After an improvement in the quality of newly launched models every year from 2007 to 2010, the initial quality of 2011 new model launches has declined considerably, according to the J.D. Power and Associates 2011 US Initial Quality Study. The initial quality of launch models, those that are all-new or have had major redesigns, worsened by 10% to an average of 122 PP100 in 2011 from 111 PP100 in 2010.
Carryover, Overall Initial Quality Rises
Conversely, carryover models, those that have had no significant redesign in the past year, have better initial quality than ever before. Owners of these vehicles report an average of just 103 PP100 in 2011, down about 5% from 108 PP100 in 2010. Lower PP100 scores indicate a lower rate of problem incidences and therefore higher initial quality.
In addition, overall initial quality improved to an average of 107 PP100 in 2011, down 2% from 109 PP100 in 2010.
Lexus Top Nameplate
Lexus leads the overall nameplate rankings with 73 PP100 on average. Following in the rankings are Honda (which improves to second rank position in 2011 from sixth in 2010), Acura, Mercedes-Benz and Mazda (which improves to fifth rank position in 2011 from 18th in 2010), respectively. Land Rover posts the largest improvement in 2011, reducing problems by 47 PP100 from 2010.
Honda garners seven segment awards for the Accord, Accord Crosstour, Civic (in a tie), Element, Fit, Insight (in a tie) and Ridgeline. Lexus receives four segment awards for the ES, GS, GX and LS models. For a second consecutive year, the Lexus LS has the fewest quality problems in the industry with just 54 PP100.
Chevrolet, Ford and Mercedes-Benz receive two awards each. Chevrolet receives awards for the HHR and the Tahoe; Ford for the F-150 and the Taurus; and Mercedes-Benz for the GLK-Class and the E-Class cabriolet/coupe. Also receiving segment awards are the Cadillac Escalade; Chrysler Town & Country; Dodge Challenger; and Mazda MX-5 Miata.
Among all-new and redesigned models, the Hyundai Equus and Dodge Durango are notably strong performers, each ranking second in their respective segment.
Toyota, Honda Plants Certified Platinum
Three assembly plants receive Platinum Plant Quality Awards (in a three-way tie) for producing models yielding the fewest defects and malfunctions: the Toyota Motor Corporation Cambridge South, Ontario, Canada, plant (which produces the Lexus RX); the Toyota Motor Corporation Kyushu 2, Japan, plant (which produces the Lexus ES, IS and RX); and the Honda Motor Company plant in Greensburg, Ind. (which produces the Civic). These plants average just 24 PP100. Plant awards are based solely on average levels of defects and malfunctions and exclude design-related problems.
In the Europe and Africa region, Daimler’s Bremen 1, Germany, and East London, South Africa, plants each receive a Gold Plant Quality Award in a tie. The Bremen 1 plant produces the Mercedes-Benz C-Class, E-Class cabriolet/coupe and GLK-Class, while the East London plant produces the C-Class.
May New Vehicle Sales Start Slow
New-vehicle retail sales in the US got off to a weak start in May 2011 as several variables, including gas prices that are nearing historically high levels, have contributed to a significant pullback from a strong showing in April, according to previously released data from J.D. Power and Associates. May new-vehicle retail sales are projected to come in at 858,400 units, which represents a seasonally adjusted annualized rate (SAAR) of 9.6 million units.
About the Data: The 2011 US Initial Quality Study is based on responses from more than 73,000 purchasers and lessees of new 2011 model-year cars, trucks and multi-activity vehicles surveyed after 90 days of ownership. The study is based on a 228-question battery designed to provide manufacturers with information to facilitate identifying problems and drive product improvement. The study, published by J.D. Power and Associates, was fielded between February and May 2011 and is the source of the enclosed charts.