J.D. Power published its 2013 Initial Quality Study IQS, and a miracle happened: Chevrolet jumped 10 spots to number 5. The GMC brand even sits in #2. In the real world, that puts GMC and Chevrolet in Place 2, along with Lexus and Infiniti.
When I interpreted these results in the olden days to a client, I told them not to read too much into the actual ranking. Place 6 and 16 are less than 7 percent apart, which is probably close to the precision of these studies.
I see six places, and they are on the chart. Others may see more.
The rankings have to be taken with even more than the usual grain of salt, because quality improved drastically. J.D. Power had to make new rules to stay in business. Only a third of the problems measured are actual malfunctions. Most of them are gripes, “because it may be difficult to understand or operate” a part of the car, as J,D. Power says.
An entertainment system that needs a little getting used to can send a car to the bottom rungs of the study. Brands that have a high rate of conquests are especially susceptible, as customers need to re-learn clicks and buttons.
All of GM’s brands, including Cadillac and Buick, performed better than the industry average. GM cars and trucks won eight top prizes as the best vehicles in their segments.
Probably very shockingly for Toyota, its Scion brand is in the dead last spot. This will cause serious discussions in Toyota-shi. I remember when Volkswagen was close to that spot, and there weren’t enough fingers in Wolfsburg to supply the massive finger-pointing. Surprisingly, it was no career killer: Volkswagen’s Martin Winterkorn was head of quality assurance in those dark days. He was promoted to head of R&D and later to CEO.