Toyota triumphs, Lexus leaps ahead to finish first, and Ford falls in J.D. Power’s 2011 Initial Quality Survey. Released today, J.D. Power’s 2011 survey results show a swing in the automotive industry as automakers try to keep customer satisfaction high while pushing technology forward to meet stringent government regulations.
Coming back strong in this year’s survey, Toyota jumped from 21st place last year to rank seventh overall on the survey with 101 problems per vehicle against an industry average of 107 problems per vehicle. Industry-wide, automakers improved from last year’s 109 problems per vehicle.
Toyota’s Lexus division, which took the fourth in last year’s survey, ran away with the overall top spot with just 73 problems per 100 vehicles, 13 problems less problems than runner-up Honda. Last year’s winner, Porsche, dropped back to tie Mazda for fifth place with 100 problems following the introduction of the redesigned Cayenne SUV.
However, Ford, which ranked fifth in 2010 with 93 problems per vehicle and led as America’s comeback kid, tumbled well below average with 116 problems per vehicle to rank 23rd overall in the 2011 survey. Citing Ford’s clunky and slow-to-respond new six-speed dual-clutch transmissions optimized for better fuel economy and the complex MyFord Touch infotainment system, technology appears to be the chief culprit in the Blue Oval’s lower score. This year’s survey marks the first time since 2006 that Ford has fallen below the industry average.
“Clearly, consumers are interested in having new technology in their vehicles, but automakers must ensure that the technology is ready for prime time,” David Sargent, vice president of global vehicle research at J.D. Power and Associates, said in a statement. “Successful companies will be those that can take this incredibly complex technology and make it reliable, seamless and easy for owners to operate while they are driving. There is an understandable desire to bring these technologies to market quickly, but automakers must be careful to walk before they run.”
Additionally, Ford’s Lincoln luxury brand suffered a setback falling from eighth place in 2010 to 17th place in 2011 with many of the same problems.
Several companies received significant help from models that have been on the market for several years, buoying brand averages. From General Motors, Cadillac faired the best with 103 problems per 100 cars to place ninth, and GMC also gained significant ground, cutting its problems per 100 vehicles from 126 in 2010 to 104 to finish 10th. Cadillac and GMC were the only American brands the make the top 10 list.
Across all companies, carryover models had 103 problems 100 cars on average — the lowest it has been in J.D. Power’s 25 years of conducting its Initial Quality Survey. Meanwhile, problems per 100 vehicles that were all-new or significantly redesigned increased 10 percent from 111 problems in 2010 to 122, the worst it has been since the 2008 survey.
The results for J.D. Power’s 2011 Initial Quality Survey were gathered from more than 73,000 people surveyed who were surveyed between February and May 2011 about the first 90 days of their new car ownership experiences. In the surveys, respondents were asked 228 questions concerning design-related problems and defects and malfunctions.
Sources: J.D. Power and Associates, Automotive News (Subscription required)