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Detroit 3 top new car quality survey for first time

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Detroit 3 top new car quality survey for first time

Bryce G. Hoffman / The Detroit News

Detroit -- American automakers have beaten their foreign rivals for the first time ever in J.D. Power and Associates' influential survey of initial vehicle quality released today.

Ford edged out Japan's Honda to claim first place among non-luxury brands, and Toyota fell to the middle of the pack after a series of recalls undermined its once-stellar rating.

However, for the first time in years, the average number of problems per 100 vehicles in the first 90 days edged up slightly for the industry as a whole, from 108 in 2009 to 109 this year. Domestic brands bucked that trend: their average decreased by four to 108, putting them ahead of the imports, which averaged 109.

"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.

"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."

Ford Motor Co. had the highest quality ratings of any U.S. manufacturer. Its Blue Oval brand came in fifth, with 93 problems per 100 vehicles, making it the highest rated non-luxury brand. Last year, Ford came in eighth.

Ford's Lincoln brand placed seventh with 106, the highest rating of any American luxury brand.

"Steady and meticulous attention to new model launches, along with consistency in how we do them across the brand and the globe, are having a very positive effect on the initial quality of our all-new or redesigned products," said Bennie Fowler, Ford's group vice president in charge of global quality.

A dozen Ford models ranked in the top three in their respective segments this year -- more than any other automaker. Ford products earned top honors in three segments, tying Toyota Motor Corp.'s Lexus brand.

"The Blue Oval is becoming synonymous with high quality," he said. "While we are pleased with where we are today, our job is not done. Our plan is to keep improving quality each and every year."

Ford was not the only domestic manufacturer that improved in this year's ratings.

General Motors Co. had 10 models in the top three of their segments. Cadillac and Chevrolet were GM's highest-rated brands, both with 111 problems per 100 vehicles. Chevrolet was the leader in two segments.

But Chrysler Group LLC posted some even more surprising gains. Its Ram truck brand came in just below the industry average, with 110 problems per 100 vehicles. It was, however, the first year that its trucks were rated separately from Dodge cars, and Dodge remained the worst-rated U.S. brand.

Just as surprising as the domestics' gains was Toyota's tumble. It fell from sixth position in 2009 to 21st in 2010, with its average number of problems increasing by 16 per 100 new vehicles.

"Clearly, Toyota has endured a difficult year," Sargent said. "Recent consumer concerns regarding Toyota's quality are reflected in the nameplate's performance in the 2010 study. That said, Toyota's success was built on a well-deserved reputation for quality, and there is little doubt that they will do everything possible to regain that reputation."

The 2010 study is based on responses from more than 82,000 purchasers and lessees of new 2010 model-year vehicles surveyed after three months' ownership, conducted between February and May of this year.

Porsche was the highest-rated brand, with 83 problems per 100 vehicles; Land Rover was the worst, with 170.

From The Detroit News: http://detnews.com/article/20100617/AUTO01/6170463/1148/auto01/Detroit-3-top-new-car-quality-survey-for-first-time#ixzz0r9NCfVKT

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In first, Detroit 3 tops foreign brands in quality

Ford leads the way as the No. 1 mainstream auto brand



Detroit Three brands, as a group, have surpassed foreign brands on the initial quality of their new cars and trucks for the first time since J.D. Power and Associates started tracking their performance a quarter century ago.

It’s a stunning and hopeful development for the Detroit auto industry a year after a crisis that ravaged the domestic auto firms and sent GM and Chrysler through government-backed bankruptcies.

Among consumers, quality is a major concern when shopping for a new car or truck and vehicles with higher quality rankings tend to be purchased in higher numbers, suggesting some more purchasing shifts might be on the horizon.

Ford is now the top mainstream brand in the study, according to J.D. Power and Associates’ respected Initial Quality Survey, which measures problems after 90 days of ownership.

While Porsche and several luxury names led the survey, among mainstream brands: Ford led, with 0.93 problems per vehicle, followed by Honda (0.95 problems per vehicle) and Hyundai (1.02 problems per vehicle).

The study showed that most consumers have one design or defect complaint in the first 90 days of owning a new car and truck — about the same as last year. The average number of problems per vehicle across the industry was 1.09 in this year’s study, compared with 1.08 last year.

Ford’s Lincoln brand was the only other domestic brand with an above-average score. GM and Chrysler posted mixed results, with some improvements, and Toyota plummeted to below-average.

Quality gap closing

Toyota, which has suffered because of a drawn-out recall crisis, fell from sixth place in last year’s study, with 1.01 problems per vehicle, to 21st, with 1.17 problems per vehicle, in the 2010 report.

“Clearly, Toyota has endured a difficult year,” Sargent said. “Recent consumer concerns regarding Toyota’s quality are reflected in the nameplate’s performance in the 2010 study.”

The gains by Detroit and the decline by Toyota resulted in a shift of balance. Collectively, domestic brands reported 1.08 problems per vehicle, compared with 1.09 for foreign brands, in this year’s study.

The results show that domestic automakers are not just closing the quality gap on their foreign rivals but are actually surpassing them in some cases, especially at Ford.

“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, in a statement. “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.

Study details

The annual Initial Quality Study focuses on design-related problems and defects in a vehicle’s first 90 days on the road by measuring problems per 100 vehicles.

When you break down the numbers, however, it shows that the variation between the best and worst performer is actually quite small.

Porsche topped the study showing 83 problems per 100 vehicles, which boils down .83 to less than one problem per vehicle. Land Rover came in last at 1.70 problems per vehicle, or fewer than 2 problems per vehicle.

While this study doesn’t measure long-term quality over years, good initial quality scores correlate with better long-term quality numbers, officials at J.D. Powers have said.

Top vehicles

J.D. Power citied improvements in the Ford Focus compact car, Ram 1500 LD pickup and Buick Enclave sedan as a few of the models that boosted the performance of U.S. brands.

Three Ford models topped J.D. Power’s rankings for initial quality by segment, including the Focus for compact car and Mustang for sporty car.

Meanwhile, GM’s Chevy Tahoe, Avalanche – tied with the GMC Sierra Light Duty — and Cadillac Escalade ranked highest in their respective SUV and pickup segments.

Chrysler’s Jeep and namesake brand showed quality improvements.



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