"Every time a Volkswagen hits 100,000 miles, a German engineer gets his wings." We'll ignore for a second some of the sexism inherent in that Super Bowl ad and look into what Volkswagen really revealed with it.

These days Volkswagen is trying to get away from the reputation for unreliability they developed over the last 20 years or so. But GrauGeist breaks it down for us:

While the obvious sexism is deplorable, so is the inherent dishonesty by VAG claiming that VW product is inherently reliable. But more to the point, let's look at a few things:

Average annual mileage of 12,000 miles per year suggests we look at cars at least 8 years old.

In 2005 (8 years ago), Volkswagen sold around 5 million cars.

VW has 190,000 employees. Pretend 50,000 of them are engineers (at over 25%, this is pure fiction - engineering staff is actually much smaller than that, most are production and administrative).

If every one of those supposed 50,000 engineers got their wings this year, then only 1 out of every 100 VWs reaches 100,000 miles. So the maximum 8-year / 100,000 mile survival rate for a VW-brand vehicle is a whopping 1%.

But then, that should have happened last year. And the year before that. And the year before that.

If you take the typical VW engineering career at 5 years (probably somewhat generous), then you are looking at only 10,000 new sets of wings annually. That suggests that the maximum survival rate for VWs reaching 100,000 miles is less than 1 in 500, much less than 1%.

1 in 500 is a frighteningly low number. But let's humanize that. A lot of people have 500 Facebook friends. If every one of your Facebook friends bought only VW-brand car & wagons & vans, and that's all that any of them ever drove, only one of them would hit 100,000 miles this year. There should be another person (maybe two or three, if you're really lucky) on that list with a high mileage Volkswagen.

Effectively, VW is admitting that their build quality is turning back the clock to the 1970s, when we understood UAW-built cars simply didn't hit 100,000 miles (they ran rather poorly for a few years, and went to the junkyard within 5 years). However, since the 1980s, when the Japanese started building cars, we reasonably expect cars to easily hit 100,000 miles, and 200,000 miles is where things get interesting. A car built well after 2000 should easily hit 200,000 miles.

For most intents and purposes, VW is telling us that the odds of a VW reaching 100,000 miles is effectively ZERO.

Think about that, for a moment.

VW, in a rare moment of unexpected honesty, shared the truth of their unreliabilty: that the average consumer cannot expect any VW-brand vehicle to reach 100,000 miles.


So much for all those angels running around. But then The Scrambler says it can be done came back and said what we're all thinking after reading that:


You way over thought this...

Now get to work on the whole Santa thing, because I'd really like to know how that works.


I think Michael Bolton over at Honda has something to do with that one, I dunno.