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Lexus Tops Vehicle Dependability Study – But GM Narrows Gap

Today’s cars, in general, are lasting longer than ever.

by on Feb.13, 2013

The Lexus RX350 tops its segment in the VDS.

Today’s vehicles are more reliable than ever, according to a new study, though Lexus remains the king when it comes to long-term dependability.

Nonetheless, the gap between import and domestic brands continues to close, with General Motors giving close chase to Toyota and its luxury brand Lexus, finds the J.D. Power and Associates’ 2013 Vehicle Dependability Study.

“The continuous improvement in long-term dependability means consumers should have more confidence in three-year-old vehicles, whether they are keeping their current vehicle or shopping for a used car, truck, crossover or SUV,” says David Sargent, vice president of global automotive at J.D. Power and Associates, or JDPA.

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Based on the responses from 37,000 owners of 2010-model cars, trucks and crossovers, the annual study shows that the number of problems being reported has fallen five percent since the previous report, known by the shorthand VDS.  On average, there were 126 problems for every 100 vehicles, or 126 PP100 in Power-speak, down from 132 in the 2012 study.  That’s the lowest figure since Power launched the widely-quoted measure of vehicle reliability in 1989.


Toyota Leads as Vehicle Dependability, Overall, Rises Sharply

But perceptions still lag reality for many brands.

by on Feb.15, 2012

2010 Lexus LS 600h L

The 2009 Lexus LS was ranked tops by the latest JD Power Vehicle Dependability Study.

Toyota and its Lexus luxury brand dominate the latest Vehicle Dependability Study, according to J.D. Power and Associates, though the annual VDS study shows that today’s cars, on the whole, are proving more reliable than ever.

But the Power report also reveals that perceptions continue to lag reality for some brands that have made major gains in recent years.

Of the 32 brands covered by the 2012 Vehicle Dependability Study, 25 showed improvements year-over-year, with five declining and one holding steady.  What’s particularly significant is that the latest survey focuses on vehicles built during the depths of the automotive industry’s worst downturn in decades, said Power Vice President David Sargent.

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“Despite facing immense challenges in 2009, automakers placed a keen focus on delivering outstanding levels of quality, which they understood would be essential to their long-term success,” noted Sargent, adding that, “Three years later, owners of these models are enjoying unprecedented levels of vehicle dependability.”


First Look: 2011 Transit Connect Electric

Ford plugs in its first battery-electric vehicle.

by on Feb.09, 2010

The Transit Connect Electric will have a targeted range of up to 80 miles per full charge, and will be rechargeable using either 240-volt or standard 120-volt outlets.

It’ll take a keen eye to see what’s different when Ford unveils the latest version of its Transit Connect van at this week’s Chicago Auto Show.

The automaker has gone out of its way to show off the flexibility of the quirky vehicle, which was named North American Truck of the Year, last month, from mobile pet grooming vehicle to catering truck.  But with this particular version the clue is the small charge that replaces the Transit Connect’s conventional gasoline cap.

That’s because the Transit Connect electric will become the first new battery-electric vehicle, or BEV, in the Detroit maker’s line-up.  It’s a decidedly different approach than most of Ford’s competitors.  While most major automakers are plugging into what industry insiders have dubbed “electrification,” most are focusing on small city runabouts, like the Nissan Leaf.

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But, “We see growing demand for these vehicles in commercial fleets,” says Scott Harrison, CEO of Azure Dynamics, the suburban Detroit firm that has partnered with Ford to develop the battery-powered version of the Transit Connect.


Toyota Snubbed in New Total Value Index

Japanese maker fails to lead a single segment.

by on Nov.23, 2009

The 2009 Volkswagen CC was the highest-rated vehicle in the new Total Value Index, VW fielding 5 segment-winning products - as did Ford.

The 2009 Volkswagen CC was the highest-rated vehicle in the new Total Value Index, VW fielding 5 segment-winning products - as did Ford.

As if the Japanese automaker didn’t have enough problems with recalls, lawsuits and slumping sales, now Toyota has been shut out, failing to field a single segment leader in the latest Total Value Index, from California market research firm Strategic Vision.

“A revolution,” is how the company describes the snub in the annual TVI is designed to measure not just quality but buyer perceptions about the value and features delivered by their automobiles.  While some quality leaders, such as Honda, did well in the Total Value Index, the study also rewarded some manufacturers, such as Volkswagen, who have traditionally suffered from reliability issues but which consumers often see as offset by fun-to-drive factors. In fact, VW tied with Ford – which has also scored well in recent quality surveys – for the most segment wins in the new Strategic Vision study.

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“Durability alone and simply satisfying customers is not enough for buyers who demand both immediate and long term ‘Value,’” explained Alexander Edwards, President Strategic Vision. That is likely to translate into a continuing shift in purchase patterns, Edwards suggested, noting, “Customers no longer feel constrained to consider only the ‘usual suspects.’”