Are cars built abroad really more reliable?

Will cars soon be built to last?

Made for life, for the whole and not just for part of it, something like this inspires Peter Schoppmann. The German boss at Rolls-Royce is by no means only keeping an eye on the high-end products of the luxury industry. When he was present at the launch of the new Rolls-Royce Cullinan in Berlin in August, he was wearing an old watch with a worn leather strap. “An Ankra that my godfather gave me for communion,” he said when asked.

A common watch of no particular value. But one with history. Something that one does not give away, reluctantly lends, and at best inherits. A loyal companion. As for some, his everyday car, his VW Golf, his Renault Clio or Opel Astra.

While marriages in our part of the world are getting shorter and shorter, complaints about the throwaway society are getting louder and the suspicion that the industry is deliberately building weak points in kitchen appliances or washing machines can hardly be dispelled: our cars, of all things, are keeping longer and longer.

That "an estimated 80 percent of all Rolls-Royce ever built are still in use," says Schoppmann, will probably not surprise most people. On the other hand, it may come as a surprise that all of Europe - as the figures just published by the European Automobile Manufacturers Association (EAMA) show - passenger cars age more usefully from year to year. In 2013, cars on European roads were still 10.4 years old on average; in 2016 it was 11.0 years old.

This trend has also continued in Germany since the 1990s. In 1993 the vehicles were on average 6.5 years old, in 2018 it was 9.4 years. While the general public made fun of Fiat in the 1980s as “a mistake in all parts”, BMW was often translated as “bring me a workshop”, and a whole series of developments in terms of durability have brought about real quantum leaps.

Rolls-Royce was no exception to this development. Schoppmann received a quote that originally came from the British luxury brand Jaguar