Audi, Jag, Kia and Tesla top Strategic Vision 2014 Total Quality Index

KiaA couple weeks ago, J.D. Power released its latest Initial Quality Study, which gave high marks to Porsche, Hyundai and General Motors, with the latter earning more individual IQS awards than any other manufacturer. Now, it's Strategic Vision's turn, and it's doling out its praise not to Porsche, but to Tesla, which wasn't even included in the JD Power IQS.

The Model S was named the best vehicle overall in total quality, while Porsche's corporate brother and endurance-racing rival, Audi, was named the best premium brand, alongside Jaguar. Strategic Vision cited the Q5 and the ancient Q7 for individual segment awards, as well as the A5, which was a mere point off the top of its segment. SV also handed out compliments for the Audi's interior work. The win for the German brand is a nice improvement over its IQS score, with which it landed above the industry average, but solidly mid-pack.

Jaguar was without a segment winner, although SV did say that the Indian-owned English brand had a number of vehicles very near the top of their segments. This is the second significant win for Jag in two weeks, after it finished second overall on the JD Power IQS a few weeks ago.

In a surprise win, Kia took the title for mainstream manufacturers, with Strategic Vision calling out the Soul and the Optima for their "youthful, cool styling cues that not only make a strong statement but offer a solid foundation of quality." The South Korean brand took seventh in the JD Power IQS.

Notable segment winners include a few that left us scratching our heads, like the Mitsubishi Lancer tying the Dodge Dart for the best small car, and the Mini Cooper Roadster beating out the Mazda MX-5 Miata for the Standard Convertible segment. Others, though, were more predictable – the Chevrolet Corvette Stingray topped its segment, as did the Volkswagen Golf, Lexus IS and Mercedes-Benz SL.

While Strategic Vision calls this study its Total Quality Index, unlike JD Power, there's more to it than simple reliability. In addition to reliability, it also analyzes positive and negative experiences from consumers as they relate to problems with their vehicle, the driving experience and other, unnamed measures.

"Quality is much more than simply counting problems and watching for the horse race," Darrel Edwards, the founder and executive chairman of Strategic Vision, said in what seemed like a thinly veiled shot at JD Power. "When we declare Total Quality rankings, you're seeing results of something meaningful and predictive, which are the result of measuring what matters to the customer."

You can view the full press release from Strategic Vision below, which includes a complete listing of winners in each category.
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Tesla Best Model; Audi, Jaguar and Kia Top Brands in Total Quality: TQI Helps Predict Future Success
The 2014 Total Quality Awards

San Diego - Strategic Vision has released the results of its 19th annual Total Quality Index™ (TQI) study with thought-provoking results. "What we learn from this year's Total Quality results is the need for complete understanding of how buyers are influenced and it's not just by counting problems. TQI absolutely offers a glimpse into the future, as it did seven years ago when we headlined our TQI results, '... Perceived Quality the New Paradigm ...' where we predicted Hyundai's successes through 2013," says Alexander Edwards, President of Strategic Vision. "Back then, many people may have questioned our 2007 results, but no one can deny the success Hyundai enjoyed. With all the attention on furthering Alternative Powertrains (APT) (plug-in electrics, hybrids, etc.), the most competitive landscape in history, Tesla Model S being the Best Model in Total Quality, and Kia being one of the Best Brands, it seems very predictive to pay close attention to the Total Quality concept of measuring how customers judge quality," continues Edwards.

Audi and Jaguar shared leadership as the best Luxury brands in Total Quality and remarkably, Kia had the highest Total Quality score of non-Luxury brands. "All I can say to manufacturers is prepare to listen carefully to what car buyers are saying through these scores, be nimble and include 'True Innovation' that is bold and smart," says Christopher Chaney, Strategic Vision Senior Vice President. "Tesla built a vehicle that generated love in attributes that were most important to segment buyers. Tesla isn't an electric vehicle that just has good features, but instead it's a luxurious sports sedan that has 'True Innovation,' as well as a rocket-like speed and drive feeling, that just happens to be an electric vehicle. I would call on all manufacturers looking toward electrification to implement a mantra of building super cool transportation that impresses the heck out of customers, and 'happens to be electric.' Very few people are looking for an overpriced electric breadbox/toaster with nothing cool. Consumers are powerful, have the Internet and know how to use calculators," continues Chaney.

