J.D. Power released the results of its latest Initial Quality Study at this month’s Automotive Press Association luncheon in Detroit. The survey had some very surprising results.
The biggest revelation at the afternoon event involved General Motors. David Sargent, Vice President of J.D. Power and Associates dropped a bomb. He said “GM has a better score in the study than any other corporation.” It topped perennial quality leaders like Toyota and Honda.
The General received eight different awards. Nobody else in the industry received more than three.
Another shocking announcement came from Toyota’s youth-oriented Scion brand. It finished in last place. Sargent said “I can’t explain that,” though he mentioned that part of the issue could come from younger buyers that tend to be more demanding and of course because of in-car electronics.
Curt McAllister, Midwest Public Relations Manager for Toyota said “It was FR-S,” noting that the sports car was in its first year. A couple problems he noted with the vehicle include condensation in the tail lamps and issues with engine idle, two troubles he claims have been fixed.
Additionally McAllister said J.D. Power changed their survey methodology and that put more weight on other vehicle attributes. Customers were complaining about cup holders or interior storage, which the sporty FR-S is really not designed to have. He also said wait until next month when the J.D. Power APEAL study comes out.
The top-scoring brand in the 2013 IQS was Porsche. The purveyor of high-performance sports cars only had 80 problems reported per 100 vehicles. Tim Quinn, Vice President of After Sales at Porsche said the score was “a pleasant surprise.”
Quality is especially important with top-shelf luxury cars. Quinn noted “We take it seriously because it’s part of the overall package.”
Ford has had some widely publicized issues, particularly with its cantankerous infotainment technology. Of their recent history Sargent said “Ford took one for the team here. Someone had to go first.” Things are getting better for the Dearborn, Mich. based automaker. Their performance didn’t get any worse this year, but it didn’t improve, either.
Wes Sherwood, Quality Communications Manager at Ford said, “Our customers are more satisfied with the quality or our vehicles with MyFord Touch than the vehicles without it,” noting that “We’re absolutely committed to improving MyFord Touch.”
Technology was a major drag on all manufacturers in this year’s J.D. Power study, with overall quality declining slightly because of it.