• Jun 17th 2010 at 1:00PM
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Click above for a gallery of graphtastic images from J.D. Power and Associates

J.D. Power and Associates has released its 2010 Initial Quality Study (IQS) and Porsche has earned back the top spot that was occupied by Lexus in last year's study. The annual J.D. Power study measures IQS based on problems reported per 100 vehicles (PP100) – a lower score means a lower rate of problem incidences and higher quality.

Domestic brands, as a whole, demonstrated higher initial quality than import brands for the first time in an IQS (impressive, as the company has been conducting the study for 24 years). "Domestic automakers have made impressive strides in steadily improving vehicle quality, particularly since 2007," said David Sargent, vice president of global vehicle research at J.D. Power and Associates. "This year may mark a key turning point for U.S. brands as they continue to fight the battle against lingering negative perceptions of their quality." According to J.D. Power, the industry average for initial quality is 109 problems per 100 vehicles (PP100) in 2010 (that is a slight increase from 108 PP100 in 2009). However, initial quality for domestic brands as a whole has improved to an average of 108 PP100, slightly better than the initial quality of import brands, which average 109 PP100 in 2010.

Acura made an impressive improvement in the 2010 study. The automaker climbed from 111 PP100 in 2009 to just 86 PP100 in 2010, earning second spot just under Porsche (83 PP100). Mercedes-Benz (87 PP100) earned third position with Lexus (88 PP100) immediately following. Ford (93 PP100) and Lincoln (106 PP100) also earned Top 10 positions. Interestingly enough, Toyota (117 PP100) fell from its seventh position in 2009 to 21st in the 2010 study. The complete J.D. Power press release and charts can be found after the jump and in the gallery below.

[Source: J.D. Power and Associates]
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J.D. Power and Associates Reports:

Domestic Brands Surpass Imports in Initial Quality for the First Time in IQS History

Initial Quality of Model Launches Improves Considerably, Led by New Entries
From Ford, Honda, Lexus, Mercedes-Benz and Porsche

WESTLAKE VILLAGE, Calif.: 17 June 2010 - Domestic auto brands, as a whole, have demonstrated higher initial quality than import brands for the first time, according to the J.D. Power and Associates 2010 U.S. Initial Quality StudySM (IQS) released today. The study has been conducted annually for the past 24 years.

Overall, the industry average for initial quality is 109 problems per 100 vehicles (PP100) in 2010, increasing slightly from 108 PP100 in 2009. However, initial quality for domestic brands as a whole has improved by 4 PP100 in 2010 to an average of 108 PP100-slightly better than the initial quality of import brands, which averages 109 PP100 in 2010.

Substantial improvements by many domestic models-including the Ford Focus, Ram 1500 LD and Buick Enclave-drive the overall improvement of domestic automakers in 2010. In particular, initial quality of Ford models has improved steadily for the past nine years. In addition, as a corporation, Ford Motor Company (including Volvo) has 12 models that rank within the top three in their respective segments in 2010-more than any other corporation. General Motors Company has 10 models that rank within the top three in their segments.

Initial quality performance demonstrated by U.S. brands in 2010 contrasts sharply with consumer sentiment from one year ago. According to data collected by the J.D. Power Web Intelligence Division between May and July 2009, much of the online consumer discussion about automotive quality centered around the difficulties U.S. automakers were facing, and perceptions that these problems were largely caused by poor product quality.

"Domestic automakers have made impressive strides in steadily improving vehicle quality, particularly since 2007," said David Sargent, vice president of global vehicle research at J.D. Power and Associates. "This year may mark a key turning point for U.S. brands as they continue to fight the battle against lingering negative perceptions of their quality. However, there is still a long road ahead, and domestic manufacturers need to consistently prove to consumers that they can produce models with quality that equals or beats that of the import brands. Achieving quality comparability is the first half of the battle; convincing consumers-particularly import buyers-that they have done this is the second half."

According to J.D. Power's Web Intelligence Division, online consumer conversations about vehicle quality have recently shifted to a more concrete tone. In 2010, consumers are more often discussing quality as it applies to their own personal vehicle purchase decisions, rather than how domestic brands overall are affected by perceptions of low quality.

Initial quality of new models and major redesigns continues to improve in 2010, led by new launches from Ford, Honda, Lexus, Mercedes-Benz and Porsche.