Audi's unique exterior styling and interior appointments helped it produce segment winners A5 Coupe, Q5 and Q7. Jaguar did not have a segment leader, but had several models ranked very high and likewise gave customers something uniquely appealing. The Kia brand has come on strong with segment winners Soul and Optima, with models strong in youthful, cool styling cues and that not only make a strong statement but offer a solid foundation of quality. As if to highlight these results, although not included in this TQI analysis, Strategic Vision's New Vehicle Experience Study (NVES) data shows the Kia K900 as taking some sales from luxury brands.

The Strategic Vision Total Quality Index score is a holistic measure that encompasses positive and negative product experiences including reliability, actual problems, driving excitement and other measures that collectively are energized by the emotional response associated with the aggregate of all those experiences – hence Total Quality. "Quality is much more than simply counting problems and watching for the horse race," says Darrel Edwards, Ph.D. Founder and Executive Chairman of Strategic Vision. "When we declare Total Quality rankings, you're seeing results of something meaningful and predictive, which are the result of measuring what matters to the customer. We use discriminating survey scales that capture the contraction of values and emotions: Love-it, Delightful, Excellent, Satisfactory, Unsatisfactory, a Failure and Hate-it," says Dr. Edwards who promoted use of the scale decades ago.

In addition to the vehicles mentioned, other manufacturers like Volkswagen continue leading with Golf and other models. Chrysler continues a strong presence in Dodge Dart, a Small Car Segment co-leader with Mitsubishi Lancer, and Dodge's Charger and Durango models in their segments. Ford continues to improve and in this study having segment winners C-MAX Energi, Flex and Expedition with Lincoln MKZ Hybrid. Strategic Vision's study of Total Quality not only reflects how owners experience quality, but also offers a look into the future of what is needed to sell. Toyota/Lexus had segment leaders Tundra, IS Sedan and GX 460 and still provides class-leading foundational attributes of quality. These elements should not be counted out according to researchers. Likewise, other domestics are staying close with GM having four leaders, despite recent challenges.

Based on Strategic Vision's quantitative "ValueCentered®" NVES study of 38,361 owners the Total Quality Index results presented contain the number one ranked vehicles in Total Quality in their segments as rated by new vehicle buyers:
Segment Winner(s) TQI Score
Micro Car Smart fortwo Coupe 855
Small Car Dodge Dart
Mitsubishi Lancer
Small Multi-Function Car Kia Soul
Volkswagen Golf
Small Alternative Powertrain (APT) Car Ford C-MAX Energi 865
Mid-Size Car Subaru Impreza Sedan
Kia Optima
Mid-Size Multi-Function Car Honda Accord Crosstour 885
Mid-Size Alternative Powertrain (APT) Car Chevrolet Volt
Hyundai Sonata Hybrid
Full-Size Car Dodge Charger 912
Near-Luxury Car Lexus IS Sedan 938
Near-Luxury Alternative Powertrain (APT) Car Lincoln MKZ Hybrid 902
Luxury Car BMW 6-Series Gran Coupe 937
Luxury Multi-Function Car Volvo XC70 897
Specialty Coupe MINI Cooper Countryman 915
Premium Coupe Chevrolet Corvette Coupe
Audi A5 Coupe
Standard Convertible MINI Cooper Roadster 931
Premium Convertible/Roadster Mercedes SL-Class 957
Standard Pickup Honda Ridgeline 845
Full-Size Pickup Ford F-150
Toyota Tundra
GMC Sierra 1500
Heavy Duty Pickup Ford F-250/350
Chevrolet Silverado 2500/3500
Ram 2500/3500
Entry SUV Jeep Wrangler Unlimited 870
Entry CUV Hyundai Tucson 887
Mid-Size SUV Dodge Durango 889
Mid-Size CUV Ford Flex 915
Full-Size Utility Ford Expedition 905
Near-Luxury Utility Audi Q5 926
Luxury SUV Lexus GX 460 933
Luxury CUV Audi Q7 942
Minivan Nissan Quest 856

Strategic Vision is a research-based consultancy with over thirty-five 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 and implemented measuring scales of "True Innovators" (or "True Innovation"), meaning innovation that is rich, makes an impact, intuitive, motivational, in-depth and specific. 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 or Christopher Chaney at (858) 576-7141.

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