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Automakers Enhance Their APEAL, with Koreans Setting the Pace

Safety tech wins thumbs up, but balky infotainment systems generate grumbles.

by on Jul.22, 2015

Mini showed the biggest improvement overall, thanks to the new Cooper hardtop.

When it comes to adding new high-tech hardware to their vehicles, automakers are generating a mix of both praise and complaints, according to a new study by J.D. Power and Associates.

On the whole, new vehicle buyers have rated their 2015 models higher than ever, and Power’s 20th annual APEAL study gives a chunk of the credit to the latest safety technologies, such as blind-spot monitoring and forward collision warning systems. At the same time, motorists registered a number of complaints about faulty infotainment hardware and balky voice recognition systems.

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With rare exception, automakers saw their APEAL scores improve this year, the overall average rising to 798 points out of a possible 1,000. But the Korean makers collectively posted the biggest improvements, while the Japanese lagged behind the industry on the whole.

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Japanese Automakers Slide, Koreans Surge in New J.D. Power Initial Quality Study

Japanese brands, as a group, post worst performance in 29 years.

by on Jun.17, 2015

Hyundai has scored major gains in quality with products like the 2015 Tucson, according to Power.

This story contains updated information.

If the latest J.D. Power survey is any indication, you might need to re-think just about everything you thought you knew about automotive quality.

The latest Initial Quality Survey, or IQS, finds that Japanese automakers, on the whole, have suffered a significant slide in the quality charts, with only three brands in the Top 10 this year. But the real shocker might be the surge in Korean quality. Kia, a brand long known for cheap, mediocre products, was second, behind top-ranked Porsche, with Hyundai ranked fourth. Jaguar, also struggling to reverse a reputation for poor quality, was third.

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For the Korean brands, which are caught up in a ferocious battle for market, the survey results represent a measure of vindication.  “We are extremely proud of the results,” said Mike Ofiara, a spokesman for Kia, which finished second in the overall ranking. “We’ve come a very long way. It’s representative of a lot of hard work by a lot of people.”

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Automakers Still Focus on Cost Over Quality, Suppliers Claim

Quality dropping to gain savings despite assertions about quality and safety.

by on Oct.29, 2014

GM's CEO Mary Barra says quality is the company's top consideration, but suppliers are saying GM and other automakers are focused more on cost.

During a widely attended speech this week, General Motors CEO Mary Barra said the automaker is intent on “raising the bar” on safety and quality – but is that aggressive push by GM and its competitors really having the desired affect on their corporate cultures? Automotive suppliers are saying it isn’t.

A recent survey of suppliers says that cost is beginning to be the biggest driver in its dealing with makers – at the expense of quality and potentially safety.

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IHS Automotive’s SuRe Index suggests that the relationships between automakers and their suppliers are worsening, in some measure because they don’t see eye-to-eye on how to improve the quality of cars and trucks, which has been a recurrent theme in the history of the parties. (more…)

Porsche, GMC – and the Chevrolet Corvette – Top 2014 Ideal Vehicle List

GM and Ford score most segment wins.

by on Aug.21, 2014

The new Chevrolet Corvette was the single most "Ideal Vehicle" according to owners.

For the second consecutive year, Porsche has been named the “Ideal Vehicle” brand by American consumers, though the individual vehicle that tops the list is the all-new Chevrolet Corvette.

General Motors, in fact, had more top-ranked models in the 2014 Ideal Vehicle Awards, or IVA, than any other manufacturer but Ford Motor Co. this year. And despite the Detroit maker’s ongoing recall issues, its GMC truck marque was named the “Most Ideal Popular Brand” in a survey conducted by California consulting firm AutoPacific, Inc.

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Significantly, a quarter of the top-ranked models in the 2014 IVA are all-new or, like the ‘Vette, have been completely redesigned for 2014.

“Winning an IVA in their first year of release shows that these newly redesigned vehicles have hit the mark with their owners, but it also shows that the designers did their research to know how to best meet the needs and expectations of their core group of buyers,” said George Peterson, president of AutoPacific.

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Kia, Audi, Jaguar Lead Annual Total Quality Index

Mercedes SL-Class takes top score in listing.

by on Jun.30, 2014

The Audi Q5 is one of three quality leaders produced by the German maker in this year's Total Quality Index from Strategic Vision.

With news of a record-setting number of recalls filling the eyes and ears of car and truck owners, finding out what brands produced the highest quality vehicles this year likely tops list of information wanted new vehicle buyers.

Strategic Vision released its 19th annual Total Quality Index winners today: Kia is the leader for non-luxury brands while Audi and Jaguar deadlocked for the luxury market.

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“What we learn from this year’s Total Quality results is the need for complete understanding of how buyers are influenced and it’s not just by counting problems,” says Alexander Edwards, President of Strategic Vision. (more…)

Auto Quality Problems on the Rise, According to Latest J.D. Power IQS

High-tech problems worsen – but weather also created headaches.

by on Jun.18, 2014

Cars like the Porsche Panamera helped position the German maker as the top brand in the 2014 IQS.

While they’re not necessarily connected, the sudden surge in recalls this year comes at the same time the overall quality of new cars, trucks and crossovers has shown an unexpected decline, according to the latest, widely followed J.D. Power Initial Quality Study.

