Problem Description and Possible Solution
Cup holders break easily, especially if sticky liquids are spilled into the cup holder mechanism.
Average mileage: 86,666 (26,000–141,000)
15 people reported this problem
Cup holder just fell apart. The plastic hinges for the round holder pieces broke. This cup holder design is absolutely ridiculous. It has to be the most complex cup holder ever designed. Given the multiple hinges and movable plastic parts, one would expect mechanical failure at some point.
I did not count the actual number of parts that make up the cup holder, but I believe there are at least 6 molded plastic pieces and at least 4 steel springs. Sadly, this is not an unusual case of German over-engineering where the cost and long-term reliability of the unit was considered. The primary engineering focus was to design a cup holder that could be contained in the small space available in the armrest console. The approach that was taken here was to design a folding collapsible holder. While this design objective was achieved, it certainly was not the optimum solution in terms of cost and reliability. It's quite astonishing when one examines what was involved in creating this particular accessory. The mechanical engineering resources and hours required to design, test the mechanical functionality, and reliability of this unit were not insignificant. Significant engineering resources were required just for designing and specifying the injection molds and material type for all of the plastic piece parts. Similar engineering resources were also required for the designing and specifying the spring steel components. Then you have the initial prototype fabrication and assembly of the numerous component parts that make up the unit. Given the complexity of this unit, extensive resources were required to perform inspections, mechanical measurements, and verification of compliance to specifications of all components prior to assembling the first prototype unit. After assembly of this initial prototype unit, additional engineering resources were required to perform mechanical measurements, functional testing, as well as reliability testing. Following this initial phase, there were likely several prototype iterations required before the actual production design was finalized. Obviously this is an oversimplification of the overall process to get from initial cup holder design to final production cup holder. There were many other resources involved in this process procurement and supply management, quality engineering, manufacturing engineering, etc. When you attempt to determine the true total cost of an item like this one comes to the realization that it is much more than it would seem considering it is a cup holder and not a critical element of the automobile. I would venture, as a rough estimate that the total cost from design to production for this cup holder including engineering, tooling, materials, and other functional human resources would be at least US 700,000.
Anyway, since my cup holder lasted 9 years, I have to say that they did a pretty good job as far as the reliability goes. However, given that a replacement cup holder costs over US $150, I must say that from a cost standpoint this design was very poor. You would never see a cup holder designed in such a manner in the US, because engineers trained in the US are taught the importance of economic considerations with respect to product design, manufacturability, and reliability.