November 28, 2002

Toyota seats ranked the best

Westlake Village, California – Araco Corporation, which supplies seat systems exclusively to Toyota Motor Sales, ranks highest in overall automotive seat quality for the second consecutive year, according to the J.D. Power and Associates 2002 Seat Quality Report released yesterday.

Nine of the 10 vehicle models with Araco seats score better than their respective vehicle segment average.

“Araco’s strength is the consistency of quality in each of its seat systems,” said James Lohmann, research director at J.D. Power and Associates.

Among the nine seat-related areas measured in the study, Araco performs particularly well in the area of seat height adjustment and folding rear seats.
Araco, whose seats have an average of 5.9 problems per 100 vehicles (PP100), is followed in the rankings by Trimmasters, with an average of 6.4 PP100. Lear Corporation at 7.9 PP100 and Johnson Controls, Inc., at 8.0 PP100 also perform above the industry average.

Finishing at or below average (in alphabetical order) are: General Seating, Hyundai Motor Company, Intier Automotive, T.S. Tech, and Visteon Corporation.

Consistent with the 2000 and 2001 Seat Quality reports, the top-performing segment for seat quality is the luxury vehicle segment, with an average of 6.2 PP100. The van segment has the most reported problems at 10.0 PP100.

Among the owners surveyed, 11 percent report a problem with their seats in the first three months of ownership – a 1 percent reduction compared with the 2001 report. Of those who report a problem, 85 percent experience only one problem, while 2 percent report three or more problems.

The report finds that poor or uncomfortable lumbar support accounts for 35 percent of seat problems. Lumbar support also has been the most frequently cited problem in the past two reports. Forward and backward adjustment and seat squeaks or rattles follow lumbar support problems in frequency.

“The seat manufacturer that can find a way to improve lumbar support and comfort without compromising quality will have a huge competitive advantage in the market,” Lohmann said.

Based on 117,838 responses from owners of new 2002 and early-release 2003 model-year cars and light trucks, the 2002 Seat Quality Report provides seat and seat belt manufacturers with information on virtually all seat and seat belt products supplied to automakers. The study provides product quality and design satisfaction information and examines the drivers of consumer satisfaction with vehicle-seating systems.

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