Cars made by U.S. automakers topped imports in quality ratings for the first time, according to J.D. Power, with Ford leading the way in pushing domestics past imports.
Domestic auto brands, as a whole, have demonstrated higher initial quality than import brands, according to the 2010 U.S. Initial Quality Study (IQS) released today by J.D. Power and Associates. The study has been conducted annually for the past 24 years.
Overall, the industry average for initial quality is 109 problems per 100 vehicles (PP100) in 2010. However, initial quality for domestic brands as a whole has improved by 4 PP100 in 2010 to an average of 108 PP100-slightly better than the initial quality of import brands, which averages 109 PP100 in 2010.
Substantial improvements by many domestic models-including the Ford Focus, Ram 1500 LD and Buick Enclave-drive the overall improvement of domestic automakers in 2010. In particular, initial quality of Ford models has improved steadily for the past nine years. In addition, as a corporation, Ford Motor Company (including Volvo) has 12 models that rank within the top three in their respective segments in 2010-more than any other corporation. General Motors Company has 10 models that rank within the top three in their segments.
Initial quality performance demonstrated by U.S. brands in 2010 contrasts sharply with consumer sentiment from one year ago. According to data collected by the J.D. Power Web Intelligence Division between May and July 2009, much of the online consumer discussion about automotive quality centered around the difficulties U.S. automakers were facing, and perceptions that these problems were largely caused by poor product quality.
“Domestic automakers have made impressive strides in steadily improving vehicle quality, particularly since 2007,” said David Sargent, vice president of global vehicle research at J.D. Power and Associates. “This year may mark a key turning point for U.S. brands as they continue to fight the battle against lingering negative perceptions of their quality. However, there is still a long road ahead, and domestic manufacturers need to consistently prove to consumers that they can produce models with quality that equals or beats that of the import brands. Achieving quality comparability is the first half of the battle; convincing consumers-particularly import buyers-that they have done this is the second half.”
Initial quality of new models and major redesigns continues to improve in 2010, led by new launches from Ford, Honda, Lexus, Mercedes-Benz and Porsche.
The all-new Honda Accord Crosstour and the redesigned Ford Mustang, Ford Taurus and Lexus GX 460 each rank highest in initial quality in their respective segments. The Ford Fusion, Mercedes-Benz E-Class Coupe and Sedan and Porsche Panamera also launch with notably high initial quality levels.
Historically, newly launched models have incurred substantially more quality problems than carryover models, on average. However, more than one-half of all models launched during the 2010 model year perform better than average. (JD Power press release, via NPR News)