The all-new Honda Accord Crosstour and the redesigned Ford Mustang, Ford Taurus and Lexus GX 460 each rank highest in initial quality in their respective segments. The Ford Fusion, Mercedes-Benz E-Class Coupe and Sedan and Porsche Panamera also launch with notably high initial quality levels.

Historically, newly launched models have incurred substantially more quality problems than carryover models, on average. However, more than one-half of all models launched during the 2010 model year perform better than their respective segment averages. Furthermore, 12 all-new and redesigned models rank within the top three in their respective segments. Meanwhile, initial quality of carryover and freshened models has declined for the 2010 model year.

"With automakers committing huge budgets for the design, engineering, production and marketing of all-new models and major redesigns, hitting the quality mark out of the gate is critical," said Sargent. "Getting initial quality right on model launches can serve dual purposes for automakers-boosting profitability and also inspiring consumer confidence in the overall quality of their models. Having a strong quality image is essential for automakers to be able to compete in today's market-both in the U.S. and around the globe."

The Initial Quality Study serves as the industry benchmark for new-vehicle quality measured at 90 days of ownership. The study is used extensively by manufacturers worldwide to help them design and build better vehicles and by consumers to help them in their vehicle purchase decisions. Initial quality has been shown over the years to be an excellent predictor of long-term vehicle durability, which directly impacts consumer purchase decisions. The study captures problems experienced by owners in two distinct categories-design-related problems and defects and malfunctions.

2010 IQS Ranking Highlights

Porsche leads the overall nameplate rankings, averaging 83 PP100. Following in the rankings are, respectively, Acura (which moves from 14th rank position in 2009 to second in 2010), Mercedes-Benz (which improves from sixth rank position in 2009 to third in 2010), Lexus and Ford (which moves into the top five for the first time since the inception of the study). MINI posts the largest improvement in 2010, reducing problems by 32 PP100 from 2009.

Toyota's problem count increases by 16 PP100, moving it from sixth rank position in 2009 to 21st in 2010.

"Clearly, Toyota has endured a difficult year," said Sargent. "Recent consumer concerns regarding Toyota's quality are reflected in the nameplate's performance in the 2010 study. That said, Toyota's success was built on a well-deserved reputation for quality, and there is little doubt that they will do everything possible to regain that reputation."

Ford and Lexus each garner three segment awards. Ford captures awards for the Focus, Mustang and Taurus, while Lexus receives awards for the GS, GX and LS models. The Lexus LS has the fewest quality problems in the industry, with just 55 PP100.

Chevrolet, Honda and Toyota receive two awards each. Chevrolet models earning awards are the Avalanche (in a tie) and the Tahoe. Honda receives awards for the Accord and the Accord Crosstour, while Toyota receives awards for the FJ Cruiser and Sienna.

Also receiving segment awards are: Acura RDX, Cadillac Escalade, GMC Sierra LD (in a tie), Hyundai Accent, Mazda MX-5 Miata, Mercedes-Benz C-Class, Nissan Frontier, Scion xB and Volvo C70.

Assembly Plant Awards

The Daimler assembly plant in East London, South Africa, receives the Platinum Plant Quality Award for producing vehicles yielding the fewest defects and malfunctions. The plant, which averages just 28 PP100, produces the Mercedes-Benz C-Class. Plant awards are based solely on average levels of defects and malfunctions and exclude design-related problems.

Among North and South American plants, the Toyota Motor Corporation plant in Cambridge South, Ontario, Canada, which produces the Lexus RX, achieves the Gold Plant Quality Award.

In the Asia Pacific region, Toyota Motor Corporation's Kyushu 2, Japan, plant, which produces the Lexus ES, IS and RX, receives the Gold Plant Quality Award.

The 2010 Initial Quality Study is based on responses from more than 82,000 purchasers and lessees of new 2010 model-year vehicles surveyed after 90 days of ownership. The study is based on a 228-question battery designed to provide manufacturers with information to facilitate identification of problems and to drive product improvement. The study was fielded between February and May 2010. Visit the J.D. Power Business Center for additional information on J.D. Power's automotive research.

About J.D. Power and Associates

Headquartered in Westlake Village, Calif., J.D. Power and Associates is a global marketing information services company operating in key business sectors including market research, forecasting, performance improvement, Web intelligence and customer satisfaction. The company'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 (NYSE: MHP) is a global information and education company providing knowledge, insights and analysis in the financial, education and business information sectors through leading brands including Standard & Poor's, McGraw-Hill Education, Platts, and J.D. Power and Associates. The Corporation has more than 280 offices in 40 countries. Sales in 2009 were $5.95 billion. Additional information is available at http://www.mcgraw-hill.com/.

