Westlake Village, California – New vehicles sold by Chrysler, Ford and General Motors’ domestic brands have improved in initial quality by an average of 10 per cent over 2008, surpassing the eight per cent industry improvement overall, according to the J.D. Power and Associates 2009 Initial Quality Study.

Overall, the industry average for initial quality is 108 problems per 100 vehicles (PP100) in 2009, down from 118 PP100 in 2008. Initial quality for domestic brands has improved from 124 PP100 in 2008 to an average of 112 PP100 in 2009. A lower PP100 score indicates a lower rate of problem incidences and higher quality.

“Even in the face of unprecedented challenges, the Detroit automakers are keeping their focus on designing and building high-quality vehicles, which is a precondition for long-term success,” said David Sargent, vice-president of automotive research. “High quality generally translates into reduced re-engineering costs and lower warranty expenses during a vehicle’s life cycle. High quality also enhances an automaker’s reputation for reliability, which is a critical purchase consideration for many consumers.”

Many import brands continued to perform well in 2009. Lexus leads the overall nameplate rankings, averaging 84 PP100, followed by Porsche, Cadillac (1oth in 2008 to third in 2009), Hyundai (13th in 2008 to fourth in 2009) and Honda in the top five. Suzuki posted the largest improvement in ranking, moving from 32nd place in 2008 to ninth in 2009.

The study found that initial quality for newly-launched and redesigned models in 2009 has improved compared with previous years when, historically, all-new models typically launched with below-average levels of initial quality. Several all-new models in 2009 performed considerably better than their respective segment averages, including the Hyundai Genesis, Kia Borrego, Toyota Venza and Volkswagen Passat CC. Many redesigned models in 2009 also showed notable improvement from the previous generation, particularly the Acura TL, Ford F-150, Honda Pilot and Nissan Z.

Toyota Motor Corporation took 10 segment awards, more than any other in the 2009 study, including five for Lexus, four for Toyota, and one for Scion. The Lexus LX has the fewest quality problems in the industry, with just 52 PP100. Lexus received awards for the IS, GS, GX, LS and LX, while Toyota received awards for the Sienna, Yaris, and in a tie in their respective segments, the 4Runner and Yaris.

Ford received three awards, for the Mustang, and in a tie in their respective segments, the Edge and F-150. Nissan received two for the Altima and Z, and Honda took two for the Ridgeline and, in a tie, the CR-V. Other segment winners included the Chevrolet Trailblazer (in a tie), Chrysler PT Cruiser (in a tie), GMC Yukon, Hyundai Elantra Sedan, Mercury Sable and Scion tC.

Among assembly plants, Toyota’s facility in Higashi-Fuji, Japan took the Platinum Plant Quality Award for producing vehicles yielding the fewest defects and malfunctions. The plant produces the Lexus SC 430 and Toyota Corolla, and overall averaged just 29 PP100. Plant awards are based solely on average levels of defects and malfunctions, and exclude design-related problems.

Among North and South American plants, the Honda plant in East Liberty, Ohio took the Gold Plant Quality Award; it produces the Civic sedan, CR-V and Element. General Motors’ plant in Oshawa, Ontario, which builds the Buick Allure and Chevrolet Impala, took the Silver Plant Quality Award. Other Canadian plants finishing in the Top 15 were Toyota’s plant in Cambridge, Ontario, and GM’s plant in Ingersoll, Ontario.

In the Europe and Africa region, Daimler’s plant in East London, South Africa took the Gold Plant Quality Award. It produces the Mercedes-Benz C-Class.

Connect with Autos.ca