Hyundai Revisited: Quality is not Dead

As of 2011, Hyundai was the fastest growing auto maker in the world and has been for the last two years. Take it as fact; no manufacturer achieves this without extraordinary determination and absolute focus on quality.

Our business at Norman Taylor & Associates is the California Lemon Law. We see the consequence of lost focus and lack of determination every day.

Over and over advertising gurus assert Image is everything. It’s not! Listen up Mercedes, BMW, image is not everything. Quality is. Of course we want our cars to be sleek and be named after iconic animals normally found bounding around the Serengeti. However, when your Gazelle, Gnu, Wildebeest, whatever, forces you to the side of the road, wheezing and gasping like a dead carp week after week, year after year, most consumers would pass on the image is everything, for a little reliability.

When Hyundai began manufacturing cars in the late 80’s their quality was the subject of jokes on late night TV shows and they routinely appeared at the bottom of J. D. Power Initial Quality Surveys. Not any more. Now they are at the top of these quality measures.

Let’s take a quick look at Hyundai’s new car warranty versus other comparable manufacturers. The basic Hyundai warranty is 5 years/60,000 miles and their powertrain warranty is 10 years/100,000 miles. BMW’s new car warranty is 4 years/50,000 miles and the same for the powertrain. What does this suggest to you? Remember Hyundai is a business. They have to maintain great sales and superior quality to survive. What these numbers and measures suggest to me is that Hyundai knows that their warranty is offset by quality.

Here is a significant lemon law statistic. Out of the many lemon law cases we settled for our clients in 2010, less than 1% were made by Hyundai. In 2011 it was less than 2%. By comparison, over 20% of our BMW cases were lemons in 2010 and 2011.

Another quick example of the difference, Hyundai announced that they were offering a lifetime guarantee for the battery pack on the Sonata Hybrid. This is a very expensive component, actually the most expensive in any hybrid vehicle. That’s confidence!

This article was not paid for by Hyundai and I doubt very much they will bother to say thank you. I used the two manufacturers to make a point. When a car is a lemon, how pretty it is means nothing, I repeat, nothing. It could be the Ultimate Mowing machine for all we care. Your lemon car could be frothing with seductive images. The owner after taking the damn thing in for engine repairs for the sixth time, does not care about image.

We are in a new year. It will be interesting to see if any of the other manufacturers have the big realization. Image is not everything! On the other hand, reliability is!

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