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    • 1 Second Ago
      • 5 Years Ago
      I doubt that many customers bother about JD Power ratings while choosing a car.
      • 5 Years Ago
      "Interestingly enough, Toyota (117 PP100) fell from its seventh position in 2009 to 21st in the 2010 study."
      How is this interesting? It's expected! If Toyota's quality ratings weren't knocked down after this year, I think it would discredit JD Power by a good margin. Kudos to Ford & Hyundai though for marking up so high. No one would have expected that 10 years ago.
      • 5 Years Ago
      Domestics are obviously catching up, but does anyone really take J.D. Power (and its pay-us-for-good-publicity motto) seriously?
        • 5 Years Ago
        High Climber -- CR actually pays the automakers money to test their vehicles, not the other way around. They buy their test cars from actual dealerships, rather than taking advantage of press fleets. They don't take any kind of handout from automakers. J.D. does, so Bob-omb is correct.
        • 5 Years Ago
        1) Are you implying that CR does scientific testing? If so, wasn't CR giving auto-recommendations to some Toyota models because of "past performance"? How is not testing something scientific testing? At least JD is not giving a free pass to anyone
        2) Wasn't JD also accurate in the 90's since they also said imports were better than domestics, just like CR? If both publications (CR and JD) said the same, why would it be not accurate now?
        If JD is wrong now, then they must have been wrong the past 23 years by saying that Toyota was better. Or is the data incorrect only when domestics win? (how convenient)
        • 5 Years Ago
        I was gonna say the same thing. I've always thought it was kinda fishy to trust them, so even when they give good news like this, I'd be a hypocrite if I just up and believed it (altho I want to)
        • 5 Years Ago
        JD Power rates things using "past performance" as well for reliability, etc. I'll just say that since it's statistics it's like Mark Twain said-there are "lies, damned lies, and statistics" and JD Power is known for changing their methodology year to year (it says right on their website in the fine print)....causing some pretty "coincidental" changes in their ratings such that their "winners" manage insane jumps from the worst possible rating to very good ratings overnight for stuff that's supposedly based on years and years of data.
        • 5 Years Ago
        So in other words, people DO like JD Power if they 1) have no idea what scientific testing is and 2) are still mad at CR for accurately reporting that domestic cars in the 90s were terrible. Thanks for answering, guys!
        • 5 Years Ago
        Keep in mind that Hyundai has devested A LOT in Kia ... Hyundai is down near 40% ownership in Kia now and not calling the shots anymore.
        • 5 Years Ago
        I think actually, jdpower surveys customers who buy cars...I don't think they actually review the cars themselves. If you read the thing, it says the study is for owners in the first 90 days of having their car.
      • 5 Years Ago
      Wouldn't the industry average drop since most manufactures are below 109?
        • 5 Years Ago
        Math is hard.
        • 5 Years Ago
        JD Power is a business. You get what you paid for.
        • 5 Years Ago
        Your calculations do not account for the quantity of cars these manufacturers produce. The Industry Average is not an average of the manufacturers averages. It is an average for all vehicles produced. For example if you took Infiniti's 107 and Chevrolet's 111 alone, their average would not be 109, it would probably be 110.95.
        • 5 Years Ago
        aaah, I see now.
        • 5 Years Ago
        Considering Suzuki sells cars a trickle for now..it only has 122 problems/100 cars.. Compare the odds to big seller Toyota..not far at 117/100. Next only to surging Subaru at 121/100.
        • 5 Years Ago
        Sled, the PP100 aren't going to be a simple average but rather weighted to sales so a manufacturer like Land Rover doesn't exert undue influence on the average. You won't be able to replicate the number without retail sales figures.
      • 5 Years Ago
      I always get out of IQS...I've had mostly trouble free experiences with my recent vehicles - Hondas, Infiniti, Audi, Toyota...but REALLY the test is 1 year from taking and 3 year at 40,000 miles. That is simply were Honda, Toyota, Nissan, etc get it done vs the US and Europeans...Drive a Toyota Highlander with 50K on the clock and then jump in the same mileage Chevy Equinox...It'll all make sense then...
        • 5 Years Ago
        I was a Toyota owner for 15 years, and now a Ford owner for 10, with equal miles on both brands (400,000+) and I have to say that Toyotas will break down pretty readily after 100K. Here is my list for Toyota:4 HGs, one fuel pump, one water temp sensor for the EFI, water pump, and two starters. All left me stranded needing a tow. Most happened after 100K (1 HG was at 90K). Here is my list for Ford after 100K:. Short list.

