New Vehicle Quality Improvements Stall, Koreans Still on Top With J.D. Power

Anthony Magagnoli
by Anthony Magagnoli
new vehicle quality improvements stall koreans still on top with j d power

J.D. Power’s 2019 Initial Quality Study (IQS) shows industry-wide problems per 100 vehicles (PP100) failing to improve for the first time since 2014. Genesis, Kia, and Hyundai take the top three spots, improving on their 2018 results, while 18 of the 32 brands studied declined.

Hyundai Motor Group’s brands

For instance, Ford’s scores suffered due to customer perception and understanding issues when they offered the double-clutch sequential-manual transmissions in the Fiesta. That’s not to mention how they were destroyed by reports of issues with early versions of the MyTouch infotainment system.

The industry is constantly evolving in their efforts to improve their survey scores. Dave Sargent, Vice President of Global Automotive at J.D. Power said, “Automakers continue to make progress in areas like infotainment that attract a lot of consumer attention. However, some traditional problems crept up this year including paint imperfections, brake and suspension noises, engines not starting and the ‘check engine’ light coming on early in the ownership experience. Also, more people are having issues with their advanced driver assistance systems, which are critical for building consumer trust in future automated vehicles.”

It used to be that Buick and Lexus topped the charts. Within the industry, it was commonly understood that the older buyers of these brands were commonly less discerning and thus easier on the survey scores. As those brands sought a younger median buyer age and offer the latest technologies, they must step up to those buyers’ expectations.

Korean brands seem to be effectively reusing the playbook that the Japanese brands wrote when they came to North America. Initial quality, both perceived and actual, lagged the established contenders. But, with focused efforts, they rose to the top and became the benchmark for quality. While the IQS survey does not paint a complete picture of quality and reliability, it is an indicator of the progress of brands.

Everyone should be paying attention to the improvements the Chinese brands have been making as well. I was paying attention when they first started bringing cars to the North American International Auto Show. I remember looking around and underneath them back in 2006. The primitive design and assembly quality were laughable. That evolved into decent pseudo-copies of respected cars and is now at a point that they cannot be disregarded.

Before you say that you can’t even buy a Chinese car in the U.S. yet, just look at who received a Silver award for 2019 Plant Assembly Line Quality… General Motors’ Yantai Dongyue 2, China (North), who makes the Buick Envision for the U.S.

For a full rundown of J.D. Power’s Initial Quality Study rankings, check out the website.

[Images: Genesis Motors; J.D. Power]

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2 of 46 comments
  • Sgeffe Sgeffe on Jun 21, 2019

    Three months doesn’t even cut it! If I get a call from D.J. Powerless in September asking about my Accord, I’ll ask them to call me in June, 2022 to get my opinion, then hang up!

  • El scotto El scotto on Jun 23, 2019

    Has anyone shown the result of J.D. Powers, Consumer Reports, and True Delta at the same time points? I have a sneaky feeling that anything 'Murican built with a frame and/or a V-8 will score quite well. For the rest; Japanese all the way. To be fair, and not forgetten, some of the Europeans may score well too. Than again, this is TTAC so test methodology will be questioned and we will be regaled with anecdotal stories of big 3 vehicles that went 300,00 miles with just oil changes and one set of new brake pads.

  • Del My father bought GM cars in the 60's, but in 1971 he gave me a used Datsun (as they were called back then), and I'm now in my 70's and am happy to say that GM has been absent from my entire adult life. This article makes me gladder than ever.
  • TheEndlessEnigma That's right GM, just keep adding to that list of reasons why I will never buy your products. This, I think, becomes reason number 69, right after OnStar-Cannot-Be-Disabled-And-It-Comes-Standard-Whether-Or-Not-You-Want-It and Screw-You-American-Car-Buyer-We-Only-Make-Trucks-And-SUVs.
  • 3SpeedAutomatic Does this not sound and feel like the dawn of ICE automobiles in the early 20th century, but at double or triple speed speed!!There were a bunch of independent car markers by the late 1910’s. By the mid 20’s, we were dropping down to 10 or 15 producers as Henry was slashing the price of the Model T. The Great Depression hit, and we are down to the big three and several independents. For EVs, Tesla bolted out of the gate, the small three are in a mad dash to keep up. Europe was caught flat footed due to the VW scandal. Lucid, Lordstown, & Rivian are scrambling to up production to generate cash. Now the EV leader has taken a page from the Model T and is slashing prices putting the rest of the EV market in a tail spin. Deja vu……
  • Michael Eck With those mods, I wonder if it's tuned...
  • Mike-NB2 I'm not a Jeep guy, but I really, really like the 1978 Jeep Cherokee 4xe concept.