Car and Driver has published an article expressing its gripes with J.D. Power’s Initial Quality Study, stating that its results tell us less about a vehicle’s defects then we might think. J.D. Power’s IQS measures new-vehicle quality after 90-days of ownership and has done so since 1987, but the advent of more technologically advanced features are now impacting quality results.
Take Ford for example. From 2010 to 2011, Ford dropped 18 places (from fifth to 23rd) in J.D.’s IQS, but one would argue that Ford’s quality has only increased over the past year – surely not decreased that significantly. The reasoning behind it is the fact that J.D. Power is voicing the opinion of the consumer and consumers are complaining about design issue rather than a functionality problem. That is, a customer finds it frustrating to use Ford’s MyFord Touch system and notches it as a problem, rather than observing a loose electrical connection, something that really impacts the quality of a vehicle.
Another great example from Ford is the new PowerShift dual-clutch automatic found in their new Fiesta. Customers are complaining about its shift quality compared to a conventional automatic transmission with a torque converter, but there has hardly been any actual mechanical issues problems with the transmission, if at all.
Unfortunately a lot of the manufacturers are actually changing the functionality of the vehicle because of these complaints, such as Porsche consumers complaining about brake pad dust. Obviously the better-performing a brake pad is, the more dust it produces; but the general laymen finds it an inconvenience and even a quality issue if a brake pad produces so much dust. As a result, Porsche vehicles are probably equipped with less-capable pads than they originally were, all because of these “quality” issues being reported by J.D. Power.
At the end of the day though, it’s still the voice of the consumer that manufacturers care about.
[Source: Car and Driver]