        Sorry, I jumped off the Toyota quality band wagon long ago.

        • 5 Years Ago
        And they appear to do less well at the over 3 year/40-45K mile mark - Honda w/ the blown transmissions and Toyota w/ the engine sludge.
        • 5 Years Ago
        Forgot one...coolant dumped on the road when rear heater lines in my LX450 rusted through..needed a tow for that one as well.
      • 5 Years Ago
      20 years ago the J.D. Powers report made sense when there was so much crap in the industry. Now most if not all automakers have improved significantly that cars are much more reliable and come better finished compared to cars 20 years ago.

      Nowadays most problems that ding an automaker's ratings are customers dissatisfaction with the gas mileage, position of the cup-holder, complex navigation system, etc... Not the old complaints of improper fit instrument panel, exposed screws, falling pieces of the interior, etc... that really gave a bad name to the domestics.
      • 5 Years Ago
      Didn't Mercury usually do good on this? they dropped a lot... probably cause they won't exist next year.
        • 5 Years Ago
        I also was surprised at the disparity between Ford and Mercury given the extensive platform sharing. Also the disparity between Hyundai and Kia.
      • 5 Years Ago
      what about BMW?????
      • 5 Years Ago
      I think its safe to say the considerable jump made by Ram will be equatable to all of the new Chrysler products soon to be out. Thats very good news.
        • 5 Years Ago
        This would be Ram's first year of being reported on it's own away from Dodge. Figure the rest of Dodge in and Ram's score probably wouldn't have been so high.

        However it does look good that an all new for '09 model can do so well and hopefully it does mean that the rest of the newer models introduced by Chrysler will pick up their quality scores as well.
      • 5 Years Ago
      It really is surprising Ford is ranking where it does....i have had 3 Fords and refuse to own another (2007 -(2) 2008). I had transmission, and engine troubles, not to mention the F250 diesel i had, in the shop more than home......no thanks. I'm back with GM
      • 5 Years Ago
      So ... Porsche, Acura, MBenz, and Lexus are domestic now?
      • 5 Years Ago
      Props to Ford, but my question is how was Mercury so much worse than (113 vs 93) than Ford? Every single one of their cars/SUV's are (were) made on the same assembly line, by the same workers, on the same days... 20 seems a bit too much of a difference.
      Anyone have ideas on this?
        • 5 Years Ago
        Quality control and buyer pickiness. If I understand this survey correctly, it basically measures how many problems you take your car back to the dealer for in the initial 90 days. I.e., in my family, the 98 Avalon's radio didn't work, the '06 Focus had a bad piece of weather stripping that shriveled up, and the '03 Acura had a squeaky seat belt, etc...

        Now my guess is that either Ford didn't put as many resources into the Mercury quality control because they were already planning on killing it, or Mercury buyers are more picky than Ford buyers, and will ask to have things like squeaks, misaligned panels, or other cosmetic things fixed.
        • 5 Years Ago
        Some of Ford's top scoring models like the Focus are not sold as Mercury models. This skews overall numbers.

        J.D. Power I.Q. is a tool but only one of many. It is basically a sampling of how well assembly and inspection were done and how well automakers are listening to their customers. Things like loose trim pieces, bad ergonomics or unrealistic expectations really effect results. So buyers who just got a bargain on a Focus or an Accent are over the moon when they discover that these vehicles are better than they expected. Someone who paid too much for a Escape with a waterfall grill on the other hand and discovers that it is rather loud on the highway is less than amused.
        • 5 Years Ago
        I think you can chalk that up to people's expectations. For as long as I can remember people loved the Explorer but warned that the mechanically identical Explorer Limited and Explorer Eddie Bauer were bad cars. Obviously this isn't actually true, it just came down to what people who bought those cars were expecting.
        • 5 Years Ago
        Ford also has way more models than Mercury. Even if the Fusion and ____ (i seriously can't think of the mercury right now) scored the same and the Escape and Mariner scored the same, etc.... maybe the Flex, F150, Taurus, etc all kicked @$$, pulling Ford's average below Mercury's.
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