Industry Headlines

Embattled U.S. Automakers Make Substantial Initial Quality Gains

WESTLAKE VILLAGE, CA-New vehicles sold by Chrysler, Ford and GM’s domestic brands have improved in initial quality by an average of 10%, compared with 2008, surpassing the 8% rate of improvement by the industry overall, according to the J.D. Power and Associates 2009 Initial Quality Study.

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,” says 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 Initial Quality Study serves as the industry benchmark for new-vehicle quality measured at 90 days of ownership. 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.

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