Bullshit Car of the Year

Volkswagen Tiguan: BSCOTY 2016

I take great pleasure in announcing my Bullshit Car of the Year award in the same week News Limited's Carsguide announced its 2016 Car of the Year.

Two very different awards. But...

Knock me down with a feather: Same car.

Uncle Rupert’s reviewers describe the award as: “Australia’s most customer-focussed car award”. But I disagree: I think mine is.

Perhaps you should be the judge.

Like Uncle Rupie's team (albeit for different reasons) I’m seriously impressed with the Tiguan. In the context of both awards, it's awesome. This is, therefore, in a sense, a show of solidarity - an endorsement of sorts. A rare opportunity to stand shoulder to shoulder with Big Rupie and declare the new Tiguan also to be the AutoExpert.com.au Bullshit Car of the Year, 2016.

Call it a complementary match, karmic balance, whatever. (Yin meeting yang in the prison shower, and yin is never the quite same, thereafter.)

This report is my honest personal opinion, in the public interest.

If you’ve ever wondered about the plethora of car of the year awards and their purported relevance to you, don’t listen to me. I humbly submit what Carsguide editor Richard Blackburn is reported to have said on Uncle Rupie’s News.com.au:

 
“We can’t judge a new model by the failings of its predecessors. The Tiguan was a standout among ten excellent finalists. It has safety technology that luxury brands still charge extra for.”
- Richard Blackburn, Carsguide editor, reported by Paul Gover
 

Seriously? This is allegedly the best new car in Australia and to me it seems as if this statement is (in part) an apology.

I’d suggest that, for true customer relevance, it’s not just possible but also preferable to judge new models in part by the context of the recent predecessors and also the track record of the brand. I’d suggest any non-bullshit award would improve its customer-centricity if it did that.

Unfortunately that would disqualify the Tiguan. The motoring clubs did that recently, with Volkswagen, which responded with a fairly predictable Teutonic temper tantrum >>

One key difference between the motoring clubs and Uncle Rupie's outfit is, obviously, that Uncle Rupie depends on advertising revenue from the likes of Volkswagen, and the motoring clubs do not. Go figure.

So, here are the top four reasons why I’m certain the Tiguan is the worthy recipient of my Bullshit Car of the Year award.

Volkswagen's moral compass has been seriously dodgy since the GFC, but went 100% Humpty Dumpty when they took the decision to break the law and commit dieselgate

Volkswagen's moral compass has been seriously dodgy since the GFC, but went 100% Humpty Dumpty when they took the decision to break the law and commit dieselgate

1. MORAL COMPASS

Volkswagen’s moral Compass is broken. The dieselgate scandal, which is still exploding in the company’s face, proved it - unequivocally. A high-level management decision to prioritise profit over your health. It’s morally reprehensible.

See more on how VW betrayed the world >>

If your car develops a problem, you better hope like hell the carmaker has a firm commitment to ethical and moral proportionality. Because if they don’t, if that carmaker's moral compass is ‘Bermuda Triangle’ all over the joint like a mad person’s poopies: big problem for you.

This was a critical factor in my Bullshit Car of the Year judging protocols.

World's brainiest dude said insanity was when you repeated some behaviour and expected different shit to happen - but not in those words

World's brainiest dude said insanity was when you repeated some behaviour and expected different shit to happen - but not in those words

2. EINSTEIN'S INSANITY

Remember the brainy German physicist who died in 1955 after inventing two flavours of relativity - chocolate and global thermonuclear armageddon? He defined insanity as the state of doing the same thing over and over, and expecting a different result. Let’s apply that test.

Volkswagen has a proud history of producing gorgeous (if Teutonically understated) cars that drive really well, but have atrocious reliability. Are we seriously expecting a different result this time? Some miraculous turnaround?

You can bet Kim Kardashian’s arse - both cheeks - that I factored this in, on Bullshit Car of the Year selection criteria.

Volkswagen recently outsourced its call centre to the bowels of hell - with fairly predictable results

Volkswagen recently outsourced its call centre to the bowels of hell - with fairly predictable results

3. CUSTOMER SUPPORT

Volkswagen a frontrunner in the shit customer support sweepstakes. If your Volkswagen has a serious problem … balance of probabilities:

You’re rooted.

Visit Maurice Blackburn Lawyers >> for details about the class action currently playing out against Volkswagen in Australia, highlighting, in my view, a massive customer support failure.

Screwing customers over is part of Volkswagen’s DNA - it’s encoded everywhere from the service counter to the boardroom in Wolfsburg. It’s a sociopathic multi-national mother-lovin’ organisation. If I were a customer, I’d be searching for more than snappy dynamics and good features. I’d want someone with integrity to highlight the Bullshit Car of the Year.

I get complaints about Volkswagen often. The latest was from a delightful young lady I won’t name, who told me her Polo spontaneously stopped in traffic five times in 11 months - just stopped. It’s only 15 months old. She tells me the key also got jammed in the ignition. The seatbelt alarm goes off randomly. And there’s a yellow stain leaching into the roof lining. That German engineering…

She says:

Needless to say, this is not how buying a new car should make you feel...

Needless to say, this is not how buying a new car should make you feel...

