June 7, 2007

Six Canadian-made models perform well in initial quality study, says J.D. Power

Toronto, Ontario – Three Canadian-made vehicle models received segment awards, and three additional Canadian-made models ranked within the top three in their respective segments, according to the new J.D. Power and Associates 2007 U.S. Initial Quality Study.

The segment leaders were the Honda Civic, built in Alliston, Ontario, for compact car; the Lexus RX 350, built in Cambridge, Ontario, for midsize premium multi-activity vehicle; and the Pontiac Grand Prix, built in Oshawa, Ontario, for large car. The Toyota Corolla, built in Cambridge, ranked second for compact car; the Honda Ridgeline, built in Alliston, ranked second for midsize pickup; and the Chevrolet Monte Carlo, built in Oshawa, ranked third in the midsize sporty segment.

Of the North and South American plants studied, four Canadian plants ranked in the top fifteen in terms of initial quality: General Motors’ Oshawa 2 plant, which received the Silver Plant Quality Award; Toyota’s Cambridge plant; General Motors’ Oshawa 1 plant; and Ford Motor Company’s St. Thomas, Ontario plant. The number is slightly decreased from the 2006 study, when six Canadian plants ranked in the top fifteen.

For the first time since 1999, a North American assembly plant received the Platinum Plant Quality Award for producing vehicles yielding the fewest defects: Ford’s Wixom, Michigan plant, which produced the Lincoln Town Car, averaged 35 problems per 100 vehicles. (Ironically, production at Wixom was recently halted, and Town Car production will move to St. Thomas, Ontario.) American Honda’s East Liberty, Ohio plant, which produces the Civic and Element, earned the Bronze Plant Quality Award. Plant awards are based solely on defect scores.

“The results of the study indicate that the level of competition among Canadian plants to build quality vehicles continues to intensify,” says Richard Cooper, vice-president of J.D. Power and Associates’ Canadian operations. “The significance for Canada is that we cannot afford to be complacent with the status quo. If we expect to continue to attract investment in auto and parts manufacturing, our claim to quality needs to be demonstrated in the experiences of customers who buy new vehicles.”

In the Asia Pacific region, Toyota’s Kyushu, Japan plant received the Gold Plant Quality Award; the facility builds the Lexus ES 350, Lexus IS 250/350, Lexus RX 350, Lexus RX 400h and Toyota Highlander/Highlander Hybrid. Silver went to Toyota’s Fujimatsu, Japan plant, which builds the Toyota Prius; Bronze was shared between Honda’s Sayama, Japan and Suzuka, Japan plants, which produce the Acura RL, Acura TSX, Honda Accord sedan and hybrid and Honda CR-V; and the Honda Civic sedan and hybrid, Fit and S2000, respectively.

For Europe, the Gold Plant award went to BMW’s Regensburg, Germany plant, which produces the 3 Series coupe and sedan. Silver went to Mercedes-Benz’s Sindelfingen, Germany plant, which builds the C-Class, CL-Class, CLS-Class, E-Class sedan and wagon, and S-Class. Bronze went to Audi’s Neckarsulm, Germany plant, which produces the A6 avant and sedan, A8 sedan, RS 4 sedan, S6 sedan and S8 sedan.

The Initial Quality Study is measured at 90 days of ownership and targets problems experienced by owners in two distinct categories of quality of design, and quality of production (defects and malfunctions). The study is based on responses from more than 97,000 purchasers and lessees of new 2007 model-year cars and trucks.

Ford took five top model segment awards, more than any other automaker this year, for the Ford Mustang, Lincoln Mark LT, Lincoln MKZ, Mazda MX-5 Miata and Mercury Milan. Mercedes-Benz and Toyota took three segments each, for the E-Class, SL-Class and S-Class, and the 4Runner, Sequoia and Tacoma, respectively. The S-Class tied with the Audi 8 for having the fewest quality problems in the industry, with 72 problems per 100 vehicles (PP100).

For the second consecutive year, Porsche topped the overall nameplate rankings, averaging 91 PP100, followed by Lexus, Lincoln, Honda and Mercedes-Benz. Honda, with the fewest PP100 among non-premium brands, improved in the ranking from sixth to fourth, and earned awards for the Civic and CR-V. Among non-premium brands, Kia posted the largest improvement in ranking, from 24th in 2006 to 12th in 2007, and earning an award for the Kia Rio/Rio5 for the second year in a row. The most improved nameplates in the study were Land Rover (an increase in initial quality by 34 PP100), Saab (improving by 30 PP100) and Mercedes-Benz (increasing by 28 PP100). For more detailed findings, visit JDPower.com.

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