The quality gap between domestic and foreign automakers has pretty much closed, but Asian brands still dominate in “value-related” segments while Europeans topped the luxury arena, according to Strategic Vision’s Total Quality Impact results.
Overall, Ford, General Motors, Fiat Chrysler and Tesla captured 16 segments, edging out their foreign competition. It’s the second time in the last four years that has happened, and largely because domestic automakers continue to produce innovative technologies appreciated by consumers.
“We see time and again that for consumers, innovation does more to communicate quality than an absence of problems does,” said Christopher Chaney, senior vice president at Strategic Vision.
New technology, significantly improve products or new models to fill a need, all garnered positive responses from consumers, officials noted.
“The future of quality that is meaningful to buyers will reach beyond ‘no squeaks and rattles’ and reside in the successful deployment of engineering innovation and technology that is relevant, intuitive, and impactful,” the company said in a release.
The TQI broken down by segments for different types of vehicles as well as by corporation and brands. The corporation and brand winners for 2016 are:
- Brand under $26k: Fiat and Kia
- Mass-market brand: Buick and Subaru
- Luxury brand: BMW
- Corporation: Ford Motor Co. and General Motors Co.
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“BMW, which was the Best Luxury Brand, has hit its stride with its hatchback and crossover offerings,” the company noted. “The 3-Series Gran Turismo, X4, and X6 all won Total Quality Awards, and the X1, X3, and X5 were near the top of their segments.”
One of the vehicles that help push Ford to top of the corporation segment was the new F-150 full-size pickup. Using military grade aluminum to cut more than 700 pounds out of the body, helped improve fuel efficiency as well as increase acceleration.
“Some auto manufacturers are hoping that attack ads on the Ford F-150 will convince shoppers of the lack of quality, hoping for similar success in election commercials,” says Strategic Vision President Alexander Edwards.
“However, the Ford F-150 has provided a quality product combined with a strong positive emotional experience that makes it a leader. Ford buyers will continue to cast their vote with the F-150.”
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Ford took four segment wins Small APT Car (C-Max Energi), Near-Luxury APT Car (Lincoln MKZ hybrid), Standard Convertible (Ford Mustang convertible) and Full-Size Pickup (F-150).
However, it was GM products with seven segment wins setting the pace, including Mid-size APT car (Chevy Volt), Premium coupe (Chevrolet Corvette), Premium convertible/roadster (Chevrolet Corvette convertible), Standard Pickup (GMC Canyon), Heavy Duty pickup (GMC Sierra 2500/3500), Full-size utility (Chevrolet Tahoe) and Luxury CUV (Cadillac Escalade).
With 28 different awards for individual vehicles, only one can be the best and this year’s “Best Model” was the Tesla Model S.
The electric performance car consistently reinforces the fact that according to consumers, quality is far more than simply a lack of problems, the company said. The Model S does have its share of minor issues, but the innovation and excitement of the product overpowers any lasting negative feelings regarding those issues.
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“Even the way Tesla fixes problems often turns a product drawback into a benefit,” said Karl Miller, director of Marketing at Strategic Vision. “To be able to fix problems and add features through a software download overnight instead of a trip to the dealer is a powerful tool. In many cases, it actually enhances their confidence in the product more than if the problem had never existed in the first place.”