Global marketing and communications firm Strategic Vision has announced the results of its annual Total Quality Index. In the 2012 edition of the study, Volkswagen Group of America achieved the highest rating in Total Quality. This marks the German automaker's second year of achieving the accolade. According to the press release from Strategic Vision, the runner up spot was actually a tie between Chrysler Group and Ford Motor Company.

Strategic Vision factored in vehicles like the Audi A4 and A8, as well as notable VW vehicles like the Golf, Eos, and Tiguan in its study. The study also pointed to the quality of vehicles like the Flex, F-150, as well as the Fiat 500 for such a tight finish between Ford and Chrysler.

Toyota came out with the fewest reported problems of any brand. According to the study, only 17% of Toyota owners reported having problems.

Strategic vision says this was its closest finish in "Total Quality" that it has ever reported. According to the release, "Customers are increasingly defining 'quality' holistically and using Total Quality in their decisions." In assessing the Total Quality Awards, Strategic Vision calculated the results from surveys sent out to 45,390 individuals who purchased new 2012 model year vehicles from September to December of 2011. Scroll down below for the press release.
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"Volkswagen Has Best Total Quality, Toyota Fewest Problems,"

The 2012 Total Quality Awards

San Diego - Strategic Vision announces results of its 2012 Total Quality Index™ (TQI) study. With the industry best of only 17% of owners reporting problems, Toyota Motor Sales corporation had the lowest reported problems, resulting in Strategic Vision's lowest "Problem Impact Measure" (PIM) score of 4.29, a Strategic Vision metric that examines the report of the problem, the nature (serious, moderate or minor) of the problem, and the nature of the problem unresolved by dealer. Although this is good for Toyota, PIM is only a subset of "Total Quality." With near universal acceptance that manufacturers are running the tightest "quality race" ever, customers are increasingly defining "quality" holistically and using Total Quality in their decisions. Total Quality measures how closely the experience of quality matches the explicit desires of the customer. In terms of Total Quality, Volkswagen Group of America is the leading corporation, followed by a tie between Ford Motor Company and Chrysler Group.

"This is really great news for all those corporations, but the key to success and sales will be products that satisfy the customer's increasingly insatiable need for innovation, and the complete picture of Quality," says Strategic Vision President, Alexander Edwards. "We point out Total Quality vs. 'Fewest Problems' for a reason. When measuring quality, the complete experience must be part of the calculation and include all the perceptions that influence how people make their decision. For instance, even when 'just' counting problems, perception is involved. One buyer may overlook what another may report. With Total Quality, we factor in all the perceptions that are proven to create the impression of Total Quality; this is ultimately how people think about vehicles and spend money," concludes Alexander Edwards.

Volkswagen Group of America's Total Quality strength centers on segment leaders like Golf, Eos, Tiguan, as well Audi segment leaders A4 and A8. Ford Motor Company was able to finish second (tied with Chrysler Group) with many strong segment rankings, and leadership from Flex, F-150 and F-250/350. Perhaps the biggest surprise is the most improved corporation-Chrysler Group. "They are definitely beginning to turn things around and the Fiat 500 (Small Car Segment winner) is just one example. Attributes like Fiat 500's Exterior Styling and Workmanship, and even Sound Systems, all become part of the Total Quality equation when one explicitly captures the heart and mind of how customer's think when spending $20,000 to $100,000 on a vehicle," adds Darrel Edwards, Ph.D. and Strategic Vision Chairman/Founder. "Of course some brands do not compete at the corporate level. BMW and Mercedes continue to do well, but monitor the pulse of America, and be sure to recognize the current trend of 'smart' luxury," opines Dr. Edwards.

Other Total Quality winners from Chrysler Group were the Dodge Charger and redesigned Jeep Grand Cherokee. "Full-line corporations like Toyota and American Honda Motor are as strong as ever in terms of percentages of people reporting problems. It's just that others are doing such a great job also, and they have excelled in providing the kind of innovation that influences perceptions of quality," says Strategic Vision Vice President Christopher Chaney. "Look at the Chevrolet Volt," Chaney continues. "It may not be a sales leader, but those who purchased it were heavily influenced by a number of quality cues that made it a segment leader in Total Quality."

General Motors provided traditional leadership strength with the Chevrolet Corvette Coupe, which tied with the BMW 1-Series Coupe, among Premium Coupes. When it came to Premium Convertible/Roadsters and Luxury Utilities, BMW Z4 Roadster and X6 were the respective segment leaders. The new MINI Cooper Coupe had one of the highest Total Quality scores in the industry and, of course, was the Specialty Coupe Segment winner. Similar to Toyota, the Honda brand maintains a good overall Problem Impact Measure position and led three segments with Accord Crosstour, Odyssey and [five-time] Standard Truck Segment winner Ridgeline.

The real message is that innovation is connected to perceptions of quality. If innovation is strong, especially such that customers can say they "love it," when referring to the product, then perceptions of quality will be greatly (positively) influenced. Strategic Vision research has proven that those who recognize and acknowledge innovation (most new car buyers) will purchase, and not just be driven by counting problems. With all manufacturers being in such close traditional quality proximity (counting problems only), there is little question that those car manufacturers who offer rich and impactful, intuitive, motivationally designed cars will have the advantage going into the future. A near perfect example is the Land Rover Evoque, with its incredibly motivational styling and impactful interior experience, that rates number one among all Near-Luxury Utilities. Even in the Large Utility Segment, buyers appreciate the Total Quality experience and rated Nissan Armada the winner.

Strategic Vision has presented Total Quality Awards™ annually since 1995. Based on Strategic Vision's quantitative "ValueCentered®" NVES study, the Total Quality Index was calculated from 45,390 buyers who purchased 2012 models during September to December 2011.

Strategic Vision is a research-based consultancy with over forty years of experience in understanding the consumers' and constituents' decision-making systems for a variety of Fortune 100 clients, including most automotive manufacturers. Its unique expertise is in identifying consumers' comprehensive motivational hierarchies, including the product attributes, personal benefits, value/emotions and images that drive perceptions and behaviors. J. Susan Johnson, CEO of Strategic Vision, coined the phrase "True Innovators" and we measure this construct in the detailed Total Quality Index report. The ValueCentered® psychology and research methods were defined by Dr. Darrel Edwards in 1968, and enhanced by co-founders J. Susan Johnson (1972) and Sharon Shedroff (1975). For further information, contact Alexander Edwards, Christopher Chaney and Molly Sirota at (858) 576-7141 or visit

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