U.S. vehicle manufacturers posted the strongest improvement in initial quality since 2009 and are producing higher-quality automobiles than ever before, according to the 2012 update by J.D. Power and Associates.
But for the first time in the 26-year history of the study, vehicle owners report more problems related to audio, entertainment and navigation systems than in any other category.
Specifically, the number of owner-reported problems with factory-installed, hands-free communication devices has increased 137 percent during the past four years.
Hands-free devices that do not recognize commands represent the most reported problem in the industry.
“Until recently, this type of sophisticated technology was found primarily on high-end models” said David Sargent, vice president of global automotive at J.D. Power and Associates. “However, over the past few years it has rapidly found its way into the automotive mainstream. For example, in 2012, more than 80 percent of owners indicate that their new vehicle has some form of hands-free technology.”
Lexus is the highest-ranked nameplate in the industry for a second consecutive year, averaging 73 problems per 100 vehicles, With 75 problems per 100 vehicles each, Jaguar and Porsche follow Lexus in a tie to rank second.
Jaguar posts the largest improvement in the study — reducing problems by 39 problems per 100 vehicles, and surging from the 20th rank position in 2011.
Cadillac (80 PP100) and Honda (83 PP100) round out the top five ranked positions.
Other key findings from the J.D. Powers study include:
- Of the 34 brands ranked in the 2012 Initial Quality Survey (IQS), 26 have improved from 2011, five have declined, one scores the same as in 2011 and two were not included in the 2011 study.
- Of the 185 models ranked in both the 2012 and 2011 IQS, 65 percent have improved.
- The average quality of all-new or redesigned models improves 12 percent compared with 2011, with eleven all new or redesigned models performing better than their segment average.