Initial Quality in Malaysia Advances for Fourth Straight Year

Malaysia, PenangFor a fourth consecutive year, overall new-vehicle initial quality in Malaysia improves significantly, according to the 2013 Malaysia Initial Quality Study (IQS), based on responses from more than 3,100 new-vehicle buyers during the first two to six months of ownership.*

The 2013 Malaysia IQS findings are encouraging because the automotive market in Malaysia is becoming increasingly competitive with a rising number of new models, which makes it essential for brands to produce high-quality cars and trucks. Continue reading ›

J.D. Power’s President Discusses Good News for China’s Auto Industry; Presents Awards


Executives from 14 of China’s automakers attended a J.D. Power Asia Pacific presentation and awards ceremony in Shanghai. Finbarr O’Neill, president of J.D.Power and Associates (center) spoke at the event.

During the past decade, the auto industry in China has achieved exponential sales growth and also has made significant strides in improving . . . Continue Reading J.D. Power’s President Discusses Good News for China’s Auto Industry; Presents Awards

Gap Continues to Diminish Between Vehicle Initial Quality and Dependability


David Sargent

The dependability of vehicles in the U.S. market continues to improve, according to J.D. Power research as illustrated by the shrinking of the gap between initial quality of new models that are now three years old, according to our 2013 U.S. Vehicle Dependability Study (VDS), which is based on responses from more than 37,000 original owners of 2010 model-year vehicles after three years of ownership.

The industry average score gap between initial quality and dependability of models that are now three years old has narrowed to just 17 problems per 100 vehicles (PP100). Overall dependability is determined by the number of problems experienced per 100 vehicles, with a lower score reflecting higher quality.

In 2013, overall vehicle dependability averages 126 PP100—a 5% improvement from the 2012 average of 132 PP100—and is the lowest problem count since the inception of the study in 1989. Among brands measured in the study, 21 of the 31 included improve in dependability from 2012.

It’s also noteworthy this year in our VDS that the domestic and the Japanese brands achieve the largest year-over-year advances in dependability—each improve by 6% from 2012. Continue reading ›

Shoppers Consider More New Models as Reliability Concerns Fade

Jon Osborn

Vehicle initial quality and vehicle dependability have been improving across the industry during the past few years, according to our studies, which has led to new-vehicle shoppers considering a higher number of models before making their purchase decision, our 2013 Avoider Study finds. This study examines why consumers decide not to consider a certain model when shopping for a new vehicle.

On average, new-vehicle buyers actually shopped 3.3 models at the dealership in 2013, which is up from an average 2.9 just two years ago (in 2010). This average includes the purchaser’s selected model. In addition, 79% of shoppers cross-shopped the vehicle that they purchased compared with 74% in 2012 and 71% in 2009.

This year, only 17% of new-vehicle shoppers avoided a model based on its reputation of reliability, compared with 19% in 2012 and 21% just four years ago. Continue reading ›

Will Datsun Return as a Low-Cost Brand?

Tim Dunne

Editor’s note: Recently, Nissan CEO Carlos Ghosn and other company executives told The Wall Street Journal and other media outlets that the company has plans to revive the Datsun brand as the marque for a line of low-priced cars in emerging markets. As many as six Datsun models could be introduced in 2014, according to a Journal article, “For Datsun Revival, A $3,000 Gamble,” which points out that Nissan is hoping to set new lows for pricing, and will offer the cheapest Datsun model for about $3,000 to $5,000. This price range is below all but a handful of models available in China, India and Mexico markets. Tim Dunne, J.D. Power global analyst and Asia expert, offers some insight on the project:

A Perspective on the Datsun Venture for Emerging Markets

In the past, Datsun was a much-loved sports car brand. However, it’s been 30 years since the Datsun brand has been marketed, so the number of people familiar with the brand is relatively low. So, how much value is there to resurrecting the Datsun name? No one really knows. Second, adding another brand imposes all types of extra cost and complexity to a company. It means forming complete new teams in every department to oversee and carry out operations.

Still, the idea could be a good one if Nissan can deliver a bare bones vehicle that is bulletproof in quality and easy to maintain—and available at an inexpensive price. But it is difficult to engineer quality on the cheap. And it’s difficult to do it profitably—that is the big thing. Nissan may be able to offer quality Datsun vehicles, but can they make money while doing it?

