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Porsche stars in quality rankings

Quality assurance: Chevrolet’s Australian-engineered Camaro took out the mid-size sportscar category in J.D. Power’s annual Initial Quality Survey.

Aussie-penned Camaro a winner, but Porsche rules in JD Power quality survey

20 Jun 2013

PORSCHE buyers are happier with their showroom-fresh cars than for any other brand sold in the US, a benchmark quality study reveals.

JD Power’s annual Initial Quality Study analyses data collected from 83,000 buyers and lessees of 2013-model vehicles in the US surveyed after 90 days of ownership.

It found Porsche owners were less likely to experience problems with their vehicles than any other brand sold in the US, at least in the first three months.

The German sportscar-maker took out the top spot with a score of 80 problems per 100 vehicles sold (PP100), pipping General Motors-owned runner-up GMC on 90 and previous winner, Toyota’s luxury arm Lexus in third place with 94 PP100.

Lexus, the top-ranking brand for the last two years, fell down the order because this year’s survey had been redesigned to better measure the quality of modern vehicles, JD Power said.

Nissan’s luxury brand Infiniti took out fourth place with a score of 95 PP100, while Chevrolet came in fifth with 97. The industry average is 113 problems per 100 cars.

The study found that two-thirds of issues experienced in the first three months were design-related rather than the result of a component malfunction.

JD Power said an example of a design-related flaw was when an owner took a vehicle back to a dealer because they believed something was wrong, but the component was functioning as intended.

The report said nine per cent of the design-related problems were taken to a dealership, and the issue was fixed 13 per cent of the time.

JD Power said 28 per cent of owners experiencing mechanical problems had their vehicle serviced in the first 90 days of ownership, with the issue resolved 42 per cent of the time.

JD Power vice-president of global automotive, David Sargent, said car-makers needed to be wary of making cars with technology and features that confused buyers.

“Automakers are investing billions of dollars into designing and building vehicles and adding technologies that consumers desire and demand, but the risk is that the vehicle design, or the technology within the vehicle, in some cases may not meet customer needs,” he said.

“Keep in mind that automakers are trying to design vehicles that appeal to a broad array of consumers, and what works for the majority may not work for all.

“The successful companies will be those automakers that find a way to give customers the technology they want while at the same time making it sufficiently intuitive so all customers find it easy to use,” he said.

Most technology-related issues around satellite navigation, Bluetooth pairing and hands-free or voice recognition systems could be resolved by a salesperson explaining it when the car was bought, JD Power said.

The Initial Quality Survey also ranks vehicles by segment with Chevrolet winning five categories, the highest number of any brand.

Chevy’s wins were predominantly for SUVs and light trucks, with the Tahoe ranked on top for large SUV, Silverado HD for large heavy-duty pick-up and the Avalanche for large light-duty pick-up.

The Australian-engineered Camaro won the mid-size sportscar category, while the Impala was named best large car.

Honda won awards for its Civic small car and CR-V compact SUV, while its Acura premium brand won top points in the compact premium car category for its TL model.

South Korean car-maker Kia beat all comers in the compact multipurpose vehicle category with its funky Soul hatchback, while the Sportage soft-roader scored top honours in the sub-compact SUV category.

Sister companies Hyundai and Kia scored equal ninth on the overall rankings with 106 points apiece.

Mazda was the other car-maker with multiple entries. Its Mazda2 won the sub-compact car division, and the two-seat MX-5 Miata the best sub-compact sportscar.

The biggest losers in this year’s overall rankings were Toyota’s youth-oriented Scion brand, which placed last with 161 PP100, and Italian brand Fiat, which scored just 154.

Japanese car-makers Mitsubishi and Nissan also had poor showings with 148 and 142 PP100 respectively, while US brands Ford, Dodge and Jeep all scored more points than the industry average.

JD Power also ranks plant assembly lines that produce vehicles with the fewest defects. This year’s winner of the platinum plant quality award is Toyota’s Lafayette B Plant in Indiana which produces the Camry mid-size car.

Audi received the gold plant assembly line quality award for its Neckarsulm plant in Germany that produces a range of Audis including the A4, A5 and A6.

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