As a consumer, I have very little to go on if I want to buy a reliable new car - the reputation of the company, past reliability reports/opinion/reviews for older models, perhaps I could infer something from the warranty on offer...
But fleet buyers, for example, seem to have access to some sort of information that tells them they're going to get what they need. Otherwise it's hard to explain how, for example, a taxi company will buy a fleet of some new model which, it turns out 5 years down the line, end up with an excellent reputation for reliability. Likewise delivery vans, police vehicles, etc. etc. seem to have a way of picking vehicles which usually turn out to have been a good choice.
So the question is: Is there any source use mere consumers can access that gives us meaningful reliability data on a given vehicle?
EDIT: I get some of the points you guys make, but it's not always loyalty/inertia/feedback/purpose building. Let me give you an example or two:
Skoda were a joke company for years, and it took a some years under VAG's ownership for them to get good. Yet, suddenly and with no previous experience to go on, loads of Octavia TDi's turned up as taxis at about the same time the police motorway patrols started using Octavia VRS as their unmarked patrol vehicles of choice. They were replacing more established makes/models (Volvos, BMW's, Toyotas, Nissans) with far better reputations, yet the Octavia was basically new on the market. Logic says the conservative and risk-averse buyer would NOT take that risk, so I can only assume some serious promises were made "in the trade" as there's no way either of those groups would switch without good reason.
Likewise, although vans are obviously built for work and low cost of ownership, you'll see some big company suddenly switch to a new make or model; BT (biggest telco in the UK) ran tens of thousands of Ford vans, which is borne out by the reputation of the Transit as the king of the hill. Then when Vauxhall/Renault/Nissan joined forces and entered the van market in direct competition with the Vivaro, BT switched and bought those by the thousands despite being a new and unproven model. Again, unless those Vivaros were silly cheap, you'd question the sanity of the fleet buyer taking a punt on an unproven new model versus sticking with the tried and tested most popular van in the UK without same very good reason to back it up.
My point/question is, rather than after-the-fact consumer surveys, manufacturers obviously must test their products during development and therefore probably have a pretty good idea of their reliability, and it seems like they must be sharing some version of this with potential fleet customers to encourage them to buy their product. That being the case, is there ANY way this sort of information would ever filter down to the regular consumer?
Many other products in industry will have MTBF (Mean Time Between Failure) figures which the manufacturer will guarantee, it feels like something similar may exist for vehicles but isn't made available to consumers.