In addition, it could easily cost Nissan one billion dollars to launch a new car if there is a new engine, transmission, greenfield plant, production tooling, design and engineering. Perhaps the strategy is to move buyers up the automotive brand chain from Datsun to Nissan and then to Infiniti, but we cannot be sure that strategy will be successful. If price is the key selling point for Datsun, Nissan doesn’t hold that same advantage when you move up to its target segment—where everyone is priced relatively the same, and quality and accessories also are similar. Continue reading ›

Medium-Duty Truck Satisfaction is Flat despite Better Quality and Fuel Economy

Brent Gruber

Advances in fuel economy and quality of medium-duty trucks were unable to offset increases in the cost of managing truck fleets, which negatively impacted overall satisfaction, according to results in our 2012 U.S. Medium-Duty Truck Customer Satisfaction Study, which is based on responses from principal maintainers of model-year 2011 class 5-7 conventional cab medium-duty trucks.

This year, customer satisfaction with medium-duty trucks* remains flat at 757 (on a 1,000-point scale), the same as in 2011, despite reported fuel economy improvements (up 12% from last year) and a step-up in quality with the number of problems per 100 trucks (PP100) declining an average of 18 PP100 from 141 PP100 in 2011 to 123 PP100 this year. Overall, Class 5 trucks continue to have the highest quality levels, averaging just 86 PP100.

Higher fuel and truck prices negatively impacted satisfaction this year, pushing principal maintainers to look at other cost savings options. However, our study results indicate that these fleet maintainers have concerns about new alternative fuel technology. Continue reading ›

Premium Brand Audio Systems Boost Satisfaction in Multimedia System Study

Mike VanNieuwkuyk

Satisfaction among new-vehicle owners who select a premium brand audio system is more than one point higher, on average, than among those owners who do not choose this option—8.4 points vs. 7.3 points on a 10-point scale—according to our 2012 U.S. Multimedia Quality and Satisfaction Study, which is based on responses from more than 74,000 new-vehicle owners who purchased or leased a 2012 model-year vehicle.

More than one-half of vehicle owners (53%) indicate they have a premium-branded audio system in their vehicle and nearly all of those owners (96%) want a premium-branded audio system again in their next vehicle. In addition to premium-branded audio systems, four other multimedia features or systems positively impact owner satisfaction by at least one-half point:

• Steering wheel controls for audio system

• Satellite radio

• Navigation system

• MP3-capable CD player

The positive impact of premium audio features and options on satisfaction demonstrates the desire for more advanced, functional and personalized media technologies. Yet, as overall customer interest in new media technologies grows, so do expectations that these technologies will be included in their next vehicle. This shift in expectations is evident in the top five features that most positively impact satisfaction. Continue reading ›

Two Suppliers Rank Highest in Seat Quality Rankings

Avanzar Interior Technologies, Ltd.—a U.S. joint venture between Johnson Controls and SAT Auto Technologies, Ltd.—and Japan’s TS Tech Co., Ltd. earn the highest quality rankings in the J.D. Power and Associates 2012 U.S. Seat Quality and Satisfaction Study.SM

Both seat suppliers receive the lowest number of problems per 100 vehicles (PP100)— 3.3 PP100 in . . . Continue Reading Two Suppliers Rank Highest in Seat Quality Rankings

China’s Government Purchase Rules: A Sweet Deal for Domestics?

Jenny Gu

Earlier this year, China’s Ministry of Industry and Information Technology (MIIT) released its list of approved vehicles for government purchase. The list caused quite a stir because all 412 models included are from China’s domestic brands. International media have been critical of the list, and some have even said it violated WTO principles. Jenny Gu, senior analyst with LMC Automotive,* which has a strategic alliance with J.D. Power, points out that the policy is in line with public opinion in China, and does not violate WTO principles.

A few excerpts from Ms. Gu’s perspective in a recent issue of China Automotive Monthly—Market Trends about the reality and ramifications of the new policy are highlighted:

“This policy is in line with public opinion, whereby government purchases require greater scrutiny and more cost controls. After all, it seems unreasonable to use taxpayers’ money to buy luxury cars for a small group of public officials. However, to become a supplier of official vehicles in China, a company does not need to be a Chinese brand, but the three conditions are difficult for foreign brands to meet:

• Vehicles sold for official purposes, such as tax collection or criminal investigation, must have an engine size of 1.8 liters or below.

• These vehicles must cost no more than 180,000 yuan (US $28,571).

• The manufacturer must have spent no less than 3% of their core revenue on research and development in China in the past two years.

“The first two conditions block luxury brands such as Audi and BMW, which typically have large engine-displacement, expensive vehicles. However, it is the third condition that all foreign brands struggle to meet. Continue reading ›

Cadillac, MINI Brands Recognized for Outstanding Customer Service

David Sargent

This week during the opening ceremonies of the New York International Auto Show, J.D. Power presented plaques to executives from Cadillac and MINI to recognize their strong improvement in the quality, dependability and appeal of their vehicle models and for the dealership experience during the past three years.*

Cadillac was singled . . . Continue Reading Cadillac, MINI Brands Recognized for Outstanding Customer Service