Hyundai was the butt of many jokes in the auto industry when it first entered the US market, but since then, it has forged ahead and built cars that stand with the best in their respective segments. The 2011 Sonata and 2011 Elantra were seen as the apotheosis of the brand's forward progress when they were introduced, but falling J.D. Power and Associates Dependability Study results may actually cause them to hurt the company's hard-earned reputation.
J.D Power's study examines three-year-old vehicles for problems per 100 vehicles. Since the 2011 study for 2008 model year cars, Hyundai has fallen from 10th overall with 132 problems to 27th in the 2014 survey of 2011 model year vehicles with 169 problems. It was also Hyundai's second consecutive year of an increase in reported problems. According to Automotive News, many of these problems are due to faults with the Sonata and Elantra, but J.D. Power didn't identify specifically what issues caused Hyundai's dependability to tumble so far down the list. However, the study found that, on average, reliability fell throughout the industry for the first time since 1998.
Getting the Sonata and Elantra right are vital to Hyundai. In 2013, they were the company's best-selling cars. "We'll be closely going through the data to see where improvements need to be made. Hyundai's goal is nothing short of quality leadership, and the report shows we have work to do," Hyundai spokesperson Jim Trainor said in an email to Autoblog.
It took years and huge amounts of capital to build Hyundai's reputation as a dependable brand, and sustained problems could jeopardize that. "We'll learn from this study and are confident our dependability scores will be better in the future," said Trainor. Hopefully, rehiring engineers who left over quality issues does not point the way forward.