Automakers seem to be having a lot of trouble getting all-new vehicles into production without launch problems, noted the 2014 IQS. Some of the biggest headaches are the result of the latest high-tech gadgetry that has becoming a must on today’s new vehicles. But the report also suggests that the harsh weather that has plagued much of the country over the last year has contributed to some of the problems, especially when it comes to engine and climate control systems.

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“Automakers are trying to give consumers the new features and technology they want without introducing additional quality problems into their vehicles,” said David Sargent, vice president of global automotive at J.D. Power. “However, almost all automakers are struggling to do this flawlessly with some consumers indicating that the technology is hard to understand, difficult to use, or simply does not always work as designed.”

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Automotive Dependability Takes an Unexpected Tumble

JD Power study shows first decline in over 15 years.

by on Feb.12, 2014

J.D. Power's 2014 Vehicle Dependability Study showed a drop in reliability and quality for 2011 vehicles.

It has become something of an industry gospel: automotive quality and reliability has long been on a steady, upward climb. But that conventional wisdom took a hit with the release of a new study showing an unexpected decline in vehicle dependability for the first time in more than 15 years.

The setback is largely the result of problems with engines and transmissions, according to J.D. Power’s 2014 Vehicle Dependability Study, particularly with the smaller 4-cylinder engines that have grown increasingly popular with motorists hoping to improve their mileage.

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“Until this year, we have seen a continual improvement in vehicle dependability,” said David Sargent, vice president of global automotive at J.D. Power. “However, some of the changes that automakers implemented for the 2011 model year have led to a noticeable increase in problems reported.” (more…)

Ford Produces 10 Millionth Sync-Equipped Vehicle

Technology draws in new buyers – but also creates headaches for Detroit maker.

by on Nov.27, 2013

Ford's latest Sync update permits th maker to draw a number of smartphone apps into the vehicle, including the Pandora music service.

Depending upon your point of view about in-car technology, the announcement from Ford could be seen as good news or bad news – or perhaps a little bit of both.

The maker this month produced its 10 millionth vehicle equipped with the Sync infotainment system.  That’s just six years after Ford first rolled out the technology developed in cooperation with tech giant Microsoft.

“SYNC has helped us to think and act more like a technology company,” said Jim Farley, Ford executive vice president of global marketing, sales and service. “It has forever changed how we look at our business and how we respond to our customers.”

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Since its introduction, Sync has fostered some major changes in the auto industry and there’s not a brand to be found today that isn’t offering at least a basic in-car infotainment system. But while Ford claims Sync – and the MyFordTouch and MyLincolnTouch infotainment systems – have drawn plenty of young, tech-savvy buyers into the brand’s showrooms, the technology has also created plenty of headaches for owners and for Ford which has seen its quality ratings tumble, in large parts due to problems with its infotainment systems.

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GM, Audi, Volvo Make Gains, Ford Stumbles in Consumer Reports Reliability Study

Lexus, Acura, Toyota Still Lead – but Toyota Camry loses “Recommended” rating.

by on Oct.28, 2013

Ford's C-Max Energi was the lowest-rated vehicle in the new CR reliability survey.

While Japanese makers continue to dominate the influential Consumer Reports annual vehicle reliability survey, General Motors, Audi and Volvo made significant gains, each cracking into the Top 10 this year.

While Detroit makers, on the whole, have been gaining ground, Ford Motor Co. dipped well below average. The second-largest of the domestic auto manufacturers has been hammered by complaints about its digital infotainment systems – an issue that has been causing grief for many of its competitors, as well, according to the CR survey of 1.1 million vehicle owners.

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The annual survey contained a number of surprises, including some unexpected problems plaguing traditionally Japanese manufacturers. Meanwhile, Consumer Reports announced that some of the most popular Asian products, including Toyota’s Camry, RAV4 and Prius V models, have lost their coveted “Recommended Buy” rating because of their poor performance in new crash tests.

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Volkswagen Group Tops Latest JD Power APEAL Study

GM, Ford follow close behind as Toyota slides.

by on Jul.24, 2013

Shining bright: the Porsche Boxster was one of the highest-ranked models in the 2013 JD Power APEAL.

Volkswagen grabbed the top spot in the latest J.D. Power APEAL study, a survey that focuses on the things that surprise and delight car buyers rather than the problems that frustrate them. The German maker’s Porsche and Audi brands topped the annual report while five individual VW Group models led their individual product segments.

General Motors and Ford Motor Co. followed close behind. In fact, GM’s Chevrolet division had more segment winners than any other brand, a sudden surge that echoed Chevy’s unexpectedly strong performance in J.D. Power’s closely watched Initial Quality Survey, or IQS, last month.

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Another surprise came with the poor performance of Toyota. Though its premium Lexus division landed in fifth place in the latest APEAL study, the flagship Toyota brand came in fifth from the bottom, two spots lower than the Japanese maker’s youth-oriented Scion division.

Perhaps less unexpected was the continued dominance of well-equipped luxury vehicles over mainstream brands and products. Only a handful of non-luxury brands scored above the industry average and none landed in the Top 10.

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