August 16, 2006


U.S. automakers closing perceived quality gap, report says

Milwaukee, Wisconsin – Consumers are giving the automobile industry its highest perceived quality rating in a decade, according to the Quarterly Quality Report released by the American Society for Quality (ASQ), with domestic automakers catching up to their competition.

“In the auto industry, Japanese manufacturers like Toyota and Honda continue to exploit their competitive distinction in engineering and innovation,” says ASQ spokesperson Jack West, “while the bigger surprise is that U.S. brands like General Motors and Ford’s quality improvement processes are beginning to close the gap with their import competitors.”

The latest report measures the auto industry’s perceived quality score at 87, bringing it back to its highest level since the second quarter of 1995. GMC experienced the highest increase in perceived quality, although among U.S. brands, only Buick and Cadillac ranked with reigning quality leaders Toyota, Honda and BMW. Hyundai had the best turnaround, with long-term gains of 12.7 per cent over the last decade.

“Although Hyundai is a latecomer to the dance, the brand has been steadfast in applying a simple but effective two-pronged quality process,” West says. “In addition to its intense focus on consumer input, Hyundai emphasizes process improvement to refine problem areas such as its electrical systems and automatic transmission design. Another contributing factor may be that Hyundai continues to offer the best warranty in the industry.”

The report, an analysis of customer perceptions of the quality and reliability of products and services, is based on data generated by the American Customer Satisfaction Index. To view the entire report, visit www.asq.org/quality-report/.

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