Interesting point of view, SC. I would suggest that in the UK (can't speak for the NA market), there is only one driver - price. If it'll go through BEAB (Britsish Electrical Approval Board) testing and last 367 days (just in case there's a Leap Year) to cover the guarantee, they'll sell it. Quality in the mass market has been tossed out of the window over here. People seem happy to buy budget carp and accept that the service life is between 2 + 3 years before replacement.
The point is that Laundry is a saturated market. There are now no new customers, so there is only replacement. To keep the factories running at their previous levels, you can:
1) Reduce production. Ain't going to happen, is it?
2) Build rubbish that looks good and falls to bits early. Now you're talking..... Suck 'em in with the bells, whistles and options. "Sorry it didn't last 10 years, Madam, here's a discount voucher towards your next ----- (insert Name here) product.
It's an absolute disgrace in Europe. This has been led by the Indesit Company AND, they've got away with it. People accept that machines "Don't last like they used to" and "My last one did 15 years".
No doubt this is coming your way too.
Minor rant over, peace to all.