May 30, 2002

Toyota, GM, big winners in J.D. Power and Associates Initial Quality Study

Westlake Village, California – J.D. Power and Associates 2002 Initial Quality Study released today showed the largest quality improvement for the automotive industry since 1997. Initial quality improved by 10 percent over 2001, and by 24 percent over the past five years.

“This kind of improvement in quality doesn’t happen by accident,” said Brian Walters, director of product research at J.D. Power and Associates. “It takes a concerted effort by the designers, engineers and assembly line workers of both manufacturers and their suppliers. Initial quality is an important driver to customer satisfaction with the ownership experience and has far-reaching impact on brand reputation.”

The biggest winners in the survey were Toyota and GM. Toyota models virtually swept the seven truck segments, with the exception of the full-size SUV category, which is led by the Ford Expedition.

“With truck sales now surpassing 50 percent of the light-vehicle market, truck quality is critical to automakers,” said Walters. “Toyota Motor Sales’ consistency in building truck models with high initial quality certainly gives them an advantage.”

Of the 16 segments included in the study, Toyota and Lexus models lead nine segments, the most earned by a corporation in 2002. General Motors Corporation is the best-performing domestic manufacturer in the study, with four models earning top rankings, including the competitive premium midsize car segment. Ford Motor Company, which includes Mazda, tops three segments.

In addition to having a number of models topping segments in initial quality, Toyota Motor Sales and General Motors Corporation have both demonstrated above-average increases in quality, improving by 31 and 30 percent over five years, respectively.

Korean manufacturers Kia and Hyundai are the most improved corporations in 2002, improving by 21 and 19 percent, respectively, over 2001. Hyundai Motor America has demonstrated the largest five-year initial quality improvement at 42 percent. Other above-average five-year quality improvements include American Isuzu (39%), Mitsubishi Motor Sales (38%) and DaimlerChrysler (27%).

“Consumers have come to expect that the initial quality of their new vehicle will exceed that of their previous vehicle,” said Walters. “If a manufacturer is not continuously improving its quality at a rate that meets or exceeds the industry average, it could be losing a quality edge to its competitors.”

At the model level, the Chevrolet Malibu made the biggest quality gain over the past five years, improving by 58 percent, followed by the Buick Century, Chevrolet Corvette and the Lexus GS Sedan, each having improved by 49 percent.

Historically, it is unusual for an all-new model to top its segment in initial quality. However, the Ford Thunderbird debuts with an impressive top ranking in the competitive entry luxury segment. The Thunderbird is Ford’s best-performing initial quality model in 2002.

Car models ranking highest in their segment are:

Car Models
Compact Car
Toyota Corolla and Toyota Prius (tie)
Entry Midsize Car
Chevrolet Malibu
Premium Midsize Car
Buick Century
Full-Size Car
Buick LeSabre
Entry Luxury Car
Ford Thunderbird
Mid Luxury Car
Lexus GS 300/GS 430
Premium Luxury Car
Lexus LS 430
Sporty Car
Mazda Miata
Premium Sports Car
Chevrolet Corvette

Light-truck models ranking highest in their segment are:

Light-Truck Models
Compact Pickup
Toyota Tacoma
Full-Size Pickup
Toyota Tundra
Entry SUV
Toyota RAV4
Midsize SUV
Toyota Highlander
Full-Size SUV
Ford Expedition
Luxury SUV
Lexus LX 470
Compact Van
Toyota Sienna

The 2002 Initial Quality Study is based on responses from nearly 65,000 purchasers and lessees of new 2002 model-year cars and trucks surveyed after 90 days of ownership. The study, now in its 16th year, is considered the industry benchmark for new-vehicle quality. Industry initial quality stands at 133 problems per 100 (PP100) vehicles, a 14 PP100 improvement over 2001.

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