Korean brands top new car survey as build quality soars
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A survey of new-vehicle buyers found that car build quality hit a record high this year as automakers started to clear up bugs with infotainment systems.
The annual survey by J.D. Power finds that buyers reported a record-low 93 problems per 100 vehicles during the first three months of ownership, four problems fewer than last year.
The survey also found that Korean brands Genesis, Kia and Hyundai claimed the top three spots for the first time in new vehicle quality. Porsche and Ford rounded out the top five.
J.D. Power also found that the Detroit three improved their quality faster than the industry as a whole. Fiat Chrysler knocked off seven problems, while Ford and General Motors each dropped five. The lowest-ranking brands were Land Rover, Jaguar and Volvo.
Kia Niro Hybrid. Photo / Ted Baghurst
Touch-screen infotainment systems such as radios, cellular phone connections and navigation remained the category with the highest number of problems this year, but J.D. Power said it improved for the third straight year. The progress was led by fewer problems with voice recognition systems.
Dave Sargent, J.D. Power's vice president of global automotive, said: “There’s no question that most automakers are doing a great job of listening to consumers and are producing vehicle quality of the highest caliber.” said
“That said, some vehicle owners are still finding problems. As vehicles become more complex and automated, it is critical that consumers have complete confidence in automakers’ ability to deliver fault-free vehicles.”
Sargent said automakers have listened to consumers and are making high-quality vehicles. But he cautioned that companies must rein in rising problems with new driver-assist systems such as collision avoidance and lane-keeping.
"Avoiding problems with safety and driver assistance technology is critical," he said in a statement. "Otherwise automakers will not easily overcome consumer resistance to fully automated cars."
Hyundai Kona interior. Photo / Andrew Warner
Genesis, Hyundai's luxury brand, had only 68 problems per 100 vehicles, while Kia had 72 and Hyundai had 74, according to the survey. Land Rover had 160 problems.
Of the eight categories measured by the survey, vehicle exterior improved the most to 15.2 problems per 100 vehicles, from 16.6 in 2017. Improvements included less wind noise and fewer paint imperfections.
Vehicle quality has been improving steadily since 2014 when it hit 116 problems per 100 vehicles. Quality was worst in 1998 when problems per 100 vehicles peaked at 176, according to the survey.
The 32nd-annual survey questioned 75,712 owners of 2018 model year vehicles about the problems they had in the first 90 days of ownership.
Full J.D. Power survey results
Key findings of the 2018 study:
- Most vehicle areas improve: Of the eight categories measured, vehicle exterior improves the most, now at 15.2 PP100, compared with 16.6 PP100 in 2017. Improvements include less wind noise and fewer paint imperfections. Significant year-over-year improvements also occur in the seats (8.0 PP100 vs. 8.7 PP100) and vehicle interior (14.3 PP100 vs. 14.7 PP100) categories.
- Porsche 911 posts best score of any model: The Porsche 911 has the lowest overall problem level (48 PP100) of any model this year. This is also the lowest level recorded in this generation of the study (2013-2018).
- All domestic corporations improve faster than the industry: Fiat Chrysler Automobiles (7 PP100 improvement), Ford Motor Company (5 PP100 improvement) and General Motors (5 PP100 improvement) all outpace the industry average rate of improvement (4 PP100).
- Infotainment problems are decreasing: Audio/Communication/Entertainment/Navigation (ACEN) remains the most problematic category for new-vehicle owners. However, this area has improved for the third consecutive year, led by fewer problems with built-in voice recognition systems.
- Globalization of auto industry continues: Vehicles in the 2018 study are manufactured in 25 countries, 11 of which weren’t present in the study five years ago. Those 11 countries include Brazil, China, Finland, India, Italy, Netherlands, Poland, Serbia, Spain, Thailand and Turkey. The other 14 countries include Austria, Belgium, Canada, France, Germany, Hungary, Japan, Mexico, Slovakia, South Africa, South Korea, Sweden, United Kingdom and United States.
- Increasing problems with driver assistance systems: As automakers add more advanced driver assistance systems to their vehicles, more consumers are experiencing problems. The level is still low (3.5 PP100 on average) but has been increasing by about 20% a year for the past three years.
-AP, J.D Power, Driven