Why Japanese Cars are The Most Reliable ?
Japaneses Naturals Resources
Japanese automotive industry always had this problem : Japan is a small island with few resources.
While the Ford policy was good in the U.S who had a lots of resources, Ford was able to mass produce with small margin.
On the other hand Japan didn't had a lot of steel, coal and other important resources for car manufacturing and had to import most of it.
After WW2 Japan had to be rebuilt and has set on a policy of good quality products and low waste since it is the most efficient for a lower resources import.
So with this in mind Japan has implemented the first ever large scale quality control process.
By the mid 50's Japaneses goods were already hitting the US, and people started to realize the reliability enhancement.
In the 60's Japan's car makers started to target the US market with their new cars : the Datsun Sports 2000 then the 240Z, Toyota 2000GT, Nissan Bluebird (510 series) and many others. Theses cars improved quickly Japanese car manufacturing reputation.
In Occident it is common to change company for a worker, while in Japan people are dedicated and loyal to their company.
This makes for a low turnover and increase the experience among the staff.
This allow for a problem, once solved no to reappear and increase experience transmission among young employees who are trained by old, experienced staff.
In Japan a worker carreer is judged on the mistakes he did, not on achievement. Which make workers clearly determined to not screw up anything and double check their own work.
Occidentals CEO's generally have to manage car brands in "Quarters". This means 3 months.
It is hard to show results with deadlines this short, those guys have to show results in 3/6/9/12 or maximum 24 months before being fired.
This short term commitment is not enough to improve or maintain quality.
Plus the fact that CEO are often changing means a lot of brutal changes in a company and bring more confusion for everyone.
Quality and short-term investment don't get along so well.
The shortest way to make money for a car maker is to use existing platform and engine to create a "new" car with only a new restyled body... which doesn't sound very exciting.
Japanese car company care about the final result more than elsewhere on this planet.
So if a subcontractor is in competition for a call for tender with other subcontractors and makes an off deadline and off price offer, he will be heard like the others.
Just in case this subcontractor may provide a better quality product, and has a good reason to be off limits.
"You get what you paid for" : This doesn't apply to Japan car industry, the mentality is that quality is the pride of a company, any deceived customer is a dishonor and trust-destroying for the company-customer relationship, so customer service is a priority.
So a company will do everything possible to ensure customers happiness.
Group Culture :In Occident people are more individualist, where Japan has more a group culture, for them the group is more important than themselves which makes employees more willing to bring the company up and by addition the entire auto industry.
Marketing Strategy :
Japan car companies process for new products are longer since innovation and quality are difficult the get both together.
The Toyota Prius gen.1 for example which was the first hybrid had a high failure rate then got better.
EU and US car automakers often innovate in the car world but often get in trouble with it.
And Here is the recipe for JDM's unforgettable automobiles !
In theses video you can find a very good example of Toyota's reliability.