May 13, 2003

Mexican auto plants outperform U.S. plants

Westlake Village, California – The initial quality level of vehicles produced at plants in Mexico and exported to the United States has surpassed that of vehicles manufactured at U.S. plants, according to the J.D. Power and Associates 2003 Initial Quality Study (IQS) released this week.

The study finds that initial quality of vehicles produced at plants in Mexico for the United States has improved a dramatic 35 percent in the past five years. This significantly outpaces the average five-year quality improvement of 19 percent among vehicles manufactured in the United States. While vehicles produced in the United States record an average initial quality score of 138 problems per 100 vehicles (PP100), vehicles produced at Mexican plants average 135 PP100. A lower PP100 score reflects better initial quality.

“The quality of Mexican-produced vehicles sold in the United States has become extremely competitive with American-produced vehicles,” said Brian Walters, director of product research at J.D. Power and Associates. “This kind of improvement doesn’t just happen overnight. It takes a concerted effort by the designers, engineers and assembly-line workers of both manufacturers and their suppliers.”

Plants in Mexico that performed particularly well in the study include General Motors’ Silao plant (121 PP100) and DaimlerChrysler’s Saltillo (127 PP100) and Toluca plants (131 PP100). Silao produces the Cadillac Escalade EXT, Chevrolet Avalanche and Suburban, and the GMC Yukon XL. In fact, the Chevrolet Suburban ranks highest among full-size SUVs in initial quality in the study, while the GMC Yukon ranks third in the segment. Saltillo produces the Dodge Ram Heavy-Duty pickup, which ranks third in the full-size pickup segment. Toluca produces the Chrysler PT Cruiser.

J.D. Power and Associates is currently evaluating whether to expand its quality and customer satisfaction research, long considered the global benchmark in the auto industry, into the Mexico market. Currently, there is no similar industry-wide benchmark to evaluate customers experiences with cars and light trucks sold in Mexico.

“Such a study will enable automakers to evaluate their performance relative to other brands in an increasingly competitive Mexican marketplace,” said John Humphrey, partner at J.D. Power and Associates.

The 2003 Initial Quality Study is based on responses from more than 52,000 purchasers and lessees of new 2003 model-year cars and trucks surveyed after 90 days of ownership. The industry benchmark study for new-vehicle initial quality is now in its 17th year.

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