Hot on the heels of the 2007 Strategic Vision Total Quality Awards, J.D. Power and Associates has released its 2007 Initial Quality Study. You'll no doubt be hearing about how well Ford has done in this year's IQS, as J.D. Power reports the Blue Oval has garnered five top model segment awards, more than any other automaker. Those models include the Ford Mustang, Lincoln Mark LT, Lincoln MKZ, Mercury Milan and the Mazda MX-5.

Indeed, Ford did very well this year, with the Lincoln brand improving from 12th place to 3rd, Mercury from 17th to 8th and Ford jumping from 16th to 10th. We take umbrage, however, with J.D. Power choosing to include the Mazda MX-5 in Ford's list of segment leaders. Ford owns a controlling 33% stake in Mazda, but doesn't include the Japanese brand's sales among its own at the end of the month, and neither does the Japanese-built MX-5 share its plaform with any other Ford models. And, while rattling off how well each Ford brand ranked, J.D. Power doesn't mention that Mazda ranked 35th, second to last ahead of Land Rover, another Ford brand. Still, even without including the MX-5, Ford's four segment leaders is still more than any other automaker. Mercedes-Benz and Toyota each had three.

J.D. Power also gives out Assembly Plant Awards, and in a surprising twist of fate, Ford's Wixom assembly plant that shut its doors forever this past week became the first North American assembly plant to earn the Platinum Plant Quality award for producing vehicles with the fewest defects. We suppose that means 2007 Lincoln Town Car owners are in for some trouble-free times with their cars.

You can check out the complete rankings in the gallery below and read the official press release from J.D. Power and Associates after the jump.

[Source: J.D. Power & Associates]

Related GalleryJD Power and Associates 2007 Initial Quality Study


PRESS RELEASE:

J.D. Power and Associates Reports:
Ford Motor Company Captures Most Awards in 2007 Initial Quality Study

Product Launches Create Quality Challenges for Manufacturers

WESTLAKE VILLAGE, Calif.: 6 June 2007 - Ford Motor Company garners five top model segment awards-more than any other automobile corporation this year, according to the J.D. Power and Associates 2007 Initial Quality StudySM (IQS) released today.

In the study, Ford Motor Company earns model segment awards for the Ford Mustang, Lincoln Mark LT, Lincoln MKZ, Mazda MX-5 Miata and Mercury Milan.

"The 2007 IQS results contain some encouraging and positive news for Ford Motor Company," said Neal Oddes, director of product research and analysis at J.D. Power and Associates. "Fourteen Ford Motor Company models place in the top three of their respective segments-an achievement unmatched by any other corporation this year-which is a testament to the improvement in quality for Ford Motor Company vehicle models and plants. In addition, their Lincoln nameplate, which receives two segment awards, improves considerably to rank third in 2007, from 12th in 2006."

The Initial Quality Study serves as the industry benchmark for new-vehicle quality measured at 90 days of ownership and captures problems experienced by owners in two distinct categories-quality of design and quality of production (defects and malfunctions). Over the past 20 years, the automotive industry has improved in quality at the rate of 6 percent per year on average-a 20-year improvement rate of more than 120 percent. In addition, the study has found that the automotive industry has reduced problem counts by 50 percent every 7 to 8 years.

The study finds that vehicle redesigns and product launches create quality challenges for manufacturers as they continue to develop and introduce new and advanced automotive technologies. On average, a vehicle redesign increases problem counts by 10 problems per 100 (PP100) vehicles.

"Ideally, manufacturers should aim to achieve high initial quality when launching a new model, since this builds a strong foundation for future years and can become a differentiating factor relative to the competition," said Oddes. "One year after launch, initial quality begins to improve by an average of 7 PP100. If a model launches with lower initial quality, it is more difficult for the manufacturer to keep pace with the competition over time."

2007 IQS Ranking Highlights

Mercedes-Benz and Toyota models capture three segment awards each. Toyota models that receive awards are the 4Runner, Sequoia and Tacoma. Mercedes-Benz models that earn awards are the E-Class, SL-Class, and the S-Class. The S-Class ties with the Audi A8 (total) for having the fewest quality problems in the industry, with just 72 problems per 100 vehicles.

"Mercedes-Benz shows dramatic improvement, particularly with its newly-redesigned S-Class, which improves 63 PP100," said Oddes. "Overall, Mercedes-Benz improves its nameplate rank by 20 positions-the greatest rank increase of any nameplate in the study. All Mercedes-Benz models in the study improved substantially, and the breadth and speed of these improvements demonstrates the Mercedes-Benz commitment to quality."

