U.S. Automakers Best Imports In J.D. Power Quality Survey

The U.S. auto industry edged out import brands in an important benchmark of quality for the first time in nearly a quarter-century

Los Angeles Times
The U.S. auto industry edged out import brands in an important benchmark of quality for the first time in nearly a quarter-century.
Led by improvements at Ford and General Motors, the domestic industry’s ranking topped that of overseas manufacturers for the first time in the 24 years that J.D. Power and Associates has conducted its Initial Quality Study. The study measures how many problems owners experience during the first 90 days they have a new vehicle.
“This is a landmark in the quality history of the auto industry,” said David Sargent, J.D. Power’s vice president of global vehicle research.
Reliability and dependability problems have plagued the U.S. auto industry for decades. But Sargent said the quality gap between domestics and imports has narrowed steadily for some years now. The massive restructuring of the domestic industry over the last year and the introduction of a fleet of newly designed and engineered models appear to have pushed Ford and GM over the quality hurdle, he said.
“It was likely that the gap could reach zero, and it is a result of a huge amount of hard work. They are now designing vehicles not to have problems,” he said.
Ford and GM placed a combined 22 vehicles in the top quality rankings, but Chrysler Group lagged far behind its domestic rivals and the entire industry, the auto-information company said.
Ford, with 93 defects per 100 vehicles, was the best-performing volume brand, beating Honda by two points. The Ford Focus was the highest-ranked compact car, coming in above Honda’s Civic and the Hyundai Elantra. The Ford Mustang was the highest-ranked midsize sporty car and the Ford Taurus was the top large car.
Overall, domestic brands suffered from 108 problems per 100 new vehicles, an improvement from 112 last year and down dramatically from the 164 garnered by the American automakers in 2000. Imports scored 109, up from 106 a year ago.
The improvements are paying off in the marketplace.
Sales of Ford-badged vehicles have jumped 34 percent this year, about double the industry average, according to Autodata. The brand’s market share has risen by nearly two percentage points to 15.2 percent.
Porsche was the top nameplate, logging just 83 problems per 100 new vehicles in the 2010 survey, compared to an industry average of 109.
Acura was the top luxury brand with just 86 problems, a notch better than the 87 score of Mercedes-Benz.