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 ›

India Needs Better Port Infrastructure to Expand Exports

India aims to become a major worldwide exporter of mini cars and sub-compact models. However, the country needs to improve its port infrastructure to fulfill this ambitious goal. Although there are 13 major ports in India, many of them are unable to handle an increase in capacity. In fact, India ranks 83rd (out of 139 nations) for the quality of its port infrastructure, according to the World Economic Forum’s Global Competitiveness Index 2010-2011.

Ammar Master

India’s government recognizes this bottleneck and has earmarked INR 50 billion (US $1.07 billion) worth of tax-free bonds for the development of major ports in the financial year ending March 2012. India’s Ministry of Shipping will bid on as many as 23 projects worth INR 170 billion (US $3.7 billion) this year.

In addition, the Ministry aims to create seven new ports by 2017, with a public and private investment of INR 350 billion (US $7.6 billion). Under India’s Maritime Agenda 2020, the goal is to increase capacity at India’s ports to three billion tons at an investment cost of INR 3 trillion (US$ 65 billion).

All of this looks very impressive on paper, but the important question is how quickly these plans will be translated into completed projects on the ground. In the past, such massive infrastructure projects have been overset with delays.

Perhaps, this is why Maruti Suzuki decided to make its own investment in a dedicated car-handling facility at Mundra Port in 2008, just before it started exporting its A-Star (sold as the Alto) to Europe. Similarly, Hyundai built a multi-level car park at the Chennai Port to enhance the capacity of its car terminal at that port. Continue reading ›