For the second consecutive year, Porsche tops the overall nameplate rankings, averaging 91 PP100. Following in the rankings are Lexus, Lincoln, Honda and Mercedes-Benz, respectively. Honda, with the fewest problems per 100 among non-premium brands, improves in the ranking to fourth from sixth since the 2006 study and earns awards with the Civic and CR-V. Among non-premium brands, Kia posts the largest improvement in ranking, moving from 24th in 2006 to 12th in 2007 and earning an award for the Kia Rio/Rio5 for the second year in a row.

The most improved nameplates in the study are Land Rover (increasing in initial quality by 34 PP100), Saab (improving by 30 PP100) and Mercedes-Benz (increasing by 28 PP100).

Other nameplates receiving model awards in 2007 include Chevrolet (Express and Silverado Classic HD), Lexus (RX350/RX400h) Pontiac (Grand Prix) and Porsche (Boxster).

Assembly Plant Awards

For the first time since 1999, a North American assembly plant receives the Platinum Plant Quality Award for producing vehicles yielding the fewest defects. Ford Motor Company's Wixom assembly plant in Michigan, which produced the Lincoln Town Car, averages just 35 PP100. Plant awards are based solely on defect counts.

Among other North and South American plants, the General Motors Oshawa 2 plant in Ontario, Canada, which produces the Buick LaCrosse and Pontiac Grand Prix, receives the Silver Plant Quality Award. American Honda's East Liberty, Ohio, plant, which produces the Honda Civic Sedan and Honda Element, earns the Bronze Plant Quality Award.

In the Asia Pacific region, Toyota's Kyushu, Japan, plant, which produces the Lexus ES 350, Lexus IS 250/IS 350, Lexus RX 350, Lexus RX 400h and Toyota Highlander/Highlander Hybrid receives the Gold Plant Quality Award. Toyota's Fujimatsu, Japan, plant, which produces the Toyota Prius, earns the Silver Plant Quality Award. American Honda's Sayama, Japan, and Suzuka, Japan, plants tie for the Bronze Plant Quality Award. The Sayama plant produces the Acura RL, Acura TSX, Honda Accord Sedan/Hybrid Sedan and Honda CR-V. The Suzuka plant produces the Honda Civic Sedan/Hybrid Sedan, Fit and S2000.

BMW's Regensburg, Germany, plant, which produces the BMW 3-Series Coupe and 3-Series Sedan, receives the Gold Plant Quality Award for Europe. Earning the Silver Quality Plant Award is the Mercedes-Benz Sindelfingen, Germany, plant, which produces the Mercedes-Benz C-Class, CL-Class, CLS-Class, E-Class Sedan, E-Class Wagon, and S-Class. Audi's Neckarsulm, Germany, plant, which produces the Audi A6 Avant, A6 Sedan, A8 Sedan, RS 4 Sedan, S6 Sedan and S8 Sedan, receives the Bronze Plant Quality Award.

The 2007 Initial Quality Study is based on responses from more than 97,000 purchasers and lessees of new 2007 model-year cars and trucks surveyed after 90 days of ownership. The study is based on a 228-question battery designed to provide manufacturers with information to facilitate problem determination and drive product improvement.

Find more detailed findings on new-vehicle quality performance as well as model photos and specs by watching a video, reading an article and reviewing quality ratings at JDPower.com.

About J.D. Power and Associates
Headquartered in Westlake Village, Calif., J.D. Power and Associates is an ISO 9001-registered global marketing information services firm operating in key business sectors including market research, forecasting, performance improvement, training and customer satisfaction. The firm's quality and satisfaction measurements are based on responses from millions of consumers annually. For more information on car reviews and ratings, car insurance, health insurance, cell phone ratings, and more, please visit jdpower.com. J.D. Power and Associates is a business unit of The McGraw-Hill Companies.

About The McGraw-Hill Companies
Founded in 1888, The McGraw-Hill Companies is a leading global information services provider meeting worldwide needs in the financial services, education and business information markets through leading brands such as Standard & Poor's, McGraw-Hill Education, BusinessWeek and J.D. Power and Associates. The Corporation has more than 290 offices in 40 countries. Sales in 2006 were $6.3 billion. Additional information is available at http://www.mcgraw-hill.com.