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They used to be at one point. The longest lasting cars in history are mercedes and Volvos made in the 70s-80s with millions of miles on them.
Mechanical engineering wise, there is no reason why german engines/transmissions should not be as reliable as japanese if not more reliable since germans have a history of mechanical engineering. however, its usually the electronics that break first. this is where the japanese are better at.
ALso, germans tend to always innovate, put some new technology, and make new design changes taking much bigger risks to wow consumers and automotive bloggers a like.
The japanese do not make cars with this in mind, they make cars for reliability and practicality. So the japanese rarely ever take huge technological or design risk with their cars. They always put reliability in mind first and the practical use of the car for the consumer.
The japanese will often ommit technologically superior systems in favor of older ones that have a proven reliability record which shows how much their culture values reliability. for this reason, the japanese will often use older systems knowing they will last a long time.
LExus is an amazing balance of this high tech stuff with the amazing reliability of Toyotas japanes reputation. Though still not quite as advanced as german cars they sacrifice bleeding edge performance and technology for better reliability while the germans sacrifice the other way around.
now you might know a little why japanese are more reliable than germans.
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