J.D. Power and Associates Reports: Embattled U.S. Automakers Make Substantial Gains in Initial Quality, Outpacing Industry-Wide Improvement

June 22, 2009

While Quality Gap Continues to Narrow, Import Nameplates Capture 15 of 22 Segment Awards

WESTLAKE VILLAGE, Calif., June 22 /PRNewswire/ — New vehicles sold by Chrysler, Ford and GM’s domestic brands have improved in initial quality by an average of 10 percent, compared with 2008, surpassing the 8-percent rate of improvement by the industry overall, according to the J.D. Power and Associates 2009 Initial Quality Study(SM) (IQS) released today.

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Overall, the industry average for initial quality is 108 problems per 100 vehicles (PP100) in 2009, down from 118 PP100 in 2008. Initial quality for domestic brands has improved to an average of 112 PP100 in 2009 from 124 PP100 in 2008. Lower PP100 scores indicate a lower rate of problem incidences and higher quality.

“Even in the face of unprecedented challenges, the Detroit automakers are keeping their focus on designing and building high-quality vehicles, which is a precondition for long-term success,” said David Sargent, vice president of automotive research at J.D. Power and Associates. “High quality generally translates into reduced re-engineering costs and lower warranty expenses during a vehicle’s life cycle. High quality also enhances an automaker’s reputation for reliability, which is a critical purchase consideration for many consumers.”

In addition to the marked improvement by domestic automakers, many import brands continued to perform well in 2009. Lexus leads the overall nameplate rankings, averaging 84 PP100. Following in the rankings are Porsche, Cadillac (which moves from 10th rank position in 2008 to third in 2009), Hyundai (improves from 13th rank position in 2008 to fourth in 2009) and Honda, rounding out the top five. Suzuki posts the largest improvement in ranking, moving from 32nd place in 2008 to ninth in 2009.

The study finds that initial quality for newly launched and redesigned models in 2009 has improved compared with previous years. Historically, all-new models have typically launched with below-average levels of initial quality. However, several all-new models in 2009, including the Hyundai Genesis, Kia Borrego, Toyota Venza and Volkswagen CC, perform considerably better than their respective segment averages. Many redesigned models in 2009 also show notable improvement from the previous generation–particularly the Acura TL, Ford F-150, Honda Pilot and Nissan Z.

“Achieving high levels of initial quality in all-new models is one of the greatest challenges for manufacturers,” said Sargent. “Now that more manufacturers are getting their launch quality right straight out of the gate, consumers can expect the quality of new vehicles to continue to rise.”

The Initial Quality Study serves as the industry benchmark for new-vehicle quality measured at 90 days of ownership. The study is used extensively by manufacturers worldwide to help them design and build better vehicles and by consumers to help them in their vehicle purchase decisions. Initial quality has been shown over the years to be an excellent predictor of long-term durability, which can significantly impact consumer purchase decisions. The study captures problems experienced by owners in two distinct categories–design-related problems and defects and malfunctions.

2009 IQS Ranking Highlights

Toyota Motor Corporation captures 10 segment awards–more than any other corporation in the 2009 study–including five for Lexus, four for Toyota and one for Scion. Lexus receives awards for the IS, GS, GX, LS and LX models. The Lexus LX has the fewest quality problems in the industry, with just 52 PP100. Toyota models receiving awards in their respective segments are the 4Runner (in a tie); Sienna; Tundra (in a tie); and Yaris.

Ford receives three awards for the Edge (in a tie); F-150 (in a tie); and Mustang. Garnering two awards each are Nissan (Altima and Z); and Honda (CR-V, in a tie, and Ridgeline).

Also receiving segment awards are: Chevrolet Trailblazer (in a tie), Chrysler PT Cruiser Wagon (in a tie), GMC Yukon, Hyundai Elantra Sedan, Mercury Sable and Scion tC.

Assembly Plant Awards

The Toyota Motor Corporation assembly plant in Higashi-Fuji, Japan, receives the Platinum Plant Quality Award for producing vehicles yielding the fewest defects and malfunctions. Averaging just 29 PP100, the plant produces the Lexus SC 430 and Toyota Corolla. Plant awards are based solely on average levels of defects and malfunctions and exclude design-related problems.

Among North and South American plants, the Honda plant in East Liberty, Ohio, which produces the Civic Sedan, CR-V and Element, achieves the Gold Plant Quality Award.

In the Europe and Africa region, Daimler’s East London, South Africa, plant, which produces the Mercedes-Benz C-Class, receives the Gold Plant Quality Award.

The 2009 Initial Quality Study is based on responses from more than 80,900 purchasers and lessees of new 2009 model-year cars, trucks and multi-activity vehicles surveyed after 90 days of ownership. The study is based on a 228-question battery designed to provide manufacturers with information to facilitate identifying problems and drive product improvement. The study was fielded between February and May 2009.

Find more detailed results on new-vehicle quality performance as well as model photos and specs by reading an article, browsing a photo gallery and reviewing quality ratings at JDPower.com.