That is an authentic, unsolicited, Volkswagen customer experience. Not every Volkswagen has problems, but this bullshit is over-represented among Volkswagens - poor reliability plus shit support. A double-whammy of customer disservice. I factored this in during lengthy deliberation over Bullshit Car of the Year.

Volkswagen's finances are heading south, and gaining momentum

Volkswagen's finances are heading south, and gaining momentum

4. MONEY

Here’s a history lesson: Once upon a time, Volkswagen let its ego off the chain and decided to overtake Toyota and become the world’s number one carmaker. Unfortunately, when they crunched the numbers, they discovered a small problem.

They didn’t actually have enough products. So they went on this product development blitzkrieg. And by ‘blitzkrieg’ I mean cutting every conceivable engineering corner. It’s why Volkswagen reliability is so breathtakingly shit today.

Exhibit B: the global DSG recall fiasco of 2013. A monumental snafu, with a double helping of ‘fu’. Plus, the generally shit R&D can be read easily between the lines on the official recalls.gov.au website, where you can surf yourself senseless through the staggering but sobering tsunami Volkswagen safety recalls.

I have no doubt that dieselgate was a direct consequence of Volkswagen’s insane push to be number one. And it ended so well. So well that it’s costing them billions - $20 billion in the USA alone.

This affects you, too, as a potential customer. Because when the bottom line takes a hit, they slash every conceivable budget. That affects product quality and support. I gave Volkswagen full marks here - a perfect score - in respect of the Bullshit Car of the Year judging. Only Jeep came close.

WHY CAR OF THE YEAR IS BULLSHIT

Many marketing slogans are designed as naked spak-filler covering strategic weaknesses. Shine the light on them, and they fail to stack up

Many marketing slogans are designed as naked spak-filler covering strategic weaknesses. Shine the light on them, and they fail to stack up

Australian grocery giant Woolworths calls itself ‘the fresh food people’ to a) humanise itself, and b) because in reality they’re extraordinarily shit at delivering fresh food. (Anything in a packet or a can - they’re great.) If you want some three-month-old apples … they’re on special in aisle two.

Slogans are meaningless dribble. Fresh food people. Most customer-focussed car award. Gentlest rapist in gen-pop. Smartest cabinet minister. To me they’re just bricks in the bullshit wall.

Generally I think reporters and reviewers have to ask themselves if they want to be real journalists adding value to an audience, or some kind of tragic de facto fluffer puckering up to enhance the money shot. That’s not an imputation about the reporters at Carsguide - it’s a comment about the media generally. It’s a distinction I think you should assess whenever you consume content.

Admit it: You'd work up a sweat sucking the chrome off this

Admit it: You'd work up a sweat sucking the chrome off this

I do know that sucking the chrome off Volkswagen’s towball could easily be worth several million dollars to a major media outlet. Volkswagen is a soft target, too - more prepared than usual to reward its friends in the media. I’m standing by for a call right now over the Bullshit Car of the Year award, as a matter of fact.

These can be a very cushy relationships. I mean, I know journalists who receive more than $150,000 each year, in the form car company sponsored international travel and other benefits. Never disclaimed in reports. So, in my honest personal opinion much of what you read and watch is produced by a media that is well inculcated into the practise of towball chrome removal for fun and profit.

None of this is an imputation about Carsguide’s journalists - many of whom I know professionally and who I’m sure generally do the best they can in an imperfect system. But I think we all know, deep down, that harsh critical comment is not well received if you want to keep flying up the pointy end on the corporate dime.

That’s the box inside which a lot of reporting takes place. Unfortunately, it turns much of the media into a de facto corporate propaganda machine - and again, I’m offering no assessment of the Carsguide team. You can decide that one all for yourself on the basis of the content produced. I’m too focused on my own bullshit award to detain myself with their crap.

TIGUAN - WORTHY B.S. COTY WINNER

I put it to you that there’s no doubt the new Tiguan looks good. No doubt it drives really well. No doubt it has an excellent features set. The Carsguide team is absolutely on the money there. I just don’t believe they’re all that close to critical focus, viv-a-vis customers. If you think dynamics and features are all it takes to achieve customer focus, then in my view you are insanely out of touch.

Most awards are designed to keep advertisers sweet. But I think you’d agree that’s not the purpose of my Bullshit Car of the Year award. I’ll leave it to you to judge which of the two reports is more customer focused.

Hit me up here >> if you want a new car cheap in Australia - that’s what I do (and it’s not a scam). I’ll even help you buy the Bullshit Car of the Year. (If you’re a masochist, my people will get you in touch with those sociopathic sadists.)

I’m expecting a torrent of hate from Volkswagen aficionados - should be great for Nut-fest Friday - but you can also like this video or even subscribe to my YouTube channel >> if you’re of a less extreme view.

Puckering up to remove that chrome, in the manner of a deranged Pavlovian spaniel, would feel, to me, quite undignified. I’m certain the liberal application of Listerene, and vigourous brushing with Colgate Fluorigard … would absolutely not be enough to wash away the taste of doing that. In closing, I submit to you the Volkswagen Tiguan, my Bullshit Car of the Year for 2016. In this context alone, I could not recommend it to you more definitely.

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