Component Suppliers Should Share Blame
Saturday May 6, 1989
AUSTRALIA'S car-makers, after receiving their most scathing attack yet on poor quality, have curiously turned the other cheek.
Last week's report by the Automotive Industry Authority, which basically told the Government what new car buyers already knew, made headlines but failed to draw a meaningful response from the car industry.
Is this an admission of guilt?
The AIA, basing its report on independent audit data from the industry's ARMS survey, blasted our Big Five for bad quality.
The AIA won't get any argument in general terms from this correspondent, but there are important elements of the report that have been glossed over in the media coverage.
While the manufacturers are facing the full-frontal media attack, Australia's component suppliers get off scot-free.
Companies like Borg Warner and Monroe Wylie, which are virtual monopolies, escape any criticism despite their key role in determining overall quality.
A Skyline owner is going to blame Nissan and not Borg Warner for his noisy rear-axle. Likewise the Falcon with the funny handling is Ford's problem, not Monroe-Wylie's, despite the fact that Monroe builds 95 per cent of Australia's shock absorbers.
Indeed, any captain of the automotive industry will confirm that Australia's major component suppliers will ultimately play a decisive role in the fate of local quality standards.
The other key area not questioned in the AIA findings is what the ARMS quality survey actually measures. It has nothing at all to do with reliability or in-service problems. Instead it measures off-line cosmetic quality - things like paint contamination and panel fit.
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