A few years before I began to dedicate myself fully to the world of automobiles, and to work as a car tester, I was dedicated to doing the same thing – or very similar – in the technology sector. Coincidences of life, both worlds have been getting closer and closer, and especially with the arrival of electric cars. I tell you this because, although they are very different sectors, product development and the industrial process work in a relatively similar way. And this is important to know to address exactly the topic I want to talk to you about. Is it a good idea to buy a car that has just been released on the market? I have an opinion on this and I can support it with my experience as a car tester.
My opinion as a mere user, as a consumer of this type of product after all, is that I prefer to buy something that is proven. And when I say that ‘it is proven’ I mean, in reality, that the product has already been on the market and there have been others who have bought and tried it before and have been able to encounter certain problems that have to do with inaccuracies in the manufacturing process or with some small – or not so small – design problems. And I tell you this, simply, from my experience as a consumer who, on many occasions, has bought something as soon as it came onto the market.
Sometimes the first buyers are beta testers who notice minor design and manufacturing flaws
‘ Being up to date’ is fine, the problem is that sometimes you end up with design flaws or production errors that can translate into breakdowns or a user/customer experience that is not the best possible. Leaving aside my opinion as a user and client, from my experience as a car tester I can tell you that I have attended launch tests of new models, presentations in short, in which the first units produced by the manufacturer are present and in which it is quite common for journalists themselves to find errors.
In some of these presentations, because it does not happen always or in all of them, we are the journalists themselves who warn the brand that there is something that does not work as expected. And yes, on many occasions they take note, they raise the comment to whoever is responsible and it is resolved before the units reach the first customers. Other times these failures are not discussed, or the brand ignores them, or production has already started, or even in some cases, it is a car that has been on sale for several weeks, or months.
And of course, even if at that moment there is a design flaw or a production error, we cannot see all the problems in a presentation in which, sometimes, we only ride in the car for ten minutes or we drive a few minutes. 10, 15, or 20 kilometers with him. Come on, sometimes we journalists act as a ‘filter’, but this is not always possible. And of course, there are small or not-so-small failures that end up reaching the first customers who receive those first units from the factory.
I’m not telling you any tall tales, because it’s something that I have experienced firsthand in some of these product presentations. The quality controls of most manufacturers are extremely exhaustive, but even with this some errors can escape and that, unfortunately, are not detected until the vehicle is already in the hands of its first owners. In these cases, indeed, it is the first owners who are affected by the failure, which is resolved in production and no longer affects the following customers.
And yes, cars indeed have a warranty, and these types of problems are the responsibility of the manufacturer. But, even if the car is under warranty, if a problem like this has to be resolved, no one is going to stop you from being left without a car for a few days while it goes to the workshop. And, on the other hand, when a product has been on the market for a long time, you can know with greater guarantees, for example, what it is like in terms of reliability and wear in the medium or even long term. And I prefer to be one of those, one of those who has a not-so-recent product, but the assurance that it is reliable and ‘well made’.
So I don’t know about you, but I prefer to wait a reasonable amount of time and have the opinion of the experts – in this case, car testers – and the experience of the first users. Social networks, just as forums did before, have helped to have a lot of information and opinions about certain cars as the first units sold arrive.