Korean Brands Soar, Japanese Cars Lag Behind in J.D. Power Initial Quality Study


The initial quality of vehicles coming from Korean automakers is up while Japanese brands are under performing according to the J.D. Power 2015 U.S. Initial Quality Study. 

The study presents scores in problems experienced per 100 vehicles (PP100) based on experiences during the first 90 days of new car ownership. Topping every brand in initial quality is Porsche, with a score of 80 PP100, followed closely by Kia, the highest ranked mainstream brand with a score of 86 PP100.

The top five highest rated brands finish with Jaguar (93 PP100), Hyundai (95 PP100) and Infiniti (97 PP100).

By nationality, Korean brands are top in initial quality by the widest margin ever, sitting at 90 PP100. For the first time, European brands have managed to surpass Japanese brands in initial quality, though only by a single point to come in at 113 PP100. Domestic brands have the same score as the Japanese brands, sitting at 114 PP100.

It gets worse for Japanese brands too. Despite an improvement of 2 PP100 over last year’s study, Japanese automakers fall below the industry average in initial quality, the first time that has happened in the 29-year history of J.D. Power’s Initial Quality Study.

“This is a clear shift in the quality landscape,” said Renee Stephens, vice president of U.S. automotive quality at J.D. Power. “For so long, Japanese brands have been viewed by many as the gold standard in vehicle quality. While the Japanese automakers continue to make improvements, we’re seeing other brands, most notably Korean makes, really accelerating the rate of improvement. Leading companies are not only stepping up the pace of improvements on existing models, but are also working up front to launch vehicles with higher quality and more intuitive designs.”

Technology continues provide the most problems for a third consecutive year, with voice recognition and Bluetootch receiving the most complaints. Most models that have voice recognition systems score at least 10 PP100 related to the system.

All of the individual models that were rated at the top of their category can be found below:

General Motors (4): Chevrolet Equinox (tie); Chevrolet Malibu; Chevrolet Silverado LD; and Chevrolet Spark

Hyundai Motor Company (4): Hyundai Accent; Hyundai Tucson; Kia Sorento; and Kia Soul

Nissan Motor Company (4): Infiniti QX70; Infiniti QX80; Nissan Sentra; and Nissan Quest

Volkswagen AG (4): Audi Q3; Porsche 911; Porsche Boxster; and Porsche Macan

BMW (3): BMW 2 Series; BMW 4 Series; and BMW 5 Series

Toyota Motor Corporation (3): Lexus LS; Toyota Tacoma; and Toyota Sequoia

Fiat Chrysler Automobiles (2): Chrysler 300 and Dodge Challenger

Ford Motor Company (2): Ford Escape (tie) and Ford Super Duty

Mazda (1): Mazda MX-5 Miata

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