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Reliability Woes Worsen, Warns New J.D. Power Study

Tech issues now make up 20% of reported problems.

by on Feb.24, 2016

Lexus topped the J.D. Power Vehicle Dependability Study, the 2013 GS also a segment winner.

Two things seem to be true about the newest cars coming to market these days: they’re likely to have lots more high-tech features than the vehicles they replace. But they’re also likely to have more reliability issues, largely as a result of problems with those new tech features, according to J.D. Power’s 2016 Vehicle Dependability Study.

The VDS queried owners of 2013 model-year vehicles and found that, on average, dependability dropped 3% year-over-year. It found that one in five of the problems owners reported involved audio, communication, entertainment and navigation technology. Collectively known by the acronym ACEN, these systems are, collectively, the single largest source of trouble owners reported.

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“The increase in technology-related problems has two sources,” said Renee Stephens, vice president of U.S. automotive research at J.D. Power. “Usability problems that customers reported during their first 90 days of ownership are still bothering them three years later in ever-higher numbers. At the same time, the penetration of these features has increased year over year.”


Supplier Fire Shuts Down Kia’s Georgia Plant

by on Mar.19, 2012

A partially assembled Optima rolls down the line at the Kia plant in West Point, Georgia.

A fire at a key supplier plant has forced Kia to temporarily suspend production at its own factory in West Point, Georgia.

Even a brief shutdown is a potentially serious problem for the Korean carmaker as it has already been struggling to meet demand for products such as the midsize Optima sedan and Sorrento SUV, both produced at the Georgia facility.  The fire also complicates matters for Kia’s Korean sibling, as that assembly line also produces some of Hyundai’s Santa Fe sport-utility vehicles.

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Kia confirms it does not expect to resume production at the Georgia plant until the start of the first shift on Wednesday, according to a statement.

The maker declined to discuss details of the fire but wire reports indicate the problem follows a fire at a nearby factory operated by Korean supplier Daehan Solution.  The parts maker has not responded to an request for comment.


VW Net Down Sharply but German Maker Targets Big Increase in 2012 Sales

Cost controls called critical as European market tumbles.

by on Mar.12, 2012

VW is betting it can beat last year's sales record with new products like the Audi A3.

Despite a sharp drop in its fourth-quarter earnings and the worsening situation in its European home market, Volkswagen AG today predicted it will see a substantial rise in sales and revenues for 2012 as it brings an array of new products to market.

But cost management will be critical because the maker admitted it is facing “increasingly stiff competition in a challenging market environment, especially in certain European countries.”

Buried amidst the maker’s overall financial data was word that VW would nearly double the pay for its various board members, to $93 million.

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The German giant – which surged to second in global automotive unit sales last year, behind General Motors and ahead of Toyota – revealed that net earnings for the October – December quarter fell by nearly a third, to 2.16 billion Euros, or $2.8 billion, down from 3.2 million Euros the year before.


Kia Uncovers a Quartet of New Products in New York – and Promises More

Korean maker aiming for big bump with 2011 Optima, exploring wagon options with Forte 5-door.

by on Apr.01, 2010

Kia has big expectations for its 2011 Optima midsize sedan, one of four new models unveiled at the New York Auto Show.

Aiming to build on its current momentum, Kia rolled out a quartet of new products at the New York International Auto Show – and promised more will soon follow, including the brand’s first hybrid-electric vehicle.

The most significant of the new offerings on display at Jacob Javits Center is the 2011 Kia Optima, an all-new update of the Korean carmaker’s midsize sedan.  Like its sibling brand, Hyundai, Kia has been putting an increasing premium on styling, and the ’11 Optima is no exception.

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“This is a design to be benchmarked in the future,” declared Peter Schreyer, the German designer who has been leading the automaker’s move towards more expressive styling.  If anything, said several observers, after the news conference, the 2011 Kia Optima is more up-market and distinctive than the well-reviewed new Hyundai Sonata.


Ford Betting Big on Ecoboost

Automaker will offer new, high-mileage engine in 90% of its global models.

by on Apr.02, 2009

Sho-off: with the addition of an Ecoboost V-6, expect the 2010 Ford Taurus SHO to be one of the fastest offerings in its segment.

Sho-off: with the addition of an Ecoboost V-6, expect the 2010 Ford Taurus SHO to be one of the fastest offerings in its segment.

Ford Motor Company is betting big on its new Ecoboost engine, planning to offer variants of the high-mileage engine in 90% of its global vehicle lines, company officials reveal.

The first version of Ecoboost, a twin-turbocharged V-6, will make its debut, later this year, on four high-profile products: the Ford Flex, the new high-performance Taurus SHO, and the Lincoln MKS sedan and MKT crossover.  The following year, Ford will add the 3.5-liter V-6 as an option on its big F-Series pickups.  And confirming long-standing expectations, Ford officials confirm that a 4-cylinder version of the high-mileage engine will appear in the relatively near future.

Click Here to Subscribe to TDBWhile Ford is expanding its line-up of hybrid-electric vehicles, and developing new plug-in hybrid-electric vehicles, or HEVs, and battery-electric vehicles, “Ecoboost is the foundation of our gasoline technology” going forward, explains Barb Samardzich, Ford’s Vice President of Powertrain Development.

For the 2010 Calendar-Year, Samardzich noted, Ecoboost will be offered in 23% of Ford’s many models.  By 2013, that will jump to 90%.  Buyers will typically have other options – in products like Flex and the MKS, the Ecoboost will be the high-line option, and carry a still-unspecified price premium.  But going forward, the I-4 version could become the mainstay in high-mileage Ford products.  As a result, the automaker expects to sell 1.3 million vehicles equipped with the technology, in 2013, nearly half of those in the U.S.