Heavens! Car Quality Slips, Survey Says

Bertel Schmitt
by Bertel Schmitt

Cars are getting better and better. But wait! For the first time since 2007, the quality of new cars and trucks sold in the US slipped! OMG! Let’s hunt down the villains … (Quality of your brand after the jump.)

J.D.Power released its U.S. Initial Quality Study (IQS). Says JDP:

“Overall, the industry average for initial quality is 109 problems per 100 vehicles (PP100) in 2010, increasing slightly from 108 PP100 in 2009. However, initial quality for domestic brands as a whole has improved by 4 PP100 in 2010 to an average of 108 PP100-slightly better than the initial quality of import brands, which averages 109 PP100 in 2010.”

Understood? No?

Last year it was 108 complaints per 100 cars. This year it’s 109.

So who’s the oinker that ruined the stats? Could only be one company: “Dragged down by Toyota Motor Corp., the quality of new cars and trucks sold in the United States slipped slightly this year,” writes Automotive News [sub].

A check of the JDP press release doesn’t bear that out, at least not at first glance. It states that “Toyota’s problem count increases by 16 PP100, moving it from sixth rank position in 2009 to 21st in 2010.” Ouch. That should create trouble in Tokyo.

“Clearly, Toyota has endured a difficult year,” said David Sargent, vice president of global vehicle research at J.D. Power and Associates. “Recent consumer concerns regarding Toyota’s quality are reflected in the nameplate’s performance in the 2010 study. That said, Toyota’s success was built on a well-deserved reputation for quality, and there is little doubt that they will do everything possible to regain that reputation.”

Detroit’s carmakers have to that Ford for catching up with their import rivals. Ford is on behind Porsche, Acura, Mercedes and Lexus. Lincoln is on place 8. The rest of the Detroit gang is still below industry average.

2010 J.D. Power IQS Nameplate Ranking

RankNameplateProblems per 100 vehicles1Porsche832Acura863Mercedes-Benz874Lexus885Ford936Honda957Hyundai1028Lincoln1069Infiniti10710Volvo109Industry Average10911Ram11012Audi11113Cadillac11114Chevrolet11115Nissan11116BMW11317Mercury11318Buick11419Mazda11420Scion11421Toyota11722Subaru12123Chrysler12224Suzuki12225GMC12626Kia12627Jeep12928Dodge13029Jaguar13030Mini13331Volkswagen13532Mitsubishi14633Land Rover170

It will be a rude awakening in Wolfsburg tomorrow, when Martin Winterkorn will call a meeting of all chiefs and ask them how in the world it could happen that VW is near the bottom of the verdammte list, schon wieder!

I know what the answer will be, I was in those meetings: “Look, Herr Doktor, we know it looks bad. But if you analyze the numbers, we are less than 24 percent below industry average, and if you apply a margin of error of 5 percent, we could be better than Jaguar. Nicht wahr?” It’s not going to work. It never did.

Bertel Schmitt
Bertel Schmitt

Bertel Schmitt comes back to journalism after taking a 35 year break in advertising and marketing. He ran and owned advertising agencies in Duesseldorf, Germany, and New York City. Volkswagen A.G. was Bertel's most important corporate account. Schmitt's advertising and marketing career touched many corners of the industry with a special focus on automotive products and services. Since 2004, he lives in Japan and China with his wife <a href="http://www.tomokoandbertel.com"> Tomoko </a>. Bertel Schmitt is a founding board member of the <a href="http://www.offshoresuperseries.com"> Offshore Super Series </a>, an American offshore powerboat racing organization. He is co-owner of the racing team Typhoon.

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  • Gottleib Gottleib on Jun 18, 2010

    New car purchases: 67 VW, 71 240Z, 76 Buick,78 VW Rabbit, 83 Camry, 90 Saab, 00 VW Passat, 04 Honda. The only one that had any warranty work in the first year was the Honda, replacement of power steering pump. All my other car purchases were used cars out of warranty. Guess I beat the odds as presented by JD Power and Associates.

  • George70steven George70steven on Nov 24, 2010

    If you are looking for what vehicle will turn out to cost you the least amount of headaches/money down the road, the IQS is irrelevant. It’s also a very marketable statistic assuming it’s better than average–and it just happens to be a method that every significant manufacturer worldwide uses. car insurance quote

  • 3-On-The-Tree Lou_BCsame here I grew up on 2-stroke dirt bikes had a 1985 Yamaha IT200 2-strokes then a 1977 Suzuki GT750 2-stroke 750 streetike fast forward to 2002 as a young flight school Lieutenant I bought a 2002 suzuki Hayabusa 1300 up in Huntsville Alabama. Still have that bike.
  • Milton Rented one for about a month. Very solid EV. Not as fun as my Polestar, but for a go to family car, solid. Practical EV ownership is only made possible with a home charger.
  • J Love mine, but the steering wheel blocks dashboard a bit, can't see turn signals nor headlights icons. They could use the upper corners of the screen for the turn signals. Mileage is much lower than shown too, disappointing
  • Aja8888 NO!
  • OrpheusSail I once did. My first four cars were American made, and through an odd set of circumstances surrounding a divorce, I wound up with a '95 Nissan Maxima which was fourteen years old and had about 150,000 miles on it.It was drove better, had an amazing engine, and was more reliable than any of my American cars. This included a new '95 GMC pickup that went through five alternators in under two years while the dealership insisted that there was no underlying electrical problem while they tried to run the clock on the warranty.That was the end of 'buy American'. I've bought from Honda and VW since, and I'll consider just about anything except American now.