New-Vehicle Owners in Japan Less Satisfied with Hybrid Quality

Atsushi Kawahashi

Owners of new hybrid vehicles in Japan indicate that their “green” vehicles meet expectations about fuel economy, but also say they have problems with the design of their hybrid vehicle controls and displays, according to our 2011 Japan Initial Quality Study (IQS), which is based on responses from more than 8,700 new-vehicle buyers during the first 2 to 9 months of vehicle ownership. The 2011 Japan IQS identifies problems in two distinct categories—quality of design, and defects and malfunctions—as measured by the number of problems reported per 100 vehicles (PP100).*

In this year’s study, 13% of new-vehicle owners in Japan say they own a hybrid. In addition, among owners of midsize models, nearly 50% own hybrids. As expected, almost 40% of hybrid-vehicle owners say they “strongly agree” that fuel economy is the most important factor when choosing a vehicle, which is twice as high as the percentage of non-hybrid-vehicle owners that puts fuel economy at the top of their list.

However, hybrid-vehicle owners also say they experience more problems than non-hybrid owners in two of the nine initial quality categories measured— audio/entertainment/navigation and features/controls/displays. Many of these hybrid owners reported problems related to design flaws in controls and displays and also said that features/controls/displays were not user friendly. Since a significant percentage of hybrid-vehicle owners are middle-aged and older, it will be critical for manufacturers to develop features, controls and displays that owners across a wide age range can operate without problems. Continue reading ›