanship and reliability. The Honda is also known for the resale value of the vehicle, and buyers consider this when they purchase an automobile. The steering is quick and the feel is sporty. The Honda has a tight ride and the wind noise is minimal. The acceleration is peppy and the front wheel drive is quick and steady. The trim on the interior fits well together and the automobile is good quality workmanship. The Honda is not the luxury automobile that the BMW, Jaguar, Lexus or others is, but it is a well-made, reliable vehicle that is a top seller in the United States.
A comparison of European and Japanese manufactured automobiles may be a study of their differences more than their similarities. The European vehicles, in particular the BMW, are finely crafted vehicles, built for power and luxury. The price of these automobiles match the "premium" quality they tout. The Japanese also build a fine quality vehicle that not only does well on the reliability and satisfaction questions, but also manages to sell well in American and foreign markets. Both have their markets and are successful.
BMW Classics. (2004). Retrieved November 7, 2004, at http://www.bmwworld.com/
Honda Ranks as the Highest Non-Luxury Brand in J.D. Power and Associates Initial Quality
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