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November 30, 2005

EXCLUSIVE: UK: Motor industry group unhappy with reliability survey

UK motor industry representative group the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders has demanded a used car warranty provider publish sample sizes and methodology to support its latest reliability survey.

UK motor industry representative group the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders has demanded a used car warranty provider publish sample sizes and methodology to support its latest reliability survey.

Last week Warranty Direct, providers of aftermarket warranties, released a survey entitled ‘The cars we can rely upon to…fail’ featuring a list of vehicles likely to break down and the average prices of repairs.

It used data from claims it received based on around 26,000 vehicles built between 2000 and 2002, with W to 02 registration plates.

But SMMT claimed that the survey was ‘PR driven’ and ‘sensationalised’.

Warranty Direct ensured its data was based on a minimum of 100 vehicles of each model but SMMT said it has contacted the warranty firm on both Friday (25 November) and Monday (28 November) for a more detailed break-down of the data.

Despite requests from SMMT and its industry members, the company has not provided these details.

SMMT spokesperson Nigel Wonnacott told just-auto: “Failed attempts to acquire more information confirms figures are not open and transparent enough and brings into question the validity of the results. 

“If a minimum of 100 cars were surveyed then this could be anywhere between 101 and 3,000. The automotive industry needs safety surveys for improvement and if Warranty Direct had the facts behind the figures there would be no problem.”

The worst offender in the Warranty Direct survey was the Renault Espace with a 71% failure rate – almost 12 times more than the best placed model, Honda’s Civic.

Warranty Direct spokesperson Charlotte Latham said: “We have made the effort to keep in contact with SMMT about the matter.

“We used over a 100 cars of each model and 26,000 in total, making it a more than robust survey.”

Sharing second worst position in the survey was an off-road favourite, the Jeep Cherokee and Saab’s 9-5 executive model, both with 55 failures in every 100 vehicles; they were closely followed by the Ford Galaxy and Volvo C70 with 54 breakdowns each.

Sixth from bottom in the study was the stylish Audi TT with 51 out of 100 owners recording a mechanical failure of some degree. The luxurious Jaguar XJ, Vauxhall Frontera, Volvo V70 and Renault Laguna completed the bottom 10.

This is not the first time the UK motor industry has challenged the Warranty Direct surveys.

On a previous occasion, the privately-held Subaru importer IM Group, whose sporty Impreza model had fared poorly, claimed the survey included a large number of models imported used from the Japanese market and sold here well outside the period covered by the UK importer’s factory warranty.

Warranty Direct’s cover is regularly recommended by the UK car buyer’s adviser ‘Honest John’ on both his website and in his regular column in the Daily Telegraph newspaper.

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