2009 Nameplate IQS Ranking

    Problems per 100 Vehicles
    Lexus                 84
    Porsche               90
    Cadillac              91
    Hyundai               95
    Honda                 99
    Mercedes-Benz         101
    Toyota                101
    Ford                  102
    Chevrolet             103
    Suzuki                103
    Infiniti              106
    Mercury               106
    Industry Average      108
    Nissan                110
    Acura                 111
    BMW                   112
    Kia                   112
    Volkswagen            112
    GMC                   116
    Buick                 117
    Audi                  118
    Pontiac               118
    Scion                 118
    Volvo                 118
    Saturn                120
    Mazda                 123
    Lincoln               129
    Subaru                130
    Dodge                 134
    Jaguar                134
    Mitsubishi            135
    Chrysler              136
    HUMMER                136
    Jeep                  137
    SAAB                  138
    smart                 138
    Land Rover            150
    MINI                  165

    Top Three Models per Segment
    Car Segments

    Sub-Compact Car
    Highest Ranked: Toyota Yaris
    Hyundai Accent
    Honda Fit

    Compact Car
    Highest Ranked: Hyundai Elantra Sedan
    Toyota Prius
    Honda Civic

    Compact Sporty Car*
    Highest Ranked: Scion tC
    Volkswagen GTI

    Compact Premium Sporty Car*
    Highest Ranked: Nissan Z
    Mercedes-Benz SLK-Class

    Entry Premium Vehicle
    Highest Ranked: Lexus IS
    Cadillac CTS (tie)
    Infiniti G-Series (tie)

    Midsize Premium Car
    Highest Ranked: Lexus GS
    Acura RL
    Lexus ES

    Midsize Sporty Car*
    Highest Ranked: Ford Mustang

    Large Premium Car*
    Highest Ranked: Lexus LS
    Mercedes-Benz S-Class

    Midsize Car
    Highest Ranked: Nissan Altima
    Pontiac G6
    Chevrolet Malibu

    Large Car
    Highest Ranked: Mercury Sable
    Toyota Avalon
    Chevrolet Impala

NOTE: For a segment award to be issued, there must be at least three models with sufficient sample that comprise 80 percent of market sales within an award segment. There were only two premium sporty models and no large van models with sufficient sample size, thus no premium sporty or large van awards have been issued.

*No other model in this segment performs above the segment average.

    Top Three Models per Segment
    Truck/Multi-Activity Vehicle (MAV) Segments

    Compact MAV
    Highest Ranked: Chrysler PT Cruiser Wagon (tie); Honda CR-V (tie)
    Mitsubishi Outlander

    Midsize MAV
    Highest Ranked: Chevrolet TrailBlazer (tie); Ford Edge (tie); Toyota 4Runner (tie)

    Large MAV*
    Highest Ranked: GMC Yukon
    Chevrolet Tahoe

    Midsize Premium MAV
    Highest Ranked: Lexus GX
    Lexus RX
    Cadillac SRX

    Large Premium MAV
    Highest Ranked: Lexus LX
    Cadillac Escalade
    Mercedes-Benz GL-Class

    Large Pickup
    Highest Ranked: Ford F-150 (tie); Toyota Tundra (tie)
    Chevrolet Avalanche

    Midsize Pickup
    Highest Ranked: Honda Ridgeline
    Nissan Frontier
    Ford Ranger

    Highest Ranked: Toyota Sienna
    Honda Odyssey

NOTE: For a segment award to be issued, there must be at least three models with sufficient sample that comprise 80 percent of market sales within an award segment. There were only two premium sporty models and no large van models with sufficient sample size, thus no premium sporty or large van awards have been issued.

*No other model in this segment performs above the segment average.

    2009 Assembly Plant Quality Award Recipients
    Based on Vehicles Produced for U.S. Market

    Award                      PP100             Model(s) Produced at Plant
                               malfunctions only)

    Platinum Award
    Toyota Motor Corporation
     -- Higashi-Fuji, Japan           29          Lexus SC and Toyota Corolla

    North/South America
    Gold Award
    Honda Motor Company
     --East Liberty, Ohio             41          Honda Civic, CR-V and Element

    Silver Award
    General Motors Corporation
     --Oshawa, Ontario (Car)          42          Buick LaCrosse and
                                                 Chevrolet Impala
    Bronze Award
    Ford Motor Company
     --Kentucky Truck                 43          Ford F-250/F-350 Super Duty

    Bronze Award
    General Motors Corporation
     --Bowling Green, KY              43          Cadillac XLR and
                                                 Chevrolet Corvette
    Bronze Award
    Toyota Motor Corporation
     --Georgetown, KY                 43          Toyota Avalon, Camry and

    Asia Pacific
    Silver Award
    Toyota Motor Corporation
     --Fujimatsu, Japan               30          Toyota Prius

    Bronze Award
    Toyota Motor Corporation
     --Kyushu, Japan                  34          Lexus ES; IS; and RX;
                                                 Toyota Highlander

    Europe and Africa
    Gold Award
     --East London, South Africa      38          Mercedes-Benz C-Class

    Silver Award
     --Dingolfing, Germany            40          BMW 5 Series and 6 Series

    Silver Award
     --Bremen, Germany                40          Mercedes-Benz C-Class;
                                                 CLK-Class; SL-Class; and SLK-

About J.D. Power and Associates

Headquartered in Westlake Village, Calif., J.D. Power and Associates is a global marketing information services company operating in key business sectors including market research, forecasting, performance improvement, Web intelligence and customer satisfaction. For more information on car reviews and ratings, car insurance, health insurance, cell phone ratings, and more, please visit JDPower.com. J.D. Power and Associates is a business unit of The McGraw-Hill Companies.

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SOURCE J.D. Power and Associates

Source: newswire

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